How to save a broken off brake bleeder bolt problem. DIY fix. - Drive Accord Honda Forums |
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post #1 of 2 Old 01-08-2018, 07:47 AM Thread Starter
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How to save a broken off brake bleeder bolt problem. DIY fix.

If the brake bleeder bolt is snapped off, you can do what apparently most people do and 99.99% of people will tell you to do:
buy a new or rebuilt caliper.
If so inclined, stop reading, goodbye and best wishes with your new caliper. It’s ‘cheap’ and ‘easy’ and the right solution. Right?

But if inclined for other reasons continue reading.
Perhaps you like a challenge, or you need your car back driving asap and can’t wait for replacement part, or you want to keep your very good stock OEM Honda caliper and not put in a cheap alternative. (Or you know who Mr Money Mustache is and are not a ‘consumer’).
Whatever the reason, I’m not going to state this is the very best option to do here, just that it can be done, and it can work.
You could ALSO simply leave your caliper in there until it seizes, knowing you cannot bleed that caliper anymore. Ever. Then replace it. If the bleeder is stuck in there, that means the bleeder bore is stuck closed. I read some idiotic posting here about how driving with a broken bleeder bolt is a hazard to driver, and everyone else out on the road (and they’re a horrible idiot). Oh yeah? With that flawed logic, I guess anyone driving with a (closed) bleeder bolt installed anywhere in their braking system is the same reckless dangerous life endangering driver.
Back to the repair.

- replacement bleeder bolt M10 x 1.00 pitch 33.00 length. FOR MY COUPE. You sedan may have the same size or different. As I understand it the stock sedan models may have smaller factory calipers. Not sure if bleeder is same size or not. Check first.
I got a Front stock replacement size at Napa in stock: Napa part #22069 for $1.99 (rear brake is different: M10 1.25 pitch)
- drill and drill bits up to 11/32” (or 8.8 / 9mm if you have it)
Very helpful, or needed depending:
-PB Blaster
-AGS Sil-Glyde (brake safe temp safe brake lube)
-torch for heat
-Vice grip pliers (perhaps channel locks as second best)
-Tap. You may need a M10 1.00 pitch tap if it gets to that. I got one ordered from my local Grainger shipped to store for next morning $1.97. Grainger Item# 2LXN7. This carbon steel version worked just fine!
-DOT 3 or 4 brake fluid naturally to replace what you loose.
-5/8” bolt and nut and sandwich bags + 2 washers. Doesn’t have to be that exact size. This will make your life easier.
-brake caliper rebuild kit
-typical ratchet with 10mm, 12mm, 14mm sockets. Perhaps breaker bar / extension.
- Vise or C Clamp with some various lengths bolts will come in handy. Or air compressor etc…
-good flashlight to inspect boring work into the bleeder hole.
-magnet to collect shavings
(-possibly a 7/16” bleeder screw if it comes to that).

First things first.
- I attempted to heat the old bleeder bolt with a propane plumbing torch. Unfortunately something was wrong with the nozzle itself, and it only supplied a weak flame. That’s a strategy people use to try to loosen the bolt first.
- PB Blaster. Soak the area around the bolt (protect all rubber surfaces from overspray).
Let it soak. I only waited about ten minutes then went to next step. Waiting overnight I know can be more effective.
- Vice Grips. Is there any chance there’s enough of a nub left for you to lock on vice grips or channel lock pliers and slowly firmly back out what’s left?
That didn’t work for me, very little was left above the caliper housing, not enough to grip.

Now you’re going to have to do a caliper rebuild. It’s quite easy. Parts for it are not that expensive. I paid about $5 for my complete kit. A Raybestos kit was on sale at Rock Auto for $1.97 + $3 shipping. I also found it locally for $5.99 at an A.Z.

-Remove the caliper from the car. (You’re doing this no matter what now. Full replacement caliper, or rebuild) That’s quite straight forward.
Here’s a nice tip from a video posted on a Honda forum:
Use a bolt and several washers, and a plastic bag. When you release the brake banjo bolt you can pass through the brake line banjo opening with your longer bolt, a large washer on it and a thick plastic bag with a small opening for the bolt. That bag will act like a poor man’s copper crush washer. And it works!
Assemble like this: Bolt, washer, bag, Brake banjo bolt opening, bag, washer, nut.
This tip will prevent brake fluid from weeping out while the banjo bolt is disconnected and you are servicing the caliper.

First strategy: The bleeder metal is soft, it will easily drill out. Make sure to center the extractors / bits in the hole. Don’t got down too far and bottom out at the bleeder bore at the end!
If you have bolt extractor bits try them first. That’s what I did. You run them in Reverse on your drill. They go in the opposite ‘wrong’ way on purpose to try to get the bolt out.
I used the smallest size. With a lot of torque, this would not budge this bleeder bolt. I went up a size, still no joy. It felt welded in there.
At this point I had a pretty big hole in the bleeder bolt.
Next step;
Get out drill bits. Make sure to center the drill bit and go slowly, often checking that you are NOT drilling down too far. You cannot hit the bottom bore with any drill bit or you will ruin the sealing surface of it with a new replacement bolt!! I checked progress a lot towards the end. It’s hard to explain, but eventually the tip of the bleeder bolt cracked off and separated in the bore, and spun around at the bottom of the hole. It popped right out with my magnet tip tool.
I also kept removing the metal shavings with a magnet from the hole.

You may get lucky and have the remaining parts of the bleeder bolt simply crack and fall out of the stock threads. This has happened to me many times before drilling out broken bolts. But I was not that lucky this time around. The bleeder threads remnants seemed bonded in there.
Drill up to the needed 11/32" drill bit (or a 8.8mm if you have that one).
I was able to split / break out or chase out the older bleeder bolt leave behinds from about the top two threads. I felt this was very important to get the old threads exposed to have a very specific spot to start the tap. I used a very small slotted screwdriver and and awl / pick type of tool. This is important to try use the tap to merely clean out the old original threads.

Tap out the enlarged holes using the M10 1.25 pitch tap:
Lube the tap with some oil. Start very slowly, and remember to only go about a half turn or full turn and then turn the tap back 1/4 turn to release the cut metal shavings into the tap’s slotted channels. And after about 2-3 turns or so remove the tap, clean out those slots and start again.
I had a ‘cutting tap’ from Grainger. They also make a ‘bottoming’ or ‘finishing’ tap as well, and this does not have tapered threads at the tip, so what that means is you can cut all the way down the bleeder bolt opening. With a ‘cutting’ style tap with the taper at the head of tool, it won’t fully cut the final 1-2 threads at the bottom.
In my case, once I tapped down as far as I could go, I used a spare 10mm bolt and tightened it down into the hole to more or less cut / clean out the remaining threads at the very bottom. Don’t go super hard on tightening it down in there and go a little ways and remove it then start again. Perhaps doing this contributed to a slightly thicker (not wider) thread size in the bleeder hole (?)

So now when I bleed the brakes, some fluid oozes around the new bleeder bolt threads while fluid bleeds out the proper bleed hole at the outer tip of bleeder. I was still able to bleed the system well, and the bleeder bolt tightens into the bore well and seals off the bleeder hole when you tighten it closed. It means some fluid comes out around the bleeder bolt and makes a little mess but I’m still able to both bleed the system well, and seal it off completely when I tighten down the bleeder bolt into the caliper bleeder bore.

If the M10 hole fails / the threads are shot, off track, too large / won’t work for you:
Next size up is not metric anymore but you should be able to go with a SAE 7/16 bleeder bolt which is 11.21 mm. You might be able to use a 7/16 x 20 tap in the existing hole without drilling.

Once you have got the old threads restored, you will now want to completely tear down the caliper. This is to make sure all the metal shavings are removed, and they WILL get into the caliper when doing this job.
That’s still quite easy the brake caliper is very simple in parts and operation.
You can use an air compressor to blow out the piston as many people advise. I have a compressor on hand but didn’t want to bother with it and wasn’t sure how to get a good seal anyway.
So I came up with a trick here after seeing someone try to do this with a screwdriver by hand.
Removing piston trick:
I slowly drove a bolt into the banjo bolt opening to slowly force the piston out of the caliper, by putting the caliper in a C Clamp and later I used a vise with a bolt. You can do either. (see pics below of C Clamp and close up showing bolt in the caliper).

After that follow typical rebuild posts / advice. In shorthand:
-Push out the piston. I like the C Clamp / vise method!
Keep track of the order and direction of how the next 2 parts come out.
-Remove the metal large ring (sort of like a poor man’s circlip).
-Remove the dust boot. It will likely tear anyway, which is the best reason to have a rebuild kit.
(I have re-used a piston seal before successfully on a rare vintage motorcycle - but everyone demands you to install a new one).

(And here’s a fun fact I learned on this brake job I didn’t know: The piston seal is square cut - yeah I knew that. It’s very tight and grabby. So when the brakes are applied it grabs tight onto the piston. It doesn’t let the piston slide. The rubber seal is stuck and dragged out sideways a tiny bit toward the rotor. When pressure is released on the brake, the piston seal itself is the ‘spring’ which pulls the piston backwards wanting to return back to normal from being deformed. That’s a pretty cool tech fact I didn’t know, and why a very good piston seal with good square surface is quite important).

-Remove the piston rubber seal itself from it’s bore in the caliper.
Clean up the piston so it’s shiny and clean. If not bad a rag will do. If you need to remove some debris a scotch pad can work with some brake cleaner. If it’s resistant you may want to gently try some fine grit sandpaper. Like wet / dry 600 + grit. After nice and smooth, clean piston off with compressed air and brake cleaner and set aside.

Completely clean out the bleeder bolt area and the caliper where the piston was. I used the magnet first to collect all the shavings I could. Then I poured some brake fluid in there to flush it out, and then used a bunch of brake cleaner to remove anything else. Compressed air works nice to dry it out and any other small tiny particles.

- I put a little bit of brake fluid on the piston seal, particularly on the inside facing part. You will need some lube there to get the piston to slide back in.

- Install the piston. This was both easier and harder than I thought. Make sure it’s centered very well, that was my issue. If you try to drive it back in with, say, the C Clamp, and it’s not centered it will start to misalign and then you can’t get it in. I actually had a friend over who’s a bodybuilder with very strong hands and he was able to drive it back in with both hands.
To install the piston, FIRST, install the somewhat fiddly piston dust boot, this is the easiest way to get boot back in. I lubed up the inside of the dust boot where it contacts the piston with a small amount of AGS Sil Glyde (which is rubber and high temp safe).
Make sure you have the direction right. I installed the boot all the way to the back of the piston first, slide it on the piston almost the entire way back. It was a lot easier this way. Then push the piston back into the caliper bore. The dust boot will slide forward and you can then set it into the stop at the end of the piston.
Then, by hand carefully check that the dust boot is properly mated into the cutout detent in the caliper. A small screwdriver or, say, a plastic knife, works well here along with your hands.
IIRC, that circlip ring goes in after on the outside of the dust boot.

Overall… this is, well, a solution. It may not be the best one, the prettiest, or the fastest solution.
BUT, it will save your original caliper, and spare wait time on new part. Perhaps it may require a few tools like the Metric tap you may not have, and you will need a caliper rebuild kit as well.
The local parts stores only had limited calipers on hand that were aftermarket junky ones.
I am sure this post will get flamed. Please do no point out the cost and time factor. If that’s your metric for success, then go buy a rebuilt or new one and ignore this post.
I was a little tired of reading how this was ‘impossible’ or implied stupid to attempt this.
Despite the write up, it didn't take that long. It probably is longer to read this haha. (I did this in about 3 hours time going at my own pace enjoying it).
I’ve saved numerous sheared bolts before and done a lot of brake jobs over the years. So I knew it was possible to succeed at even if not guaranteed. I also figure you can’t kill a dead horse… if you’re gonna toss the caliper anyway / core exchange might was well give it a shot and you can always trash it later anyway.
It gave me a lot of satisfaction and for me it was fun to do. I enjoy this stuff, what can I say?

Apologies, I didn’t take a lot of pics along the way, due to being covered in brake fluid, metal shavings, grease etc…
I’ve gone a couple thousand miles so far on this job with some heavy braking in there, excellent pedal feel, and my brake fluid hasn’t dropped a millimeter at the reservoir and no leaks at the caliper.

Pics below show piston as cleaned and hopefully you get yours looking that clean. Restored caliper bleeder hole. Cleaned out caliper piston bore.

Attached Images

2011 Accord Coupe LX-S AT i4 cyl.
'04 Acura TSX 2.4L 6MT
'95 Acura Integra RS 5MT (bought new, had it 19.5 years!)
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post #2 of 2 Old 01-08-2018, 07:53 AM Thread Starter
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more pics

Here's one of the rebuild kit parts number.
Also you can see the bottom bore of the bleeder hole in one pic better.
This is the caliper with the original bleeder hole threads restored carefully with the tap.

Attached Images

2011 Accord Coupe LX-S AT i4 cyl.
'04 Acura TSX 2.4L 6MT
'95 Acura Integra RS 5MT (bought new, had it 19.5 years!)
GreenMM is offline


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