clutch fluid and pedal question - Maintenance and Repair Forum

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clutch fluid and pedal question
Monday, October 17, 2016 10:54 AM

OK. I know hardly anyone reads this forum anymore, but I'll give it a shot. I have old, ancient brake fluid in the clutch line that no doubt needs to be changed. Parameters: I am broke and alone (so almost no money and no helper for bleeding). Over the last few months, my clutch pedal has slowly sunk lower and lower and now the engagement point is in the very last inch or so from the floor. Everything above that is nothing with no resistance. Last winter, I had some problems with the clutch pedal sticking to the floor when it got very cold - and the cold weather is almost here. So my theory is that there is moisture in the ancient fluid and it froze at those times last winter. I also figure old crappy brake fluid would cause the pedal drop. I doubt there is air in there but that's a possibility too. Anyway, I am having trouble finding the specifics of how to fully bleed the system by yourself. I know about the vacuum thing that costs $40 or whatever but my price range is more like the $3 for the new bottle of fluid and that is it.

I have been told that what I should do is just suck out the fluid in the reservoir and then fill it with new fluid and just keep repeating that once every few days for the next few weeks until the fluid is nearly all changed-out. Does that work? Does all the fluid just mix and circulate so that bleeding really isn't needed using this method over time? If not, and the whole thing must be bled out and totally replaced with new fluid all at once - by myself - then what is the best method?

Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks.

Re: clutch fluid and pedal question
Monday, October 17, 2016 11:12 AM

Oh, on a related note which I forgot to ask. What is the total capacity of brake fluid in the whole clutch line system / reservoir ? Obviously the higher the percentage of whatever that amount is - that lives in the reservoir at any given time, then more of a difference the method described above would theoretically accomplish each time you did it. But if it isn't enough to mix-in and/or make a difference, then it is prolly not worth the time and trouble and bleeding all at once would be the way to go.
Re: clutch fluid and pedal question
Monday, October 17, 2016 1:58 PM
Cant you just go to your local library and for FREE check out a Haynes manual for your car? Check it out. You can learn much from that. Sometimes the small towns wont have your car's manual, so you can request an interlibrary loan. FREE.

Meanwhile, Sounds like you may need a new slave cylinder (or is it a master?), I dunno cuz not familiar with your car. Just the basics about clutch slaves/masters. Your cylinder's internal parts (rubber pressure ends or another name for them) may be worn, allowing the fluid to migrate past the rubber seals.

Hope that helps.
Re: clutch fluid and pedal question
Friday, October 21, 2016 7:17 AM

Entire clutch (including slave which is inside transmission) installed last year.
No leaks around exterior of slave/bleeder or master and no loss/drop in fluid level in reservoir.

Cleaned off the cap and bleeder nut, have brake fluid. Just would love to hear from someone who knows if I can gravity bleed this thing by myself when I crack that nut or whether I must push that pedal down to get the fluid out.

Re: clutch fluid and pedal question
Saturday, October 22, 2016 6:38 AM

The more i read and research about this, the more the symptoms point to an internal leak inside the master cylinder. Has anyone had this happen and is it a do-it-yourself-job or cheap enough to take someplace and what should it cost? (2001 cavalier 5-speed manual).

To detail the problems/symptoms: Clutch pedal started to engage lower and lower very gradually over the past month or 6 weeks. Feels like nothing at all for the first 90% on the way down, but then engages at the very bottom instead up where it used to. No external leaks anywhere - inside at the top of the clutch pedal, under the hood around the reservoir or master nor anywhere around the outside of the bleeder/slave area. so it sure isn't leaking externally.

Another question i have which is really important for anyone who knows.......Is it true that the slave won't/can't leak internally on this car? That would be a big relief and eliminate the biggest worry I have since I just spent $1000 on a whole new clutch last year and it would mean it is very likely the master leaking internally which - regardless of whether i fix it myself or bring it somewhere - will be much cheaper.

thanks for any input or advice
Re: clutch fluid and pedal question
Saturday, October 22, 2016 6:38 PM
I'm sorry about your clutch problems. This is how I found the org. researching clutch problems. On 03-05's clutch lines rub on a fender seam. This happened to me twice before I found out the problem here. My dealer of course didn't tell me the first time it happened under warranty.
Make sure your line are not crack from cold weather.
Also for $1000.00 your mechanic should have flushed fluid and replaced with new.
Re: clutch fluid and pedal question
Sunday, October 23, 2016 7:53 AM

The shocking thing to me is the lack of a video or step-by-step procedure anywhere - either on this site or the internet - for replacing the clutch master cylinder for the Cavalier. I have found way more obscure things so I didn't think it would be so tough to find something detailed.
Re: clutch fluid and pedal question
Monday, October 24, 2016 9:07 AM

I spent about an hour with my head buried under the driver's pedals, but there is a huge metal bracket blocking vision and access to the point where the master cylinder connects to that pedal. I can't even see how to get it off of there, but it is so difficult to even position myself in a way - surely there is an easy way to get that bracket off.

And on the engine side of the firewall - it is obvious that any thought of reaching the cylinder on that side would require the complete removal of the big black plastic air filter thing behind where the air filter compartment is. Any idea how to do that either? This is supposed to be a piece of cake 20 minute job but unless I am missing something - I am at a loss for proceeding without help.
Re: clutch fluid and pedal question
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 2:41 PM
I believe, this is from memory, so sorry if it's wrong, but I think the master clutch cylinder is a doable yourself, It's actually the whole resovoir and the line to just outside the transmission. (using some weird quick detach thing that is never quick in my experience) but I believe you just unbolt the master cylinder (screws through the firewall) under the dash. Yes, that big metal thing is most likely a bracket holding the ABS computer. My car was the same way. as to your specific question on gravity bleed, i unfortunately don't know. maybe you can replace the cylinder yourself, put the fluid in, with the bleeder valve open, until fluid comes out, and then close it, see if the clutch functions enough to drive. If not, find a friend to pump while you bleed. I know you said not much help.... or find a place that will bleed it cheaply.

Also, please update your profile with make/model, so we know what years and engine you're talking about.

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