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I have a 1989 Chevy 1500 Pickup that uses a hydraulic clutch. I have recently noticed that the clutch pedal has been feeling a bit spongy, so my boss decided to help me take a look. It was late when we popped the hood tonight and we noticed that the fluid was low. Before I could stop him, he started to dump pink fluid into my clutch reservoir. I said "Isn't that transmission fluid?", and he replied, "Yeah, It can be used as power steering fluid also... Bet you didn't know that." Now, I am not an expert on vehicles, but isn't DOT3, which is recommended for the clutch,” according to the cap on the clutch master cylinder” different than transmission fluid? Should I be flushing my clutch? If so, is this an easy process?

Your boss didn't get to be the boss from his valuable car knowledge! Petroleum products are a great big “OH NO”, if they are put into the brake system or the hydraulic clutch! This means anything that has come in contact with this fluid that has rubber in it will need to be replaced. If you thought you had a problem before he did this, you now have a bigger problem! Petroleum products such as power steering fluid, oil, and transmission fluid are NOT supposed to be used in the hydraulic clutch or in the brake systems of most cars! To minimize the damage please do the following ASAP. 1) Remove the clutch reservoir and wash it out with soap and water first. 2) Blow -dry the clutch master cylinder or wipe dry with clean paper towels. (Do not use red shop rags because they have oil impregnated in them) 3) Re-install the clutch reservoir. 4) Flush/bleed the clutch with denatured alcohol. 5) When you feel satisfied that all the transmission fluid has been removed then flush again with brake fluid. This may “put off” for a while the replacement of your clutch master cylinder and slave cylinder along with ANY rubber hydraulic hoses that may have been contaminated with the transmission fluid. I'm sure your boss meant well trying to help you. This is one of the reasons I recommend NOT to allow shops to top off your fluids when you go to an oil change facility. Too many hydraulic brake systems and clutch systems have been ruined from miss-informed lube techs. In the future if any of your fluids are LOW you need to know WHY that particular fluid is low. Not just “top it off” and forget about the problem. Fluids don't just go away without a reason! Treat the problem, not the symptom!

 

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