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Motive Power Bleeder

Old 07-09-2019, 06:25 AM
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Motive Power Bleeder

Let me preface this post by saying that I’m a fairly new member on this forum I only purchased my 1987 Formula in April 2019. Prior to that (and currently) I was road racing and instructing in my Nissan 370Z.

With the 370z traditional brake bleeding never results in a hard pedal. That’s why the Motive Power Bleeder is the rule and not the exception in those circles.

The motive power bleeder works by pressurizing and filling the master cylinder brake reservoir with brake fluid. You only have to fill up the motive with brake fluid, pump up the hand pump to pressurize the canister to about 15 pounds, and then it’s as simple as breaking loose the bleeder on each caliper to bleed your brakes. You get a perfect bleed every time.

I was a little surprised when I did a search for the motive on this forum and found almost no mention of it save for the occasional post excoriating it. I felt like members were really missing out on a really good tool and I needed to rectify this situation. So I decided to try it on my new formula.

That’s when I discovered why there must be so much suspicion for the motive. Unlike my 370Z or most any new model vehicle there is no dedicated adapter to attach to the brake reservoir cap.

A quick telephone call to motive and they told me that I needed to use their universal adapter model number 1115. This adapter is a essentially a 4 1/4 x 8 3/4 aluminum plate with a rubberized backing to seal on the master cylinder brake reservoir. It comes with a set of metal hooks chains and wingnuts which are purportedly used to seal the adapter to the top of the brake reservoir.

Now I understand the distain for the motive in this community. I’ve been using this unit for nearly 10 years (albeit with the dedicated 370Z brake reservoir adapter) and still I was having trouble trying to get a seal on the master cylinder reservoir. Without a good seal you can pump and pump on the canister and nothing happens or worse you get a little bit of pressure which then quickly bleeds off before you can actually break open the bleeder valves on the caliper. Very frustrating ...

I can only imagine someone who is using this for the first time and I understand wanting to punt the little canister out of the garage.

However, all is not lost! I suggest you take the chains, hooks, and wing nuts and toss them in the trash or in your spare parts bin. Then grab some of your C clamps (or go to Harbor freight and buy their deep 5 inch C clamp) and use those to seal the cap. Voila!

Trust me, once you get up to speed with using the motive power bleeder you’ll never go back. You can bleed the brakes on any car (assuming you have the correct adapter) in seconds without the need for a second hand. And you’ll get a complete bleed that you simply cannot get with traditional foot pumping. When you push the brake pedal, you’ll be amazed at how hard it is (I apologize for the double entendre).




Last edited by ResIpsa; 07-09-2019 at 07:06 AM.
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:52 AM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

I first used a professional brake Pressure Bleeder working in an auto repair shop, in the late 70's. Even then, the "Universal" type adapters, in the OP's photo, often leaked and made a mess. And that was when the MC reservoir was cast iron and you could clamp the adapter down hard, w/o worrying about breaking a plastic reservoir.

Fast forward, about 15 years ago, I bought the Motive system and most of the adapters, All except the "universal" one pictured work fine and give a through bleed! The adapter Motive sold me for my Two, 1996 Chev Impala SS's and 1995 Buick Roadmaster (B Bodies) , would NOT fit, because it was too thick to clear the firewall "Lip". Motive milled the adapter down to clear, but it still leaked. When I told them I believed it was because the Motive installed rubber gasket was too firm, to seal a plastic reservoir, they said they would "Get back to me". I never heard from Motive again and never got the Motive to work, on my B-Body GM cars.

WHEN they work correctly, pressure bleeders are great!
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Old 07-09-2019, 11:32 AM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

As an experiment, I pressurized my Motive last night before I went to bed.The adapter that you see in the picture held 10 pounds of pressure overnight.
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Old 07-09-2019, 11:47 AM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

You can use the bleeder from the far end too, at the caliper. I think the reason it isn't suggested very often is that it's not really necessary with the design of the brake systems. There is no ABS system, and there really isn't much place for air to get trapped. I bench bled my master and prop valve and then assembled. I have a very firm pedal. I think part of the problem is people pumping the pedal when trying to bleed brakes. When you pump you can aerate the fluid. Just need to put pressure on the pedal and then open/close, release, repeat for a good bleed. :shrug:
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Old 07-09-2019, 04:23 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

The Motive doesnít work from the caliper. It only blows it does not suck.

And trust me, I donít expect everyone on this forum to run out and buy the mystery voodoo brake machine. Especially with the consensus that it doesnít even work and even if it did itís unnecessary.

Just leave this post for the new member, who like me, just happens to have one and wants to know if they can use it to bleed their new third gen.
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Old 07-09-2019, 06:09 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Yes, I know it "blows, not suck", you can still use it at the caliper, you just need another container
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Old 07-09-2019, 10:27 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

I've never used one of these things. Does it end up topping off (over filling) the reservoir?

Bleeding a T56 transmission hydraulics is a serious PIA, and it needs to be done fairly often if you have long tube headers.. Can the unit make a good seal to the stock clutch fluid reservoir?
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Old 07-10-2019, 05:09 AM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

I have never had a problem with it overfilling the reservoir. Usually, I find that when you break the seal on the canister it sucks up the remaining fluid back into it. Then you simply pour in the brake fluid from the canister until youíre at the right level.

As to the clutch master cylinder reservoir I never use the motive for that. I suppose you could with the right cap or adapter, but I find using a mighty vac attached to the bleeder screw as a better solution.
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Old 07-10-2019, 05:32 AM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Originally Posted by scooter View Post
Yes, I know it "blows, not suck", you can still use it at the caliper, you just need another container
This Motive sucks...


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Old 07-10-2019, 08:10 AM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Originally Posted by ResIpsa View Post
....... I find using a mighty vac attached to the bleeder screw as a better solution.
I find the mighty vac a better solution for ALL bleeding activities , be it clutch or brake work . The pressurized motive seems a complete waste of time for our cars since it has no dedicated master cylinder cover . If the manufacturer can't be bothered to make it actually work on my car , why oh why should I waste my time/money trying to make some ill fitting POS work when the mighty vac works perfectly ?

Bottom line = If someone wants to get a good "one person" brake bleed done on a third gen , skip the motive and go mighty vac instead
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Old 07-10-2019, 08:14 AM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Originally Posted by ResIpsa View Post
This Motive sucks...
Forget it, you obviously don't understand.
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Old 07-10-2019, 12:40 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Originally Posted by OrangeBird View Post
I find the mighty vac a better solution for ALL bleeding activities , be it clutch or brake work . The pressurized motive seems a complete waste of time for our cars since it has no dedicated master cylinder cover . If the manufacturer can't be bothered to make it actually work on my car , why oh why should I waste my time/money trying to make some ill fitting POS work when the mighty vac works perfectly ?
Just so were all on board, I am not a troll sent by Motive to hawk a product. Yes I also have a Mighty Vac but the front bleeder location on my 1987 Formula does not provide good access to slip on a vacuum tube over the bleeder. Instead, I have to use the wonky right angle rubber bleeder adapter which never seals... (there I go...) I mean whichI cannot everget to seal while getting a wrench on the bleeder with one hand while pumping the mighty vac feverishly with the other hand to get a vacuum. All the while there is never any good place (unless you have three hands) to hold the little collection bottle which usually ends up popping open and spilling on the floor. And even if everything works perfectly you only have a brief period of suction and the collection bottle holds a tiny amount of old fluid.

With that said, I have used the Motive to bleed the brakes on my Formula. I used the 1115 universal adapter held on to the reservoir with 3 c-clamps. It took me all of 2 minutes to get a good seal. I tested the canister and it held 10 LBS of pressure for more than 10 hours. I bled my brakes in under 1 minute (if anyone reading this has a Motive and wants some tips on getting a good seal just pm me).

How about we just agree to disagree?
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Old 07-10-2019, 01:21 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

The Mighty-Vac is garbage. Useless on the average thirdgen. The bleeders don't seal in the calipers, air sucks right past the threads so you never really get a good pull. Then you've got those rubber adapters that don't fit the bleeders.

The pressure bleeders are a good idea, but the design of the master cylinder in our cars doesn't lend itself to the method. Our caps barely seal under the best conditions. The shop manual shows using the flat adapter and straps to make it seal.

Really though, bench bleed the master, get a second set of limbs to run the pedal and give them the 30 second crash course in following directions, works every other time.
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Old 07-10-2019, 02:24 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Originally Posted by Drew View Post
The Mighty-Vac is garbage. Useless on the average thirdgen. The bleeders don't seal in the calipers, air sucks right past the threads so you never really get a good pull. Then you've got those rubber adapters that don't fit the bleeders.

The pressure bleeders are a good idea, but the design of the master cylinder in our cars doesn't lend itself to the method. Our caps barely seal under the best conditions. The shop manual shows using the flat adapter and straps to make it seal.

Really though, bench bleed the master, get a second set of limbs to run the pedal and give them the 30 second crash course in following directions, works every other time.
Drew:

I figured out how to get a great seal and it was easy. I really am not kidding about this.

The trick is to ditch the chains. They suck (unlike the Motive)!

Use C-Clamps! Take a look at my picture.
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Old 07-10-2019, 02:56 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Excellent workaround, I applaud your problem solving ingenuity! I was mostly getting at how the GM service manual recommends this kind of power bleeding, for the benefit of the naysayers. I'd love to be able to do it that way, and have it work, but for now the willing helper has been my solution. I may have to try the power bleeder again sometime.

Another potential work around is a 4th gen master cylinder with a more common screw on cap. But then that opens up the "how do I convert to a 4th gen master cylinder" questions.
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Old 07-10-2019, 03:19 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

[QUOTE=Drew;6313469
Another potential work around is a 4th gen master cylinder with a more common screw on cap. But then that opens up the "how do I convert to a 4th gen master cylinder" questions. [/QUOTE]


i agree, this works great, if you combine it with the 4th gen pedals and booster

i recently did this on my current swap project in my 88 camaro and the motive bleeder worked great with this total 4th gen set up and the brakes work great (LS1 front / LT1 rear) with great pedal
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Old 07-10-2019, 05:38 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Originally Posted by Drew View Post
The Mighty-Vac is garbage. Useless on the average thirdgen. The bleeders don't seal in the calipers, air sucks right past the threads so you never really get a good pull. Then you've got those rubber adapters that don't fit the bleeders.
My workaround for the vacuum leaking past the bleeder threads is to slip a small O ring over the bleeder and slide it down the threads till it forms a seal between the threads and the caliper . I loosen the bleeder , give the O ring a little push against the caliper , and with vacuum applied it seals fine . I get a great bleed every time (the O ring trick won't work unless your bleeders and calipers/wheel cylinders are clean) and have not yet encountered any fitment issues with the rubber adapters .
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Old 07-10-2019, 07:53 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

As someone who does not like using the mighty vac to bleed brakes I was appreciative of Drew supporting my position. But...

I think the absolute statements of which there can be no debate are probably not that helpful.

If orangebird has found a way to make the mighty vac more effective then thatís something that might be valuable to some member on the forum trying to bleed his brakes solo.

I donít know what the point would be for me to attack him because I ( in my learned opinion ) know better and I know heís lying to everyone on this forum.

I hope this forum can be better than that.

Kumbaya my lord...kumbaya...

Last edited by ResIpsa; 07-10-2019 at 08:04 PM.
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Old 07-10-2019, 09:25 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

All anyone can do is share their experience. The Mighty-Vac might work for someone else. My experience with it was that it was only really useful for things like testing EGR valves or other vacuum actuators. After trying different things, and contorting under the car multiple times, fighting with trying to get it to pull a vacuum without air leaking in, blah blah blah... It went in the trash.

In retrospect I probably should have held onto it, but honestly after 10 years in the tool box, and only getting used a couple times, and always being a frustration, it was time for it to go away. In all fairness, the homebuilt pressure bleeder I put together went in the trash too. I'm sure it'd work with the right technique, but at the time it didn't meet my expectations and space is at a premium in my shop. As it is, I need to throw out a ton of parts that no one seems to need, and greatly thin the herd to give myself enough room to work.
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Old 07-11-2019, 05:52 AM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Personally I hate the mighty vac as well. But thatís just my opinion.
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Old 07-11-2019, 09:48 AM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Originally Posted by ResIpsa View Post
....... I mean whichI cannot everget to seal while getting a wrench on the bleeder with one hand while pumping the mighty vac feverishly with the other hand to get a vacuum. All the while there is never any good place (unless you have three hands) to hold the little collection bottle which usually ends up popping open and spilling on the floor. And even if everything works perfectly you only have a brief period of suction and the collection bottle holds a tiny amount of old fluid.
You weren't using the same mighty vac as I have . The unit I have hooks up to a compressed air source and through venturi action creates a really strong vacuum into a 2 1/2 gallon catch container . Yes indeed I'll bet the little hand pump unit would be useless for bleeding anything , but it's big brother does get the job done .

Originally Posted by ResIpsa View Post
As someone who does not like using the mighty vac to bleed brakes I was appreciative of Drew supporting my position. But...

I think the absolute statements of which there can be no debate are probably not that helpful.

If orangebird has found a way to make the mighty vac more effective then thatís something that might be valuable to some member on the forum trying to bleed his brakes solo.

I donít know what the point would be for me to attack him because I ( in my learned opinion ) know better and I know heís lying to everyone on this forum.

I hope this forum can be better than that.

Kumbaya my lord...kumbaya...
Very well said and I agree 100%
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Old 07-11-2019, 01:20 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

I picked up the motive bleeder a few years back, great product. I also grabbed 2 of the bleeder catch bottles for the bleeder end. I found that the pressure bleeder is usually unnecessary and that putting a little fluid in the catch bottle to seal the stem works just fine in most cases. I have used it to pressurize the system so I could do the abs bleed procedure on my trucks. I found that for $20 you can turn it into a ls oil prime tool, and THAT is what makes this tool great. When put in the proper port it will prime the pick up tube, pump, and send the rest through the filter into the engine.
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Old 07-11-2019, 01:51 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Originally Posted by 91ls1t56 View Post
I picked up the motive bleeder a few years back, great product. I also grabbed 2 of the bleeder catch bottles for the bleeder end. I found that the pressure bleeder is usually unnecessary and that putting a little fluid in the catch bottle to seal the stem works just fine in most cases. I have used it to pressurize the system so I could do the abs bleed procedure on my trucks. I found that for $20 you can turn it into a ls oil prime tool, and THAT is what makes this tool great. When put in the proper port it will prime the pick up tube, pump, and send the rest through the filter into the engine.
I never thought about using it in that way. Pretty cool!
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Old 07-11-2019, 02:06 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Originally Posted by scooter View Post
Forget it, you obviously don't understand.
I know that came across as pretty snarky. I honestly was not aware it could be used as a suction bleeder.

However, it would be really cool to know how to use it in that fashion. Could you explain how you do that?
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Old 07-11-2019, 03:04 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Originally Posted by ResIpsa View Post
I know that came across as pretty snarky. I honestly was not aware it could be used as a suction bleeder.

However, it would be really cool to know how to use it in that fashion. Could you explain how you do that?
It's not a suction bleeder, you would use it exactly like you're using it, just from the remote end
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Old 07-11-2019, 04:29 PM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Originally Posted by scooter View Post
It's not a suction bleeder, you would use it exactly like you're using it, just from the remote end
Do you mean pushing fluid through the bleeder up through the system?
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Old 07-12-2019, 10:10 AM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

Originally Posted by ResIpsa View Post
Do you mean pushing fluid through the bleeder up through the system?
I would be interested to see how that works as well , my thought being that since the bleeder threads are loose enough to require my O ring trick to get a good vacuum when vacuum bleeding , wouldn't pressure bleeding attempted at the bleeder push a bunch of fluid past the threads (and onto the floor) instead of up through the system ?
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Old 07-12-2019, 10:13 AM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

I remember reading a post where someone had to bleed from the caliper, I it may have been a completely dry system though
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Old 07-14-2019, 11:28 AM
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Re: Motive Power Bleeder

As to the question of power bleeding the clutch hydraulics - yes that absolutely works. I don't have the Motive - I have a real brake flush system in my shop that has a pump with adjustable pressure. You dial in about 20 psi, break loose the slave at the bleeder (aftermarket slave), couple of pumps of the pedal and it's bled in about 5 seconds. I was astonished - I had perfect firm pedal in three pumps.

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