Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Brake master cylinder leaking, clutch jammed up. Is quote for new clutch that doesn't mention brake master reasonable? 1998 Ford Escort

asked by on

Brake dash light was on for week or two. No other symptoms. Finally check reservoir - just over min fill line. Had Les Schwab guy check out - says master cylinder leaking, needs replaced. I'm broke so top off fluid and on my way. 2 weeks later, clutch is totally jamming up. Won't shift at all, until it does. Then for a few days it’s sporadic - periodically jamming up, then it's back to feeling pretty normal. A little google = "oh, a clutch uses brake fluid… these things could be related."

Go to Mechanic #2 for "free" $150 diagnostic (applied toward repair). Says I need a new clutch master cylinder, slave cylinder, 2 wheel cylinders and a whole new clutch... He SAYS NOTHING about the master BRAKE cylinder. Back to Les Schwab who points to visibly wet master BRAKE cylinder.

Is mechanic #2 full of it? Could replacing master brake cylinder and bleeding clutch hold me for now?

My car has 165000 miles.
My car has a manual transmission.

Hi there - I think the fact that the brake and clutch hydraulic system share the reservoir is confusing how to repair 2 separate issues. For sure, your brake master cylinder appears to be failing, and should be replaced. This is a safety issue of course. On the clutch side - if the fluid level is above the "Min" line, it probably isn’t low fluid level that is a problem unless you already have air in the clutch hydraulic line. The failure of the clutch to disengage consistently may be a failure of the clutch pilot bearing, which is, unfortunately, inside the clutch assembly. A clutch pilot bearing that is seizing will act the same as a a failing clutch hydraulic system - it will be difficult to engage any gear from a stop, or shift gears while moving. I recommend a brake master cylinder replacement, and bleeding the clutch hydraulic system performed by a mobile, professional mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, who will come to your location, perform these repairs, and give you a solid basis for deciding whether the clutch really needs replacement, or if it was the clutch hydraulic system that was at fault. If the clutch is still failing to disengage, then you have logically confirmed that diagnosis.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!
  • Home
  • Questions
  • Brake master cylinder leaking, clutch jammed up. Is quote for new clutch that doesn't mention brake master reasonable? 1998 Ford Escort

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Window not working

If the motor does make a noise when the Down button is pressed, then the motor is not the cause; either the regulator is binding the motor from turning the window up, or the switch needs to be replaced at...

Q: Transmission is slipping

Hello. From what you describe it would appear that your vehicle may be experiencing some sort of issues with the transmission or clutch. If it is a manual transmission and appears to be having trouble staying in gear, or transferring...

Q: Non stop jerking when gas pedal is pressed to floor

Hey there, thanks for writing in about your 1999 Ford Escort. You may have to have the vehicle checked for misfires. You could have a bad coil pack putting out weak spark or the fuel pressure is low. It would...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...