As we all know, there are a number of ways to bleed air from a hydraulic system, none of which are any fun. However, the one-man Phoenix Injector makes the task less of a challenge. While they offer several versions (Power-Ject; Maxi-Ject Pro; V20; and V12, in both pro and DIY versions), the specific kit we reviewed was the V12 Professional model. By the way, they also offer their Maxpro, an all-metal pump that even offers the option of a very cool rail-mounted flashlight (it sort of resembles a tactical weapon).
The heart of the system is the pump gun. This is a hand-operated pump that features a large, full-contact trigger. The V12 trigger contacts the palm of your hand, while the forward grip remains stationary. This is a nice feature, allowing you to apply pumping force with the base of your hand instead of tiring-out your fingers. The pump also provides both an injection end and a suction end (pressure and vacuum).
The V12 kit we reviewed included the pump and just about every adapter known to man (at least that’s what it looked like), as well as a handy fluid bottle that even features a wiz-bang lanyard and strong magnet. The kit even included a very nifty in-line filter, very handy for pressure (injection) bleeding to prevent contaminants from being introduced into the system. The kit also includes several brake fluid test strips that utilize the FASCAR technology, to test a vehicle’s hydraulic fluid for contamination and condition.
The pump may be used to either suck fluid or to inject fluid. This has multiple applications, such as removing fluid from a master cylinder reservoir, sucking fluid/air from a system (vacuum bleeding), or injecting (pushing) fluid into a system during RFI (reverse fluid injection), system flushing or master cylinder bench bleeding. Naturally, this tool offers applications for both brake and hydraulic clutch system service.
My experience with this tool kit was very favorable. The pump seems well-constructed and (short of smashing it against a wall or driving over it), it should provide a long service life. In addition to the clear vinyl hoses, the pump’s cylinder is transparent, so you can visually observe the piston (and fluid) movement.
Hose connections (to the pump, bottle, and various adapters) feature super-convenient rotational locking/unlocking Luer Lock Quick Couplers. These are easy to use, and there’s no fear of cross-threading issues as would be found with traditional threaded connections.
By the way, as I mentioned earlier, the system’s fluid bottle features a very handy lanyard-attached magnet that allows you to hang the bottle at a convenient location during bleeding. This is a very strong little magnet that sticks. No worries about the bottle accidentally falling, even when full.
During my limited test use, the pump worked flawlessly, with no trigger hang-ups, and no leakage. I tried it out in both injection and sucking modes, and it actually worked, from initial use through four different vehicles. Compared to a few cheapie vacuum pumps I’ve used in the past that claimed to be able to suck air from a hydraulic system (loss of suction, nasty leaks, pistons sticking, etc.), the Phoenix V12 Pro functioned as claimed, with no hassles.
Two examples of pump use
1. If removed from the vehicle, place the master cylinder in a bench vise.
2. Remove the plug from the cylinder outlet and place the injector with universal port adapter into the outlet port.
3. Inject fluid until no air bubbles are present in the front reservoir. Replace the plug into the outlet port.
4. Repeat the process to bleed the rear section of the master cylinder.
NOTE: The Phoenix kit instructions provide detailed bleeding procedures for specific/troublesome makes/models, including both brake and clutch systems.
This is a process whereby fluid is introduced at each wheel cylinder under low pressure and fed back to the master cylinder.
First, drain and clean the master cylinder (use the suction feature of the hand pump to drain the reservoir, noting the volume level on the graduated bottle). This will help prevent overfilling the master cylinder reservoir during RFI bleeding. If the installed position of the master cylinder features an angle, raise the vehicle rear to allow the rear of the master cylinder reservoir to sit slightly higher than the front section. This will allow air to exit the vent ports.
Connect the injection side of the hand pump to the wheel cylinder bleed valve, and the vacuum side of the pump to the bottle that is filled with fresh fluid. Note that the bottle features two nipples. Connect the pump’s suction hose to the vacuum side of the bottle (the nipple that features the black O-ring).
Open the wheel cylinder bleed valve and slowly stroke the pump grip, three to four times. With the bleeder still open, disconnect the pump’s hose from the bleeder, allowing it to “burp” or gravity bleed, then close the bleed valve.
Repeat this process at the remaining wheel positions. Keep an eye on the master cylinder reservoir to make sure that it’s not overflowing. Be sure to allow each wheel cylinder to gravity bleed for a few seconds before closing the valve.
Once the bleed process is done, check the master reservoir and adjust to the proper level. Replace the reservoir cap(s) and test the brake pedal for firmness. If it feels firm, test drive the vehicle.
NOTE: Concerning ABS, the accumulator is isolated from the brake system until anti-lock operation activates. If air is trapped in the accumulator, this may not be detected during normal driving. When the system activates anti-lock, any trapped air will be forced into the system. Always follow OEM instructions for bleeding the accumulator (which may call for two-man bleeding, pressure or vacuum bleeding).
This one-man pump system offers a wide variety of applications and seems to be very complete in terms of the various adapters provided. Vehicle applications include passenger vehicles, motorcycles, trailers, lift trucks, aircraft (brakes and servo systems), tractors and more. Both an instructional CD and DVD are included in addition to the printed 48-page operating manual.
A very nice feature of the manual is the inclusion of bleed procedures on specific “problem child” vehicle systems. If you plan to buy a hand-pump vacuum and pressure bleeder, take a look at this system. It’s not super-cheap, but you tend to get what you pay for. Listed prices (for pro-level systems) range from $169.99 to $399.99.