How To: Change Brake Fluid

Something I have been putting off for years (literally) because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle is flushing out my brake fluid. Finally I found theĀ griots garage one man brakeĀ bleeder which sounds easy so I figured I would give it a try.

First lets cover a few of the basics before we actually begin. First off why even bother changing out your brake fluid? Well for one if it’s NEVER been done you have DOT 3 brake fluid which has a relatively low boiling and will cause your brakes to fade if you use them a lot in the twisties or on a track. Brake fluid is also hygroscopic which means it absorbs water. As it absorbs water it’s boiling boint becomes even lower since water boils at a much lower temperature. So it is best to replace your fluid once and awhile with DOT 4 which is fully compatible with DOT 3 fluid but has a higher boiling point. However there is another reason to reguarly change out your fluid which we all face. Even those of us who drive like a grandma. With our ABS system the water that is absorbed by the fluid can cause problems over time. IIRC 2 years is the accepted time frame to flush the fluid to prevent this.

Ok onto the procedure.

Tools Required:

1) One man brake bleeder
2) Air compressor *
3) 8mm box end wrench (A socket wrench will not work)
4) 4 new brake bleeder caps **
5) Brake fluid (preferably DOT 4 and about a quart of it)
6) 4 Jack stands (not shown and semi optional)

* Note: If you do not have an air compressor you may consider griots one man brake bleederĀ that you can pump by hand.
** Note: I have heard tales of parts guys saying you don’t need a bleeder cap. You do, you don’t want road crap in these things. Also the reason you need to replace them is because the ones toyota put on our car like to crack in a very short period of time and when you take them off they fall apart. Best to have new ones on hand. Part number for these is 31478-30010.

Once you get your air compressor plugged in set it to between 75-120psi as that is the normal working pressure for this bleeder. Then you want to walk over to your car and open the frunk lid. Under there you should see a cap that looks like this.

(Note: My frunk plastics are out so you will probably just see the top of the cap if yours are still in.) Now clean all of the dirt around in that area so you don’t end up like this…

There’s a little strainer in there (thank god) that you pull out. Do that now.

Now your master cylinder should look like this with the strainer removed. And here comes the more interesting (in a good way) part of the procedure.

Remove the black piece at the end of your brake bleeder by pulling it so you just have a bare hose like the picture below.

Now insert that into your master cylinder (where we took off the cap) and pull the trigger on your brake bleeder. Watch in amazement as your fluid level magically drops.

Once that’s done refill the master cylinder with fresh brake fluid. You don’t need to be exact with the level just sort of “fill her up good”.

Ok now put your black piece back onto the end of your hose. Put your car up onto the jack stands and now it’s time to hunt down your bleeder valve. If you are a really small guy you might be able to do this without the stands but it just seems easier to be able to move around under the car easier. My wheels were off when I did this but that is only because I was doing other stuff with my suspension. I see no reason to take them off just for bleeding your brakes. When you’re under your car you should see a little thing sticking out of your brake caliper like this.

This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized 800×600 and weights 60KB.

You can now pull the little the bleeder cap (the little rubber piece) off.

Then slip your box end wrench over the bleeder valve like so.

And then slip your brake bleeder over the nipple.

Finally pull the trigger on your brake bleeder so it starts sucking and crack open your bleeder valve by turning the box end wrench (counter clockwise to losen). Watch the fluid as it comes out through your hose, once it turns clear you can close the bleeder valve. I usually find it rather hard to tell so I just let it go for awhile and call it good. One thing to make note of is to never let the brake master cylinder go dry!!! If you do you’re going to have air in your system and do this all over again. Also don’t forget to put your brand new bleeder caps back on once you are done with it all. Same goes for the cap on the brake master cylinder.

One last thing I should mention. You want to start at the farthest wheel from the master cylinder (rear passenger side in this case) and move your way towards the master cylinder. Don’t ask why because I don’t know, it just is. So that means you start at the rear passenger side wheel move onto the drivers side rear wheel, then to the passenger side front wheel, and finally the drivers side front wheel.

Overall I would rate the difficulty of this project on par with an oil change. Not hard at all and with this tool any wanna-be gear head can do it in a matter of 15-30 minutes.

Now get out there and change your brake fluid!!

This documentation in no way replaces the Toyota MR2 Repair Manuals. The purpose of this content is only to provide supplementary information to fellow MR2 enthusiasts. Midship Runabout and its contributing authors will not be held responsible for any injury or damages that may occur as the result of practicing any of the methods or procedures described within this website. Article and photo submissions are property of the contributing author.

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