Is Changing Your Car’s Clutch Fluid Necessary?

Do you own a car with a manual transmission? If so, then you’re probably well aware that you need to change its transmission fluid every 10,000 miles or so (your car’s mileage may vary) and you know that changing its engine oil is a necessity. But do you really need to change the fluid in the clutch reservoir?

What is the clutch fluid for?

Cars with manual transmissions have a clutch system that is operated by a master and slave cylinder, which both have clutch fluid running through them for lubrication. When you push on the clutch pedal, the fluid is forced from the master cylinder to the slave cylinder, which in turn applies force to the throw-out bearing. This is what causes the clutch to disengage from the flywheel allowing it to switch gears.

close up of shift and handbrake of 2021 Ford Bronco
2021 Ford Bronco manual transmission | Ford

Does the fluid really need to changed out?

Technically speaking, you should only have change out your car’s clutch fluid when there is an issue with the clutch system. However, if you want to take really good care of your car, then you should change the clutch fluid every couple of years to keep it fresh. Ideally, the clutch fluid should be checked as regularly as the car’s brake fluid as dirt can get into the system.

And while there are many people that will be quick to tell you that the clutch system is a “closed system,” which means that there is no reason that the clutch fluid should be replaced unless there is a leak, it’s still a good idea to at least check it every once in a while for the sake of proper maintenance.

Clutch Master Cylinder
Clutch Master Cylinder |

Problems from clutch fluid leaks

While it’s common that to have to top off the clutch fluid every once in a while, but you might want to pay attention and make sure that your clutch is working properly. If it’s not, you might notice a small leak coming from the master cylinder – either from under the hood or down the clutch the pedal itself. In this case, you will need to change the master cylinder and the fluid.

However, if you find that your clutch doesn’t work altogether and you find that you can’t shift into gear or even start the car, then it’s most likely the slave cylinder. In that case, you would have replaced that part and bleed and replace the fluid as well.

Clutch Fluid Reservoir
Clutch Fluid Reservoir |

Reliable Manual-Transmission Cars You Can Buy Brand New

What kind of clutch fluid does my car use?

There’s actually no such thing as clutch fluid as you’ll find that most cars have DOT 3 or DOT 4 brake fluid in the clutch reservoir. To simply top it off, you’ll need to locate the clutch master cylinder, which looks like a smaller version of a brake master cylinder, unscrew the cap and top it off. But if your clutch fluid needs to be replaced completely, then you’ll have to bleed the lines.

In order to do that, you’ll need to locate the bleeder valve and pump out the fluid using the clutch pedal. After that, you’ll need to pour more brake fluid in and bleed the lines to ensure that there is no air in them before closing the valve. The job is similar to bleeding brake lines and if you can’t do it yourself, be sure to take your car to a qualified mechanic to do the job.