Bleed The Brake Fluid on a Chrysler Crossfire
Bleeding the brake fluid on the Crossfire isn't particularly difficult, nor is there anything inherently different from bleeding the fluid on any other car. It's a great intermediate DIY job that can save you some time and a pretty penny.
While there are a number of tools and methods for bleeding your brakes, we'll be focusing on the time honored pedal-push procedure. Alternatives include gravity bleeding, along with vacuum and pressure bleeders, but those are beyond the scope of this article.
If you're driving a 6-speed manual, I would highly suggest bleeding the clutch immediately after performing this procedure. It's a fairly quick process that works well in conjunction with the brake flush, as the slave cylinder draws fluid directly from the master, which you'll be flushing already. Here's the article covering the procedure.
- OEM Tire iron or breaker bar with 17mm socket
- 9mm open-end box wrench (like this set)
- Torque wrench (optional, recommended) with 17mm socket
- Plastic tubing (aquarium tubing works great)
- Turkey baster or fluid pump (optional)
- Funnel (optional)
- Plastic trim remover or flathead screwdriver
- Bottle or container for old brake fluid
- Protective eyegear and nitrile gloves (brake fluid is nasty stuff, take precautions)
- Jack and jack stands
Brake fluid naturally deteriorates over time. Much like engine oil, the hydraulic fluid in your brake lines will accumulate contaminants as you drive, as well as any moisture that absorbs into the system. It's a good idea to check and replace your brake fluid every 20,000 miles or so, depending on your driving habits.
Additionally, spongy brakes are typically a symptom of air that's made its way into the brake lines. While Crossfires may nominally have brakes with a slight softness to them, excessive sponginess is something to watch out for.
Inspect the brake fluid
Pop the cap on your brake fluid reservoir and remove the strainer to inspect the fluid. Old, contaminated brake fluid is typically quite dark, a good indication that it may be time to change it.
(Optional) drain the fluid reservoir
If you have a turkey baster or fluid pump, you can remove some of the old brake fluid from the reservoir. DO NOT drain it completely! You can safely remove about 3/4 of the reservoir's capacity, ensuring there's enough left over so no air can enter the system from that end.
Replace whatever amount you drained with new brake fluid. This reduces the quantity of old fluid that has to be flushed from the system.
Lift the car and remove the wheels
First, determine how you're going to lift the car and how many wheels you can remove at a time.
You should flush the brake lines in order based on their distance from the master cylinder, starting with the passenger rear, then driver rear, then passenger front and finally driver front.
Since the first brake line you'll be flushing is the passenger rear, you'll probably start by lifting the back of the car first. Before you lift it, remove the hub cap (or caps, if you're lifting both rear wheels at the same time) with a plastic trip remover or flathead screwdriver. It simply pops off. Then, using your tire iron, loosen - don't remove! - each lug bolt.
Lift the car and place jack stands under the driver and passenger rear lift points, which are rubber risers just in front and behind of the wheel wells. It may be easier to place the jack under the forward lift points, raising the side of the car enough to place the jack stands under the respective rear lift points. Use whatever method works best for you.
Remove the lug bolts completely and pull the wheel off.
Attach the plastic tubing to the bleeder screw
For the rear wheels, the bleeder screw is on the inner side of the caliper, above the brake line itself. A plastic cap covers it initially. Note the six-sided nut directly behind the bleeder nipple: this is what you'll turn to open and close the bleeder valve.
Try to fit the plastic tubing over the bleeder nipple as securely as possible. In our case, the tubing was slightly too skinny, so we used a barbecue lighter to heat the end until we could fit it over the nipple.
Here's what it should look like when the tubing is ready to go. Put the other end of the tubing in a container where you'll be collecting the old brake fluid. Make sure it's something you can cap securely later on.
Begin the bleed process
The bleeding of brake fluid is fairly simple, but requires effective communication from both the person at the pedal and the person opening and closing the bleeder screw. Before you begin, ensure the following:
1) The fluid reservoir is topped off in the engine bay; 2) The person working the brake pedal is ready to go; 3) The person managing the bleeder screw is wearing gloves and eye protection in case fluid gets anywhere.
Bleeding involves repeating the following steps several times:
Using the 9mm box wrench, the person at the bleeder opens the valve by turning the screw approximately 90 degrees. The person should then say "open" or "down".
The person at the pedals then depresses the brakes, firmly but gently, and says "down".
Fluid should flow out of the bleeder. When it stops, the person at the bleeder should close the valve and say "closed" or "up".
The person at the pedals then releases the brake pedal, and says "up" when it's all the way back up. The person should not release the brake pedal until the valve is closed! This is why communication is key.
Repeat this process until the fluid is visibly clear of air bubbles and contaminants. For the passenger-rear brakes, this may take as many as 15-20 times, but this will shorten with each wheel.
Remember: open the valve, press the pedal, close the valve, release the pedal. The pedal should not be released while the valve is open, or air will enter the system.
After every 5-6 bleeds, check the fluid level in the reservoir and top it off as needed. Again, don't let the reservoir empty! Air entering from the brake fluid reservoir is bad news.
Once the fluid is looking clean and new, tighten the bleeder screw, replace the cap, and give the brake pedal a few hard pumps to ensure there aren't any leaks.
If it looks satisfactory, replace the wheel. Screw in the lug bolts but don't tighten them fully yet - wait until the wheel is back on the ground before torquing them to the proper spec.
If you've only raised the one wheel, lower it and tighten the lug bolts using a torque wrench to 81 lb-ft. Replace the hub cap. Otherwise, move to the next wheel and repeat the bleed process. Once both wheels are back on the ground, tighten the lug bolts 81 lb-ft.
Repeat the bleed process for the remaining wheels
After bleeding the passenger rear brakes, move to the driver rear, followed by the passenger front and driver front. Remember to check the brake fluid reservoir often to ensure it remains topped off.
When you reach the front brakes, you'll notice the calipers and bleeder screws are configured slightly differently. The bleeder screw is located on front-facing side of the calipers and features a slightly different rubber cap. Once you locate it, the process is identical to the rear wheels.
Once all four brakes are bled and the car is back on the ground, top off the reservoir one last time to just below the max fill line.
Take the car for a test drive -- slowly, carefully -- around a neighborhood or a low-traffic road to ensure the brakes behave as expected. Again, make sure of the following:
- The lug bolts on all four wheels are tightened to spec, 81 lb-ft.
- The brake fluid reservoir is filled to just below the MAX line.
- Any brake fluid that may have touched your car's paint is cleaned off thoroughly. It can chew through the paint otherwise!
If you're driving a manual transmission, now's a great opportunity to bleed the clutch if you have the time.
Dispose of the old brake fluid responsibly. Many auto parts stores have the ability to recycle old fluid, so inquire with a local shop.
- Wheel lug bolts: 17mm, tightened to 81 lb-ft.
- Bleeder screws: 9mm
- Total brake system capacity: 0.5 quarts
- Brake fluid must match DOT4 spec.