How to Bleed Brakes on a Side by Side

Any time you make a repair to your brake lines, you’ll need to know how to bleed brakes on your side by side. Even time can be harsh on your brakes and let air into the lines slowly, requiring you to bleed the brakes. This is a basic mechanical skill that doesn’t require much time, work, or a large set of expensive tools. Really, learning how to bleed brakes on a side by side is a fantastic introduction to get your toolbelt full of new skills.

When there’s air in the braking system your brakes won’t feel right. They’ll be spongy and less responsive. The entire system works on hydraulics, so when the fluid in there is spaced out with air, it won’t function properly at all. Bleeding the brakes on your side by side means getting rid of all that air in the lines to make space for brake fluid.

If your brakes start to feel squishy or you can’t tell when they start to grab on, you’ll want to get in there and bleed the brakes to re-establish a responsive braking system.

bleeding brakes on utv

Jack up the ATV

If you want to, you can jack up the ATV and remove the wheels. You can bleed the brakes without doing this, but you will have much better access to the bleeder valves with the wheels off. This is just a personal preference, and possibly related to the size of your hands.

Fill the brake fluid reservoir

When you open up the brake fluid reservoir, you may see a collection of grime around the cap. Give this a thorough cleaning, being careful not to knock any into the fluid. Dirt in your lines is worse than having air, so do your best to avoid it.

Start by locating the reservoirs for your brake fluid. These are located in different areas on many ATVs depending on the style of brakes you have, but you’ll likely find them attached to the handlebars. The reservoir for the foot pump is usually a bit further away.

Fill the reservoir to the maximum level so there is plenty of fluid to work its way into the lines. Make sure this doesn’t go lower, as you may start pumping air into the lines if you let it run too low.

Pump the brakes

Now, give the brake lever or foot brake three to four pumps. This will build up some pressure and pull some of the brake fluid into the lines, pushing the air towards the end.

Open the bleeder valves

Locate the bleeder valves on top of your brake calipers. Open these carefully until brake fluid starts to come out. If you look closely, you’ll see a lot of fluid that has air bubbles inside of it. You’ll need to bleed the brake lines until fluid comes out without any evidence of air in the system.

With the valves open, having a friend pump on the brakes slowly. Fluid will start to come out of the valves, so pay close attention to both the valves and the reservoir to ensure you don’t go below the line.

Do this for every brake caliper and you’ll get all of the air out of the lines and feel a more responsive set of brakes immediately!

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