DIY: Corolla Clutch Master and Slave Cylinder Repair - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
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#1 Old 01-02-2011, 08:54 PM
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DIY: Corolla Clutch Master and Slave Cylinder Repair

I just did a master and slave cylinder replacement for the clutch this weekend. And figure I'd write down some of the ins and outs while I still remember.

I do not outline the bench bleeding for the master cylinder.
Follow the instructions that come with your master cylinder.

................

Pre-check:
You need the two parts of course:
Master cylinder
Slave cylinder
You may want to get some fuel line (for the bleeding process) if you don't have some already.
I took the new slave cylinder to the fuel line area of the auto part store, and test fitted different diameters until I found a snug fit. I don't recall the diameter at the moment. 1 foot will do I guess, I got 2 feet.

Tools:

12mm shallow socket.
12mm deep socket.
Short extension.
1/4" ratchet. (Maybe a 3/8th but the tightness of the space(s) yearns for a 1/4" ratchet).
12mm wrench.
10mm wrench.
Small wrench for the bleeding screw. (Size?? I don't recall, maybe 5/16th).
Pliers for the cotter pin.

............

The master cylinder.

On mine, there were 2 nuts holding on the master cylinder.
These were removed from under the dash. :< I hate working under the dash.

The nuts were 12mm.
I used the 12mm shallow socket for the lower-right nut and a 12mm deep well socket for the upper-left nut, a small extension, and a 1/4 inch ratchet.

I got the lower right nut off with the clutch pedal in the "up" position. I got the upper left nut off with a stick holding the clutch pedal in the "down" position. Your mileage may vary.

There was a 12mm nut and a cotter pin holding the clutch to the master cylinder. The 12mm nut here is what allows adjustment on how long/short the master cylinder rod is. This was fairly easy (compared to everything else).

So remove the 12mm nuts on the 2 bolts on the master cylinder.
Loose the 12mm nut on the rod. Remove the cotter pin.

So the new nuts should be removed, and the rod-to-clutch-pedal-adapter thing should be unattached.

.......

Back under the hood.
The master cylinder has a flare nut attached to it...and this connects the tube(s) that (eventually) runs to the slave cylinder.
The way I get flare nuts off is like this:
Do NOT start with (the correct size) open end wrench. Most likely you WILL strip the nut. Maybe not, but my experience is that you will.
I use vice grips, and I put the flat portion of vice grips (the very tips of the vice grip usually) and I adjust the vice grips so that I can barely (and with ALL my strength) can get the vice grips closed and engaged. The vice grips cannot be kinda tight, they gotta be super tight. Usually then, I can then break loose the flare nut.
The issue with the corolla is the TIGHT space between the strut tower and the master cylinder.
But I was able to get some vice grips in there (at a slight angle) and break the nut loose. I think it was a 10mm open end wrench to finish the loosening.

Now on my year, the brake BOOSTER blocks the clutch master cylinder removal.
Fortunately, you only have to move the booster a few inches.
Remove the 4 nuts (under the dash) on the brake booster.
With those removed, you can move the booster a few inches forward and slide the master cylinder out. It's pretty tight.
PAY ATTENTION to the angle that you are able to remove the master cylinder, as you'll have to follow this path backwards.
You do NOT need to remove the nuts from the (brake) master cylinder to the brake booster.

..............

Now put your attention on the slave cylinder.
This is alot easier than the master.
Look at your new part, and while there are 3 bolts in that area, I only had to remove 2 of them.
BUT BEFORE you remove the 2 bolts, you should break loose the flare nut on the slave cylinder. I (again) used the vice grip method.
Break loose the flare nut, use the 10mm wrench to remove the flare nut all the way. Then remove the 2 bolts holding the slave cylinder to the engine block.

.......

Assemble the slave cylinder (the rubber boot and the rod). My slave cylinder rod had a notch in it. The notch goes farther away from the slave cylinder. Most likely, you can ascertain the notch location from the old one.
One hint, I usually start the flare nut screw-in BEFORE I reattach it to the engine block. This way, you can do it by hand and avoid an accidental cross thread. Get the flare nut screwed-in 3-4 turns.
Then reattach the slave cylinder to the block.

......

The master cylinder.
You need to (temporarily) remove the (new) master-cylinder-rod--to--clutch pedal adapter piece.
Pull out the brake booster a few inches and wiggle in the new master cylinder.
Again, pick a time in the process that you can hand tighten the flare nut on the new master cylinder, although this is a little harder because of the brake booster making a tight fit.
After the master cylinder is reinserted, you get back under the dash and get the nuts back on the master cylinder screws. Not too hard, but one of those tight spot frustration things.


Screw on the rod-to-clutch adapter piece (the piece that the big pin goes through). You do not want to tighten the 12mm adjusting nut at this time.
Just get it reattached and do final adjustments (of the rod length) at the end.

.......

Re attach the brake booster nuts as well.

.......

Check point reminders:
Make sure both flare nuts are tightened, in case you only half hand tightened them before.

..........

So right now, you should have the new parts installed, but with no fluid in the system.

......

There are a couple of ways to bleed the system.
One NOTE, my instructions (that came with the slave cylinder) said to NOT bench bleed the SLAVE cylinder.
Yours may vary, but I figured I'd mention it.
But this makes sense. With the braking system, you only bench bleed the master cylinder, not the brake calipers.
And the clutch-slave-cylinder is kinda the equivalent of the brake calipers when comparing the two systems.

........

My bleeding system is listed below.
It is one of a few ways to bleed a system.
Pick another method if you know of one, but here is my method below.

.......

My bleeding system...I call it the wife system, or the i-got-a-friend-for-a-little-bit-of-time system.
Basically, there is someone sitting in the car who pushes the pedal on voice instruction, and you do everything else.

Fill the master cylinder with new fluid.

First, I remove the bleeding screw completely.
While you have it out, look for the super small hole in the bleeding screw.
It'll be important later.
Now with the bleeding screw removed:
I get the person in the car... to pump the pedal.
You should see fluid coming through the lines at this time.
I like to get the old fluid out of the system.
It'll make a mess. Make sure you're prepared for the mess.
Make SUPER SURE you keep the master cylinder topped off. It can get down to 1/3 full, you don't have to be anal about it, but do not let it get too low.
This is why the person in the car should be pedal pushing at a smooth, consistent rate, and not too fast, or the reservoir could get too low.
If the master cylinder gets too empty, you'll put air back into the system.

NOW, THIS IS IMPORTANT.
Put the bleeding screw back into the slave cylinder.
The bleeding screw on the slave cylinder has to be at a certain position (rotation wise) for the fluid to run. That super small hole has to be lined up correctly.
Only by getting the person-in-the-car to push the pedal can you find the "sweet spot" on the bleeding screw. Tighten the screw completely (not too tight right now), then back it OUT to find the sweet-spot for the bleeding.

Get an aluminum can or other old container, and fill it up 1/3 of the way with clean new fluid.

Put one end of the fuel line on the bleeding screw and one end (submerged) in the aluminum can.

The motivation here is that....when the person in the car pushes the pedal, it pushes fluid through. When the pedal is returning to the "up" position, it will draw something back into the system.
Without that fuel line submerged in the aluminum can (and in some fluid), it would draw air back in.
With the fuel line, submerged in fluid (in the can)..it will draw back fluid.
That of course is the key to getting all the air out.

Now you gotta do a couple of things at the same time.

Have new fluid ready to pour into the master cylinder.
Be ready with a small wrench to close the slave cylinder bleeding screw.

Have the person in the car pump the pedal. Not crazy fast. Just smooth and consistent. You should start to see the fluid in the master cylinder go down with each pump. If you don't, your bleeding screw probably has moved a little and you've lost the "sweet spot" for bleeding.
I usually over-do the new fluid....but I like to make sure all the old fluid is out ... since its only about $1 worth of fluid. Don't call the green-police on me!

But usually by the time the aluminum can is (almost) full, the system is bled well.
I try to "time" the final tightening of the bleeder screw with a down stroke by the person in the car pushing the pedal.

So close the bleeding screw (warn the person in the car that the clutch will get difficult to push right before you tighten the bleeding screw). Re-top-off the master cylinder again with fluid.
Test the operation of the clutch.
You can watch the slave cylinder rod move back and forth (of course).

Once you have it working, adjust (by screwing or unscrewing) that rod-to-clutch-pedal-adapter thing back under the dash.
It's too hard to describe the "feel". You just adjust it so that it feels right and works right. << Sorry that all I got on the adjustment process.

...........

I think that is it.

...............

Working under the dash is frustrating (as always).
The "upper left" nut of the master cylinder bolts is the most difficult.
When this "upper left" nut is almost off, be careful not to drop it (so that it might accidentally fall (into a difficult place to retrieve it).

Having to loosen the brake booster (my year at least) was another frustrating point. An inch here or there would have made this unnecessary, but hey, I'm not an engineer, just a dude trying to get his car back on the road.

Be careful on the flare nuts to avoid cross threading. TAKE YOUR TIME here, cross threading will RUIN your day.

Try to hand tighten each flare nut before you get the cylinder(s) tightened down all the way.
I had some big frustration getting the master cylinder flare nut started.
I tried using a screwdriver and wrench, but ended up getting it started by hand. It's just super tight in there.



Other notes:
There is a soft line that runs from the car body to the engine.
(Much like there is a soft line that goes from the body of the car to the brake calipers of the brake system).
I did not replace this myself. But it eventually could be a maintenance item.
It's kinda behind the block and does not look fun to replace.


I found some clues here and there at this forum, so I wanted to consolidate my experience to help anyone else.

A buddy did help me and made it alot easier.
You can do it by yourself (minus the bleeding).
It took me 4.5-5 hours (like most things, the first time takes the longest).
This included an extra trip to the auto part store, because I couldn't find my existing fuel line pieces that I've used for brake bleeding in the past. :<
(And this was with some friend help).
I think I could do it in 2.5 hours (solo) if I had to do it again.


........

Key words:

clutch
master
slave
cylinder
replacement
repair
removal
corolla
1994
fluid
rod


Hope it helps!!

Last edited by granadaCoder; 01-03-2011 at 06:34 AM. Reason: misspelling
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#2 Old 01-02-2011, 09:23 PM
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Great write-up!! I'll add this to the DIY Sticky thread


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#3 Old 12-27-2011, 10:08 PM
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Thanks for the insights. I'm attempting my first master/slave cylinder transplant tomorrow. The tips were useful. If I had a video camera, I'd shoot it and show the rest of the world everything a rookie can do wrong, so they could avoid the errors. Thanks again for the insights much appreciated.
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#4 Old 12-29-2011, 03:05 PM
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For anyone else using this write up to do the job- BUY a flare nut wrench to do the job. Vise grips are "tool abuse" but sometimes its all you got.

There is no need to remove the bleed screw. Buy a short piece of vinyl tubing to fit the end of the bleed screw so fluid can be collected in a can instead of spraying all over the car.

CAUTION: Brake fluid does attack most painted and plastic surfaces. If you drip it, spray it with brake cleaner and dry.

Granada did have some good bits of info that fill in the gaps they leave out of most manuals.

-SP
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#5 Old 12-30-2011, 09:33 PM
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10 hours later... Both the slave and master cylinders are in. It took forever to bleed the little bugger out. We ended up having to unbolt the slave and bleed it from the bottom up.

But the problem isn't solved. Got ready to take it out for a test drive and it still would not allow us to shift into reverse. Grinds if you try. 1-4 are working.

Not sure of it needs to be adusted/bled more, OR if the arm that connects to the slave cylinder push rod is toast. It has about 1/2 inch play, up and down, which makes me think it might be lose or broken. I'm beyond my level of expertise again now. I'm not sure how this lever/arm functions.

The slave push rod goes into it, and attempts to disengage the clutch. Not sure if there should be vertical play in it normally, or if that means a bolt is loose, or the clutch is out, or the clutch cylinder lines need better bleeding.

Any help here would be greatly appreciate.

For those who follow... We fought the lower dash for a while, when trying to take out the master cylinder. The bolt on the far left, driver side, is in a terrible location. We took off the lower dash, and took out the driver side speaker, and it was a piece of cake. Removing them may not be necessary with the right tools, but dang, it sure made it easier and it wasn't hard.

And, bleeding the system from the bottom up, by pushing in on the slave cylinder push rod and allowing the air to escape at the top, worked much easier and faster. (We did use/ try a piece of hose from the slave nipple to the reservoir, but it never would bleed out of air... went on for nearly an hour.)

And, yes, I totally agree with using a Flare nut wrench to loosen the nuts on the fluid lines. They work like a charm and Harbor Freight has a full set for about $12.


Andy insights on the clutch mechanism would be hugely appreciated!!!
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#6 Old 12-31-2011, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thefranks5 View Post
Not sure of it needs to be adusted/bled more, OR if the arm that connects to the slave cylinder push rod is toast. It has about 1/2 inch play, up and down, which makes me think it might be lose or broken. I'm beyond my level of expertise again now. I'm not sure how this lever/arm functions.
I'm sure your reverse grind and what I quoted are what is the problem.

Its unclear where the play is, but the rod should have ANY. The pushrod always has some tension on it so you should be able to move it by hand.

The gears grind because the clutch isnt releasing all the way. Probably the best way to get to the bottom of this is to post a pic.

Bleeding- You HAD to have been doing SOMETHING wrong. There is no reason it should take an hour. Typical time might be 5 minutes tops.

-SP
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#7 Old 12-31-2011, 03:02 PM
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My big mistake was I didn't bench bleed the cylinders. Big mistake. I ended up having a friend come over who has rebuilt numerous cars from the ground up, to take a look. He and I spent another hour bleeding. Unreal how much air can come out. Alas, it did run clear.

I also extended the push rod length on the master cylinder, up under the dash (hopefully that's an appropriate description).

It's all bled out, we have the clutch cylinder system working well, it appears, but still cannot get into gear when we test it.
So, we're thinking it is the clutch itself or the hmmmm fork??? or it's cable is stretched or out of whack.

Obviously, I'm beyond my level of ability. The cylinders was probably as far as I should venture. Sounds like replacing the clutch is a major ordeal and highly technical... and unfortunately very expensive.

The vertical play in the plate or fork that extends out of the transmission from the clutch is a red flag. It appears to be time for the pros to take over.... someday, when we can afford it.

Thanks for the insights. Hope you all have a great 2012.
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#8 Old 04-10-2014, 10:35 AM
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Sorry to bring up an old thread, but did you ever resolve this? I am currently suffering through the same problem in a 1993 Corolla.

I have replaced the master and slave cylinders (I didn't bench bleed the first time, and had the same problem, so I did it again.) Even with the bench bleeding, I couldn't get it to change gears without fully disengaging. I can get into all of the gears, but it grinds a bit on Reverse or 1st.

Anyways, did you ever find out if the clutch fork or something else was the actual issue?

I really dont want to try to take it out and bleed it a third time.

~Jeremiah.
1993 Corolla DX 1.8L
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#9 Old 04-10-2014, 10:08 PM
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You may have to adjust the length of the pedal pushrod. Be careful to not make it too long or the compensation port will be blocked.

-SP
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#10 Old 04-10-2014, 10:36 PM
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clutch

First, I found out via a YouTube video, how to bleed the clucth line from the bottom. Keeping the master clutch reservoir relatively full ... pushing in on the fork by the slave cylinder. You can see the air bubbles coming up in the master.

It bled the system out quite well in a short amount of time.

Now, in the end I ended up replacing the entire clutch. I'm not sure it was necessary. Once I got the bell housing off, what I found out was that the clutch fork pivots on a pivot bolt that screw in the side of the bell housing.

What had happened was that the pivot bolt had warn down considerably. As a result, it wasn't pivoting fully.

Whether just replacing the pivot bolt would have been enough to solve the problem, I'm not sure. And as long as I had the bell housing off, I replaced the clutch assembly.

So, you might try just bleeding the line out from the bottom first. If that does the job, great! if it doesn't, and you need to replace the clutch, make sure to look at that little bolt. It costs about $17 and is a dealer only part, but it's worth the investment.

Hope that's a help.
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#11 Old 04-11-2014, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
So, you might try just bleeding the line out from the bottom first. If that does the job, great! if it doesn't, and you need to replace the clutch, make sure to look at that little bolt. It costs about $17 and is a dealer only part, but it's worth the investment.
I actually do that. I use an oil pump can like this one:

And fill it with brake fluid, then attach it to the bleeder valve. And I just keep pumping (be sure not to overfill the master, of course)

I am sure I got all the bubbles out. I bled it MANY times, just to be sure. Even removed the master cylinder and re-bench bled that.

Anyways, I either damaged the seals on the master cylinder by adjusting the push rod ALL the way out, or my problem was never in the cylinders to start with.

I have since purchased a new vehicle, but I was hoping I could do this one easily. It appears that the clutch plate might be the real problem - a MUCH bigger job. And over my expertise.

I think I may just scrap the car. It is over 20 years old and has other problems.
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#12 Old 04-15-2014, 09:54 PM
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if i can do it....

RE bleeding bottom to top... I forgot, I ran a piece of plastic tubing from the slave up to the master cylinder, so it just kept replenishing itself as we bled the line (with a little topping off on occasion).

It was certainly beyond my comfort level, but with patience and endurance and God's grace, it all came together. A good rule of thumb is, if I can do it, pretty much anyone with a modicum of mechanical ability, jack stands, a harbor freight for tools, and videos via ToyotaNation and YouTube, can do it. I'm a web editor and journalist by trade... not a mechanic.

Mine had 160,000+ miles, but overall was still mechanically strong in the critical areas, and getting 32-34 mpg.

I sold my 1990 Camry about 3 months ago and got more than I thought I would for it, about $1400. I thought that was pretty good for the miles.

I still have the 1991 Camry though, at 135,000+, and will be replacing all the struts this next week. Camry made a great car with that one, I think.

God's peace.
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#13 Old 04-16-2014, 10:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thefranks5 View Post
I forgot, I ran a piece of plastic tubing from the slave up to the master cylinder, so it just kept replenishing itself as we bled the line
Great little trick!! I think I'll get a longer piece of tubing just for that purpose.

-SP
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