Brakes Basics: The Tools You Need to Maintain Your Braking System

Brake light

Brake issues can be pretty obvious, like when you're in traffic and the squeal of the brakes is louder than your music. Sometimes brake issues aren't so obvious, but your odometer is telling you it's time to check them out.

Either way, proper maintenance and care of the brakes and braking system can go a long way for your car's operating efficiency. Instead of paying someone else to do it, you may be inclined to maintain, fix, or replace the components of your braking system yourself. Let's talk about a few specialized tools, lubes, and fluids you'll need to get started.

Brake fluid

You’ll need at least one quart of quality brake fluid to fully bleed your brake system. Running out in the middle of a brake job isn’t an option and it’s inexpensive, so buy two.


Vacuum-bleeding tool

If you’re bleeding a vehicle with ABS brakes, pedal bleeding can introduce air into the ABS valves. If that happens, you may have to take it to a shop to perform a scan tool bleed procedure. To reduce the likelihood of air intrusion, we recommend using a vacuum-bleeding tool.

Brake bleeder wrench


You can use an ordinary box end wrench to open the bleeders, but a brake bleeder wrench is much longer, so you get extra leverage to coax open the bleeder screw. They're inexpensive and will last you a lifetime of brake bleeds.

High temperature grease

Coat the caliper pins, slides, and sliding bracket area with high temperature synthetic brake grease. Buy a bottle, or a single project pack.

Piston retractor tool and C-clamp

Start your brake job by pushing the piston into the bore with a C-clamp. But once you’ve removed the caliper, switch over to this piston retractor tool. It’s easier than using a C-clamp.

Maintaining your own brakes is a great way to ensure that your braking system is up to par and doing it yourself could save you some money in the long run. It's important to always consult your owner's manual first. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations to ensure warranties are not voided.

Last updated November 1, 2018