Manually bleeding the brakes is an acceptable method for the home mechanic but it is not the most desirable approach. Any debris that has entered the master cylinder ends up being pushed through the entire system, possibly creating a future failure of a wheel cylinder or caliper. Most professional repair shops use a power bleeder that is operated by compressed air. They first suck all of the old fluid out of the master cylinder and replace it with fresh brake fluid before starting the procedure. These units are costly, cumbersome to use, and require multiple adapters for specific cars. Not to mention a power bleeder also requires a compressed air source.
Realizing that there must be a better way, the author got very excited when he stumbled upon this vacuum bleeder from Griot's Garage Priced at a very reasonable $69.99 plus shipping, the unit uses a hand pump to suck the air and old fluid from the brake lines. The kit also includes a bottle that sits in the master cylinder to keep the reservoir full with clean, fresh fluid.
The procedure is very simple. After sucking out and replacing the master cylinder fluid simply pump the handle a few times to create a vacuum and starting at the wheel farthest from the master cylinder, attach the clear flexible line to the bleeder screw and crack it open. When you see clean fluid coming through the plastic line you simply close a valve on the tool and then tighten the bleeder screw. Repeat for the other wheels.
Brake fluid service is something that many of us neglect. With the popularity of ABS on newer Pontiacs, now more than ever a fluid change should be part of your maintenance schedule. Older Pontiacs are no exception; they are just less costly to repair than ABS when they fall prey to old fluid.
With the introduction of Griot's Garage's new tool servicing the hydraulic part of the Pontiac braking system never was easier.
Parts Are Parts, Right?
If you own an older Pontiac then the aftermarket is your only source for brake parts, especially shoes, pads, drums, and rotors. But if your Poncho is on the newer side, I strongly suggest sticking with the factory AC-Delco or GM Replacement Parts components unless you are upgrading the system with improved performance components from a reputable source.
Over the last 20 years, braking systems have undergone many invisible changes, especially to the material used in the pads, rotors, and shoes. Many aftermarket brake companies who supply factory replacement parts to auto parts stores make or buy a generic friction material, and now many rotors and drums are coming from China and are of very poor quality. Not only do these parts affect the brake performance, but also the feel of the pedal and longevity. So if you have a newer Pontiac and it needs brakes, do yourself and the car a favor, and keep it genuine GM.