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Old 09-11-2010, 02:27 PM   #1
SL1Guy
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Default 3rd Gen brake bleed problems after rear disc swap

After finishing up the install I'm stuck on bleeding the brakes.

2000 SL1 w/ ABS
New rotors, pads, and calipers all around.

Now while doing the two person method I can see air bubbles form in the reservoir. The pedal takes a bit of effort(spongy maybe?) but will consistently drop to the floor. There is no pressure being built up. This is with the car off. Just to try it out I turned the car on and the pedal was silky smooth, all the way to the floor, again consistently. No firmness buildup.

All the while there is zero fluid coming out of the bleeders on the calipers. Almost as if there is no fluid making its way into the calipers. I don't believe I assembled them wrong. There was a green protective cap which I removed from the brake line mounting hole. And that should have been it. I used a copper washer on either side of the brake line. There are no leaks in the system. No puddles under the car. No fluid missing from the reservoir.

I've also read up quite a bit on a few other threads. They go on about bleeding the master cylinder like in this thread, http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...t=abs+bleeding. My master cylinder does not have any bleeder screws. There are two brake line nuts on the passenger side. I tried to loosen these nuts to bleed the reservoir but they are a bit too soft and I will end up rounding off both if I continue.

I've also tried a handheld vacuum pump from Harbor Freight but that thing is complete crap. I'm not able to generate enough vacuum, only about 15-20 inHg. I may end up getting a pressure bleeder, http://store.motiveproducts.com/storefront.aspx

My FSM states two procedures, with and without a pressure bleeder, but both require a Tech2 scanner.

Short of rolling this car to the nearest shop I'm really not sure what to try next. I would really appreciate any input.
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Old 09-11-2010, 03:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: 3rd Gen brake bleed problems after rear disc swap

New calipers all around? All empty from the get go?
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Old 09-11-2010, 03:29 PM   #3
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Default Re: 3rd Gen brake bleed problems after rear disc swap

Yes, all empty. I pumped the brake pedal perhaps 30-40 times in hope of priming them and getting them to clamp down. Is there some other method I can try or should I pump the pedal more? Everytime I pump the pedal you can see bubbles shooting up from the master cylinder res.
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Old 09-11-2010, 04:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: 3rd Gen brake bleed problems after rear disc swap

That's an odd problem. It sounds like you may have got some air from the calipers into the rest of the system (perhaps by pumping the pedal so many times). If your abs unit is like mine ('95 SL2) you will have two bleeder screws on it. Try bleeding from there.

Is there any chance that you activated your ABS on the last stop before shutting the car off (to install the new calipers). If so (and you have the same delfi/delco unit as my '95 SL2), you will not be able to bleed the rear brakes until you either reset the pistons with the scantool or drive the car above like 5mph (so the self-test activates). This is the only case in which you need the scantool. The self-test homes the pistons every time, and they should also be homed when you accelerate after activating the abs (so you only need it if the abs was activated and the car was immediately shut off).

If that is the case, the recommended procedure is to make sure your front brakes are good, then drive it fast enough for the self test to take place then bleed the rears.

I believe even if the abs has activated, you should be able to bleed the front brakes (that's commonly expressed, but I suppose it could be wrong).

The front brakes on my '95 SL2 will bleed just from gravity. Have you tried opening the bleeder a bunch, with a full reservoir, and just letting it sit for a few minutes (with a fluid-filled hose on the bleeder, going into some fluid)?
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Old 09-11-2010, 04:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: 3rd Gen brake bleed problems after rear disc swap

DO NOT DRIVE THE CAR THIS WAY! TO DO SO AND ACTIVATE THE ABS WILL NOW CREATE MORE HEADACHES THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE. WARNING!!DO NOT START THE ENGINE AND NEVER TRY TO ENGAGE THE ABS WHILE THE BRAKE SYSTEM IS FULL OF AIR!!

With all new and empty calipers devoid of brake fluid, there's a good possibility all the air in all four calipers are simply restricting the brake fluid from flowing despite all the pumping as air has already migrated back through the lines to fill the master cylinder with air and creating a nice headache. Simple cures in the following suggestions depending on what's available; the fastest method of flushing (you'll definitely need a flushing as bleeding automatically takes place simultaneously) is with a pressure bleeder as low air pressure is used to force fluid from the pressurized container to the m/c while the m/c forces fluid through the lines. Any opened caliper just bleeds air until the fluid reaches the caliper and fills it up before coming out the bleeder valve. Shut off this caliper and go through the rest. Its presumed the flushing is started from the R-R then L-F, L-R and R-F. Without a pressure bleeder it may be easiest to open all the calipers with a hose on each bleed valve feeding into a can. Gravity will push the brake fluid from the m/c into all the lines to eventually fill the calipers. You may need two people to monitor all the bleed valves for leaking at the valve fitting while also monitoring the fluid level to ensure topping off as fluid runs through and fills each caliper. This will be painfully slow using gravity and the small port opening in the m/c's two cylinders. Once fluid is coming out a caliper, shut it and wait till all the other calipers fill with fluid and shut each off till all are filled. Now you can begin the two person bleeding routine and the brake pedal should work since only fluid flowed throughout this slow process. Any air is less a problem as more fluid is everywhere to help develop brake pressure when pumping the m/c for the bleeding process.
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Last edited by fdryer; 09-11-2010 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 09-11-2010, 04:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: 3rd Gen brake bleed problems after rear disc swap

I'll try the gravity bleed and leave all four calipers open. If this doesn't work then I'll have to pick up a pressure bleeder from Summit or some place else. Anyone ever try the Motive brand?
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Old 09-11-2010, 05:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: 3rd Gen brake bleed problems after rear disc swap

Well the front calipers are full. Still waiting for the rears.
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Old 09-11-2010, 06:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: 3rd Gen brake bleed problems after rear disc swap

The hand held vacuum pump can work but remember its for small jobs and you overwhelmed it trying to suck fluid into one empty caliper. It may work on the rears now that the fronts are filled. Take your time once the bleeding procedures begins (and have at least one quart of DOT-3 fluid) as it should go quickly especially when two people divide the work evenly; one to pump the brakes and keep an eye on the m/c level to ensure it never falls low while the other guy lays down on the ground opening and closing a bleed screw. Guess who gets the easy work?
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Old 09-11-2010, 07:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: 3rd Gen brake bleed problems after rear disc swap

The rear passenger side caliper filled shortly after the fronts. Still waiting on the driver's side rear caliper. I'll try using the vacuum pump to finish filling that caliper. Thanks.
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Old 09-11-2010, 07:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: 3rd Gen brake bleed problems after rear disc swap

Alright well the vacuum pump from Harbor Freight finally came through. All calipers are primed and filled with fluid. Now the fun part. Thanks again.
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