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Discussion Starter #1
Does anybody know if it's OK to do the old fashioned method where you open the bleeder screw, have a helper push down the brake pedal, close the bleeder screw, release the brake pedal, repeat until you see fresh fluid? I do this all the time on older cars without ABS and it works fine, but not sure if this will work on our Cruzes. Any feedback appreciated.
 

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2014 Cruze Diesel, 2007 Cobalt, 1981 Camaro Z28, 2017 Volt
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In for the responses. Eventually I'll need to do this (years down the road, hopefully), so I'd like to know as well.

Now, my Cav has ABS (which doesn't work - relay is pulled), and when I replaced the front calipers, and later when I replaced the rear brake lines and wheel cylinders, I did not need to use anything to cycle the ABS system to properly bleed it, but perhaps that's due to the relay being out (and the system thus being deactivated) for a year or two. I also put speed bleeders on it, front and rear, and those made bleeding the brakes a breeze.
 

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Done it on quite a few ABS cars without issue, including my Cruze.

You do run more fluid through them until you see clear stuff than a car without the pump, though - so plan for that. I used 2 of the large bottles of brake fluid on my dad's Jeep. Cruze was about one.
 

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If you're doing it on your own, here are some tips. Run out to the hardware store and get a few feet of 1/4" clear hose. Get an old oil bottle quart and drill a hole in the top big enough to barely squeeze that hose through. Loosen the cap just a tad to let air escape. 1/4" clear hose will stretch over the bleeder screws, allowing you to loosen them, then pump the brakes without getting any air inside or making a mess anywhere. Here's what Terry did a long time ago, for reference. You can place the bottle somewhere so that you can either see it in the side mirror or look at it from the driver's seat.

To save yourself some potential headache, order a few bleeder screws from RockAuto.com before you start. One of mine was cross threaded from the factory and was unusable, and had to be replaced.

 

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Or pick up a Motive power bleeder. Makes it a lot easier for a one man team.
 

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I just did that on my Ford F-150, it has abs, we did each brake caliper, I did mine with a neighbor. Just have to make sure you don't let out all the fluid and start pumping air.
 

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Vacuum bleeding works perfectly fine as long as your master brake reservoir stays full with fresh brake fluid, but wasting a lot more fluid this way because mixing old with the new. With pedal pushing, that master cylinder piston with that rubber ring on it will see places it never saw before and may wreck that seal after a vehicle becomes a couple of year old.

Use to be able to buy new rubber for a couple of bucks, now have to buy a new master cylinder. Had ABS for many years. what year is this? Hmmm, least 35 years, could hot wire the ABS pump for very rapid and clean bleeding, just did this on my 88 Supra, had to rebuild all four calipers due to old age, got buy with four bucks a caliper with all new rubber. ABS had to be drained to do this and leaves air in the pump.

Dealer drained it dry on my Cruze when the rear calipers had to be replaced, would ratchet anymore, claims he pressure bled it, can believe this, left brake fluid all over the engine, what a mess to clean up. Shop manual explicitly states must use a GM Tech II scanner with an ABS module to activate the pump, left me with a pedal that when clear to the floor. Can't argue with these guys.

Since he wouldn't loan his scanner to me, only choice I had was to vacuum bleed, take the car for a short ride, 0 to abut 8 mph, shut it down and do this 3 or 4 times to run the pump, then vacuum bleed again. Had to repeat this sequence four time until I finally got a full pedal. This is practically true on all vehicles since our congress made ABS law, just have that tiny cube with a slot car pump motor on it with no access to that motor.

Manual also states if you do have the scanner, only run that motor for short periods of time or you will burn it up! One thing I really noticed, that ABS only pulses about one pulse per second, use to be 10 pulses per second on all of them, next to worthless, but is the law! Can fan that brake pedal a lot quicker than this.

That Foxwell NT510 for around a 175 bucks claims to activate that pump plus even show all ABS codes. Looking into this.

Dealer didn't even know you have to work the parking brake with rear disc calipers, if you do have an excessive pad or shoe clearance, can quickly pump up the pedal, but if you do have air in the system, can't pump all day and that pedal will be low.

BMW recommends a complete ABS flush every year, I from experience feel once every 2-3 years is enough. Today, an ongoing debate if Dot 3 or 4 is better, good question, both have downfalls.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all the replies and advice. I'm going to take this on in the next couple weeks as the car is approaching 4 years old now.
 

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Took a one pint Mason jar with a handle on it, years ago, and punched two !/4" holes in the lid, soldering two !/4" diameter inch long brass tubes only about an eighth of an inch below the lid, Use this with a hand operated vacuum pump.

You can remove a bleeder without losing any fluid and coat the threads with Permatex non-hardening gasket maker, this way when you pump, will not be putting air through the loose threads.

That Permatex also helps to reduce corrosion so the next time in a road salt area, can remove the bleeders without breaking them off.

Sequence is RR, LF, LR, RR front, just back up the car on my oil changing ramps, have no problem with the front, can turn the steering wheel left or right and reach the bleeders with the tires on the floor.

As long as the reservoir is full, won't have any problems with air getting in the ABS, and have the knowledge, the job was done right.

Hand vacuum pumps became popular in the late 60's, stay away from plastic. Ha, first one I got was plastic, got a little gas in it, that was the end of that, got a metal one shortly after with replaceable O'rings, still good after some odd 40 years.

Before vacuum pumps, only way to test was to suck with your mouth, and if gas, yuk and double yuk, with a clear plastic line, can see when the fluid comes out clean. Around here, Fleet Farm sells it by the foot. Also use a clean funnel, so the brake fluid goes in the reservoir and not all over the place, think they call this common sense.
 
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