A while ago, Jalopnik readers advised me to thin my herd of junkers. When I didn’t heed that advice, it bit me in the ass, leaving me stranded. Now I’m finally doing it: I’m selling two of my cars. But first, I have to do a couple of quick fixes. Here’s how I did the clutch master cylinder on the world’s most unreliable Honda.
Now that weather in Michigan isn’t unbearable, I can actually go outside and wrench. So my first job was to fix that damn leaky clutch master cylinder on the 1995 Honda Accord. Here’s how she looked before the fix:
Brake fluid was leaking all over the firewall and dripping down to my carpet. It then got on my shoes, which touched my pedals, so now I’ve got a stained carpet and disintegrated rubber pedal covers. Wonderful.
The good news is that replacing the leaky master cylinder was an easy job, though space was tight. See the arrow in the picture above? That’s pointing to the clutch fluid reservoir, but the clutch master cylinder itself is wedged between that reservoir and the firewall, so anyone who has enormous hands may want to hire a toddler for this job.
Removing The Old Master Cylinder
The first thing I did was remove the 10mm bolt from the reservoir bracket, so I could move it aside and gain better access to the master cylinder down below.
Then, once I had located the clutch master cylinder, I grabbed a 12mm combination wrench and broke the flare nut loose. I should have used a line wrench, but I didn’t have one, so I risked rounding the nut by using an open-end wrench. That’s very unwise; don’t do what I do.
Next, I contorted my body to get into the tiny driver’s footwell. Once there, I removed two nuts holding the master cylinder to the firewall (one shown in the picture below, and one on the opposite corner hidden from view).
After that, I removed the little pin (and the cotter pin) connecting the master cylinder pushrod with the clutch pedal.
With the hardline detached from the outside, and the pin and two nuts removed from inside the car, I went back under my hood and yanked out the old master cylinder in what was, in my mind, glorious moment.
Plop The New Master Cylinder In
Then I attaching the reservoir hose to the new new master cylinder and rubbed some RTV sealant onto the mating surface to prevent leakage through the firewall. I pushed the clean, shiny part into the hole in my firewall, and attached the hardline.
Then I slid back into the extremely tiny footwell (again, hiring a toddler may be the way to go on this one.)
On the inside, I tightened the two nuts, replaced the pin that connects the pedal to the master cylinder pushrod, and put the paper clip back through the pin hole.
Then it was time to adjust the pedal.
Adjust Pedal Free-play
The next step was to adjust the master cylinder’s pushrod. If it’s not adjusted properly, the clutch might not disengage when I push the pedal down, and it might still apply pressure to the clutch hydraulics when my foot is completely off. So it’s really important that the pushrod is adjusted properly.
Luckily, though, the job is so easy, a toddler could do it (yet another reason to hire Timmy from down the street). I simply loosened the nut and spun the pushrod by hand. The goal was to adjust it so that, when the pedal was resting on its rubber bumpstop, the pushrod should be just on the edge of its plunge, but not applying any pressure to the system.
Bleeding The System
Bleeding the system took forever, as I hadn’t bench-bled the master cylinder, so there was tons of air in the system. Still, it wasn’t rocket science.
I filled the reservoir with brake fluid, squeezed the rubber hose a few times to make sure the fluid was getting into the master cylinder, and attached a one-person bleeder tool to the slave cylinder nipple shown below.
Then I just loosened the nipple and pumped the pedal while keeping the fluid level in the reservoir from dropping too low. Once all the air came out of the system, I tightened the slave cylinder nipple back up, and I was all set.
So now I’ve got a clutch pedal that feels very nice, and doesn’t leak poisonous fluid all over my shoes.
Now all I have to do is replace the timing belt and water pump before I can finally get that crappy Honda out of my life. I’ve already started on that job, and so far, it’s been absolute hell. Stay tuned to hear more about that.