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Clutch Fluid: What Is It and When Should You Replace It?

Clutch Fluid

There are a bunch of different fluids flowing through your car on a regular basis. From motor oil and coolant to transmission fluid and power steering fluid, it’s important for you to make sure that you have enough of these fluids in your car at all times. This includes clutch fluid. Although clutch fluid sometimes gets overlooked in the grand scheme of things when you’re thinking about the fluids in your car, it plays a very important part in its overall well-being. Let’s take some time to learn more about what clutch fluid is, how often you should replace it, and what you can expect to pay for clutch fluid replacement when you take your car to a mechanic for service.

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What Is Clutch Fluid?

After hearing us rave about how important it is to keep enough clutch fluid in your car a second ago, you might be surprised to hear what we’re about to say about it. But here it goes: Clutch fluid isn’t something that even exists. If you were to walk into an auto parts store today and request a bottle of clutch fluid, there is a good chance that the clerk behind the counter would hand you a bottle of brake fluid and send you on your way.


You might initially think that the clerk made a mistake and request a bottle of clutch fluid instead. But the truth of the matter is that clutch fluid is actually just brake fluid that is kept in your car’s clutch master cylinder. This confuses a lot of people at first. But if a clerk ever hands you a bottle of brake fluid when you ask for clutch fluid, you should now know that you can just go along with it. There isn’t any difference between clutch fluid and brake fluid.


There are many manufacturers that have started to label clutch fluid as “clutch fluid” when packaging it. But this is only done to prevent people from getting confused when they’re looking for clutch fluid. If you were to break clutch fluid and brake fluid down to their most basic elements, you would find that they contain the same ingredients in them.

What Does Clutch Fluid Do?

Now that you know that clutch fluid and brake fluid are basically one in the same, you might be under the impression that clutch fluid is somehow less important than we originally led you to believe. But this isn’t the case! Clutch fluid is important, as it’s responsible for playing a key role in the way in which your car’s clutch works.


As we mentioned a moment ago, your car’s clutch fluid is located in your clutch master cylinder. When you push down on the clutch pedal in your car, the clutch fluid moves from the master cylinder into the slave cylinder in your clutch. In doing so, it builds up some pressure that is then used to engage your car’s clutch so that you can change the gears in your transmission. And once you remove your foot from the clutch pedal, the fluid will then make its way back to the master cylinder and remain there until you need to rely on it again.


As you can see, it would be pretty much impossible for you to use your car’s clutch pedal or your clutch as a whole without clutch fluid. The clutch fluid in your car is in charge of creating the pressure that your clutch needs to change the gears in your transmission while you’re out on the road.

How Often Should Clutch Fluid Be Replaced?

As you can probably imagine, you’re going to use the clutch fluid in your car early and often when you’re driving your vehicle around. Every single time you switch gears, you’re going to need your clutch fluid to be able to do its job. As such, there is going to come a time when you’ll need to replace your car’s old clutch fluid with fresh clutch fluid.


More often than not, experts suggest that you should replace your car’s clutch fluid about once every two to three years. It’s not uncommon for clutch fluid to get contaminated over time, so it’s important for you to remove the old clutch fluid from your car and put new clutch fluid in its place every few years if you can. But that’s not the only time that you should replace your clutch fluid.


You’re also going to want to keep your eyes peeled for any potential leaks in your car’s clutch since this could result in clutch fluid leaking from your car. When this happens, it can leave you with a lack of clutch fluid in your car’s clutch and present all kinds of problems for you. You should have your car’s clutch inspected every now and then for any signs of a clutch fluid leak. It’ll prevent you from driving around in a car without any clutch fluid in it, thus putting your clutch and possibly your entire transmission at risk.

What Are Some of the Signs That You Need to Replace Clutch Fluid?

In a perfect world, you should try to replace your clutch fluid regularly so that you don’t ever have to worry about spotting any of the signs that’ll show you that you need to replace your clutch fluid. But if you don’t get around to doing it routinely for one reason or another, there may come a time when you see symptoms of low clutch fluid. You shouldn’t ever ignore them since they could turn into much bigger problems if you do.


Here are some of the most common signs that it’s time for you to replace your car’s clutch fluid:

  • Your car constantly vibrates when you’re trying to shift from one gear to another
  • Your car’s gears slip a lot when you’re driving it around
  • Your car’s gears take a long time to move from one gear to the next
  • You can hear your car’s gears grinding as you shift them
  • You notice that your car’s clutch pedal feels “spongy” when you push down on it

These symptoms might suggest that you’re experiencing more than just low clutch fluid. You might have other issues going on with your car’s clutch or transmission that are leading to them showing up. But you should start things off by seeing where your clutch fluid stands. It could very well be low and causing these problems to pop up.

Is It Safe to Drive Around With Low Clutch Fluid in Your Car?

If you, at any time, suspect that you might not have enough clutch fluid in your car or if you know that you’re driving around with old clutch fluid in your car, you should do something about it pretty much right away. It might not be safe to continue to drive your car around when there isn’t enough fresh clutch fluid in it. You could put both yourself and your car into harm’s way if you ignore the symptoms we just discussed and keep driving your car.


If you don’t have the right amount of clutch fluid in your car or if the clutch fluid is dirty, it could cause you to have problems shifting the gears in your transmission. This could potentially do a lot of damage to these gears and force you to have to make costly repairs down the line. You might even have to replace your entire transmission at some point if you keep pushing your car harder than you should when it doesn’t have enough clutch fluid in it.


Additionally, a lack of clutch fluid or contaminated clutch fluid in your car could put you yourself into danger. If your car is constantly struggling to get from one gear to the next, you might not know how to anticipate its next move. This could lead to you driving faster or slower than you might like, which could result in you getting into an accident. It’s why you should prioritize replacing your clutch fluid as necessary. It’s going to keep both you and your car safe at all times.

Who Should You Trust to Perform Clutch Fluid Replacement?

The good news for those who need to have clutch fluid replacement done is that you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding someone to help you do it. Most ASE-certified mechanics are highly skilled when it comes to taking the old clutch fluid out of a car and replacing it with fresh clutch fluid. They’re also highly skilled when it comes to identifying the source of clutch fluid leaks and fixing them so that a car doesn’t run out of clutch fluid.


If you’re ever in need of clutch fluid in your car, you should call around to a few different mechanics in your general area to see which one can help you put fresh clutch fluid into your car. If you’ve been experiencing any other issues with your clutch, you should also mention this to them. It’ll give them some idea of what they’re getting themselves into when they begin to replace your car’s clutch fluid.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace Clutch Fluid?

Another good thing about replacing the clutch fluid in a car is that it’s not something that’s going to cost you an arm and a leg to do. Although replacing the clutch fluid in a car isn’t going to be as cheap as replacing the oil in it, you’re also not going to break the bank while putting fresh clutch fluid into a car. You’re usually going to spend somewhere between $100 and $125 while putting clutch fluid into a car.


That number may, of course, change depending on a number of factors. You might have to pay a little more than that to replace the clutch fluid in certain types of vehicles. You might also have to pay a little more than that to replace the clutch fluid in your car through different mechanics. It’s going to be up to you to shop around for the best prices on clutch fluid replacement through the mechanics operating in your area.

Should You Ever Attempt to Replace Clutch Fluid Yourself?

Generally speaking, you should try to leave clutch fluid replacement to the professionals if you’re not especially handy with cars. Paying $100 or so for clutch fluid replacement will be well worth it to you when it comes to the safety of your car. But if you’re in a bind and want to simply top off your clutch fluid, it’s not that difficult to do.


Check how to add clutch fluid to your car here:

  1. Pop the hood on your car
  2. Locate the clutch fluid reservoir and take the cap off of it
  3. Check the reservoir to see how much clutch fluid is in it
  4. Add clutch fluid to the reservoir until it reaches the maximum level line
  5. Put the cap back on the clutch fluid reservoir and tighten it

Doing this should not take the place of having an entire clutch fluid replacement done. But it’s a good way to add some clutch fluid to your car if it’s leaking out and you don’t want to run out of it in your car.

What Might Happen If You Don’t Replace Clutch Fluid Often Enough?

If you don’t make every effort to do clutch fluid replacement on a regular basis, it’s only going to be a matter of time before you start to experience problems. Your clutch and your transmission are going to pay the price for your negligence. You need to get into the habit of inspecting your clutch fluid level and replacing your clutch fluid accordingly.


It’s easy to forget to replace the clutch fluid in your car when there are so many other fluids in your vehicle to keep track of all the time. But you’ll be glad that you took the time to replace your clutch fluid once you see how much better your clutch and your transmission work when you take good care of them.

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