Chevrolet Cruze Forums banner
1 - 20 of 36 Posts

·
Administrator
Joined
·
15,763 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
How-To: Replace Clutch Fluid


Edit: The procedure listed here is no longer recommended. If you're going to bleed the clutch fluid, be sure to use a vacuum bleeder tool, not the method described below.

Drain Intervals
The 2014 Owner's Manual added a new drain interval for replacing clutch fluid. The drain interval is as follows:Normal Service: 150,000mi (~240,000km)
Severe Service: 30,000mi (~50,000km)

As I noted before, 90% of people drive the "severe service" interval. This includes short trips, lots of city driving, spirited driving, severe weather, and just about any conditions that don't involve 100% highway driving. This is not dependent on how hard you drive your car or how light you are on the throttle, but the type of driving you do, the environment in which you drive your car, and the duration of your trips. If you aren't sure, just assume you are driving under the severe service interval.


Fluid Needed
The fluid needed is DOT3/DOT4 brake fluid. This should be the same brake fluid you are using for your brakes, but it's not absolutely necessary to keep them the same. The clutch fluid should be replaced at the same time as your brake fluid is replaced, so plan on doing both at the same time. Terry wrote a nice How-To tutorial explaining how to replace your brake fluid here: https://www.cruzetalk.com/forum/57-how-library/34593-diy-flush-brake-fluid.html.

I personally flushed my brakes with AMSOIL DOT3 brake fluid, and replaced the clutch fluid ~2,000 miles later with AMSOIL DOT4 brake fluid. I recommend either of these options as they have a higher boiling point than the OE DOT3 fluid, but in all honesty, any DOT3 fluid is better than 2+ year old DOT3 fluid.

You will need approximately 36oz or 1L of brake fluid. Three 12-oz bottles of brake fluid will give you about 1/4 a bottle left over once the brakes and the clutch are done.


Procedure
Please excuse the poor lighting in the images.

The procedure for changing the clutch fluid is actually rather easy. I have been changing brake fluid on cars in the past few months, so I drilled a tight-fitted hole into the cap of a gallon container of washer fluid and ran a 3-foot 1/4" ID clear hose through it. I picked up the hose at Ace Hardware, where it is clearly marked as 1/4" hose.

To the right of the turbo on the transmission is a rubber flex hose that goes into a plastic T fitting. One leg of the T goes into the transmission, and the other leg goes into the bleeder screw. The bleeder screw will have a rubber cap on the end.


Remove the rubber cap.


Loosen the bleeder screw. I found that a 7/16" wrench fits best. Since the T fitting is rather loose, you may need to hold the T-fitting end with a wrench as well. You will need an 11/16" wrench for that. I was able to loosen mine without using two wrenches. In fact, you have to be a bit of a contortionist to use both wrenches as it's a bit of a tight space.

Once you have it loosened and you notice some fluid coming out of the bleeder, press the end of the hose onto the end of the bleeder and make sure there is some slack so it fits snugly and doesn't fall off. Get back in the car and start pumping the clutch pedal. It will be very light, and the fluid will run through the system very quickly. After every few pumps, re-fill the brake fluid reservoir. If you start pumping air because the level gets too low, simply continue pumping until all of the air bubbles come out of the system.

The old fluid will have a brown-ish color to it:


As the new fluid is pumped through, it will have either a light amber color or it will be clear. The DOT4 I used was amber, while the DOT3 was completely clear. Here's what the DOT4 fluid looked like:


You may see some air bubbles in the hose caused by a less than perfect seal between the clear hose and the end of the bleeder valve. This is OK. Once you have evacuated the large air pockets and you start pumping new fluid through, lightly tighten the bleeder screw with the hose still attached. Then, remove the hose and finish tightening the bleeder. Pay attention here: this is a plastic bleeder screw. It does not need to be on crazy tight, but it does need to be snug and secure.

Once you're done, verify that the fluid level is correct, and give the clutch pedal a try.


Notes
- On my Cruze, I noticed that there was slightly less "creep" in the clutch pedal before the clutch begins to disengage than there used to be. This was due to replacing the fluid, as the old fluid will have contained some gases from boiling previously. Keep in mind here that 2-3 year old DOT3 brake fluid boils at 290 degrees F. Your engine stock runs at 225 degrees F, and the engine bay will get quite hot while the car is idling. I also noticed some improved consistency, which may have been due to the difference in lubrication between the OE brake fluid and the AMSOIL brake fluid I used.

- If you completed this fluid replacement correctly, you should have 1/2"-1" of creep between the pedal's resting position and the resistance of the clutch.

- You may notice that your clutch engages at a higher point. If you experienced this, it is due to excessive boiling of the fluid you had in there before.

- Since the brake fluid and the clutch fluid share the same reservoir, I strongly recommend that you change both at the same time.

- As you're pumping the brakes between reservoir refills, be sure to put the cap back on the reservoir and the brake fluid bottle. Brake fluid is designed to absorb moisture, so there's no sense in exposing it to humidity in the air. Also, be sure to use a sealed container of brake fluid for this for the same reason.

- I did this in the dark, in 30 degree weather. If you haven't done it yet, do it. It's seriously not that hard.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
890 Posts
This is something Im interested in doing. I had the brake system flushed at 140k and thought the clutch fluid would be flushed at the same time considering they share the same reservoir. Obviously the clutch and brake systems are seperate but they share the same reservoir. What effects did flushing only the brakes have on the clutch fluid and is it to late the flush the clutch only after 30k miles.

When preforming this fluid exchange should I take caution as to how much fluid im pumping and not let the reservoir suck air ? Is this clutch fluid fill as important not to allow air into the lines as the brake system fill procedure?
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
15,763 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This is something Im interested in doing. I had the brake system flushed at 140k and thought the clutch fluid would be flushed at the same time considering they share the same reservoir. Obviously the clutch and brake systems are seperate but they share the same reservoir. What effects did flushing only the brakes have on the clutch fluid and is it to late the flush the clutch only after 30k miles.

When preforming this fluid exchange should I take caution as to how much fluid im pumping and not let the reservoir suck air ? Is this clutch fluid fill as important not to allow air into the lines as the brake system fill procedure?
The effects on the clutch fluid were minimal, but keep in mind I only went 3k miles on it, maybe less. I'll have to check my maintenance records to be sure. The old clutch fluid didn't seem to have mixed a whole lot with the brake fluid as the fluid still came out rather dark. I'd say cross-contamination is not a very big issue, but it would eventually mix.

I didn't really pay attention since it was cold and dark and I pumped the clutch pedal till I was pushing air through. I just filled the reservoir back up and kept pumping till all the air was out and I was pushing fluid through again. If you have any air in the system, you'll know it as the clutch pedal will be unusually soft or there will be too much creep or slack in the pedal from its resting position.

I'm surprised the technician didn't replace the clutch fluid at the same time as the brakes were bled. It's really only about 6 ounces of fluid and 10 minutes of work.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
890 Posts
Text Line art Font Line Illustration
Text Font Line Document

So I plan on a fluid exhange soon and I received a copy of printed instructions from a local dealership. I believe I will have to start at step 4 considering I dont have a brake bleeder system. I like the idea of pressing in the clutch, opening the bleeder valve allowing fluid and possibly air to remove itself, closing the bleeder valve and releasing the clutch in an effort to prevent air from entering the valve. Repeat this 4 or 5 times allowing new fluid to circulate. I like this idea rather then pumping the clutch with the bleeder valve open.

I have started to hear over the past 7,500 miles or so a faint air pumping sound from the clutch at the top when I begin to press the pedal and at the top when releasing the pedeal. I think this is a new sound and not a normal sound I just havent ever noticed before. Hopefully a clutch fluid exchange will eliminate this noise unless its normal.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
15,763 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The method I used with the clear hose prevents any air from going back into the system as the bleeder would suck back fluid if it had any suction. Terry and I used this method successfully. If you have any air in the system, you'll definitely know it.

Sent from mobile.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
890 Posts
So I replaced the clutch fluid over the weekend and the method I provided instructions for from the dealership using gm resources starting at step 4 really was only good for purging the air from the clutch fluid which I did last. Instead first I followed the instructions provided by the op which worked as intended for the clutch fluid exchange.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
15,763 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So I replaced the clutch fluid over the weekend and the method I provided instructions for from the dealership using gm resources starting at step 4 really was only good for purging the air from the clutch fluid which I did last. Instead first I followed the instructions provided by the op which worked as intended for the clutch fluid exchange.
With your high mileage, did you notice any difference in the clutch pedal?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
261 Posts
Drain Intervals
The 2014 Owner's Manual added a new drain interval for replacing clutch fluid. The drain interval is as follows:Normal Service: 150,000mi (~240,000km)
Severe Service: 30,000mi (~50,000km)
Just to note, the 2013 also mentions servicing the clutch and brake fluid, but the normal and severe levels are the same at 150k miles. http://www.chevrolet.com/content/da...rship/Manuals and Videos/02_pdf/2k13cruze.pdf

Also, the 2014 manual is listed as a "2nd print", which makes me think it may have been a copy of the 2013 manual, and then they updated various things like the service intervals. For anyone with a 2012, you will not find any brake or clutch fluid service interval in your owners manual but I highly suggest you following the 2014 intervals of 30k miles or you may end up like me (I was at 38k miles).

Thank you a lot Xtreme, I will save these pictures for reference at 60k miles.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
890 Posts
With your high mileage, did you notice any difference in the clutch pedal?
To be honest I really havent noticed much of a difference. I would like to think the clutch pedal is slightly more stiff and springy, also the clutch seems to engage sooner. But really if I didnt know any better I probably would never have guessed the clutch fluid had been replaced. Overall with the exception of the clutch being less firm the feel of shifting hasnt changed much since driving it off the lot new which im very satisfied about. Although there obviously has been changes over the past 175k miles I drive so often and the changes are so subtle its difficult to really notice much of a difference.

Im glad I decided to replace the clutch fluid and plan on making this part of a routine maintenance.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
15,763 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
To be honest I really havent noticed much of a difference. I would like to think the clutch pedal is slightly more stiff and springy, also the clutch seems to engage sooner. But really if I didnt know any better I probably would never have guessed the clutch fluid had been replaced. Overall with the exception of the clutch being less firm the feel of shifting hasnt changed much since driving it off the lot new which im very satisfied about. Although there obviously has been changes over the past 175k miles I drive so often and the changes are so subtle its difficult to really notice much of a difference.

Im glad I decided to replace the clutch fluid and plan on making this part of a routine maintenance.
That's kind of what I expected and in line with what I and Terry noticed as well. The pedal is slightly more stiff and springy (less spongy), and there's less creep up to the clutch when you go to press it down. I would assume based on the plastic fitting that the clutch isn't under anywhere near as much pressure as the brakes, so the difference won't be as noticeable. Thanks for reporting back. It's good to get feedback from people.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
261 Posts
I know this is an older thread, but I just did this and found a 3/16" ID tube to work a lot better. In fact, 1/4" ID with a band on it still ended up leaking brake fluid all over my transmission when depressing the clutch (absorbent powder is handy for this), where 3/16" can slip over tightly without a band. The smaller tube also prevents air from mixing with anything being flushed out the line. Just an FYI for any future readers.

For the record, my clutch also appears to feel more springy with better reaction, although I've only tested it stationary so far.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
15,763 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I know this is an older thread, but I just did this and found a 3/16" ID tube to work a lot better. In fact, 1/4" ID with a band on it still ended up leaking brake fluid all over my transmission when depressing the clutch (absorbent powder is handy for this), where 3/16" can slip over tightly without a band. The smaller tube also prevents air from mixing with anything being flushed out the line. Just an FYI for any future readers.

For the record, my clutch also appears to feel more springy with better reaction, although I've only tested it stationary so far.
I noticed the same. Given the fact that these cars aren't bled from the factory and are instead auctioned out and filled with fluid, there will always be some air left in the system. Bleeding that air out, however little it may be, will improve clutch and brake pedal feel and stiffness.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,643 Posts
I came up with a hillbilly pressurizer for the master cylinder reservoir. It makes bleeding super easy.

I did the clutch and all the brakes. I think the clutch may feel better, but I think it's placebo. The brake feel definitely improved.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
15,763 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Is the 1L (36 oz) for both clutch and brakes or just clutch?
That's for everything. Three 12-ounce bottles will cover all 4 brakes, the entire reservior, and the clutch system and have about half a bottle left over.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
10,296 Posts


This is right out of the manual stating you can't do manual bleeding but need a pressure bleeder instead, guess you proved them wrong. And wonder what cartoonist made this drawing, the clutch master cylinder is buried deep under the coolant recovery tank, and to get at the fitting, have to remove the battery, then the recovery tank that has an extremely difficult clip to remove so you can slide it forward.

This is not the first hydraulic clutch I owned, and always used manual bleeding, but if pumping the clutch pedal helps to have an assistant, even a woman can do this. Good to close that bleeder when the clutch pedal is fully depressed so you don't suck up air.

When working alone, use my Mason jar, punched two 1/4" holes in the lid and solder in brass tubing just sticking out about a 1/4" from the bottom end, and a hand vacuum pump. Can pump it up to 25"/Hg and suck out the old fluild. With tubing, use to sell it by ID, but see some idiots are using OD, who cares about OD, its ID that counts. Perhaps the reason for confusion. But the tubing must fit tight over the bleeder.

7/16" is 0.4375", 10 mm is 0.3937", close, but can round off the hex with a 7/16", is a 10 mm hex. I use an impact wrench with a 6 point socket on it. These things amaze me, like trying to remove an alternator pulley nut with 90 ft-lbs of torque. If you lock the rotor in a vise and use a conventional wrench, guaranteed you will wreck the rotor. But with an impact wrench, can hold that 3" pulley with my bare left hand and zip off that nut instantly with an impact. Have a right angle 1/4" drive impact for this.

I completely remove the bleeder, clean off the threads, and coat it with Permantex non-hardening gasket maker. This prevents air from being suck out. Just form a piece of aluminum foil to catch the drippings. Hook up my Mason jar with the hand vacuum pump, and pump. Close the bleeder when it comes out clean and bubble free.

I don't get that service manual thing about removing the hose from the top of the clutch master cylinder for pressure bleeding, seems like the brake reservoir will run dry. With ABS, never let that reservoir run dry, will get air pockets in the ABS. Idiots that worked on my brakes did this and left air in the system. No amount of talking could convince them, heck you have brakes, yeah almost clear to the floor, so vacuum bled it myself, not once but on three separate occasions.

Use to be able to hot wire the ABS pump, but not on this thing, need a way overpriced scanner to do this.

How do you do this? Very simple, before removing the caliper, place a 2 by 6 in front the seat and use a stick on the brake pedal to that 2 by stick. This closes the master cylinder so it doesn't run dry. Purpose of that 2 by 6 is to prevent that stick from poking a hole in your seat cover. All it takes is common sense, really lacking nowadays.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,643 Posts
Nick, I read and re-read the instructions and didn't see where they say to access the clutch master? The bleeder valve is on the slave cylinder at the front of the transmission. I can't see any reason to access the master cylinder if you're only bleeding the system.

Wow, they recommend 2 bar (~30 psi) to bleed the system! I have my suspicions this is only to either keep people from DIY, or to sell expensive tools. My method, a rubber stopper jammed into the reservoir and hooked up to a bicycle pump with a bungee cord applying force to the plunger, likely only makes a few psi but it's more than enough for good fluid flow when bleeding.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
10,296 Posts
Nick, I read and re-read the instructions and didn't see where they say to access the clutch master? The bleeder valve is on the slave cylinder at the front of the transmission. I can't see any reason to access the master cylinder if you're only bleeding the system.

Wow, they recommend 2 bar (~30 psi) to bleed the system! I have my suspicions this is only to either keep people from DIY, or to sell expensive tools. My method, a rubber stopper jammed into the reservoir and hooked up to a bicycle pump with a bungee cord applying force to the plunger, likely only makes a few psi but it's more than enough for good fluid flow when bleeding.
Also reread that paragraph several times and compared this line drawing with my Cruze. Looks like its on top of the clutch master cylinder, but maybe they are referring to the brake master cylinder cap. So admittedly confused. But this isn't the only line drawing in the Cruze shop manual, most of them are confusing. That line drawing is not nearly like anything you find in the Cruze. Wonder what vehicle they were using to draw it?

Ha, looks more like the one used in my old 04 Cavalier.
 
1 - 20 of 36 Posts
Top