Bleeding ABS Brakes
ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) brakes are pretty standard these days as most people want an anti-lock brake system. This means that if you slam on the brakes for whatever reason, the brakes will not lock into place. ABS brakes like any other brakes need regular maintenance including bleeding. To put things simply, bleed ABS brakes in the same manner you would bleed any other brake system. First you pressurize the brake system, open the bleeder, close that same bleeder, and then repeat to bleed ABS brakes. That is all there to it; it is not difficult at all.
Will The Same Procedure Work in All Systems?
The simple answer is that it will work in most systems, but there are some special scenarios that need consideration. Sometimes the retailer or mechanic will need to put the vehicle through diagnostics, but most of the time, this is not the case. Some ABS brake systems also have internal reservoirs that only empty when the brakes are active. Bleeding ABS brakes without taking the reservoir into account means that the reservoir will empty when the ABS fluid is cycled. That would mean you would not have entirely fresh fluid because this older fluid would mix.
Is a Factory Procedure Necessary?
A factory procedure is not necessary, but if you want to ensure you have clean and new fluid everywhere, a dealer service tool is definitely helpful. The service tool actually provides you with the means of cycling the ABS valves and the motor while you are bleeding ABS brakes. This means that any hidden reservoirs will open and release the old fluid. Doing it this way, you will bleed the system twice which means extra work, but you will end up with clean fluid all throughout your system.
What Happens if the Dealer Service Tool is Not Available?
If you choose to make sure you get all of the old fluid out, then it is pretty easy to take care of it, too. Go driving and push the brakes a few times, which will release the fluid out of any hidden reservoirs. You will need to bleed your vehicle a second time once you do this, but you will not need to find a dealer service tool.
How Do You Know if Your Vehicle Has Hidden Reservoirs?
The answer depends on what kind of ABS brakes you have in your vehicle. Several do have these reservoirs, such as the Bosch ABS5.7, Bosch ABS5.3, and Delphi DBC7. If you are not sure, what you have, contact a mechanic and just ask them about what they do when they bleed an ABS brake system. If part of their procedure is to cycle the fluid, then it would be a good rule of thumb that you do the same thing as well.
Whether you bleed your own brakes or take them somewhere, remember that bleeding is standard regular maintenance. Bleeding ABS brakes is pretty easy and is similar across many different systems. You likely will not need to have your brakes bled in a factory procedure unless you prefer to make sure that all of the fluid has been emptied. If you have any questions, by all means, check with your local mechanic. It is always better to err on the side of caution. If you think you can do it, have at it, but remember that if you bleed your own brakes, then it is your responsibility to do it correctly.