Tips on releasing stuck brake bleeder valve

JP

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99 Lumina...again, need to replace a brake hose, but I'm concerned that the brake bleeder valve will be stuck. Any tips on how to loosten one of those babys up? I plan to PB Blaster the heck out of it for a couple days beforehand. It seems to me that heat probably isn't a good idea on the brake caliper.
 

Mobile Dan

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A PB soak is good. I also like to tap the top of the bleeder with a ball peen while using a box end wrench to apply twisting force. I said "tap" because too much force can bust it right off.

Another tip is to use a socket, ratchet, and an extension at least 6 in long. This lets you use two hands (one hand on each end of the ratchet) sot that the bleeder receives 100% twisting force and 0% "leaning force". Hard to explain, but important to understand. Many lug nuts get broken off due to this kind of "leaning force" when people stand on their lug wrench.
 

JP

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Is there any way to tap those out if they get busted off? (I didn't break it...yet ;) )
 

Mobile Dan

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If you drill down though the center hole to remove the tip of the screw, that should relieve the "stuck" of the screw and an easy- out should work. A look at another bleeder screw should tell you how much to drill.
 

dabunk

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Old school trick if you have torch available. Using brazing tip, heat bleeder up red and let cool. Repeat about 3 or 4 times before you try to loosen. Almost always does the trick for me.
 

billr

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Use a six-point wrench to loosen it, even if that means starting with a socket-wrench. If you didn't understand what Danica meant about the pure twist, no lean, ask for clarification.
 

NickD

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Only bleeder I ever broke was on a 78 Fleetwood four wheel rear disk brake where the caliper was 300 bucks and only available from the dealer. On that thing, removed all the rubber and heated the bleeder red hot removing the rest of it with a pair of pliers, practically effortless.

On this car, around 15 bucks for a rebuilt caliper and around 5 bucks for a wheel cylinder, so not a major disaster if you do snap it off. Recently departed 92 DeVille was the last one, caliplers were far more robust using a 10 mm 1/4" drive deep 6 point socket with about a six inch breaker bar.

And what the other guys are saying you want to turn the bleeder, not bend it sideways. Wheel cylinders were 8 mm but thought for a second they were 11/32" as the 8 mm socket wouldn't go on, but did with light taps with a hammer. Want to make dead sure with those, on this thing, only way to reach it, a pair of vice-grips wouldn't work. Don't want t round the heads. As rusty as all four were, they all came loose with the help of a prayer. But maybe God is telling you to replace that cylinder or caliper, not really a great sacrifice to make.
 

JP

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Yep I get it...torque, not shear force. Thanks for the tips.

Perhaps the Almighty will let me know if I need a new caliper or not very soon. ;D
 

NickD

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Plated steel, recall bleeders made of brass, isn't too bad in cast iron. But a cold roll unplated steel bolt in cast aluminum, well that requires more than a prayer. A miracle is more like it.
 

JP

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PB Blaster, tap, tap, tap with a hammer....bada bing. Worked like a charm. I don't know what's in that PB Blaster, but it's been my best friend since I started working on my own cars again about 10 years ago.
 

NickD

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Didn't work for me after soaking a steel tube inline GM fuel filter after soaking it for a week. Finally had to cut the lines to remove it, found new tubing, but couldn't find the fittings anywhere. So tossed the filter with the fittings in a container with a 50-50 solution of hydrochloric acid and water. After 20 minutes got rid of all that rust, could put that filter in a vise, and easily remove those fittings. Would dare use a torch on a fuel system, but that would also work.

Nor on brake lines, can help with the threads on the fittings, but not on that rust between the fitting and the tube. Could use an entire can of it on catalytic bolts, in particular the ones with welded in nuts and get nowhere, there a torch is the only thing that works. Same with clamp bolts on a Ford rear struts.

But PB Blaster is always my first choice to try.
 

TerryQ

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I've read and tried most of the ideas for loosening stuck brake bleed valves. I had one that I could not get loose. Heating can work, but if you have nice powder coated brake calipers like I do, who wants to burn off the paint heating them?

A couple of days ago, I stumbled across a solution that I haven't yet heard. Go out and make several hard stops with the car, and then try loosening the bleeder while the caliper is still hot. I had one caliper where I could not get the bleed screw loose, and I didn't want to break it off. I was scheduled to drive my Corvette on a race track for a day. When I came in after a session with hot brakes, I tried the bleeder screw that had been hopelessly stuck, and it opened with little effort.

I'd also suggest that you not tighten the screw fully until the caliper cools down some.
 

jd

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+, +2 or + whatever on using a socket. Not just bleeders, either. If you've got a brake line you know is shot, going to have to replace anyway, go ahead and cut the line so you can get on it with a socket.

I've had some luck using my cordless impact screw driver on stuck small fasteners. And an air impact on larger ones. The trick is to just ease into it. Let it "rattle," just tapping at the fastener. Don't try to "blow it out." That can wring it off.
 
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