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Old 01-11-2011, 09:51 AM   #1
Ls1Junky
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Default Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

2002 SL2 55k

While bleeding the wheel cylinders after replacing them this weekend(pedal got soft so I checked them and found they were leaking), I made the dumb mistake of letting the fluid get too low in the MC.

This happened while bleeding the RR, and the front section of the MC is what got too low. I heard it gurgle and knew instantly the mistake I had made.

I completed bleeding each wheel cylinder until there was no air, but to no surprise, the pedal is still easily put to the floor.

To resolve this issue, I figure I'll need to bleed the MC.

After bleeding the MC, will I need to bleed all 4 corners to correct the issue?

In the post below there are links to the FSM for bleeding the system. However, they state they are for the sc1/sl1. Is there any difference in the process for the sl2?

I initially thought i would have to remove the MC to bench bleed, but the FSM states otherwise.

Any input will be much appreciated.
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

Bleed the m/c then all four wheels. Follow procedures as instructed and always be mindful of topping off the m/c after each bleed. You're effectively flushing out all old fluid while bleeding out any air introduced into the m/c. There are no short cuts to flushing/bleeding routines considering this is a safety issue. Do it right or don't do it at all and leave it to a pro. When you saw the pedal falling to the floor, you're not in a good place to be if you were cruising along and your brakes don't work....................

Have a helper pump the pedal while you do all the work. This way you get to learn from your mistakes and know better next time.
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Bleed the m/c then all four wheels. Follow procedures as instructed and always be mindful of topping off the m/c after each bleed. You're effectively flushing out all old fluid while bleeding out any air introduced into the m/c. There are no short cuts to flushing/bleeding routines considering this is a safety issue. Do it right or don't do it at all and leave it to a pro. When you saw the pedal falling to the floor, you're not in a good place to be if you were cruising along and your brakes don't work....................

Have a helper pump the pedal while you do all the work. This way you get to learn from your mistakes and know better next time.
Thanks fdryer.

The frustrating part is that i've done this job before without issue on my 97. This time, I just made the dumb mistake of pumping the pedal too many times without checking the MC level...I know better.

Just wanted to clarify some things before opening the lines on the MC since this is something I haven't done before.

thanks again
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Old 01-17-2011, 07:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

Well, after attempting the full bleeding this weekend, I ran into an issue(other then it being 15 degrees outside).

Per the FSM directions listed in my original post, I started with the left front(upper front port) on the MC. I did a few cycles of bleeding and I think it went OK since I was able to get it to a steady stream of only fluid when the pedal was being depressed.

The issue that I ran into was when I attempted to bleed the the right front(upper rear port) on the MC. The front left line had a 14mm nut which I was able to use a box wrench on without issue. The right front port is what seems to be an 11.5mm(if that even exists) considering the 12 had some play.

It was obvious that the box wrench wasn't going to work since the 2 points started to round, however I was cautious to assure I didn't let the wrench slip. To avoid getting myself into a worse situation I decided to stop until I get some flare nut wrenches.

Before I continue, I have some questions:

Should I spray some penetrating oil on the nut, or will I run the risk of that contaminating the system once the line opens?

Any suggestions/recommended techniques on how I should proceed with the flare nut wrenches?

Do I even need to proceed with bleeding this port before moving on to the cylinders/callipers?
-When I made the mistake of letting the fluid get too low, I was bleeding the right rear wheel, so only the front chamber of the reservoir sucked in air. It's my understanding that by design there is two chambers so that if one of the lines fail, at least two other corners would remain operational. Since I bled the front potion of the MC which operates the RR and FR I'm thinking I might be OK.

If there are any brake gurus out there that could chime in, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks Again.
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Old 01-17-2011, 08:18 PM   #5
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

Didn't read all the posts, but in short, just bleed until you have new fluid to all the wheel cylinders and calipers. This should verify that all of the bubbles are out. If this doesn't work, you may have some air trapped in the valves of the MC (which determine the pressure differential between the front and rear brakes). Loosen the 15/16" caps a few turns and take off the reservoir cap. When you see fluid ooze out, tighten the caps again (they will gravity bleed; no pumping necessary). You can't get a wrench on them easily, but a needle nose vice-grip or similar pliers might work. They're aluminum and easily deformed, so be careful not to strip the heads (they can be tight).
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Old 01-17-2011, 10:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

even with a line wrench some of the nuts that went into my ABS module seemed soft. and I also had some problems with one of them.
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Old 01-18-2011, 01:03 AM   #7
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ls1Junky View Post
Well, after attempting the full bleeding this weekend, I ran into an issue(other then it being 15 degrees outside).

Per the FSM directions listed in my original post, I started with the left front(upper front port) on the MC. I did a few cycles of bleeding and I think it went OK since I was able to get it to a steady stream of only fluid when the pedal was being depressed.

The issue that I ran into was when I attempted to bleed the the right front(upper rear port) on the MC. The front left line had a 14mm nut which I was able to use a box wrench on without issue. The right front port is what seems to be an 11.5mm(if that even exists) considering the 12 had some play.

It was obvious that the box wrench wasn't going to work since the 2 points started to round, however I was cautious to assure I didn't let the wrench slip. To avoid getting myself into a worse situation I decided to stop until I get some flare nut wrenches.

Before I continue, I have some questions:

Should I spray some penetrating oil on the nut, or will I run the risk of that contaminating the system once the line opens?

Any suggestions/recommended techniques on how I should proceed with the flare nut wrenches?

Do I even need to proceed with bleeding this port before moving on to the cylinders/callipers?
-When I made the mistake of letting the fluid get too low, I was bleeding the right rear wheel, so only the front chamber of the reservoir sucked in air. It's my understanding that by design there is two chambers so that if one of the lines fail, at least two other corners would remain operational. Since I bled the front potion of the MC which operates the RR and FR I'm thinking I might be OK.

If there are any brake gurus out there that could chime in, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks Again.
You don't have to bleed that port. Anything that comes out there will eventually come out at the wheel, if you bleed it enough (which you need to do since you pumped air into the system).

However, if only the front section of the reservoir sucked in air, there should only be air in the front section of the brake system. They're completely separate systems (unless you have a leak inside the master cylinder). It would still be a good idea to flush that part of the system out to the wheels, but not necessary.

Beware--the "front" part of the MC doesn't feed just the front or just the rear wheels; they're diagonally split. You'll have to examine it to see which wheels it connects to if you decide to bleed only that half of the system (it would be front left and rear right, or front right and rear left). Personally, I'd spend the extra $5 for fluid and 15 minutes of time to flush the entire system. You should flush it every few years, anyway (brake fluid absorbs water and if it's not changed before it builds up to a certain level, it will allow the cast iron calipers and pistons to rust internally (bad).

Also, as I said earlier, you can gravity bleed the MC by just opening the caps on top of where the lines go out (two shallow 15/16" bolt heads). Even if you get clean fluid coming out of the lines, there could still be air trapped in them because it's the highest part of the system.

For future reference, or if you decide you want to bleed from the line-ports, anyway, a vice-grip will almost always remove even a rounded line bolt (but if you're aggressive with it, it may do enough damage to the head that you'll always need to use a vice-grip in the future). Definitely spray it with some PB blaster before you try anything, though. If your wrench doesn't fit well, try an imperial size--the master cylinder is shared from other cars which are not metric (hence why the caps are 15/16", not a metric size), and it's possible that the line fittings are also an imperial size (if the threads are imperial to match the MC, the heads probably are, too).
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Old 01-19-2011, 03:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlasticCarsRock View Post
However, if only the front section of the reservoir sucked in air, there should only be air in the front section of the brake system. They're completely separate systems (unless you have a leak inside the master cylinder). It would still be a good idea to flush that part of the system out to the wheels, but not necessary.

Beware--the "front" part of the MC doesn't feed just the front or just the rear wheels; they're diagonally split.

.
Thanks for the reply, this is what I was trying to confirm. I'd rather not mess with the rear port since the nut is already starting to round. I will definitely bleed all 4 corners, but didn't want to to waste time doing that if i'd have to bleed the rear port at the MC and then start all over again.

Again, only the front chamber took in air, so it should have only affected the RR and FL lines.

If anybody else has any insight/clarifying notes on this issue, please chime in.

Thanks again
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Old 01-19-2011, 04:14 PM   #9
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

Don't feel too bad about rounding off bleed nuts. Been there done that. My L300 last year when I decided a full flush was appropriate. One of my master cylinder bleed nuts wouldn't budge and I don't have flare wrenches. Vice grip and the nuts open, period. I do what I have to do to make things work. If this were a shop that used flare wrenches and the nut still rounded off, what do think they'd do? Results are expected no matter how its done. So what, one of my bleed nuts are slightly rounded; I can loosen them now and that's all I'm concerned with.
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Old 02-10-2011, 10:19 AM   #10
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

So, there is finally some warmer weather (high of 35) forecasted for this weekend, so I'll finally be able to bleed the rest of the system.

It was about 2-3 weeks ago that I bled the front chamber of the master cylinder. Again, it was the right rear that I messed up on and let the fluid get too low, so only that chamber took in air. Anyways, since that much time has gone by, should I re-bleed from the MC before carrying on to the wheels?

Also, I want to see if the process I used sounds correct for bleeding the MC.
-Opened front line until fluid dripped/streamed out.
-Closed line
-Had fiance slowly push down on the pedal as I opened the line
-Closed the line before/when she got to the floor
-Had her slowly let the pedal back up
-Repeated about 10-15 times

If anybody thinks there is something I missed, or should change within that process, please let me know.

Thanks again
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:33 PM   #11
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

When the master cylinder fluid level empties and exposes the two port holes at the bottom of the reservoir, the master cylinder must be bled, period. Unless you're an expert on brake systems (I'm not) no one knows which two pistons have air in the m/c so its safer to just bleed the m/c to guarantee no air travels all the way from one of the fittings towards the back wheel cylinders or calipers when flushing/bleeding the system. Why bleed only one fitting (at the m/c) since you're already bleeding half the system? Bleed the other half and you're done without having any doubts. I did and its really the correct way of doing brake flushing or bleeding, from the m/c to all four wheels. Do it as a complete repair, not half a****. It doesn't take any more time or that much more fluid (@$6/qt of DOT-3 fluid).

As to bleeding the m/c itself, its not necessary to bleed each fitting 10-15 times; oil from the reservoir only has to travel by gravity to fill the small chambers in the m/c that's compressed when the pedal is pressed to be expelled out the nearby bleed fitting. At most, 1 to 3 or 4 pedal applications will be more than enough to bleed the front and rear m/c chambers. Each bleed will expel about an ounce or less. The main lines are still small diameter and will use most of the brake fluid as the pedal is repeatedly pressed to flush oil all the way from the front to the rear wheel cylinders. Just remember to check the m/c reservoir after each wheel cylinder is flushed/bled to prevent the fluid from emptying out and having to start all over again.

Its been written that about quart is used for an entire flush/bleed procedure. Two quarts ensures against oopsies.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:59 PM   #12
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
When the master cylinder fluid level empties and exposes the two port holes at the bottom of the reservoir.... the master no one knows which two pistons have air in the m/c so its safer to just bleed the m/c to guarantee no air travels all the way from one of the fittings towards the back wheel cylinders or calipers when flushing/bleeding the system. Why bleed only one fitting (at the m/c) since you're already bleeding half the system? Bleed the other half and you're done without having any doubts. I did and its really the correct way of doing brake flushing or bleeding, from the m/c to all four wheels. Do it as a complete repair, not half a****. It doesn't take any more time or that much more fluid (@$6/qt of DOT-3 fluid).
The MC has 2 chambers, only the front one that controls the FL and RR took in air.

The rear top line fitting for the MC is starting to strip, so I just know it's going to be a royal pain to deal with, so I rather not.

I feel calling it half as*ed is a stretch if a step in a process isn't necessary(unless i'm missing something about the way the system functions).
I do intend on bleeding all 4 corners until clear fluid flows.

None the less, I appreciate your input
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Old 03-06-2011, 05:30 PM   #13
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

With the warmer weather yesterday, I was finally able to bleed the system at each wheel. The fluid was clear and free of any visible air bubbles when I was done(about 10 times per wheel). The bleeder I used was one of those one man bleeders you can get at Advance. At the end of each bleed, I had my fiance pump the brake so I could close the bleeder valve when the pedal was depressed(even though that shouldn't be necessary)

Unfortunately, there is still air in the system somewhere.
I took the car out for a test drive and the pedal is still way too low and spongy. I was hoping it was due to the drums not be adjusted correctly but confirmed that isn't the issue.

I'm assuming the air must still be at the MC. I must have done something wrong when I bled the front section of the reservoir.
Again, the process I used was from the FSM:
-Opened front upper line until fluid dripped/streamed out.
-Closed line
-Had fiance slowly push down on the pedal as I opened the line
-Closed the line before/when she got to the floor
-Had her slowly let the pedal back up
-Repeated about 10-15 times

Should I be leaving the line open until the pedal is all the way to the floor and then close it? The FSM doesn't say that, but I feel like that makes more sense.
Even though the rear section of the MC reservoir never took in air, I guess I should re-bleed both chambers of the MC.
Once the MC is bled again, is it necessary to bleed at the wheels?

FWIW, I don't think the MC is shot. When I pump the brakes with the car off untill they build pressure(which is usually about even with the gas pedal,lower than my 97) it will hold there and never gradually fall to the floor.

If anybody feels I'm missing something, or has any additional troubleshooting I could try, please let me know. Going on month 3 now without my car.
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Old 03-06-2011, 05:52 PM   #14
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

When short cuts are used, results can be disappointing. Don't take short cuts. Brake hydraulic systems have been around longer than you think and the science has already been done. Stick to procedures and follow the plan. Using creativity just changes the end result unless you're far more qualified in brake systems than revealed. I'm not an expert but know my limits. The service manuals extend my limits as long as I can read, understand, and follow strict guide lines. Knowing basic hydraulics helps.

From the service manual; Brake Pedal Excessive Travel
*With the engine off and key off, pump the service brake pedal until all the reserve vacuum is exhausted from the brake booster. A definite change in pedal feel will occur.
*Install the SA9304NE brake pedal effort gage or equivalent, onto the brake pedal. [skip this step]
*Hook the end of the tape measure over the top edge of the brake pedal and measure the distance to the rim of the steering wheel.
*Apply the service brake pedal with 445 N (100 lb) force and re-measure. *The difference between the "at rest" pedal position and the "applied" pedal position is the actual pedal travel and should not exceed 57.0 mm (2.25 in).
*If the pedal travel is greater than the specification, refer to Brakes Complaint/Condition Chart for possible causes.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf brake chart.pdf (76.7 KB, 17 views)
File Type: pdf brake bleeding.pdf (99.1 KB, 36 views)
File Type: pdf brake bleeding 1.pdf (122.4 KB, 21 views)
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:03 PM   #15
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

If the car works fine (as in its not unsafe) I suggest to just keep using it around town and see if it gets any better.
I find that if the car is usable after what appears to be a flawless bleeding, by just driving the car the air and imperfections all work out over a few days and its fine in the end. Last time I bled the brakes on my 96 they didn't feel great, after a few days they were perfect and still are (2 years ago)
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:33 PM   #16
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

I just use my trusty Motive power bleeder. Put a quart of fresh fluid in the unit, pump it up to 8-10psi and then bleed each corner until you get fresh fluid in this order:

RR
LR
RF
LF

If you have a lift, it takes 5 minutes. If you don't, and you pull each wheel to get to the bleeder nuts then it takes about 20 mins.

http://store.motiveproducts.com/blac...-0109-p21.aspx
http://www.tirerack.com/brakes/acces...tail.jsp?ID=21
http://www.tirerack.com/brakes/acces...tail.jsp?ID=22

I switch between ATE super blue DOT4 and it's gold equivalent. That way, it's easy to see when you're into the new fluid when you're bleeding.

Best,
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Old 03-07-2011, 05:12 PM   #17
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
When short cuts are used, results can be disappointing. Don't take short cuts. Brake hydraulic systems have been around longer than you think and the science has already been done. Stick to procedures and follow the plan. Using creativity just changes the end result unless you're far more qualified in brake systems than revealed. I'm not an expert but know my limits. The service manuals extend my limits as long as I can read, understand, and follow strict guide lines. Knowing basic hydraulics helps.

From the service manual; Brake Pedal Excessive Travel
*With the engine off and key off, pump the service brake pedal until all the reserve vacuum is exhausted from the brake booster. A definite change in pedal feel will occur.
*Install the SA9304NE brake pedal effort gage or equivalent, onto the brake pedal. [skip this step]
*Hook the end of the tape measure over the top edge of the brake pedal and measure the distance to the rim of the steering wheel.
*Apply the service brake pedal with 445 N (100 lb) force and re-measure. *The difference between the "at rest" pedal position and the "applied" pedal position is the actual pedal travel and should not exceed 57.0 mm (2.25 in).
*If the pedal travel is greater than the specification, refer to Brakes Complaint/Condition Chart for possible causes.
Again, thanks for your input as it is much appreciated. While I may have not agreed with you originally, I feel bleeding both sections of the MC must be needed for whatever reason.

In regards to bleeding at the wheels, do you feel the one man bleeders are no good?

I've used them with success in the past on my 97. (did this exact job 3 years minus the screw up.)
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:30 PM   #18
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

I've never used a one man bleeder but I am familiar with how it works. If you're comfortable with using it and haven't encountered any problems, use it. Like any tool, the more its used the more comfortable it becomes as you don't have to think about it as it helps perform a function. I went in the other direction and made a pressure bleeder to force brake fluid through the lines. Both methods work.
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Old 03-11-2011, 11:50 AM   #19
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Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

Before I try and tackle this again tomorrow, I still have a few unanswered questions I was hoping someone who has done this before could clarify.

While bleeding the lines at he MC, should the pedal be fully depressed before closing the line?
FSM states to close it as the pedal is being depressed. I feel that if it is done this way, there could still be air that never gets pushed out of the bore.

After bleeding the 2 lines at the MC, should the calipers and cylinders be bled again? I'm not sure if air would be introduced at the beginning of the 2 lines in question right at the MC.
If it is required, I'm not sure how I'd know the air made it from the beginning of the line at the MC, all the way to the caliper/cylinder since all the fluid is now clear.

Lastly, any harm in spraying some penetrating oil on the rear nut i'm having issues with? I'm concerned there is the possibility that it could enter the line.

Now I just need to decide if i want to start my day by taking another stab at this, or just do the pads and rotors on the 97...never ends

Thanks again to all who have replied so far. This forum continues to be such a valuable resource.
...
Blue 2002 sl2 52k
2001 Trans Am Ws6 340 rwhp 360rwtq
Past: Gold 1997 Sl2 125k...totaled :(
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Old 03-11-2011, 12:46 PM   #20
OldNuc
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Far Southwestern Iowa
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Brake Bleeding Error : Next Steps?

Repeated brake bleeding by master cylinder stroking can result in sufficient wear on the rear piston seal in the master cylinder that it sucks air on every return stroke. To check for this failure remove the fill cap and look back towards the rear chamber while a person in the car very slowly presses the brake pedal by hand for about 1/8" after the free play has taken up in the linkage. You should see a solid stream of fluid jet up from the bleed port in the cylinder. If air bubbles come out you have a problem.

Bench bleeding of a filled master cylinder is rarely necessary. As air is lighter than brake fluid the air tends to rise up to the bleed ports in the master cylinder. Park the car with the rear higher than the front and be patient. The 2 large caps on the side of the MC hold 2 spring loaded check valves and these valve bodies will trap air and cause a spongy pedal. If you loosen the cap they will gravity bleed from the master cylinder. Keep in mind that brake fluid is also a very good paint stripper.
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