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2011 Subie 3.6R Limited 2013 Cmax e=nergi PHEV
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781 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I did my other fluids at 35K, so I figured I would do the brake fluid as well post some pics of this easy fluid change. My pads are at 80% so they have some miles left on them before the OB gets new pads.

This change is super easy. You don't even need to take of the wheels.
All you need is one of the autozone OEM DIY bleeder kits for $8.49 or make your own out of a jar with a lid and tubing to catch the old brake fluid and prevent air from entering the lines.

Tools:
10mm wrench
siphon tube/pump (for the master cylinder reservoir fluid)

Material:
Dot 3 or 4 Brake Fluid (I suggest 32 ounces)
rags
gloves
protective glasses
Brake Cleaner, Pressure Wash, or Simple Green (depending on the grime factor)
Receptacle for old Brake Fluid



You don't want the old fluid in the MC to be pumped through the brake lines. It will take too long.

First, remove the little filter at the top of the master cylinder reservoir before removing the fluid.


Now remove the old brake fluid from the master cylinder reservoir.

Due to the plastic frame in the reservoir, I could not fit a Turkey baster down past about 1/3 from the cap.

So I used some tubing and a hand pump. Aquarium airline tubing would work fine with gravity to drain the reservoir.

Make sure you don't get any fluid on your paint. If you do, get it off fast.

If you are not changing the pads and depressing the piston, you might want to mark the fluid level on your reservoir for a reference for the new fluid level when you finish bleeding/flushing the lines.



Carefully, fill up the reservoir with new fluid and put the cap back on.



The service manual said to bleed from farthest to nearest to the master cylinder. So the sequence is Right Rear, Left Rear, Right Front, then Left Front.

With this method you can leave the wheels on if the flush is all your doing.

Remove the rubber bleeder valve cover from the Right rear caliper.



Attach your tubing to the valve. If you have the OEM bleed tool with the magnet, attach it to a spot higher than the valve. The wheel wells surprisingly had enough ferric compound in them for the magnet to hold (but I didn't try those till my second round.) Make sure the magnet has a good grab or the little bottle of fluid will fall as it fills.



A half a turn or so counterclockwise with your 10mm wrench.



Now it is time to depress the brake pedal 5-6 times. I used half pumps, because I read somewhere that you can damage the piston. Probably B.S., the service manual tells you to just pump the brake until there are no air bubbles in the tubing/brake line.

If you want to remove all the old fluid, you will probably have to fill the little bottle 3/4 the way up twice (maybe 15 depressions total.) If you do go for the clean fluid, make sure you fill up the cylinder after the first dump of the little bottle just to be on the safe side. You do not want to run your master cylinder dry or you'll be removing it and bleeding it then starting over if it is not destroyed. The Master must have fluid in it at all times during the flush/bleed process.




Make sure there are no air bubbles in the line and your fluid is now clean.
Once done. Tighten up the valve and remove the tubing and bottle.



Remember to replace the rubber valve cover to keep the road grime and brake dust out of the bleeder.



Drain the old fluid and move to the Left Rear.

If you are changing to a different fluid or yours is old it might take a bottle and a half to get to the clean fluid.



Remember to refill the master cylinder and replace the cap after flushing each corner.



Repeat the process on the Left Rear.
Remove Cover.



Place tubing on valve.



Pump brakes several times and check to make sure no air is in the tubing. Continue until fluid is clean. Tighten valve with 10mm wrench when done.



Remove tubing and replace cover.



Drain bottle and tubing of old fluid.



Remember to fill up the master cylinder and replace the cap between the bleeding of each corner.



Repeat process at right front corner.





Refill your master, replace cap, and move to the left front corner.








Almost there.



Fill the master cylinder back to the level it was at before the flush or up the the fill line if you just installed new pads.



Check the system for leaks. If you got the air out and the brakes are not spongy, take the car out and test the brakes at low speeds. Check the system for leaks, then test it at higher speeds. The brakes should feel solid and responsive. Check the brake system once more for leaks.

The service manual has a measurement for the pedal from the steering wheel and more technical diagnostics for the ABS, but I did not use them.

If you are not comfortable working on such a critical safety component, spend the $30-$70 to have a qualified mechanic do it. Personally, I am not sure every mech or tech is going to flush all the old fluid out. This way I know I am starting clean.

Here is an easy video on the Autozone DIY bleeder:
Bleeding the Brake System - YouTube
 

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'14 3.6R Outback
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2,345 Posts
You sir are a pro, even if you did re-use the same fill the reservoir picture. :p
 

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2011 Subie 3.6R Limited 2013 Cmax e=nergi PHEV
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781 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
You sir are a pro, even if you did re-use the same fill the reservoir picture. :p

Thank you. I did refrain from using it 4-5 times. Forgeting would turn an easy job into a big snafu if the MC ran dry. Didn't want to cut that corner - pun intended.

I wish there was a Chilton Manual with pics for the GEN 4.
 

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2010 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium (The Superoo), Graphite Gray Metallic, CVT, Yoko Geolandar G015 AT 225/65R-17
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236 Posts
This is digging up a very old thread, but how is this process affected with anti-lock brakes? Your process is done on a Gen4 just like mine which has ABS. But the Auto-Zone vid shows the same process but has a warning at the beginning that this process is only for cars without ABS. I'm going to do this tomorrow, but I wanted to make sure I was understanding everything as it's my first time doing it.
 

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2019 2.5i Limited
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546 Posts
You may want to research the Motive power bleeder. I flushed my brake system for the first time using the Motive power bleeder two weeks ago. I wish I had bought one years ago.
 

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2016 2.5i Limited, 2013 Tesla Model S 85
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1,058 Posts
The Motive Power Bleeder pushes fluid through from the top. That is how the brakes are bled initially at the factory. If you have an air compressor then Harbor Freight sells a suction bleeder kit often under $30 on sale. The advantage of either of these is that the fluid never stops moving once the bleeder valve is opened. If (heaven forbid) you happen to have an air bubble then the pumping technique described will push the bubble down and it will run right back up between presses of the brake pedal. I use the Harbor Freight tool and pump the pedal at the same time.

If brakes are flushed every 2-4 years then a full press of the brake pedal is probably a good idea for the very reasons hinted at in the O.P., it pushes the master cylinder piston through the full travel of the cylinder and wipes it clean before sediment and corrosion get established. If some emergency situation occurred and the cylinder was not clean then maybe you'll get stopped, maybe not. My belief is that if a full press destroys the master cylinder then it needs to be replaced.

As for ABS, there is likely a loop in the ABS pump which simple flushing does not clear. But replacing the other 90% of your brake fluid is plenty good enough. The old will eventually migrate and mix with the new and you'll get most of it out next time.

On final comment: keep an opened (for quick access, the faster the less damage to your paint) bottle of isopropyl alcohol handy when working with brake fluid. Pharmacy rubbing alcohol is perfectly good. This is the cheapest readily available product to cut brake fluid if you spill. Its just the thing to wipe your fingers and/or gloves. Its just the thing to clean your bleeding tools after use.
 

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2010 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium (The Superoo), Graphite Gray Metallic, CVT, Yoko Geolandar G015 AT 225/65R-17
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236 Posts
I have this from HF One Man Brake Bleeder Kit

The motive bleeder would be nice but I've spent enough money already as I'll be doing the 105K timing belt change this weekend as well.

Good tip on the alcohol being nearby. I'll have lots of rags nearby to protect against spills.
Since I bought the car used I have no idea how often the fluid was changed. So I'm not about to try and push the pedal beyond it's normal range. A new MC is not on my shopping list. The car has lived it's whole life in TX so corrosion is almost nonexistent, but I'd rather just stay safe.

I've bled the brakes on my mtb, but that's so much simpler since I can reach the master cylinder and the bleed valve at the same time. :p
 

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2013 Outback, 2.5i Limited w/ Moonroof
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1,541 Posts
Many years ago I bought one of the small bleeder bottles shown in the DIY above. I used it (or, I should say tried to use it) for one brake bleed job. It was a terrible experience. I had brake fluid everywhere. That little tool (if you can call it that) swiftly went to the landfill.

When I bleed brakes I bleed about 14-16 ounces by the time I get all 4 brakes done. IMHO, that little bottle is not worth the plastic that goes into it. Go to Motive and order a 16 oz. bottle. Instead of the silly little magnet which really doesn't work, it has a braided steel cable with a loop in the end. I wrap the end of the cable around the spring, pull the other side of the cable through the loop and stick a small screwdriver through it. Works perfect!

If you are going to do brakes, get a Motive or one of the competitors. Do it right.
 

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2016 Outback Ltd 2.5 eyesight Nav push button Hole in roof, Lapis Blue
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738 Posts
I simply bought 4 or 5 feet of tubing at Lowes routed it so it went ABOVE the bleeder and then down and into a gallon jug, as long as the tubing was above the bleeder it never allowed air back in and all went good, replaced the pads used 3 pints of fluid so I know all the old was replaced. m Oh the tubing only cost about $1.20 I used the same tubing to syphon the old fluid out of the master cyl as well.
 

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2010 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium (The Superoo), Graphite Gray Metallic, CVT, Yoko Geolandar G015 AT 225/65R-17
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236 Posts
Well, I think it went okay. Not quite sure if I got all the old fluid out though. I have a little less than half of the 32oz bottle of brake fluid left. I did a test drive around the block doing lots of brake checks. Everything feels fine. I'm not convinced that I really even needed to do the flush as it was somewhat difficult to tell when I was seeing new fluid come out of the bleeder. Old fluid was the color of honey and the new fluid looked like veggie oil.

One thing that wasn't mentioned in the how to...I tried doing the process without the car on at first and it seemed like the pedal wouldn't come back after pumping it a few times. I turned on the car and then I was able to pump the brakes normally. Maybe that should have been obvious but I was trying to follow the steps directly.

Rotated the tires while I did it and I'll be tackling the timing belt tomorrow hopefully.
 
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