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How To Bleed The Brakes On An ATV: Complete Guide

How To Bleed The Brakes On An ATV: Complete Guide

Bleeding the brakes on a vehicle is part of the regular maintenance process. All Terrain Vehicles or ATVs are no different. Bleeding the brakes on your ATV is an important task that ensures proper brake performance and safety. If you’ve ever pondered on how to bleed the brakes on your ATV, you’re definitely in the right place. 

Here is the short guide! While the specific process of bleeding the brakes may vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, the basic steps include draining the brake fluid and then replenishing it with new lubricant to get rid of any air bubbles, which may be stuck in the system.

It’s important to note that bleeding brakes require some technical knowledge and skill. So, you want to keep reading and gain a detailed overview of how to bleed the brakes on your ATV. 

Why Must I Bleed My ATV Brakes Regularly?

Before we delve into the steps involved in bleeding the brakes on your ATV, it is crucial to understand the importance of this procedure. Brake bleeding is specifically required in vehicles equipped with a hydraulic fluid system, including ATVs. In these vehicles, the braking mechanism relies on the pressure generated by the flow of brake fluid. 

The primary goal of bleeding the brakes is to eliminate any air bubbles that may be present in the brake system. These air bubbles can significantly impact the performance and responsiveness of the brakes. The process involves draining the old brake fluid and replacing it with fresh fluid, effectively eliminating the air bubbles and restoring the system’s efficiency.

Over time, when you open the brake fluid container cap, a small amount of air can enter the system. Since air doesn’t mix with the fluid, it forms pockets within the liquid. When you apply the brakes, the pistons and master cylinder inside the ATV rely on a smooth flow of brake fluid to engage the calipers and bring the vehicle to a stop. However, even the presence of a small air bubble can disrupt this flow.

The obstruction caused by air in the brake system renders the entire braking mechanism ineffective. Even a tiny air bubble can disrupt the smooth flow of fluid and interfere with the buildup of pressure inside the system. Just imagine the consequences of trying to brake with a significant amount of air in the pipes. Not only does it pose a hazard to the driver’s life and well-being, but it also endangers the passengers of the ATV. This is precisely why it is necessary to bleed the braking system periodically. 

When you perform the brake bleeding process, you remove any trapped air bubbles and maintain the integrity of the hydraulic system. This ensures that your ATV brakes function optimally and guarantees the safety of everyone riding the ATV.

How often should a replacement be done?

The braking system is one of the most important components of an ATV. A lot is riding on the brakes in your ATV especially because it is an open vehicle. Loss of braking and a resulting crash could throw you off the ATV. Even with proper protective gear, you are going to take a hit. Depending on how fast you were going and where you crashed, it could end in a serious injury.

There are chances that the cap of a braking fluid reservoir is only opened once in a while. Still, experts recommend that the fluid lines be bled after a certain period. It is usually a part of the regular maintenance process where the engine undergoes tuning, oil change, as well as replacement of the air filter.

If you follow a regular schedule you could estimate about once a year. The brake fluid should be bled every 10,000 miles. This can be a mileage that you take quite some time to achieve on an ATV unless you are driving it long distances regularly. Ten thousand miles is a good rule of thumb you should keep in mind for when to have the braking system bled on your ATV. 

If you have a little bit of technical knowledge or have done the process before you can bleed the braking system on your own. It isn’t difficult but the main thing is that you have to know what you are doing.

With the right tools and procedures, you can easily perform the whole maintenance process on your own or maybe just bleed the brakes if that’s what is required. I would suggest doing this with a friend and you will see why later.

Brake Bleeding ATV Tools required: Manual Method

If you are willing to perform the brake bleeding on your own and think you can handle it, here is a rundown of the whole process. There are two ways of bleeding the brakes. One is manual and the other requires a vacuum pump. Since the latter is not available with all of the machines, we’ll stick with explaining the manual method.

First and foremost, you need to have all the necessary tools. As we mentioned earlier, the exact tools you need may vary depending on what ATV you have.

Generally, these are the tools which will suffice:

  • A container to hold the fluid as it drains out of the system
  • A screwdriver for some models to open the reservoir
  • The right size wrench to turn the bleeder valve (exit for the fluid)
  • Fresh brake fluid

I use Motul DOT 5.1 Brake Fluid found here on Amazon. DOT 5.1 means it has a higher boiling point than DOT 4 and this is one of the better brake fluids I can recommend.

With all the right tools, you are now ready to begin the process.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Perform ATV Brake Bleeding

The brake bleeding process is not that complicated. All it requires is a little know-how. Here are the practical steps to perform brake bleeding on your ATV:

1. Gather the necessary tools: Before you begin, ensure you have all the required tools and materials as discussed above. 

2. Prepare the ATV: Park your ATV on a level surface and engage the parking brake. Make sure the engine is turned off before proceeding.

3. Locate the brake bleeder valves: Refer to your ATV’s manual to find the location of the brake bleeder valves. Typically, you will find them near the brake calipers on each wheel.

4. Open the brake fluid reservoir: If necessary, open the brake fluid reservoir using a screwdriver or the appropriate tool. This is usually located on the right side of the handlebars near the front brake or lower on the machine. This step helps relieve pressure in the system and allows for easier fluid flow during the bleeding process.

5. Start with the farthest brake: Begin bleeding the brakes by focusing on the brake that is farthest away from the master cylinder. Usually, this will be the rear brake.

6. Attach a clear plastic tube: Take a clear plastic tube from a brake bleeding kit or a suitable alternative. Attach one end of the tube to the bleeder valve on the brake caliper and place the other end into the container to collect the old fluid.

7. Bleed the brake: With the tube securely attached, have a helper press and hold the brake lever or pedal. Loosen the bleeder valve with a wrench to allow the old brake fluid and any air bubbles to flow out through the tube. Tighten the valve before your helper releases the lever or pedal. Repeat this process until you see a steady stream of fluid without any air bubbles.

8. Check and refill the brake fluid reservoir: Monitor the brake fluid level in the reservoir throughout the bleeding process. Ensure it does not run too low, as this can introduce air into the system. If needed, add fresh brake fluid to maintain the recommended level.

9. Move to the next brake: Proceed to bleed the remaining brakes, following the same steps. Work your way from the farthest brake to the closest one to the master cylinder. Typically, this means bleeding the rear brake first, followed by the front brakes.

10. Test the brakes: Once you have finished bleeding all the brakes, ask your helper to press the brake lever or pedal to check for firmness and responsiveness. Ensure the brakes engage smoothly without any sponginess or excessive travel.

11. Clean up and dispose of old fluid: Remove the plastic tubing from the bleeder valves, tighten the valves securely, and clean any spilled brake fluid. Dispose of the old fluid properly, according to local regulations for hazardous waste disposal.


You can do the whole process alone but you won’t be able to check the bubbles coming out at the same time. If you can figure out a creative solution that’s up to you. It is good to use a friend in the process because it helps you get better ideas and a change in perspective too. Also, it is good fun to have someone to pass the time with while you are going through the whole process.

Once your brakes are in good working order you can brake like a pro. To learn more about ATV braking techniques, check out this article I wrote to help you slow down faster. Because slowing down faster helps you corner better.

Thanks so much for reading to the end!

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