How Tos / Tech

How to Use Motive Products Power Brake Bleeder

Having the right tool for any job often results in a successful completion of the task, and it can often save time as well, which can translate into more free time and/or more money. A tool that offers both of those attributes and saves you from asking for assistance—well, now that is like hitting the lottery. And that’s exactly what you get with Motive Products hydraulic brakes and clutch pressure bleeder.

Bleeding brakes is often a necessary part of a brake job, and it is usually recommended to change the fluid regularly, too. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water, and water in the system lowers the fluid’s boiling point and also contributes to corrosion. For these reasons, it’s important to flush the brake system. Air and water in a brake system can result in poorly performing brakes and a spongy pedal feel, and those were symptoms that we saw in the WRX.

Unfortunately, the task of bleeding brakes often requires a partner—usually your spouse or child—to get in the car and perform the “pump it up…hold it down” exercise. And that’s exactly what it is—an exercise—as many of us are familiar with the lactic acid build up in the quadriceps that accompanies the process.

A power bleeder like this one from Motive Products removes all of that. No more extra person to help, no more leg presses, and a quicker completion of the task are all benefits to using the device.

Motive Products offers a number Power Bleeder kits to fit all sorts of vehicles. They also offer options with composite reservoir lids or longer-lasting aluminum versions at a slightly higher price. The company also sells most of the reservoir caps individually should you need to add one to your present kit. And the fun doesn’t stop at the brakes, because you can use these kits to bleed your hydraulic clutch system as well.

With our subject Subaru WRX, we’ve been blessed with exceptional brake pad wear and have only had to change the pads and rotors a few times in its 218,000-miles of service. That said, we’ve never flushed the brake fluid in all that time, so it was long overdue as you’ll see from the photos. Using the Motive Products Power Bleeder made it easier to stay on top of that in the future, with a quick, no-mess process.

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Searching the Summitracing.com website we found the MVP-0290 Power Bleeder kit from Motive Products. It comes with several adapters to fit a number of foreign and domestic applications. You can buy just the pump and the particular adapter that you need, but for the reasonable amount of money for the whole setup, plus the fact that your author performs his own work on a number of personal vehicles across many brands, the kit seemed like the smart choice.

The MVP-0290 kit comes with aluminum adaptors as opposed to the composite ones. These are sure to last longer, and they look better, too, but you’ll want to consider how often you’ll use it (and how often your friends will) compared to the additional cost for the upgraded aluminum adapters.

To get started, select the correct adaptor for your application. The 1117 three-prong adaptor, which fits most Fords, also fits our WRX reservoir. It’s a good idea to clean the reservoir at this point to prevent any possible contamination of the fluid, and you need to remove all of the old brake fluid that is currently in the reservoir before you get started. In the FAQ section on Motive’s website (www.motiveproducts.com), it’s noted that this particular adaptor can be difficult to engage, but it didn’t take much for us to get it on the reservoir and get busy.

It can be a little tricky to get the adapter to lock down on the reservoir, so be sure to keep an eye on it and ensure that the adapter is screwing down on it flat and properly engaging the prongs. If it’s crooked, it will cause an air leak and could strip out the reservoir housing. It may take a bit of effort to push it down on the reservoir prior to turning the adapter.

Fill the bleeder tank with your recommended brake fluid, connect the line to the adapter, and then use the plunger to bring the tank up to 15 psi of pressure. It’s not uncommon for air to be in the clear plastic tubing, as this is usually residual from the line itself or the reservoir. The brake fluid, however, will find its way around the air bubbles and into the brake system. From our experience, you can pretty much do this just once and be able to walk around the car, bleeding each corner as needed.

The MVP-0290 power brake bleeder kit comes with a half-gallon tank, which is plenty of capacity for most automotive jobs. Motive also sells a kit with a gallon-sized tank when additional capacity is needed.

Repurposing those Wonton soup containers you have sitting in the garage probably sounds like a good option to catch old brake fluid in, and it can work in a pinch. A better solution, however, is Motive Products’ MVP-1810 catch bottle; it's also sold in pairs under part number MVP-1820. These are high-quality, durable plastic containers with a wire lanyard so you can hang the bottle if your vehicle is elevated. You can also use them to vacuum the old fluid out of the reservoir by simply inserting the vacuum tube into the reservoir and squeezing the bottle.

When you have the vehicle elevated and the wheels off, it’s a good idea to spray the brake bleeders on your calipers with some penetrating fluid. Despite having spent a few winters in the northeast of the country, the bleeders on the WRX were in great shape and broke loose easily. Line wrenches come in handy and help prevent you from stripping the corners off of them, but ours came loose with a six-point socket.

As you can see, age and use takes its toll on brake fluid. We bled the brakes twice on the car, with the first round on the left, and the second on the right. The pedal is much firmer now and the WRX is ready for its next maintenance service. Did someone say timing belt?

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