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Summary
  • A reverse brake bleeder is a specialized tool that generates the brake bleeding pressure needed to push brake fluid from the caliper or wheel cylinders up to the master cylinder.
  • Reverse brake bleeding can be easily done by a single person, making it an ideal method for those who don’t have an assistant to help. It also ensures efficient bleeding and works well on ABS-equipped cars.
  • However, the process requires thorough flushing and comes with the risk of fluid overflow.

Brake bleeding is a fundamental aspect of brake maintenance. This process removes any excess air that’s trapped in the lines, calipers, cylinders, etc. Air will compress, fluid will not. This is why hydraulics work. Trapped air compromises braking effectiveness. If your brake pedal feels loose or soft, you might need to bleed your brakes.

Traditionally, there are several methods for bleeding brakes, including manual bleeding, gravity bleeding, pressure bleeding, and vacuum bleeding. But have you ever heard of reverse brake bleeding?

Some people consider reverse brake bleeding as the most effective in removing air bubbles that are trapped within your braking system, but is that a fact or opinion?

What Is Reverse Brake Bleeding?

In reverse brake bleeding, the air is pushed up and out through the brake fluid reservoir instead of the bleeder valves. It’s different from most bleeding methods, which involve channeling fluid from the master cylinder through the bleeder valve at each wheel.

, Is Using a Reverse Brake Bleeder a Good Idea? Pros and Cons

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with CarParts.com, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: Since air naturally wants to rise, and since the master cylinder is always the highest point on the brake system, this is a sound way of bleeding any brake system that doesn’t require special bleed procedures (as with some ABS systems that require running the HCU pump while bleeding).

The process involves injecting fresh brake fluid through the bleeder valve and out of the brake fluid reservoir. As fresh fluid is injected, trapped air bubbles are removed from the brake lines, rising to the master cylinder, where they’re pushed out of the brake fluid reservoir.

What Is a Reverse Brake Bleeder?

A reverse brake bleeder is a specialized tool that generates the brake bleeding pressure needed to push brake fluid from the caliper or wheel cylinders up to the master cylinder.

A reverse brake bleeder kit usually has a hand pump or pressurized container that injects brake fluid through the bleeder valve. It also comes with adaptors and hoses that can fit various bleeding valves.

Advantages of Reverse Brake Bleeding

If you’re considering doing this method to remove trapped air from your brake lines, you can expect to enjoy these benefits:

Single-Handed Operation

In most traditional methods, you’ll have to find a companion to pump the brake pedal. However, in reverse bleeding, a specialized tool is used to push brake fluid up to the master cylinder.

In short, you can do it all on your own. If you’re an automotive DIYer or a mechanic who’s working alone, you might prefer this method.

Efficient Bleeding

Reverse brake bleeding is known for its efficiency in removing trapped air within the braking system. It pushes air up to the master cylinder, which can dislodge air pockets that other brake bleeding methods can’t reach. This saves time because you won’t have to do the process repeatedly.

Works With ABS

One of the biggest pros of reverse brake bleeding is the fact that it works with most vehicles equipped with anti-lock braking systems or ABS. This complex braking system has additional components that can trap air bubbles, making the efficiency of brake bleeding perfect for the job.

Take note, however, that you might need to do additional steps and use tools like an ABS scan tool before you can bleed the brakes on vehicles equipped with ABS.

If you’re unsure about anything, it’s best to consult a trusted mechanic first before you bleed your brakes.

Drawbacks of Reverse Brake Bleeding

Although reverse brake bleeding is known for its efficiency, the technique also has disadvantages:

Need for Thorough Flushing

You’re going to need to flush an amount of brake fluid regardless of what brake bleeding method you choose. However, with reverse brake bleeding, you’ll need to thoroughly flush old brake fluid before you do reverse brake bleeding, otherwise you may dislodge debris that tends to gather in some parts of the braking system and wind up forcing it up through the master cylinder, which can ruin the master cylinder in extreme cases.

Thorough flushing takes time and effort, but it’s a necessary step to ensure there’s no old brake fluid and contaminants in the system. Of course, once you’ve flushed the brakes, there’s no trapped air, anyway. You might not need to reverse bleed after a flush.

Possible Fluid Overflow

During reverse bleeding, brake fluid is pushed from the caliper back up to the master cylinder. As the fluid is forced upwards, it can quickly fill the master cylinder reservoir. If you don’t monitor the process closely, the brake fluid can overflow.

How Often Should You Bleed Your Brakes?

It’s recommended to bleed your brakes every two to three years. You can let a mechanic bleed your brakes during your regular brake maintenance schedule.

What Happens If You Don’t Bleed Your Brakes?

If you fail to bleed your brakes, expect to encounter various problems that can make driving difficult and dangerous.

For example, your brake pedal might sit lower than usual. It’s likely because it doesn’t have enough hydraulic pressure.

You can also expect a spongy sensation when you press your brake pedal. You might need to press your brakes harder before it applies the brakes.

These effects can make driving risky because the delay between pressing the brake pedal and the application of the brakes can increase the risk of road accidents.

Can I Bleed the Brakes On My Own?

Yes, you can bleed the brakes on your own, especially if you are a seasoned DIYer with the technical know-how. However, it’s important to follow safety protocols and understand the proper procedures to ensure effective and safe brake bleeding.

If you’re not sure about anything, it’s best to let a trusted mechanic do the job.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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