Bleeding your brake fluid is a regularly scheduled maintenance item to remove debris and air that builds up inside the caliper. Regularly bleeding your brakes can improve braking performance and pedal feel. This kit from EXtoil makes DIY brake bleeding really easy.
Performed on a 1999.5 Jetta TDI with a 5 speed manual, other models may vary.
How often should I do this?
VW and the Bentley manual recommend every two years regardless of mileage. My local VW dealer would do it with the 40,000 mile service. When I just did this, it had been 2 years or 46,000 miles since the last time it was done.
Overview of the EXtoil Tool
We like the EXtoil tool because it is a all-in-one assembled solution for bleeding. The bleeder wrench attaches directly to the bleeder valve and has an integrated socket and handle. There are different socket sizes available based on the size you need. On this VW we need an 11mm wrench.
The tool also is assembled with tubing and an in-line one-way valve. This allows one person bleeding via the pedal-bleeding method. To catch used fluid, a 500ml catch bottle with hanger attachment is at the end of the tube.
How much brake fluid is needed?
If you are just bleeding the brakes 1 liter may be sufficient, but if you want to flush all the fluid you’ll need about 1.5 liters.
- Extoil Brake Bleeder Kit
- Jack & Jack Stands
- Lug nut wrench
- (Optional) Turkey Baster to pull old fluid from reservoir
What kind of brake fluid is needed?
Most modern vehicles require DOT4 specification fluid. It is VITAL that you put in the CORRECT specification fluid. The DOT # is determined by fluid material, NOT quality. Therefore, a DOT5 fluid is no “better” than DOT4, in fact, DOT5 is incompatible with a DOT4 system and should not be used.
Fluid is made by a variety of manufacturers, however, OE fluid is also available and usually is comparable in price. OE fluid may also have some benefits, like for OE VW fluid that will limit the chances of the clutch hydraulic system from squeaking.
1. Remove wheels from vehicle to make access to bleeder valve easier. You can do this one corner at a time or all at once if you have enough stands or access to a lift.
2. Take a turkey baster and remove as much old fluid from the brake reservoir as you can. Refill the reservoir with your choice of brake fluid. This is to prevent pushing old fluid into the lines. Since we are going to be using the pedal to bleed the lines, fill the reservoir to the top and do not put the cap back on yet.
3. While there are debates about this, we recommend starting at the farthest point from the brake reservoir, in this case, the rear passenger caliper.
5. Push the special bleeder wrench onto the caliper bleeder valve. Open the valve by turning counter-clockwise, like you would loosen any normal bolt. Open two turns.
6. With the bleeder valve open go into the car and press on the brake pedal. The EXtoil Bleeder tool has an integrated one-way valve, so there is no need to open-and-close the valve each time you pump the pedal. Check that fluid is draining into the catch bottle. Press the pedal a few more times.
7. When you are satisfied with the amount of fluid you have pushed out of the caliper, close the bleeder screw and remove the wrench.
8. Check fluid level in the reservoir. Top off if necessary.
9. Repeat for all other wheels, checking fluid level each time.
Once you’ve bleed all four wheels, get into the car and check brake pedal pressure. If it still isn’t where you want it to be, repeat the bleeding process until brake pedal pressure improves.