Product Review: Motive Products Power Bleeder Short Cuts
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By: Mark Griese - 1/03

The Motive Products Power Bleeder is an effective tool for one person to easily bleed brake or hydraulic clutch systems. This unit will allow the home mechanic to perform the same pressurized bleeding as found in brake shops, without the high cost of buying a professional unit. With it's built in hand pump and pressure gauge, there is no need for an external air source, and you can prevent damaging over pressurization of the system while bleeding. Which means this self-contained unit could be used almost anywhere, such as after an unexpected trail repair. The large tank on the standard model allows you to completely bleed the brake system without the need to refill the tank. Since the tank may be filled away from the vehicle, you can avoid messy and corrosive spills, which are typical when using a large bottle to refill through a small fluid reservoir opening.

The real advantage of pressurized bleeding versus manual bleeding is eliminating the possible damage to your master cylinder. During manual bleeding, your helper must pump the brake pedal to create the pressure to force the fluid through the system. Under normal operation, the piston in the master cylinder will travel only a small distance in its bore. This leaves the rest of the bore unused and subject to possible corrosion. When your helper pushes the pedal into this unused area, it can damage the piston seal or dislodge contaminates that will then be flushed through your system. A damaged piston seal will mean replacement of the whole master cylinder, and contaminates could cause a malfunction of the ABS modulator pump. Pressurized bleeding eliminates these worries since the brake pedal is not even used.

I needed to bleed the brakes after replacement of the rear brake hose following a suspension lift. Bleeding is always recommended whenever the system is opened, or the fluid has become discolored for some reason. At a minimum you should bleed your brake system as part of a periodic maintenance program to ensure optimum braking performance. Over time the brake fluid will naturally accumulate corrosion-causing moisture, which can only be removed by bleeding out the old fluid. So for the cost of this unit, two quarts of fluid, and a line wrench, you will know your ABS equipped vehicle is protected. The cost of an ABS component or any component from the traction control systems found on many new vehicles would greatly outweigh the cost and time it takes to do this simple maintenance.

Power Bleeder Kit

I received the Universal Power Bleeder Kit (#0101) for this review. This has the model 1101 adapter for use on most import and late model American vehicles, which includes many GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru vehicles. So basically, it will work with any vehicle that has a round fluid reservoir less than 3.5 inches. It comes complete with the tank, pre-attached reservoir cap, cap gasket, j-bolt retainers, chain, instructions, and a handy length of hose for the bleeder valves. The only things you will need to get are two large bottles of brake fluid (as recommended by the manufacturer), a clear container to hold the fluid being flushed out, and a suitable line wrench for the bleeder valve (10mm for Toyota vehicles). The instructions specify that brake or hydraulic fluids never be left in the tank, so follow Motive's recommendation and use denatured alcohol to wipe off the pump mechanism and the inside of the tank after use.

Using the Motive Power Bleeder
Installed on reservoir

Here's a simple overview of the steps involved in using the Power Bleeder:

More complete and detailed instructions are included in the kit and on the Motive Products website. To avoid a big mess it is important to remember that pressure is always released from the tank first, not the reservoir. Unlike two person bleeding, you will not have to worry about finding someone to pump the pedal or keeping the reservoir full. The pressure in the tank was good for finishing one to two wheels before having to pump it back up to 15psi.

Overall, this product lived up to the claims on the Motive Products website, but I was quite surprised to finish without spilling any fluid, and cleanup only involved wiping out the tank. Be aware that the fluid will damage your paint if a spill is not washed off right away. Always dispose of used fluid properly by taking it to a collection facility.

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