Bleeding clutch hydraulics

Civic 2001-2005

  1. Nighthawk
    Difficulty Level:
    A nice easy one this which makes the world of difference. It is really important to change your clutch fluid every few years for the same reason that you need to change your brake fluid - contamination as a result of water vapour and air. Garages will do your brakes as they are a safety matter, but most won't change your clutch fluid unless you specify it.

    Fresh clutch fluid makes your clutch butter smooth again, gives you better and cleaner gear changes, tightens up the clutch pedal again and makes the sensation under your foot of better clutch control and engagement. Lack of changing clutch fluid will eventually lead to contamination breaking down the master cylinder seals leading eventually to a possible failure of your clutch system in worse case scenarios.

    This process is the same for many different marques of cars, I have used the same method for many years now on a variety of different cars.

    - 8mm ring spanner (on Hondas)
    - Fresh brake fluid (250ml is enough, but if you havent done it before, make it 500ml)
    - A method of bleeding your system, be that a vacuum pump, a one man bleeder kit or just a tube submerged in a glass containing new fluid.
    - A way to suck old fluid out - I use a 100ml syringe

    Approximately 30 - 60 mins depending.

    Step 1:
    Locate the slave cylinder bleed nipple. These will normally be roughly in the same place depending on your engine orientation, however, it is normally on the front of your gearbox. Remove the black rubber cap and put it somewhere safe.

    Step 2:

    Crack the nipple loose with either an 8mm socket if its on there tight or an 8mm ring spanner. Make sure you can open it easily, and then tighten it back again. It only needs to be opened a quarter of a turn when bleeding.


    Step 3:

    Open the clutch master cylinder reserviour

    This is the old fluid, looks a dark golden colour in there, but thats the light playing a bit of tricks, it won't look like that in a moment.

    Suck the old fluid out and put it in an old container


    Step 4:
    Time to pull the old fluid through the system. Top up the reserviour with fresh fluid and connect your tube to the end of the nipple. Keep the ring spanner on the nut and place the tube over that. This makes sure that you always have a ring on the nut and that you can lock and unlock it quickly without the risk of stripping anything.

    I intially sucked the majority out with my mityvac pulling a vacuum on it, I later changed to using the one man method and thats what I will show here as thats what most people will be using.

    Let gravity be your friend here, keep the tub lower than the level of the clutch slave cylinder to aid you with bleeding and limiting air coming back up again. In this case, the tube is submerged in a bit of brake fluid, using a one way valve and working with gravity making it harder for any air or fluid to come back up again.

    Step 5:
    Break open the bleed nipple no more than a quarter turn, then go quicky to the car and push down the clutch pedal to the floor. It will stay to the floor and will not return, this is totally normal as the clutch uses hydraulic pressure to spring the pedal back again.

    Step 6:
    With the clutch pedal on the floor, quickly to to the engine compartment and tighten up the bleed nipple. Once you have done this, then go back to the car and manually pull the clutch pedal back up.

    Step 7:
    Check fluid level, mine went from full to empty in 4 presses of the pedal. If you get any air into the system, you will have to start from scratch. Now to bleed the system, you need to repeat Step 5 and Step 6 around 15-20 times or until you see fresh fluid come out with no air bubbles on the tubing. As you clear more air out, it will take a few more strokes to empty the reserviour, when I finished mine, it took 6 presses to empty the reserviour to minimum mark. DO NOT EMPTY IT, DROP THE LEVEL TO MIN MARK AND REFILL EACH TIME.

    Step 8:
    After you have flushed the system out, remove the tubing, make sure nipple is snug, top up fluid and take her for a little drive.

    My fluid looked liked this:

    Just to show the difference between clean and old fluid in a reserviour.

    k20a3 and Superman001 like this.

Recent Reviews

  1. k20a3
    Great guide, thanks. Must give this a go soon :)
  2. legend-ary
    I did not know that clutch used brake fluid too :O great guide and detailed photos.
  3. Chunkylover53
    Good guide, very straightforward
  4. Ichiban
    Good guide bud.
  5. RogerH69
    Great guide. Nice job
  6. SpeedyGee
    Nice little guide @Nighthawk