Clutch Slave Cylinder Troubleshooting

by Andrea Stein

The clutch slave cylinder refers to a device that disengages the clutch based on the depression of the clutch pedal, prompting the clutch master cylinder to apply pressure to the clutch slave cylinder. Clutch slave cylinders can develop problems for numerous reasons, which can often be revolved via some basic troubleshooting techniques.

Soft Clutch

A bad seal in the clutch slave cylinder can leak fluid and allow air in the line, resulting in a soft clutch pedal, or decrease in pressure. Bleeding and replacing a faulty clutch slave cylinder typically restores proper clutch operation.

Stuck Clutch

A clutch that fails to release when the clutch pedal fully depresses can prevent an operator from shifting the transmission, leading to gear grinding. A stuck clutch can result from a leaking or defective clutch slave cylinder. The cylinder may fail to move the throw out bearing, which disengages the clutch from the flywheel. A leaking slave cylinder should be bled, or, if that fails to correct the problem, replaced.

Hard Clutch

Older vehicles often contain hydraulic linkage with lots of miles on them. Over time, dirt, rust and other sediment accumulates on the clutch slave cylinder, the lowest part of the hydraulic linkage, which may then fail to release the clutch pedal. Flushing the hydraulic system and replacing the old clutch slave cylinder typically solves the problem.

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