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If you’ve decided to pick up the necessary tools and save tons by doing your own brake work, this’ll be your next purchase.  While you don’t need something like this to bleed your brakes, it does allow you to do it by yourself.   Instead of having someone pump the pedal from inside the car while you open and close the bleed valves from under the car, power bleeders allow you to apply pressure to the master cylinder — the equivalent of having someone in the car pushing on the pedal continuously.  It makes bleeding brakes much easier and much quicker.

For the uninitiated: Air + hydraulics = bad.  Hydraulic fluid is (mostly) uncompressable, so it transfers force directly through the system.  Air, however, compresses easily, so if you have air in a hydraulic system (like your brakes), some of the power you put into the system (by stepping on the pedal) is leeched by the air compression process.  You feel this as “spongey” brakes.

The power bleeder pictured comes from Motive Products and clocks in at around $60 depending on your car’s model.  While the pump works for all vehicles, you’ll need a specifical cap to fit your vehicle’s master cylinder reservoir.  Motive sells a variety of kits for different groups of cars.

And, if you don’t want to shell out the $60, there is a poor-man’s solution:  Order (or find at the junkyard) a spare cap for your master cylinder, then drill a hole in the top of it and fit (with seals) a standard air nipple.  If you’ve got a small air compressor with an accurate pressure control, applying about 20 lbs to the system will accomplish the same task.  Of course, without a reservoir tank like the model pictures, you do have to watch the reservoir and refill it every so often.  Make one for each of your cars and you’re good to go.

Power Bleeders [Motive Products]
Street Pricing [Froogle]

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7 Responses to Finds: Power Bleeders

  1. james b says:

    Speed bleeders have a check valve built into the bleeder screw. I just put some on my Jeep and was able to bleed the fronts until clean new fluid came out. They sell a silicone hose that works better than the vinyl hose I was using with a jar before getting these. I would recommend the speed bleeders over this contraption.

  2. Chuck Cage says:

    For those not familiar with speed bleeders: They’re one-way-valves that replace the standard bleed valve so that when unscrewed, they open under pressure and close automatically to prevent air from entering the system.

    James: Speed bleeders are pretty popular, and they do simplify the job, but you still have to have someone down on the wheelwell to look for bubbles — or you have to just pump a ton of fluid out. What I like about power bleeding is that it lets you stay down by the bleed valve when bleeding by yourself.

    When I was racing in college, we used speed bleeders on the race car because there were always two of us and it kept us from accidentally getting air in the system when we were rushing to bleed the brakes between each session. (Starting over wasn’t a good thing!)

  3. Rick says:

    Ok. I know I’m resurrecting an old post. and I don’t know if anyone will even see this.. but I had a friend recommend this MityVac bleeder. It’s available at Sears for $34.99 – http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product.do?pid=00947058000&vertical=Sears&BV_UseBVCookie=Yes
    and it operates under much the same concept as the one above – only cheaper.

  4. vader says:

    I was unable to get this thing to seal properly (it just clamps onto the master cylinder) and it leaked brake fluid onto my alternator and ruined it. I don’t recommend this… it’s worth doing things the old fashioned way, or maybe those speed bleeders are the way to go. Anything that clamps on with chain and a rubber gasket and pumps pressurized corrosive fluid is a recipe for disaster.

  5. Roger says:

    I have a 94 Integra. Like vader, I was unable to get it to seal properly. I spent hours trying but was unsuccessful. I think the flaw in the model that uses the chain around the master cylinder (like the Universal model I have) is that the clamp piece is made out of plastic and it bows in the middle when tightened causing it to leak. The instructions say to finger tighten the wing nuts, but I couldn’t get any pressure at all at that tightness. If the piece were made out of metal I think this product would work. I’d steer clear of the model that uses the chains.

  6. Keith says:

    Sorry about the very late comment, but I felt I had to.

    I’ve used the old fashioned two person method more times than my
    wife and sons would like to recount, I’m sure (and screwed up a few
    master cylinders in the process because I neglected to put a block
    of wood under the pedal to keep the the master cylinder pistons from
    moving too far and destroying the seals). I’ve also used vacuum
    bleeders, which work ok, but wear out your hands working the hand
    pump if you’re trying to do a full fluid change (most cars with ABS
    recommend changing the brake fluid every 2 to 3 years).

    I’ve been looking for a good alternative, but when I read about the
    leak issues folks were having with some of the pressure bleeders
    on this site and others, I figured I’d stick with vacuum bleeding.

    However, from Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools site (http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/002938.php )
    I learned of another pressure bleeder, Speedibleed, from Hi-Lo
    Distributors (http://www.speedibleed.com/index.htm ) in Canada.

    Their kit is used by a number of professional mechanics, but is
    affordable enough for the DIYer (I paid $119 US for a kit with an
    adapter for Japanese imports) . Their master cylinder adapters
    are metal, not plastic, so they don’t bend as easily as some of the
    other units.

    Used it for the first time this weekend, and I don’t know that
    I’ll ever try to bleed a brake system any other way. The kit connects
    to an inflated tire for the air source, and includes an adjustable
    regulator that keeps the pressure down to a reasonable level (10 to
    15 PSI is plenty to bleed most systems). It only took about 30 minutes
    to fully bleed all four brakes on my Honda Civic after I put fresh
    fluid in the master cylinder reservoir and connected the unit per the
    directions. Oh, and the 14″ tire I tapped for the air, it only dropped
    about 3 PSI (from 29 PIS to 26 PSI).

    I understand from the Speedibleed site that these kits also work on
    hydraulic clutch master cylinders as well, with the right adapter.

    Definitely worth a look if you do your own brake work.

  7. Robert says:

    Count me as another fan of the Speedi-Bleed brake bleeder tool. I have used it in various repair shops, and just purchased my own indivdual kit at

    A custom fit adapter is always best, but a universal kit with the round adapter will also work just fine, at 10-15 psi.

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