Tri-City Transmission of Tempe, AZ

Checking Your Manual Transmission/Hydraulic Clutch Fluid


The latest edition of our monthly maintenance “how to” series, is going to teach us how to check the hydraulic fluid in a vehicle with a stick shift, or in other words, a manual transmission. Cars that have a manual transmission use either a cable, which connects the transmission and the clutch, or a hydraulic system, for which you need a fluid to help keep it running efficiently, and smoothly.

For the purpose of this article, we will assume that you have determined that your vehicle is equipped with a hydraulic clutch system. You can easily find out which type of automatic transmission that you have in your car, by reading your owner/operator manual, or by researching your vehicle make and model online. A browser search using the name and year of your car will return results pertaining to any question about your type of car that you want to ask.

The steps listed below will guide you through the process.

Hydraulic clutch fluid in a manual transmission.

There really is no actual “clutch fluid”, so what you are going to use will be stated in your manual. Likely, it will be either some type of automatic transmission fluid, or perhaps even a brake fluid, or motor oil, which is also designed for use in manual transmissions.

1. Park the car on level ground, turn off the engine, and allow it to cool down.
2. If the clutch pedal went directly into the engine compartment, this is where you would find the clutch master cylinder and clutch reservoir. At the back of the engine.
3. You should be able to see a plastic container; it is only about an inch big. It looks similar to the brake fluid reservoir, only quite a bit smaller.
4. The hydraulic fluid reservoir is usually made of clear plastic, so you should be able to check the fluid level without even having to open it up.
5. If the fluid level does not reach the top of the reservoir, then you should add hydraulic fluid.
6. If your clutch pedal is not working properly even after you add fluid, or the fluid level continues to drop, then there is probably a leak somewhere in the hydraulic line, or in the reservoir itself, or at the connection between the pedal and the hydraulic line.

In some vehicles, there is actually no place in the engine compartment where you can easily check the hydraulic fluid level. The only way a check can be accomplished is from underneath the car. If you’re not comfortable yet with your newly learned acquired maintenance skills, and your vehicle is not exhibiting any shifting symptoms, don’t worry. Just have the hydraulic fluid level checked at your next oil change.
However, if you want to give it a try, here are the steps to do it.

1. Get under the vehicle, and locate the fill plug, it should be underneath where the clutch pedal is.
2. Remove the plug and stick your finger in, (it won’t leak out on you because the reservoir is tilted), if you cannot feel any fluid with your fingertip, add some.

Do not try to check your hydraulic fluid level, without consulting your manual first.

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