Changing/Bleeding Clutch Fluid

Created: 6/26/2005

Last updated: Original

Author/source: DML Joe Bertino (Based on conversation with Swingle/Maier



The clutch master cylinder is located next to the brake master cylinder under the fiberglass floor up in the luggage compartment. It has a remote supply reservoir which is located under the rubber cap right next to the gas cap.


First remove the cap from the reservoir and use a siphon, something like a turkey baster, to suck as much old fluid out of the reservoir as I can. This way you are not flushing a bunch of old fluid thru the system you are trying to clean out. Then fill the reservoir back up with new fluid to start the bleeding process.


The bleeder is on the slave cylinder, buried under a bunch of hoses and wiring at the extreme rear of the engine. It's is easier to see it if you remove the engine cover (not the louver). You get at it from the top. You can also reach it from the bottom but it best to do it from above. You can see the location in this photo. Note - the engine has been removed from the car for clarity in this photo. You will not be able to see it quite this easily.




The clutch slave cylinder. It's located on top of the bellhousing, which is the part that goes between the engine and the transmission and has the clutch and flywheel inside. It's pretty well hidden in a cut out on the top of the bellhousing.  You can't see if from under the car but you can reach up and around and touch it. The clutch hydraulic line actually runs from a junction block bolted to the top of the transmission up the back side of the bellhousing and into the slave cylinder. This is one way to locate it. The "easy" way is to get to it from above. If you climb up on top the engine and look down behind the fuel distributor between the back of the engine and the firewall, you will see the slave cylinder way down on top the bellhouseing where the engine bolts to the houseing. It sits down in a "V" area at the back of the engine. The bleed nipple you are looking for comes off the top of the slave cylinder about in the middle and points up and to the right. You need an 8mm small box end wrench to loosen it. (and some real small hands) You will also need a couple of feet of 1/8" id clear plastic tubing to push over this nipple. Put the wrench on the nipple, slide the tubing over the end, turn the wrench to open the nipple and then pump the clutch peddle to flush fluid thru the system. If you have a pressure bleeder, all you need to do is fill it with new fluid, hook it up and then open the bleeder on the other end and watch for fresh clean fluid to come out. If you don't have a pressure bleeder you will need to have someone pump the clutch peddle to force fluid thru the system while you work the bleed nipple. Pump the peddle to force / flush fluid thru. One important thing to remember, when you are pumping the peddle to flush fluid thru the system, remember to check the reservoir often so it doesn't go empty. If it goes empty and you suck air into the system, you will need to bleed it all over again.


You will be able to watch the fluid flow thru the tubing (Oh, place the other end in a jar or bottle to catch the old fluid) until you see clear / new fluid come out. Continue to bleed the system until you no longer see any bubbles coming thru the tubing and then close the nipple. Now push the clutch pedal to see if it "feels" right. The clutch peddle should have very little "slop" at the very top before you feel the fluid being pushed thru the line to make the slave cylinder and clutch work. If you have a lot of "slop" in the peddle you need to either bleed the system again or you have other problems with worn linkage or an old nylon hydraulic line or something. Close the bleeder, make sure the reservoir stayed full, and you're done.


One thing that is a must on these cars is to replace the original nylon clutch line that runs from the master cylinder all the way to the block on top the transmission, with a stainless braided replacement line. The old nylon lines balloon under pressure and you loose movement where it's needed most, at the slave cylinder. These old black nylon lines can cause all kinds of shifting and tranny problems. 


Be careful with the brake fluid, old and new. It won't hurt the stainless but it will eat painted surfaces up real bad, like the rear facias. "Castrol GT / LMA" brake fluid for these cars is recommended for the clutch. This fluid is made especially for "English" cars (the D has an English brake and clutch system on it) and the type of rubber compounds the English use in these systems.


One other thought…. When is the last time the fluid was changed, and when was the last time the master and slave cylinder was changed? If it has been a long time, in about 3 months after you flush the fluid one or both of those cylinders will start to leak. New fluid seems to have that effect on a car where it has not been changed for a while.



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