Brake Fluid Change with Motive Power Bleeder

Changing your brake fluid is a regularly scheduled maintenance item and can improve braking efficiency and keep your brakes functioning smoothly.

Performed on a 1999.5 Jetta TDI with a 5 speed manual, other models may vary. Also check out our video on this topic: How to Bleed & Flush Your Brake Fluid .

How often should I do this?

VW and the Bentley manual recommend every two years regardless of mileage. My local VW dealer would do it with the 40,000 mile service. When I just did this, it had been 2 years or 46,000 miles since the last time it was done.

How much brake fluid is needed?

1 liter may be sufficient, but I suggest getting more to be on the safe side, especially with a manual. I used 1.1 to 1.2 liters.

Items needed:

  • Motive Power Bleeder
  • Brake Fluid
  • 11mm wrench
  • Jack
  • Jack Stands
  • Lug nut wrench
  • Empty bottle or other container for fluid
  • Turkey baster
  • 10mm socket with extension (airbox removal)
  • Clamp removal pliers (airbox removal)

What kind of brake fluid is needed?

Any brake fluid that meets DOT4 spec is sufficient.  There are blue versions and amber versions.  Some people like to switch between the two to make it easier to see when you have new fluid coming out, but this is not necessary.  Some people do not recommend using the blue with a manual transmission car, as it can cause the clutch to squeak.  I personally used an amber fluid, when there was amber already in the system, and had no problem identifying when new fluid comes out, as the old fluid will be darker.

What kind of variances are there?

Automatic transmissions will not have a clutch valve to bleed.  If you have a 6 speed manual there may be differences in bleeding the clutch.  MkIV's up to 2001.5 use the pattern (bleed rear passenger side first, clutch last) I describe, beyond that use the reverse of the pattern (clutch first, rear passenger side last).

1. Open the hood and remove the airbox (not necessary, but it makes the job easier, especially with a manual).  There are two 10mm sockets holding it down, one is by the strut tower, and the other one is between the airbox and the battery box, this requires an extension.  Then unplug the MAF, and squeeze the spring clamp with pliers and remove the hose from the airbox.  You may want to stuff a rag in the hose to prevent debris from getting in there, but this is not necessary if you are careful.

2. Break the lugnuts on the wheels loose in preparation for their removal, but do not remove them yet.  It is possible to do this without removing the wheels, but it makes it easier.

3. Jack up the rear passenger side, put in a jack stand to keep the car up.  Remove the rear passenger side wheel.

4. Go back under the hood and remove the sensor on the fluid reservoir.  Remove the cap by unscrewing it.  Leave the screen in the reservoir.

Fluid Reservoir

Resevoir Cap Removed

Engine Bay Airbox Removed

5. Take a turkey baster and an empty container and suck out as much fluid as you can and put it in your container.  Refill the reservoir with your choice of brake fluid, up to the max fill line.

6. Attach the end of the Motive Power Bleeder to the reservoir, but don't put any fluid in the bleeder.

Bleeder Connected to Reservoir

7. Pressurize the bleeder to 10 psi.

8. Go to your rear passenger brake caliper, locate the bleed valve.  Remove the black cover from the valve.  Attach one end of your drip tube to the bleed valve, and put the other end in your container for holding the fluid.

Rear Passenger Side Valve

Bottle Attached to Valve

9. Using an 11mm wrench, open the bleed valve slowly until you have a steady flow of fluid out of the tube.

Fluid Flowing Out of Valve

10. Watch the resevoir and the power bleeder, when either gets low, close the bleed valve.  I suggest stopping when the bleeder has gotten to 8.5 or 9 psi to get a feel for how much fluid it is using.  Don't let the fluid get too low, otherwise you will get air in the system, which is not good.

11. Unscrew the cap to the power bleeder to relieve pressure, then uscrew the end on the resevoir.  Refil the resevoir and repeat the above process until you see new fluid coming out of the bleed valve.

12. Replace the rear passenger side tire, then remove that side from the jack stand and slowly un-jack it.  Repeat the above process for the rear drivers side, then the front passenger side, then the front drivers side, and finally the clutch if you have a manual.

Front Passenger Side Valve

13. The bleeder valve for the clutch is harder to get to, you will need to leave the front drivers side on a jack stand and get under the car to attach the drip tube to the bleeder valve and let it run to your container.  It helps to have the airbox out to see where the bleeder valve is.

Clutch Valve


14. Bleed this like you did for the other ones.  Replace the front drivers side wheel if you haven't done so already, and remove the car from the last jack stand.

15. Refil the resevoir up to the max fill level, and replace the cap and sensor.  Replace the airbox.  Take the car for a quick test drive to ensure proper performance.

16. You're done!