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Steve Foss

Hydraulic clutch issue - 89 Toyota 4Runner

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It started shifting hard, then won't go into gear at all. I checked the fluid in the clutch receptacle and it was down a bit. I added Dot 3 brake fluid. At first when I added to the fill line, the level would slowly drop, and I'd add more. I did this three times until it stayed up to the "max fill" line.

Now it will allow me to clutch and shift only after repeatedly pumping the clutch pedal. I'm talking 20-40 pumps before it builds what feels like enough pressure to allow gear shifting, then after a few gear shifts as I'm moving through town, it won't allow shifting again and I have to pull over and pump it a bunch of times to get it to shift.

It really does feel like a soft brake pedal does when there's air in the lines, where you feel very little resistance until you pump them up.

I see no fluid coming out anywhere after I pump it up, so it doesn't appear there's a leak anywhere. Could I have air in my hydraulic clutch line and, if so, how do I bleed the system? Or does it sound like some other problem?

Toyota 4Runner, 1989, five-speed, V6, high mileage.

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Yes, it sounds as if you most likely have air in the system. It sometimes can work out just by using it now that its full again. If not you will need to bleed the system.

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Its hard to say for sure but it sounds like air in the line. Also, there might be a leak you cant see. Which would account for the fluid being low. You will probably need to bleed it from the slave cylinder (the part on/in the tranny that pushed the clutch in/out) to see for sure. Im hoping airjer will chime in on this one, Im not sure if its a internal or external slave on that one. I havent been underneath one of those before. If its external, its a cinch to bleed it out and even change it.

Usually if there is a leak the slave cylinder is to blame and most of the time they are pretty cheap. If the slave looks fine but isnt getting pressure, there could be a internal leak on the clutch master cylinder. Which would account for the multiple pumps to get it moving.

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The slave will be on the drivers side of the trans. You will see a bleeder screw simular to a brake caliper. Its either an 8mm or 10mm i think 8. Open it. have somebody push down on the clutch pedal. close it. pull up un the clutch pedal. repeat making sure not to run out of fluid!

Also check inside the vehicle under the dash where the push rod goes through the dash. Its very possible for it to be leaking inside the car.

Hope that helps Mr. Steve!

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