How to Bleed a Clutch Correctly

A clutch on a vehicle includes a reservoir that feeds the master cylinder brake fluid. Hoses then connect it to the slave cylinder of the clutch. The brake fluid builds pressure needed in order to move the clutch to engage the gears in the transmission. It does so by moving through the hoses from the master to the slave after a press on the pedal is initiated. This system is needed in order for you to have control changing gears. Anytime you need to open this pressure system, you allow air into it. Consequently, air pockets stop the hydraulics from properly functioning and can make your pedal feel spongy or your braking act erratic. Thus, when replacing mechanisms or performing maintenance, you will have to know how to bleed a clutch correctly.

Furthermore, assuming your vehicle has a dedicated master cylinder, this article will give you a step by step method to teach you how to bleed a clutch correctly.

Things You’ll Need

  • Clutch Fluid – be sure to refer to your owner’s manual to ensure you choose the correct type;
  • Eye Protection;
  • Safety Gloves;
  • Rubber or Flexible Plastic Tubing- about 2 feet (aquarium tubing works well);
  • Drain Pan;
  • Empty, clean, water bottle or jar;
  • Jack and stands;
  • Shop towels;
  • Turkey Baster;
  • Wrench (typically 8mm or 10mm);
  • A Friend.

Method on How to Bleed a Clutch Correctly

  1. Gather all necessary tools to help expedite the process of how to bleed a clutch correctly. A little preparation will make things run smoothly and help prevent mistakes.
  2. Lift the hood of your vehicle and secure it with the hood prop stand. Use your vehicle owner’s manual to help locate the master cylinder under the hood. Usually, it is on the driver side of the car very close to your firewall.
  3. Locate and open the master cylinder cover. Use the turkey baster to suck out as much of the old fluid in the reservoir as possible.
  4. After you have ensured that you have the correct type of fluid for your vehicle, according to the owner’s manual, pour the fluid into the master cylinder until it is full.
  5. Next, you need to find your slave cylinder. You usually fasten this one to the outside of the transmission using a few bolts. Some vehicles actually house it internally within the transmission, however, you can still easily access the bleeder valve on the outside of it. The simplest method to find the slave cylinder is to follow the hydraulic hose leading away from the master cylinder.
  6. For the next step in how to bleed a clutch correctly, you may need to use your jack and stands in order to raise your vehicle to get to the slave cylinder. Be sure your vehicle is on level ground and double check to make sure you secure the stands before attempting to get underneath your vehicle. Finally, locate the bleeder valve.
  7. Equip yourself with your gloves and eye protection. Clutch fluid is very corrosive. Thus, you will want to take care to avoid allowing it to contact your vehicle’s paint and your skin. If you accidentally get any on your skin, wash and rinse it immediately. If you get fluid in your eyes, be sure to flush out your eye quickly and thoroughly.
  8. Place the drain pan under the valve. To bleed the slave cylinder, open the bleeder valve using the wrench. Allow it to drain into the pan for about 3 minutes. Finally, close the valve.
  9. Double check the fluid level in the reservoir. If it has gotten too low, add more fluid to avoid pulling more air into the system.
  10. Take the aquarium tubing and attach it to the bleeder nipple. Hang the free end of the tubing into the jar. Pour in enough fluid to immerse the tube’s end.
  11. Have your friend pump the pedal about ten times. This will rebuild the pressure in the line. Have them press and hold the pedal to the floor on the final pump.
  12. While you hold down the pedal open the bleeder. Watch the jar of fluid and look for bubbles. These are the air pockets escaping. When the bubbles cease, shut the valve and let the pedal back up.
  13. Repeat the pumping and bleeding until no more bubbles appear in the jar. This signifies that you have learned how to bleed a clutch correctly.
  14. You can now close the valve tightly and fill and close the reservoir before lowering your vehicle back down. Lastly, give your vehicle a once-over to be sure you did not get any fluid onto painted areas of your vehicle where it will eat away at your paint. You can use some water and a shop towel to wipe the area clean.

Congratulations! You have just successfully bled your clutch.


Routine maintenance and vehicle repairs are unavoidable and can be expensive. Thus, if you can perform any yourself you can keep some cash in your pocket. If your brake pedal does not seem right and is kind of spongy when you press it, you likely have air in your system and you need to bleed the clutch. Knowing how to bleed a clutch correctly can be a pretty involved process to go through but once you take the time to try it out, you will see it is pretty easy to learn. Following these easy steps and acquainting yourself with your clutch system will make the next time you find yourself having to bleed your system an easy task for which you know what to do.

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