Best Brake Bleeder Kits: Get on the Pro Level
Your helper’s calves will thank you
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BY Hank O'Hop / LAST UPDATED ON September 30, 2021
It's easy to develop something of a love-hate relationship with brake bleeding tools. You may find that they work alright, but they can't quite compare to the old "pump it, hold it" routine. But that’s really a “you” problem as, after all, the pros use brake bleeders every day and seem to make out just fine. And since today's market is absolutely loaded with options, it's easy to wind up with more “useless” junk. To get you onto that pro level and using a brake bleeder properly, we’ve dropped into the murky waters of what’s available to find our favorites and then produce a buying guide to help you find the ultimate brake bleeder for yourself.
This simple, yet effective model is perfect for any DIYer. The price is good, the quality is there, and it works with a wide range of applications.
- High-quality construction
- Attachments cover a wide range of applications
- Builds vacuum quickly
- Can be used for other specialty work
- May not create a proper seal on select applications
You can save money and still get a decent product. This affordable brake bleeder kit is the perfect option for DIYers on a budget.
- Affordable price point
- Includes attachments for various projects
- Storage case included
- Leaks are often an issue
- Limited attachments for bleeder valves
This master kit comes with everything you need to pressure bleed most applications. The high-quality construction simply ensures it’ll stand the test of time.
- Pressurizes system to save time while working
- Continuously adds fresh fluid to the system
- Compatible with most applications
- Storage case included
- High-quality construction
- Premium price point
- Setting up and stopping leaks can be time-consuming
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Best Brake Bleeder Kit Reviews & Recommendations
How We Selected The Products
Research is important, but there's no better way to learn about what works and what doesn't than to go out and turn some wrenches. After having countless blunders and a few success stories, we'd like to think we know a thing or two about brake bleeders. In fact, a few of our recommendations are based on what we actually own and use.
Let's also not dance around the fact that bleeding brakes can be dangerous. If you don't do the job right, or the tool fails to work properly, your brakes aren't going to do their job. That's why we took the time to really read into anything we haven't had the opportunity to use ourselves. To put it simply, we wouldn't recommend anything we don't feel safe using on our own cars.
Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.”
Buying Guide/What to Look For
You're wise to question everything you're told. Even if we stand behind our picks, it's only right to explain how we decided on what to include and what to leave out. That's why we set you up with this buying guide. We are giving you the tools you need to make a decision as well as a little insight into what makes our top picks stand out from the pack.
What to Consider When Buying Brake Bleeder Kits
Types of Brake Bleeder Kits
As you can see in your search results, not all brake bleeders are the same and there's quite a variety available. What works best depends on personal preference and what equipment you've already got to work with. That's why we want to help you better understand the different types.
Vacuum brake bleeders work on a simple concept. You apply a vacuum to the brake bleeder valve, open it up, and let the vacuum pull the fluid through. As it pulls the fluid, you watch for bubbles. Once the bubbles stop and you have a continuous fluid flow, you know that you have no air in the system.
Building a vacuum is typically achieved by squeezing a trigger once a hose has been attached to the valve. The OEMTOOLS 25136 One Man Brake Bleeder & Vacuum Pump Test Kit is an example of a vacuum brake bleeder. It is simple, affordable, and generally very reliable. The only issue with this type of product is that you need to continuously check the reservoir to ensure no air is pulled into the system.
What's the opposite of a vacuum? Pressure. Pressure brake bleeders work by pressurizing the system to push fluid through rather than pull it. They hook up to the master cylinder, and pressure is built with a manual pump attached to its own reservoir. The reservoir is partially filled with brake fluid, and the pump builds air pressure to push it through the system. Once pressurized, you simply crack the bleeders, so fluid can flow through.
The Mityvac MV6840 Hydraulic Brake and Clutch Pressure Bleeding System is an example of a pressure brake bleeder. They tend to be costlier but require much less manual input than vacuum alternatives. However, containing the fluid from each bleeder is on you. We recommend leading a short hose to an old bottle.
If you have an air compressor at your disposal, it's worth considering a pneumatic brake bleeder. They take pressurized air from the compressor and use it to create a vacuum, allowing them to pull brake fluid through the bleeder valves. As you can expect, this requires the least amount of manual input of all types of brake bleeders.
The Four Uncles 2L Vacuum Brake Bleeder Air Brake Bleeder Kit is an example of a pneumatic offering. These kits also typically have a reservoir that prevents you from bleeding the system dry and can also be used to flush the entire system with ease. The only problem is that without an air compressor, they are completely useless, and it's hard to justify starting from scratch as the other options are far more affordable.
Brake Bleeder Kit Key Features
After you decide what type of brake bleeder you want, you'll find that there are quite a few options available. Next, we need to take a look at some key features so that you can hone in on the perfect bleeder for your needs.
It's easy to say that you can avoid cheap junk by spending a little more on tools. Unfortunately, there are a lot of overpriced gimmicky tools out there, and that's especially true in the world of specialty tools.
When it comes to brake bleeders, there are a few components you need to keep your eye on. Obviously, the big things like the pump or vacuum mechanism are going to soak up a lot of your attention. However, the lines and fittings in between are just as important. We recommend that you take a few minutes to read reviews and check that users don't complain about excessive leaks or broken seals.
Brake bleeders may seem to be a universal tool, but they aren't. Vacuum brake bleeders need to have fittings that will work with your bleeder valves. Pressure bleeders need to be compatible with your master cylinder. If they aren't, they won't create a perfect seal, and you'll never successfully bleed your brakes.
Take the time to do a little homework to make sure a kit will work for you. If reviews mention the exact make and model you have to work with, stick to what the users have to say. If not, take the time to see what fittings or attachments the kit comes with and verify that they will work with your car.
Ample Fluid Capacity
All brake bleeders have some sort of reservoir on them. In the case of vacuum brake bleeders, the reservoir is typically there to catch fluid pulled from the system, and you don't have to worry much about how big it is.
However, any time there's a reservoir keeping the master cylinder from running dry, size is everything. If it's too small, you can easily pull air into the system, and you'll have to start from scratch. Still, it's important to keep an eye on fluid levels, in any case, to make sure you don't run into any issues.
Brake Bleeder Kit Tips and Tricks
Just like that, you're a pro on brake bleeders. They're amazing tools, but they really are pretty simple. Before we wrap things up, though, we want to give you a few tips to make sure you don't run into any issues.
Take your time when bleeding your brakes; it's not a race. If you rush, you might miss a few bubbles or accidentally bleed the system dry. Doing either can let your hard work go in vain and may even be dangerous.
Clean Fluid is Key
If you see that the fluid in your brake system is a burned, brown, or the reservoir is dirty, you need to clean the system. If you leave dirty or old fluid in there, the brakes will never work like they're supposed to. To clean the system, you need to flush out all of the old fluid and replace it.
Minimize Fluid Contact
Don't take brake fluid lightly as this stuff is nasty, and it will tear up your hands and paint like no other. Always make sure to wear protective gloves and contain the fluid so that it doesn't come in contact with other parts of the vehicle.
What? We didn't cover everything? We know you still have questions. Unfortunately, we can't shoot the breeze with you in person. If we take the time to answer some of the frequently asked questions about brake bleeders, it just might feel like we did, though.
Q: Do brake bleeders work?
Brake bleeders work as long as there's a tight seal and there aren't leaks in the system. They do a fantastic job of bleeding brakes. It is very important that the kit you use works with your car, though. Otherwise, the seal on the bleeder valve or master cylinder might let air into the system.
Q: Do I need to bleed all four brakes?
You don't always need to bleed all four brakes. If a brake line you're replacing only connects to one wheel or you replace just one caliper, you should only need to bleed the appropriate corner. It's good practice to bleed the others as it's the best way to ensure there is no air in the system.
Q: How often should I bleed my brakes?
Many people overlook the importance of bleeding their brakes, even if it's recommended to do so every couple of years. However, it's a good idea to bleed your brakes whenever you service the pads. We should also mention that you should flush the system every 30,000 miles.
Q: Will air in brake lines go away?
Air cannot escape your brake lines because the system is sealed. Therefore, you need to bleed your brakes to remove any air. If you can't afford a tool or don't have time to wait for one, you can bleed your brakes with the help of a friend and nothing more than a wrench to open the bleeders.
At the end of the day, the balance of price and quality puts the OEMTOOLS 25136 One Man Brake Bleeder & Vacuum Pump Test Kit on top of our list. However, the HTOMT 2 in 1 Brake Bleeder Kit Handheld Vacuum Pump Test Set is an excellent option for folks who need to save a few bucks. What are your thoughts? We'd love to know what brake bleeder you'll be using on your next project!
Why Trust Us
The Drive seeks to be the internet’s premier destination for news, features, reviews, and guides about modern automotive culture.
Founded as the /DRIVE YouTube channel before growing into a full-fledged online publication in 2015, The Drive brings you the best of what’s new in the world of speed, from gear reviews to the latest industry coverage—all from a veteran team of writers and editors with many decades of combined hands-on experience. Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.