Sealey Vacuum Tester & Brake Bleeding Kit VS402 v2
Cost: varies from £25 – £70
Shop around and get the bargain, no need to RRP for this item. Amazon and eBay sell this at all sorts of random prices.
As I have been changing the drum brakes hardware and updated the Master Cylinder to a Dual Master Cylinder with brake boost, I obviously needed to bleed the system properly. Now when I have a major session on the car the wife goes out and I am left in peace. Now this is fine except for the brakes when bleeding. Tried and tested way is the hose in a pot and somebody sitting there pressing the pedal for you while you open and shut the bleed nipple. There are various bleed tools on the market and this seems to have good reviews. The vs402 will do more than just bleed brakes as well so I opted for this one.
I have been trying to find out what the difference is between the v1 and the v2 productions. I have not found the answer at all, but from what I can see they have changed the pipes to clear, if anybody does know please let me know and I will update this review.
What’s In The Box:
Starting with the box, this is an orange blow moulded case with two plastic hinges that snap over the bottom lip, cheap and cheerful. Everything in the case has it’s place and does not rattle around inside. The carry box came with a card wrap around which will be thrown away as soon as you get it to be honest as it falls off anyway.
Inside the box it looks impressive. There is the hand pump itself and the collection pot with two different lids; one lid is for the sealing of the pot and the other is for the operation of the tool. The accessories are the 3 right angled nipple adaptors, two short pipes about 4″ long and the longer pipes which are 2′ long each. There is also a universal cup adaptor, T section, pipe joiner and two nozzle attachments.
Lastly there is the instructions, eight pages of A4 with diagrams, only 7severn pages are used, just. the link to the instructions click here
The hand pump:
The pump barrel is made of brass and feels solid with a plastic fronted gauge to the front with a metal case to the rear. The front face does mark up easily as its Perspex. The handles are steel and feel solid as well and the rubber comfort handles are just a slide over effort. The gauge goes up to 30hg vac. The total size of the gauge, barrel and handles is around 10″. There is a small plastic separator just under the brass barrel that keeps the pump slightly out for some reason. If you loose this then the handles don’t quite fit in the case and you have to squeeze them shut a little. Why?
The action of the pump is smooth and the vacuum goes up fairly quickly if there is little to vacuum out, although when trying to empty the pot and the hoses then the repeated hand pump can give you a bit of a wrist ache if doing thirty or forty pumps in quick succession. If you block the end of the pump (like they tell you not to), then the vacuum created stays were it was and there appears to be no leak from the piston or seals. Under the bottom of the barrel there is a quick release valve for the vacuum which comes in handy when trying to empty the pot out. The end of the barrel has a serrated end to stop the pipes falling off and work well.
The plastic pot is quite small and holds up to 120ml or 4fl oz. which are marked on each side of the pot. For a large bleed of the hole system I would have preferred a larger pot to be honest. But, trying to pump the air out of a larger pot could be tiresome, but I would rather that than keep emptying and pumping again. There are two option for the lid, one for transportation and the other for the pipework fittings. They both have a lug fitting under the rim of the pot. The seal is created by a rubber washer at the top and takes a good firm twist to lock into place which I liked the feel off.
The pipes and fittings:
There are two sizes of pipe with this kit. There are the longer pipes which go to the bleed nipples or inbound connections and the short ones which got from the pump to the pot and from the lid the bottom of the pot. The longer pipes are around 24″ long and are generous to get where you want. The other pipes are for the barrel to the top of the lid and down to the bottom to created the no return effect. The fitting is where this starts to go down hill a little. The plastic fittings are the typical Sealey brittle plastic, I managed to break one trying to remove the pointed nozzle fitting from the pipe. First use and it breaks. I have left the other in the end of the tube as I don’t want to break that as well.
Sealey supply a set of three right hand rubber nipple covers that the push into the ends of the clear longer tubes. I found that these didn’t stay on the nipples particularly well, perhaps it was down to the fact I have a USA spec car and the fittings are more Euro bias size? I can’t tell as they are only marked A, B or C, as C being the smallest fitting. There is also a straight fitting and a T-bar fitting along with a universal cup.
Although I fitted a new master cylinder that also needed bleeding, I will not being going into that long process of bleeding, this review is about the tool itself from the brake bleed nipples.
I have mainly used this for brake bleeding, but there are other things to use this for, checking, vacuum advance, transmission vacuum, inlet manifold vacuum, servo diaphragm, mechanical fuel system, carburettors, fuel injection regulator, emission control exhaust gas valves, vacuum thermal switches etc etc. I have attached a copy of the instructions at the end which explains all the different functions it is capable of performing.
The longer pipe goes to one side of the lid which is then attached to the inner fitting down to the bottom of the pot. the other end of the lid goes to the pump body. Keep the pot upright in order to make sure that no fluid gets into the pump body via the little hole at the top of the lid.
The photo here is without the pot attached to show the basic fitting.
I mentioned above the rubber nipple connections, I had to use the smallest fitting for the fronts and they were difficult to get in place due to the steering and suspension arms. To get round this I have come up with a novel solution. I got one meter of fish tank clear hose with a 3mm inside diameter. Then I got a tapered centre punch and a lighter. I pushed the punch into the hose and gently heated it with a BBQ lighter to soften the hose and make it expand to the punch. Once it had expanded I took the punch out and pushed it over the nipple. This formed an air tight seal and the other end was pushed over the cone type adaptor that I previously broke trying to remove it after use.
Remember – Do not use the naked flame near fuel or flammable liquids.
This technique could be used for many nipple connections for a more reliable fitting. It cost me a total of £2 for the 1m length of tubing from eBay. I was able to attach both the lengths of pipe to the front bleed nipples and leave them their. Only attaching the larger pipe to the smaller pipes when I needed to. This saved a lot of time and fiddling about. The difference is that I did not have a ninety degree angle but the flexibility of the pipe and the way it attached to the nipple was superior than the rubber connection they supplied. This was also easier to apply a small spanner (9/32 for the front) without being hindered by the rubber fitting.
The larger pipes fitted over the rear cylinder nipples without any problems what so ever for a firm air tight fit, no need for the connectors at the rear either.
Tip 1: The first thing I must tell you is make sure that the bleed nipple has a good supply of copper clip grease around the thread. If not then the vacuum will suck air into the hose through the nipple threads, then you think somebody has put an airline down the brake lines! The instructions does mention copper slip grease for the threads, but only to stop them rusting up. This copper grease air tight thread is a critical step, I wasted half a litre of Dot 4 before I realised something was wrong. You have been warned!
Starting the bleeding you have the nipples closed and start the vacuum process by pumping up the handles till the vacuum reads approximately 21hg. I left this here for a moment or two to make sure there was no gap. Starting at the correct point on your car, the right rear on a Mustang, you open the nipple and the gauge will drop if the air sucked out is more than the capacity of the pot.
Now you can either pump again, or just nip up and create the vacuum and repeat. The second time I got fluid into the pot and the air that came with it. As soon as I got fluid there I checked the reservoir at the master cylinder, the last thing you need is to suck the fluid out and then more air into the system. I guessed that I would flush the system out with the fluid so I purchased two litres, decanting into the old pots once it had been pulled through the system.
Tip 2: Check the reservoir at very regular intervals to make sure you do not suck air back into the system.
Once I had sort of done the wheel I repeated he process around the others to get fluid into all the wheel cylinders. Then I pumped the pedal a few times and went round again. Each time creating a vacuum then releasing the nipple to suck more fluid through. Once the fluid runs through the pipes with no air bubbles then the process is complete.
I did however go round three times at each wheel to make sure all the pipes were free of air being as this was a complete new brake system, new set of brake lines, master and wheel cylinders, shoes and springs. I was flushing out the fluid about a pot in each corner to make sure fresh and clean fluid was in place.
This saved no end of time, I was able to get the fluid from the master cylinder to the wheel cylinders on my own. The only down side is keep having to check the reservoir was full or at least three quarter full all the time. Once you have an air tight line and the gauge is pumped up the vacuum is enough to keep pulling fluid through without pumping again.
The bleed nipples must be airtight when starting the vacuum method. When using the traditional method if there is a air gap around the thread then the air wont get back in as it would have to be under pressure to get back in. The pedal forces the fluid out when depressed and then you can lock the nipple up. The fluid gets pulled through the plastic tubes and the air is also mixed in with it. This makes you believe the system is full of air. It caught me out. BUT, saying that – it done me a favour as I well and truly flushed the system through with fluid.
After I had bleed all the brakes I then went back to old school, I got the wife to press the pedal and squirt the fluid into the pot, it was not connect tot he pump at this time just a collection pot, just the same as a pipe in a pot. The fluid came out clear and no bubbles after a couple of pumps. Obviously the pressure of the fluid acted differently than being pulled out.
Rating: 7 out 10
The pump feels solid enough, the pump action is ok, but the pumping can be tiresome having to pump a lot of air out of tubes as well as the pot and the system. The fact that the conical connector broke while trying to remove it from a tube, the fact that the rubber connections are not great force the score down a bit. The pump worked and it done its job. Whether it performs well on the other tasks it yet to be seen. So based only on the brake bleeding the score was given.
I would recommend that old school bleeding with the foot on the pedal to make sure all the air is out of the system. Would I buy this tool again? Yes I would. The VS402 saved me a lot of time and I doubt I would have got my dear wife to sit there for ages just pumping the pedal for me without it turning into a some sort of “I’m bored, hurry up” scenario. I only needed for fifteen minutes max in the end.