It is general knowledge that when you want to bleed the brakes of a car, whichever method you have chosen, you will have to use brake fluid to push the air bubbles out of the master cylinder.
Moreover, bleeding your brakes are important because it helps to curb inefficiencies in the brake system. When your brakes are feeling spongy, you know it is high time to bleed them, and you always need brake fluids for that.
But the question is, do you have to bleed your brake after adding brake fluid? Can you add brake fluid without bleeding?
You can add brake fluid without bleeding. You don’t have to bleed your brakes while adding brake fluid because adding brake fluid is just pouring brake fluid into your brake system to ensure it is up to the required amount of fluid to make your brakes work.
What is a Brake Fluid?
Brake fluid is used to make the brake system function. It is a hydraulic fluid that is used to lubricate the brakes and clutches of vehicles that require them.
Without brake fluid, or the adequate amount of brake fluid required in your car’s hydraulic brake system, there is every possibility of a brake failure, and nobody wants brakes to fail. When it does, in motion, it causes a collision, which causes calamity.
This fluid functions by transmitting pressure in the brakes when the brake pad is called into action. It is important to always check your brake fluids to ensure they are adequate before putting your vehicle on the road.
Simply put, brake fluid is to the brake system what engine oil is to an engine. Brake fluid is to the brake system of a vehicle, and water is to the cooling system of a vehicle.
Also, when it is time to bleed your brakes, brake fluids come in handy. They are injected into the master cylinder to bleed the brakes.
What Does Bleeding a Brake Mean?
In simple terms, bleeding a brake means infusing brake fluids using a syringe, through the hydraulic brake system to flush out air and debris from the brake lines.
It is advisable to bleed your brakes when you start getting the feeling that the brakes are not as effective as should be, or when the pressure on the brake system isn’t as required.
Usually, the reason for the spongy feeling or for a brake to lose its pressure is when air bubbles have been trapped in between the brake lines, in the master cylinder. Sometimes, these air bubbles can be dirt as well.
When anything that is not brake fluid is trapped in between brake lines, it dilutes and releases the pressure required for the brake systems to function appropriately, and so the brakes are bled by a procedure where brake fluids are used to flush the bubbles out.
Can You Add Brake Fluid Without Bleeding?
Brake fluid can be added to your brake systems without necessarily bleeding your brakes. There are different reasons for adding brake fluid, and bleeding is just one of them.
You do not ‘add’ brake fluids when bleeding. Adding implies that you are filling up what is already there. This doesn’t happen with bleeding.
When you are bleeding a brake system, you must ensure there are no more brake fluids inside the system.
Either that or you do the bleeding in such a way that injecting new brake fluids would mean that you’re at the same time, pushing out the old brake fluids, along with the air bubbles and dirt you’re trying to get rid of.
So, adding brake fluid doesn’t necessarily mean you are bleeding your brakes. You can merely add brake fluids when you see that the fluids in the brake system are already lesser than the required amount.
Having not enough brake fluid in your system can cause inefficiency in the brake system, and worst-case scenario, your brakes might fail while on the road.
For this reason, you must always check that your brake fluids are enough to maintain the pressure of your brakes so that there will be no issues when you try to apply brakes to your car while in motion and you want to avoid a crash.
Pros of Adding a Brake Fluid without Bleeding
Even when you are not bleeding your vehicle, generally, brake fluid has a very key role to play in a car. There can be a danger when you do not have brake fluid in your car, or the brake system, or when it is not enough, that is, if it is below the MIN level.
Here are some of the advantages or pros of adding brake fluid to your car, even without bleeding:
For your brakes to work when you apply pressure on your brake pads, the pressure has to be transmitted through the hydraulic brake system.
The brake fluid in your car is the one responsible for such transmission, and this is what ultimately brings your car to a halt, or responds to the force applied.
They help lubricate the brake systems as well, as earlier stated. If the brakes are not well lubricated, it will certainly affect the performance of your brakes and can cause an unwarranted accident on the road.
Prevention of Air Bubbles
Adding brake fluid and ensuring that the fluid doesn’t go below the required amount to run your brake systems will prevent air bubbles from getting trapped in your systems.
When air bubbles are trapped in your hydraulic brake systems, you will have no other option but to bleed the brakes, especially when applying pressure to your brake pads starts to give you a spongy feeling, or starts taking longer to work.
How to Bleed Brakes
There are several methods to bleed brakes, but the best option to bleed brakes by yourself is to follow these steps:
- Get a Vacuum Pump Kit: This allows you to easily pump the vacuum into your master cylinder to push out the contents of your cylinder.
- Locate the Bleeder Valve: It is a case covered with a rubber cap. This is the valve that allows you to bleed your brakes, and that is why it is called the bleeder valve.
- Get a 10mm Spanner: This is what will be used to loosen your bleeder valve.
- Attach the Tubing: Attach the tubing on your vacuum pump to your bleeder valve, and ensure that you have a good seal on the bleeder valve and also on the vacuum pump. It must be fitted properly for it to work.
- Check for a Leak: If you find that as you pump the vacuum, it is not working adequately, it means there is a leak. You should apply grease to your bleeder valve, where the tubing is connected to.
- Unscrew the Bleeder Valve: Once the vacuum tube is connected appropriately, get your 10mm spanner and unscrew the bleeder valve and let the fluid be sucked out of the brake system into the bottle attached to your vacuum pump kit.
- Clean Up the Grease: As soon as the process is done and you have tightened the bleeder valve and replaced the cap, you can clean up the grease you put around the bleeder valve.
At this point, you have bled your brake systems, now, you can go ahead and refill your brake fluid. Ensure it is the required amount needed.
Brake fluid is very important for your brake systems. Always ensure it is up to the amount needed, and if it isn’t top it up. It must not be above the MAX mark, nor should it be below the MIN mark on the container that collects the brake fluids for your system.
Applying brake fluid to your brakes doesn’t mean you are bleeding your brakes, but you need brake fluid to bleed your brakes.