The act or process of bleeding your clutch is an extremely useful skill to have. If you know how to bleed your clutch, it can be used in several different ways to help diagnose or fix many things. It is similar to bleeding brakes on a vehicle, but it is slightly more significant and extra steps need to be taken.

DSM’s use a hydraulic clutch system that involves a clutch master cylinder and a clutch slave cylinder. The clutch master cylinder is bolted to the firewall and is attached to the other end of the clutch pedal. When you push the clutch pedal, fluid is then pumped out of the master cylinder, through the line, and all the way to the slave cylinder. The slave cylinder is bolted near the bottom of the transmission. When you push the clutch pedal, the fluid will extend the slave cylinder rod out, thus pushing the end of the clutch fork. The clutch fork then pushes the throw out bearing into the pressure plate. Below is a step by step breakdown of how to bleed your clutch hydraulic system.

Text by AJ Hunsinger // Photos by Galipso


  1. Have your friend camp in the driver’s seat to push in and let out the clutch pedal when you tell him to.
  2. During this procedure DO NOT allow your friend to “pump” the clutch pedal.
  3. You will be opening and closing the bleed screw on the slave cylinder (pictured below). CAUTION: During this procedure, protect your eyes from squirting brake fluid by using a small hose and a soda bottle. Brake fluid is nasty stuff so wear gloves.
  4. (Helper) Press clutch pedal in fully and hold.
  5. (You) Open the bleed screw to allow fluid to escape.
  6. (You) Close bleed screw quickly.
  7. (Helper) Release pedal completely
  8. (You) Top off fluid in reservoir. Leave cap off of reservoir.
  9. Repeat steps #6 – #9 no less than 10 times before going to #12 below. NO PUMPING!
  10. Now you will want to purge the slave cylinder of any air bubbles that might be trapped inside of it.
  11. Grab the clutch fork and push towards the slave cylinder pushing the rod all of the way into the slave cylinder as far as it will go AND HOLD it in.
  12. (You) open bleed valve and command helper to push the clutch down slowly purging any air that was trapped in the slave cylinder
  13. (Helper) As soon as the pedal hits the floor command your bleeder monkey to close the valve before you let the pedal return from the floor.
  14. Repeat steps #6 – #9 one last time and proceed to the clutch reality check.
Slave cylinder as bolted to the transmission
Slave cylinder rod as it makes contact with the bottom of the clutch fork

CLUTCH ALIGNMENT CHECK

The easiest way to do the alignment check of the clutch is to get all four tires in the air by placing the car on a lift or by SAFELY putting all 4 wheels up off the ground with jack stands. 

  1. Start the engine and put the car into 1st gear.
  2. Slowly let the clutch out until the wheels begin to spin.
  3. Now, slowly push the clutch in until the wheels stop. Hold the clutch at this position.
  4. At this point, the clutch pedal should be at least 2-3 inches off the carpet. If not, then the clutch needs adjustment and/or the clutch needs to be inspected for issues that are causing it not to release fully.

The reason why the clutch should be this far off the floor at the engagement point is to allow enough room for movement of the clutch disc so it finds a nice center position between the flywheel and pressure plate. While this may be a tedious method to make sure clutch is functioning properly but this is the preferred method and the true reality check for where the clutch releases. Click here to see how to adjust the clutch master cylinder rod.

NOTE:  Advanced Clutch Technology (ACT) has revised some of their clutches for the DSM.  They feature the larger damper springs in the sprung hub assembly and a revised pressure plate/ spring plate.  The larger springs are an excellent improvement but there are some things you need to know about. It is possible for the spring plate fingers to make contact with the damper springs if the clutch is being over-extended. The solution is to pay special attention while adjusting the clutch so that you get ample clutch release but not so much that the spring plate makes contact with the damper springs.

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