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Brake line bleeder valve rounded off

Same 1970’s Ford truck as has the fast idle problem. It’s a four wheel drive. One of the front brake bleeder valves is situated in a way that makes it difficult to get a combo wrench (3/8 inch) on it squarely. It has now rounded off so much that the 3/8 inch is of no use. But the next lower one (5/16 inch) is too small. I’d like to remove it and replace it with a new bleeder screw. I can fit a socket over it, and I think I could with that, but there’s no room for the socket wrench to fit.

I’m thinking vise grips directly on the bleeder screw, but I worry it may crush. What if I put a socket on it, then used vise grips on the socket? I’ve already used the stuff that frees up rusted bolts and let it sit 24 hours. No go.

My fall back is to remove the brake line and change out the brake wheel cylinder with a new one, but I’d like to avoid that much work as it involves the four-wheel drive stuff and takes a lot of time. Any ideas?

If it is stripped no socket will fit it, I have had better luck with a pipe wrench than vice grips in those situations.

There’s no pipe wrench I’ve ever seen small enough to fit that spot. With vise grips, I’d have to use the needle nose types. Regular vise grips wouldn’t clear. Very little clearance on that particular wheel with 4wd.

The socket grabs more of the surface area I think. Plus it is probably twisted a bit, which helps the socket grab better than a combo wrench does. I think if I could figure a way to turn the socket with enough force, that would be enough to free it up.

Another idea I’ve considered is to file it down so a 5/16 combo wrench would fit. Seems like a hassle tho. And may not work after I did it.

Take it off the car and repair it on your workbench where you can get a good grip on it. There I’d use my smallest pipe wrench (6") with a rivet or nail in the bore to help keep it from distorting or collapsing from the force.

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You might consider buying a few brake bleeder wrenches if you do much of this type of thing. Even some comparatively cheap Harbor Freight ones would be better than a normal wrench. Like line wrenches, they make a big difference when it comes to loosening stuck things.

No pipe wrench will fit.
Use proper wrenches.
You may need to use a needle vise grip or V/G and socket
If you need to remove the cylinder then replace it!!! If you don’t then your not just cheap but cheap and deserving of a dope slap.

A 6 point 3/8" quarter inch drive socket with appropriate extensions and flex-joints should fit in there and break it loose…ALWAYS use 6 point wrenches and tools on those things to avoid stripping them…At this point, a small Vice-Grips might be the solution…Failing that, yes, it’s time to start taking the hub apart…

Channel-Lock makes a “Nut Buster” slip joint plier that will usually handle any rounded off bolt when there is clearance. The wheel cylinder would need to be removed and held in a vice to use the tool and of course, when in a vice any number of tools might be up to the job. When bleeders get difficult they usually get broken off in the effort.

Rod Knox is right, you’re now in danger of breaking off the bleeder, better to remove the caliper, use some PB Blaster, and make sure you get the old bleeder out in one piece.

If a 3/8" socket gets a good grip, then I would suggest using a combo wrench with a six point box. If you don’t have one of those, then a 3/8" flair nut wrench.

A vice grip will crush it, but as long as it comes out, that will be ok, you are going to replace it anyway. If it doesn’t come out, then you will have to use an easyout and for that, you will have to remove the wheel cylinder.

You could invest in a flex head ratcheting wrench set, that would fit squarely but they are kind of pricy. Once you have a set of those wrenches, you will wonder how you did without them.

Oh, it’s a wheel cylinder, not a caliper? I’d just replace the whole thing, could need it anyway and it should be pretty cheap.

One other idea, since the current box end you have doesn’t fit squarely, if its not too far off, and you have spare wrenches, take the cheapest wrench with a 6 point box, heat up the neck next to the box, then put it in a vice and bend it a little more.

I’m wondering if a 9mm 12 point socket hammered on is a possibility to get the thing loose.

Ultimately you’ll want to fix this, then don’t ever use anything but a 6 point socket on any bleeder ever, ever again.

Saturday Mechanic Update: Still stuck! I’ve sort of taken it as a test of my masulinity now! I’m refusing to take the easy way out and take the hub apart and remove the wheel cylinder. This is because I’m a man and I have to prove my stubborness. This is what my gf says anyway, as she sits there and wonders why it is taking so long!

Most recently I cut off the top part of the bleeder with a sawz-all (removed the part where the bleeder hose goes) so the socket fits down farther, and I’ve filled it with a dremmel to have four flat surfaces to fit a 11/32 socket. Then I went over to Harbor Freight and bought a couple of cool gadgets. One is basically a really thin 1/4 & 3/8" (one on each end) ratchet drive. It’s super thin. Much thinner than a regular ratchet drive. The other which actually works the best as even the thin socket wrench is still too thick, this other thing is a set of 4 adapters, one of which fits a 3/8 box wrench on one end, and has a 1/4 in socket drive on the other. Very tiny. It allows you to use a small 3/8 box wrench with a 1/4 in drive socket. It’s thin enough to fit. But the socket is slipping… sigh. … well, I’ll report back. Thanks to all for good advice.

By the way, “Texases”, what is PB Blaster?

See if you can find a 9mm 6-point socket and drive it onto the bleeder with a hammer. 9mm are somewhat uncommon…

PB-Blaster is a brand of penetrating oil. But it’s useless on that type of fitting…

Well, if you cut off the nipple already, it wouldn’t hurt to try an extractor bit. They sell those at harbor freight too. Fluted bits that you put in the center hole. As you turn counter-clockwise they bite deeper into the hole. Used with bolts and studs, normally you’d have to drill a hole, but you’ve already got one there.

Then, when THAT twists off, the “Game Over” light comes on…

I agree. Once an EZ Out or screw extractor breaks off your headaches will really begin.
Just try to drill into one of those. :wink:

You mention removing the brake line and replacing the wheel cylinder. Just how sure are you that the brake line is going to come loose? Some of these types of repairs lead you from A to B to C to D to…

As frustrating as this is, wrestling frozen whatevers is very common in the mechanic world. I know one (ahem) who got so disgusted once they closed up shop one afternoon and spent 3 hours at the tavern down the street. This didn’t fix the problem but did provide a fresh attitude on the restart.

Damn, is showing front wheel cylinders from $5-$20!!! You’ve spent more than that on time and tools just to try and salvage this damaged one! Pride is one thing, but blood, sweat and tears over a $20 easy replacement is just plain crazy! Drop the machismo and replace the wheel cylinder! Probably could use some new shoes, and the hardware could probably use some cleaning and fresh brake grease.