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Hydraulic Clutch: How to Tell When It’s Going Bad on You

Hydraulic Clutch How to Tell When It’s Going Bad on You

There aren’t many cars that come with manual transmissions in them anymore. While there are some auto manufacturers that continue to release cars with manual transmissions, most cars have automatic transmissions in them these days. A lot of the older cars that are still out on the road have manual transmissions in them, though. And if you happen to own one of them, it’s going to be important for you to make sure that the hydraulic clutch in your manual transmission system is doing its job. If it’s not, it could cause issues for your manual transmission and your car as a whole. Learn all about your hydraulic clutch and the signs that’ll show you that it might be going bad below.

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What Is a Hydraulic Clutch?

The hydraulic clutch system in a car with a manual transmission is actually made up of a handful of different parts. It includes a clutch pedal, a clutch master cylinder, a clutch slave cylinder, and more. In order for your car’s hydraulic clutch to work properly, each of these parts needs to work together so that you can shift the gears in your manual transmission using the power produced by your engine.


If one or more of the parts in your hydraulic clutch system stop working, it’s going to make it difficult, if not impossible, for you to shift the gears in your manual transmission system. It could make it challenging for you to navigate your car when it’s out on the road, and in some cases, it could even put you into a precarious position and cause you to get into a car accident. It’s why you need to be on the lookout for signs of trouble with your hydraulic clutch at all times.

How Long Should a Hydraulic Clutch Last?

The good news for those who drive a car with a manual transmission is that you shouldn’t have to be too concerned about dealing with a bad hydraulic clutch. Generally speaking, the hydraulic clutch in your car should last you for at least 50,000 miles, if not longer. There are many instances in which people can keep the same hydraulic clutch system in their cars for well over 100,000 miles without having to be too worried about them.


That being said, there are also times when the hydraulic clutch in a car will give out within just 30,000 miles or so. It really all depends on everything from how you drive your car to what you do to maintain your hydraulic clutch and, to a larger degree, your entire manual transmission system. The more diligent you are about protecting and caring for your hydraulic clutch, the longer it should last you in the end.

What Are the Signs of a Bad Hydraulic Clutch?

The hydraulic clutch in your car usually isn’t going to give out on you without warning. More often than not, you’re going to see some signs that will let you know that your hydraulic clutch is either on its last legs or very close to it. It’s going to be up to you to look out for these signs so that you’re able to either have your hydraulic clutch repaired or replaced before it conks out on you completely. Continue reading to learn about some of the most common signs of a bad hydraulic clutch.

1. You Notice That Your Clutch Pedal Feels “Soft”

Does it suddenly seem as though it’s a whole lot easier to push down on your car’s clutch pedal than it used to be? This could be an indication that your clutch pedal has started to get too “soft.” When a clutch pedal is soft, it means that it’s lost some of the usual resistance that it has when you push down on it while attempting to shift gears.


Oftentimes, a soft clutch pedal is the result of a leak somewhere in a hydraulic clutch system. This leak typically occurs either in the master cylinder or in the slave cylinder, and it’s usually the result of bad seals within your hydraulic clutch system. You’ll need to address the leak that’s going on to get your clutch pedal to feel normal again.

2. You Find It Difficult to Shift Your Car From One Gear to the Next

Are you struggling to get your car’s manual transmission to move from one gear to the next on a regular basis? If you’re operating it like usual and it’s not responding in the way that you want it to, this could be a strong indication that there is an issue with something like your master cylinder. You’re going to have a tough time getting your manual transmission to shift when this part of your hydraulic clutch starts to fail.


This is going to be one of the worst problems that you can encounter as far as your hydraulic clutch is concerned. When you can’t shift your car from one gear to the next, it’ll make it difficult for you to pick up any speed, which could put both you and your car into harm’s way. You’re going to want to have your hydraulic clutch looked at by a professional right away to fix whatever the problem is with it.

3. You See Your Clutch Pedal Stuck to the Floor

Is your clutch pedal sticking to the floor when you push down on it and not raising back up like it’s supposed to? This is another very serious problem that you might encounter with your hydraulic clutch system. You’re not going to be able to drive your car around when it’s in this condition since you won’t be able to manipulate your clutch pedal so that you can use your manual transmission accordingly.


Most of the time, this issue will set in when the hydraulics for your clutch aren’t working. This is usually caused by a bad master cylinder that needs to be replaced in a bad way. You shouldn’t ever attempt to drive a car when the clutch pedal has gone kaput since it’s going to limit your ability to change gears. You should shut your car off immediately if your clutch pedal ever goes limp and sticks to the floor in your vehicle.

4. You Realize That Your Clutch Fluid Is Almost Always on the Lower Side

Have you found that your car almost always appears to be low on clutch fluid? This is obviously going to present a problem for you since, like most of the systems in your car, your hydraulic clutch system isn’t going to be able to operate without the right amount of fluid in it. When you push down on your car’s clutch pedal, your clutch fluid is going to move from your master cylinder to your slave cylinder and produce the pressure that you need to engage your clutch and change gears. So if you don’t have the right amount of clutch fluid in your car, it’s going to be an issue.


Refilling the clutch fluid in your car every so often shouldn’t be too much of a cause for concern. But if your car’s clutch fluids levels are always low, it’s likely going to indicate the presence of a leak somewhere in your hydraulic clutch system. This leak could be located somewhere near your master cylinder or in another area of your system. You’ll need to identify the source of the leak and fix it sooner than later to ensure your car always has enough clutch fluid in it.

5. You Hear Strange Sounds When You Hold Your Clutch Pedal Down

Has your car started to make strange sounds when you’re sitting at red lights with both your brake pedal and your clutch pedal pushed down? You should do more than just turn your car radio up to block out these sounds when you hear them. They could be a sign of a problem with your master cylinder, which might be having a hard time holding the release fork on your clutch pedal due to a leak somewhere in your hydraulic clutch system.


The next time you find yourself sitting at a red light, you should take the opportunity to listen to your car. It might be trying to tell you something about your hydraulic clutch system or something about another system inside of it. You shouldn’t ever ignore any strange sounds that you might hear coming from it when you’re waiting for the light to turn green.

6. You Spot Fluid on Your Clutch Master Cylinder

Can you see moisture on the master cylinder in your hydraulic clutch system when you pop the hood of your car and look at it? You should sneak a quick peek at it every now and then to see if you can spot any obvious signs of a leak in it. This is going to let you know that you should do some additional digging around to see if there is a problem with your hydraulic clutch system that you need to fix.

Is It Safe to Drive a Car With a Bad Hydraulic Clutch?

There are certain instances in which you might be able to get away with driving around in a car with a bad hydraulic clutch in it. If, for example, the problem is that you have clutch fluid that is either low or dirty, that’s not going to cause any immediate problem in most cases. But there are also a lot of times when you’re not going to want to get caught driving around in a car with a bad hydraulic clutch. You should be aware of when these times are so that you don’t put yourself into a bad spot.


If, for instance, your clutch pedal isn’t springing back up like usual after you push down on it, it could mean that there is a big problem with your hydraulic clutch system. You might also have a big problem on your hands if your car’s manual transmission isn’t shifting smoothly from one gear to the next. You should take these problems seriously and have your hydraulic clutch examined as soon as you can to avoid doing any additional damage to your car’s hydraulic clutch.

What Should You Do If You Have a Bad Hydraulic Clutch?

If you suspect that you have a bad hydraulic clutch in your car, you should speak with your regular ASE-certified mechanic about it. You might also want to consider taking your car to a specialist who knows the ins and outs of a hydraulic clutch system. Since not all cars nowadays have manual transmissions in them, there are some mechanics that are more experienced than others when it comes to working on hydraulic clutches.

How Much Does Hydraulic Clutch Replacement Cost?

Prior to bringing your car to a mechanic so that they can inspect your hydraulic clutch, you should educate yourself about what it might cost you to have hydraulic clutch replacement done. It’ll help you avoid enduring sticker shock when you hear about what a new hydraulic clutch might cost you.


The exact price that you’ll pay for hydraulic clutch replacement is going to vary depending on the make and model of your car and the mechanic that you trust to work on your vehicle. But on average, people tend to pay anywhere from about $400 to well over $3,000 for hydraulic clutch replacement. The price that you pay is going to be based on the factors that we just mentioned as well as the specific problem that you’re having with your hydraulic clutch system.

Can You Sell a Car With a Bad Hydraulic Clutch?

If your car has a bad hydraulic clutch in it and you don’t think it’s worth trying to fix it, you might not know what you should do with it. You might wonder whether or not selling it is even an option given its current condition. You’ll be happy to know that you can sell your car, bad hydraulic clutch and all, without a problem as long as you take the right approach.


Many private buyers are going to scoff at the idea of purchasing a car with a bad hydraulic clutch since it’s likely going to need costly repairs. But a company like Cash Cars Buyer will happily purchase your car from you and pay you top dollar for it. Contact us today to find out how simple we make it to sell an old car to us.

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