Ford Full-Size Vans 1989-1996 Repair Guide

Bleeding the Brakes



When any part of the hydraulic system has been disconnected for repair or replacement, air may get into the lines and cause spongy pedal action (because air can be compressed and brake fluid cannot). To correct this condition, it is necessary to bleed the hydraulic system after it has been properly connected to be sure that all air is expelled from the brake cylinders and lines.

When bleeding the brake system, bleed one brake cylinder at a time, beginning at the cylinder with the longest hydraulic line (farthest from the master cylinder) first. Keep the master cylinder reservoir filled with brake fluid during bleeding operation. Never use brake fluid that has been drained from the hydraulic system, no matter how clean it is.

It will be necessary to centralize the pressure differential valve after a brake system failure has been corrected and the hydraulic system has been bled.

The primary and secondary hydraulic brake systems are individual systems and are bled separately. During the entire bleeding operation, do not allow the reservoir to run dry. Keep the master cylinder reservoirs filled with brake fluid.

Wheel Cylinders and Calipers

See Figure 1

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: To bleed the front brakes, place one end of a clear hose on the bleeder screw and the other in a clear container of brake fluid

  1. Clean all dirt from around the master cylinder fill cap, remove the cap and fill the master cylinder with brake fluid until the level is within 1 / 4 in. (6mm) of the top of the edge of the reservoir.
  3. Clean off the bleeder screws at the wheel cylinders and calipers.
  5. Attach the length of rubber hose over the nozzle of the bleeder screw at the wheel to be done first. Place the other end of the hose in a glass jar, submerged in brake fluid.
  7. Open the bleed screw valve 1 / 2 - 3 / 4 turn.
  9. Have an assistant slowly depress the brake pedal. Close the bleeder screw valve and tell your assistant to allow the brake pedal to return slowly. Continue this pumping action to force any air out of the system. When bubbles cease to appear at the end of the bleeder hose, close the bleed valve and remove the hose.
  11. Check the master cylinder fluid level and add fluid accordingly. Do this after bleeding each wheel.
  13. Repeat the bleeding operation at the remaining 3 wheels, ending with the one closest to the master cylinder. Fill the master cylinder reservoir.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 2: Place the clear plastic hose over the wheel cylinder bleeder screw and the other in the clear container of brake fluid when bleeding the rear brakes

Master Cylinder
  1. Fill the master cylinder reservoirs.
  3. Place absorbent rags under the fluid lines at the master cylinder.
  5. Have an assistant depress and hold the brake pedal.
  7. With the pedal held down, slowly crack open the hydraulic line fitting, allowing the air to escape. Close the fitting and have the pedal released.
  9. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for each fitting until all the air is released.