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How to Bleed a Hydraulic Clutch

There are many joys to owning a manual transmission automobile. Having a clutch pedal at your feet and a gear shift stick in your hand gives you a level of control over your vehicle that automatic transmission drivers cannot really appreciate. However, while manual transmission automobiles have distinct pleasures, they also come with distinct challenges. One of these challenges is a lack of responsiveness in your clutch that may require that you bleed the system.

You probably didn’t think you were signing up to bleed a clutch when you bought your manual transmission car. However, if you need to do it, it’s better that you know how to bleed a clutch than to take it to a mechanic and incur a big repair bill for something that you can do yourself in your driveway.

What Is a Hydraulic Clutch?

First, it’s important to understand how a hydraulic clutch works. Hydraulic clutches were introduced as an alternative to mechanically linked clutches because they require fewer moving parts that could fail and need adjustment or replacement. The hydraulic clutch works with a master cylinder and a slave cylinder. When you press down on the clutch, a pushrod forces fluid through a tube into the slave cylinder activating a piston connected to the slave cylinder, which disengages the clutch through a release bearing.

Why Do I Have To Bleed My Clutch?

Bleeding your clutch means relieving it of some of its fluid to get out any excess air. Why bleed a clutch? You shouldn’t bleed your clutch unless you are having a problem with it. What kind of problem? Sometimes your clutch may be resistant to release. In other words, if you have the clutch engaged and are trying to shift, the clutch may fight you and try to stay in gear. If this happens, it is probably due to air in the clutch system.

Why is this a problem? Your clutch is a hydraulic clutch, meaning it works according to a hydraulic liquid pressure system, as mentioned above. Liquid allows the system to generate the necessary pressure for the clutch to work. It is this liquid that the master cylinder pushes through the slave cylinder that engages the system. If there is air in the system, you do not get enough pressure and the clutch is not able to fully engage.

Bleeding the clutch is a process in which you remove all the fluid currently in the system, getting out all the liquid and air, and replacing it with purely liquid.

How to Bleed Clutch Fluid

Necessary Equipment and Tools For Bleeding Clutch

  • Someone to help bleed the clutch
  • A wrench
  • Clutch fluid

Steps To Bleeding Your Hydraulic Clutch

The basic steps required for bleeding clutch fluid are as follows:

  • Step One: Check the level of fluid that is currently in your clutch fluid reservoir. Fill it up to the fill line with new clutch fluid.
  • Step Two: Find the bleeder screw and put a pan underneath it.
  • Step Three: Have your helper pump the clutch a few times, then press it all the way down and hold it.
  • Step Four: Take your wrench and open the bleeder screw just a bit, about half a turn. You should hear and see liquid and air coming out of the valve.
  • Step Five: Once the bleeding slows down, tighten the screw. Once it is fully tightened, you can release the clutch pedal and add more clutch fluid.
  • Step Six: Repeat this process until, when you open the bleeder screw, only liquid comes out, and you do not hear any hissing or detect air coming out. Tighten the bleeder screw again, making it a little tighter without over-tightening. Make sure the fluid reservoir is full.

This should resolve your clutch problem. You may want to drive in a parking lot, driveway or other unpopulated area first to make sure your clutch issue is resolved. When the car is parked, you may want to leave a piece of white paper or cardboard underneath it to make sure no fluid is leaking. If it is, it probably just means you need to tighten the bleeder screw.

It’s important to note that you should never completely drain the clutch of fluid during this procedure. You are bleeding the clutch, not draining the clutch. If you completely empty the clutch fluid reservoir, you will probably get more air in it when you refill it, and you will have to perform the steps all over again.

Clutch Fluid Leaks

It is possible that your hydraulic clutch system took on air because there is a leak somewhere in the system – this is the most common problem we hear about from customers who call us or hit us up on Facebook. If you suspect this is the case, instead of refilling with ordinary clutch fluid, you will want to fill your clutch reservoir with our advanced Bar’s Leaks Hydraulic Manual Clutch Fluid with Stop Leak. This product does everything top-of-the-line clutch fluid does, but it also includes additives that stop leaks and recondition seals to help prevent you from losing fluid or taking on air. It’ll fix any leaks you have and protect against any potential future leak problems.

In fact, you will probably want to use this product anytime you need to add clutch fluid. This is one of the highest-performing clutch fluids on the market, so you will enjoy smooth shifting and a longer clutch life with the added benefit of not having to worry about mild to moderate leaks.

Trust Bar’s Leaks

If you do decide to protect your clutch with stop leak clutch fluid, make sure you are using a Bar’s Leaks product. Bar’s Leaks is the most trusted name in stop leak chemical additives with years of experience developing proven chemical repair solutions. If you use a different brand, there is no guarantee of quality or of the product’s ability to seal any leaks in your hydraulic clutch system.

If you don’t know where to find Bar’s Leaks products near you, we have a locator page that should help. And if you have any questions about bleeding your clutch, Bar’s Leaks clutch fluid or any Bar’s Leaks stop leak product, contact Bar’s Leaks right now. We’re happy to help.

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