Check the brake fluid reservior and the clutch fluid reservior. The clutch has a hydraulic linkage and the reservior for it is located in the far left rear corner of the engine bay. The one next to it and closer to the engine is the brake fluid reservior. Unless this fluid is clean and a pale yellow or blue you’ll need to change it out. This is done by bleeding the lines. You’ll need an 8mm open end or box end wrench, a 2-ft length of 1/4″ outside diameter clear plastic flexible hose, a catch container and a partner to monitor the brake (or clutch) pedal while you do this. The procedure is as follows:

Jack the car up and place jack stands under all four jacking points. Remove all four wheels for better access to the bleeder screws. Begin with the wheel that’s farthest from the brake reservior. (On Left-hand drive cars this would be the right rear wheel; on cars with RHD it’s the left rear wheel). Then go to the next-farthest wheel, then the next and finally the one that’s closest to the reservior. Bleed the brake lines in this order.

Each brake caliper has a bleeder screw. It looks like a nipple with a hole in it and hex sides on which to place an 8mm wrench. When this screw is turned counter-clockwise (loosened) fluid can flow out of it. When it is tightened (clockwise) it seals in fluid. First, make sure the fluid level in the reservior is topped up. Then place one end of the plastic hose over the hole in the end of the bleeder screw and the other end into the catch container.

Then have your assistant pump the brake pedal 3 or 4 times and then push the pedal toward the floor and hold. At this point, use the wrench to turn the bleeder screw open (counter-clockwise). When it opens, fluid will squirt out the bleeder screw and into the container. If your asistant is still pushing on the brake pedal as instructed it will fall straight to the floor. It is important that the pedal is not lifted off the floor at this point or air will be sucked into the brake lines through the open bleeder screw at your end.

Now turn the bleeder screw clockwise until it is just past hand-tight. Tell your assistant to let up on the pedal. This will draw fluid from the reservior into the lines, beginning the process of replacing the old contaminated fluid with new. Repeat this procedure five more times and then pour more new fluid into the reservior. It is important that you not let the reservior get too low or air could get drawn into the system from the empty reservior. Repeat this procedure of bleeding and replenishing the reservior until you get clean fluid spraying out the bleeder screw. Then do the entire process with the bleeder screws on the other three wheels. Top up the reservior to the “full” line and replace the cap. Congratulations, you’ve just bled your brakes.

The clutch fluid is replaced in the same manner as the brake fluid, but there’s only one bleeder screw. It is located in the engine bay on the clutch slave cylinder, which is mounted on top of the transmission on the drivers’ side. Just follow the line from the clutch master cylinder and you’ll find it. Access to the bleeder screw is a bitch and a half, but it’s not impossible to do.

Both of these systems use DOT3 brake fluid. It’s the least expensive, and perfectly fine for everyday road use.

Written by
Rotor Head