Fewer things are more concerning than trouble with your car’s brakes. You can be driving along, and then notice that your foot seems to go a little bit farther than usual when applying the brakes. Maybe your brakes feel less responsive than they normally do? This can be the worst feeling when you are out and about.
There is no reason to panic as soon as you notice your brakes are soft or slow to respond. It is a signal to get them checked. There can be several reasons for this, but one of them may be because there is air trapped in your car’s ABS module.
How can air get trapped in your ABS system?
There are several factors that can contribute to air in the ABS module. For example, if the hoses have become shortened this can be a factor. The hydraulic hoses are necessary for maintaining brake fluid. If the hoses are damaged, this can allow air to enter the system.
Additionally, if the brake lines or joints have damage to them it will also allow air to enter the ABS system of your car.
Sometimes a car has brake pads and linings that are not fitting properly. This is another cause of air buildup in the system.
Your brake fluid reservoir may also be a cause of air building up. If the fluid level drops, then air that fills up the additional space can seep into the brake lines.
How to check that the ABS module needs to be bled.
If you are out driving and feel that your brakes are not quite right, you can further check them at home. You might even notice that the pedal does not quite retract the same either.
You will need to make sure that your car is at a complete stop. Next you should apply pressure to the pedal and see how it feels. When you take your foot off the pedal, does it retract slowly? If the pedal does not seem to spring back, and is holding pressure, you most likely have some air in the ABS module.
Tools needed to bleed the air from the ABS module
Gather a few tools you most likely already have on hand before starting the job. You will need:
A car jack
Once you have the tools assembled you are ready to begin.
Steps to bleed the air from the ABS module.
- Make sure that your car is parked on a flat surface and the emergency brake is engaged.
- Take the wheels off. Use a hydraulic jack and raise the car high enough to remove all 4 tires.
- Drain the brake fluid. You will need to find the brake fluid reservoir. This can usually be found somewhere under the hood. It will be a small container with metal tubes running to each wheel.
- Find the brake bleeder screw. Use a wrench to help you remove this screw. Take off the dust cap. Take the tubing and vacuum hose and attach one end to the bleeder screw and connect the other end to an empty plastic bottle. Pump the brake pedal to ensure that all of the fluid has been drained from the brake lines.
- Retighten the bleeder screw. Before tightening the bleeder screw, have someone press and hold the brake pedal. Hold the pedal down while the bleeder screw is open, allowing any air to escape. Then retighten the bleeder screw. You should repeat this process many times to be sure that no air remains in the ABS module.
- Repeat the same process for each tire.
- Now you can refill the brake cylinder with new fluid. There should be a full line on the cylinder so you will know where to stop. Be sure to consult your car’s manual to be sure you are using the correct fluid.
- Double check for leaks. It is a good idea to have someone pump the brake pedal for you while you check around the car for any leaks. And be sure that the pedal is working properly as well.
- Replace the wheels. Now you can replace the wheels. Once you have lowered your car, be sure to test the brakes again.
Points to Remember
While it can be disconcerting to feel your brakes go soft when you apply them when you are out driving, it does not mean you need to panic. This means that you do need to check them out, however. If you have a scanner it can be helpful in letting you know exactly where the problem lies.
If you do not have a scanner, you can still check the problem yourself. If your brake pedal does not bounce back when you take your foot off of it, it can be a sign that there is air in your ABS module.
You will need some tools, time and patience to bleed the air from your system, but it can be done. Make sure that all your hoses are intact and that none of them have any holes or wear and tear.
Once you have completely drained the brake fluid, you will need to fill up the reservoir with new brake fluid. Remember to press on the brake pedal while tightening the bleeder screw. Repeat the process several times to ensure that no air remains in the system.
Although unsettling, removing the air from your ABS module is a DIY project. If you are handy in the garage, you should have no problem tackling this yourself. Make sure you have the tools you need before starting and you should be all set. Give yourself plenty of time to complete the job.
If you are not comfortable trying to bleed the air from your ABS module by yourself, make an appointment to bring your car to a service professional; they will be happy to take a look for you.