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How To Bleed A Clutch: What You Need To Know!

How To Bleed A Clutch

Your vehicle’s clutch system is quite similar to your vehicle’s brake system.  In lots of cases, your clutch system may even utilize brake fluid as the working fluid.  If you’re driving a classic vehicle, then you may have a mechanical clutch.  This means that your clutch operates on a system comprised of pivot points, levers and connecting rods. Each of these components help to provide movement of the clutch pedal that travels to your clutch pressure plate – which then releases the clutch.  Newer model cars use a hydraulic clutch system, due to their ease of installation. They take up a lot less space and don’t even require much adjustment as it wears. 

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How Do You Properly Bleed A Clutch?

Let’s go through the basic and proper steps on how to successfully and properly bleed a clutch. It is to your benefit to have an assistant help you, instead of performing the clutch bleeding process by yourself.

First Step 

Begin with a check of the fluid levels that your clutch currently has. Take the time to fill up with new clutch fluid to the fill line. 

Second Step 

Locate the bleeder screw and then get a pan and place that pan directly underneath it.

Third Step 

Ask your assistant to pump the clutch a couple of times, then have him or her press down on it and hold that press.  

Fourth Step 

Locate your wrench and then use it to open the bleeder screw. You only want to open it just about a half of a turn. With that motion, you should see as well as hear both air and liquid coming out of the valve.

Fifth Step 

After the bleeding slows a bit, you want to tighten the screw. After that screw is fully tightened, now is the time that you can release the clutch pedal and add additional clutch fluid.

Sixth Step 

You want to ensure that you repeat this process, till you open the bleeder screw, and you only see and hear liquid coming out. You don’t want to hear any air escaping. 

Seventh Step

Take the time to properly secure or tighten the bleeder screw once again. This time, as you tighten it, you want to ensure that you make it a bit tighter than before; but you want to ensure that you don’t over tighten it, causing any stripping. 

Eighth Step 

Check your fluid reservoir and make sure that it’s full.

The steps mentioned above should be ones that help you to successfully bleed your clutch. 

You may want to take the time to drive around in a vacant parking lot or an empty area outside- free of traffic- to ensure your clutch bleeding efforts were successful. Once you park your car, you can then leave a piece of thin cardboard or white paper underneath your car, just to ensure you have no fluid leaking anywhere. If you do see a bit of leak, then you just may need to tighten that bleeder screw a bit tighter. Just don’t over tighten it.  


Do I Want To Drain The Clutch Fluid Completely? 

An important aspect of clutch bleeding you want to keep in mind: you never want to drain the clutch of fluid completely. You just want to bleed the clutch. If you go on to drain the clutch fluid reservoir, then you run the risk of getting lots of air in it after you refill it. This will mean that you will have to perform all of the steps we mentioned above, all over again. 


Why Do I Have To Bleed My Clutch?

Bleeding your clutch is the process of relieving it of excess air as well as some of the fluid. So why bleed the clutch? This helps to alleviate any issues with it. If you have no problems with your clutch, then you should not be bleeding it. 


What Problems Arise that Cause Someone To Bleed the Clutch? 

Many times, drivers experience a clutch that may be resistant to release. To break this issue down a bit further, we offer the following. Perhaps you have a clutch engaged and you want to shift. Your vehicle’s clutch may go against your efforts and work to stay in gear. Once this happens, there may be a huge amount of air in your vehicle’s clutch system. This is an issue because your clutch is a hydraulic clutch. This means that your vehicle’s clutch operates with a hydraulic liquid pressure system for effectiveness. 

The liquid in the clutch allows for the system to generate the necessary pressure for optimum performance from the clutch. The liquid is also pushed through the master cylinder to help engage the system. Any air in the system will not allow for sufficient pressure, causing the clutch only partial engagement. When you bleed the clutch, you are performing a process that removes all of the fluid that is currently in the system. You are also getting out all of the air, and just replacing it with fresh fluid, minus the air. 


How Long Does It Take To Bleed A Clutch?

Bleeding a clutch should take less than a half of an hour. For many, it may only take one to three minutes. As you bleed your clutch, you want to leave the bleeder open while allowing gravity to bleed the slave cylinder for a few minutes. 


What Steps I Can Take To Bleed My Clutch Using A Hand-Operated Vacuum Pump?

Check out the steps you take to bleed a clutch while using a hand operated vacuum pump. 

First Step 

You can begin by opening the bleeder valve with a line wrench. The valve will be opened, while allowing you access to the slave cylinder.

Second Step 

Next, you can attach vacuum pump. If you are working by yourself, you can then attach the vacuum pump directly to the slave cylinder. 


Third Step 

Take the time to remove any air bubbles that may have formed in the slave cylinder. You can open the bleeder valve and begin using the vacuum pump to draw out the air bubbles that may be in the slave cylinder. Don’t forget to watch your fluid level as you’re doing this. 

Fourth Step 

Next you want to close the bleeder valve. When you can see a steady stream of brake fluid that has no air bubbles, you can close your bleeder valve.


Fifth Step 

Now comes your opportunity to test the clutch. Once the slave cylinder has been bled out, you can crank up your vehicle and then test your newly- bled clutch for proper operation and function. 


How Do I Know If My Clutch Needs Bleeding?

There are some definite signs that your clutch may need bleeding. Symptom by symptom below are some of the ways you can see that your clutch may need to be bled. 

Dirty or Low Clutch Fluid 

One of the symptoms of a bad clutch master cylinder is dirty or low fluid located in the reservoir. Dirty fluid may be caused by the seals located inside the master cylinder breaking or wearing down, due to old age and contamination. Seals that are aging are also prone to leaks as time progresses. Low fluid levels in your clutch may indicate a leak somewhere. There may be a leak in the clutch master or even in the slave cylinder.


Shifting Difficulties 

Another indicator that it’s time for you to bleed your clutch, is the fact that you have a hard time shifting. Since the clutch master cylinder is a component that is hydraulic, it is a component that is susceptible to internal leaks. Those leaks can interfere with your clutch’s ability to properly move fluid. If the master cylinder isn’t able to create pressure properly, that master cylinder will not be able to correctly and properly disengage the clutch when someone presses the pedal. This may also lead to grinding of the gears when a driver has a desire to shift. You may even pop the transmission out of gear too. 


Pedal Pressure That is Unusual

Abnormal or unusual pedal pressure is another indication that it’s time for you to bleed your clutch. If your cylinder develops any internal problems, this will directly affect the pedal and how it feels. A leaky cylinder could cause your pedal to feel “soft” “mushy” or even “spongy”.  A more severe case will cause the pedal to sink to the floor and stay at the bottom of the floor.  It’s important to keep your clutch master cylinder in good working condition. If it has any problems, then you run the risk of compromised or even overall problematic drivability issues. 


How Much Does It Cost To Have A Clutch Bleed?

If you decide to go to a mechanic to have your clutch bled, then you are looking at a repair that will cost you about $60.00. You may also need additional repairs that can add to your repair bill. You want to ensure that you have an auto professional who has experience in successfully bleeding a clutch. Bleeding or flushing a clutch – for many car owners- is a part of regular maintenance. So, be sure that you have a trusted mechanic that can not only bleed your clutch, but forewarn you of potential issues with your clutch. 

How Often Should I Change Clutch Fluid?

While each car differs on clutch maintenance, many auto professionals recommend bleeding a clutch at least every two years.  Generally, clutches have some wear and tear. So, you want to make sure that you work with an auto professional who will help your clutch stay in optimum performance.  

How To Bleed A Clutch- Related Helpful Content 

In addition to helping you bleed your clutch, we have related content that can help. Simply click the title below and learn more about your clutch. 

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