Clutch pedal on my car has gone

Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
  • 1993 BMW 320I
  • 2.0L
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • MANUAL
  • 115,000 MILES
I used my car last week without incident and was able to park it without any problems in my garage. The temperature last week was about 17 degrees Fahrenheit. When trying to go out in my car today (about 8 days later), with the temperature being 48 degrees, I started the car but when I went to depress the clutch pedal to put it into gear there was no resistance and the pedal just went back, no tension, no pressure, no nothing, and I couldn’t put my car into first gear.

After turning the car off I got out and looked under the car and there was a large damp spot about two feet in diameter which was approximately under the firewall and in the center just about where the transmission bell housing is.

My car has a hydraulic clutch (two cylinders - master and slave) and is not cable operated. The master cylinder is inside the car at the top of the clutch pedal and the slave cylinder is outside and goes into the transmission housing. Since there is a puddle I suspect the slave cylinder has gone.

I am wondering what has happened and whether it is an easy fix. I suspect that, due to the temperature changes and the age of the car, a seal has gone somewhere or a pipe has broken. I have not physically gone under the car to thoroughly check things out.

There is no feeling of the clutch plate being depressed to enable the changing or engaging of gears.
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Thursday, March 14th, 2019 AT 5:18 PM

21 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Welcome to 2CarPros.

What I suggest is this: Refill the clutch master cylinder with fluid and watch for leaks. Based on your description it sounds like the slave, but do the refill to confirm. If it leaked over night, you should be able to find it easily.

Let me know what you find.

Joe
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Thursday, March 14th, 2019 AT 6:57 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
I have looked in my Bentley maintenance manual and it does not show how to replenish the master cylinder fluid. Is there a source I can look at as to how to do this?
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Thursday, March 14th, 2019 AT 7:28 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Interestingly, I have information on every other 1993 model but the 320, However, to the best of my knowledge, the clutch master cylinder ties in with the brake master cylinder for fluid. Have you checked that?
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Thursday, March 14th, 2019 AT 7:50 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
Okay. Thought so. Just getting used to the nomenclature, etc. Will check over the weekend.
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Thursday, March 14th, 2019 AT 7:58 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Not a problem. I have information on the 318 and 325, but nothing on the 320 for some reason. Let me know if I can help.

Take care,
Joe
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Thursday, March 14th, 2019 AT 8:03 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
The 318 is a four pot and is slightly different than the 6 pot engines. The 320 is the same as the higher capacity engined cars (323, 325, 328) apart from the M3 that has slightly different components in the suspension and ancillary parts.
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Friday, March 15th, 2019 AT 2:27 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Welcome back:

Did you have a chance to check where the leak came from?

Joe
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Friday, March 15th, 2019 AT 7:04 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
Not yet. Will do so over the weekend.
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Friday, March 15th, 2019 AT 7:12 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Let me know what you find. I will try my best to help.
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Friday, March 15th, 2019 AT 7:19 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
Here are the images of the slave clutch cylinder. I did not fill up the fluid as I wanted to do this first. The leak is at the bottom bolt. There is no leak at the pipe coming out of the cylinder on the left. So it looks like a seal failure, which is what I suspected. I haven't checked the clutch master cylinder yet and will probably not bother as there is no fluid inside the driver foot well (from what I remember). If you can confirm what my observations are that would be great. If you want me to do any more steps before buying a new unit I will do so.

I didn't take a picture where the bleed valve was but there was no leak there either.
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Sunday, March 17th, 2019 AT 10:30 AM
Tiny
JOETECHPRO
  • EXPERT
Hey CHRISTOPHER SA,

I would say you are correct and it looks like you have a leaking slave.

One additional consideration will be if the clutch has been contaminated by the leaking brake fluid. This you may be able to inspect partially through the slave cylinder mounting hole but to fully check you would need to remove the transmission.

You can try just replacing the slave and seeing if the clutch works okay, but if contaminated it will potentially slip and require replacement.

To replace the slave cylinder it is a case of removing the old unit, disconnecting the line connecting the new unit. It will then need to be bled and installed.

Regards, Joe
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Sunday, March 17th, 2019 AT 5:39 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
I have an endoscope with LED lights around the lens that I can put into the hole and see what is going on. I will do that just before I put the new part on. What am I looking for? Just brake fluid on the clutch plate?
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Sunday, March 17th, 2019 AT 5:51 PM
Tiny
JOETECHPRO
  • EXPERT
Hey CHRISTOPHER SA,

Awesome that is the best you can do without removing the transmission.

Yes, you are looking to see how much fluid is inside the bell housing of the transmission, whether or not it is on the clutch (you will only be able to see the back of the pressure plate). If there isn't too much there or it looks like it has run down the casing and not blown onto the clutch you may be okay.

From that you can make a judgement whether or not you think it will affect clutch performance.

The only real way to know will be to try it with the new slave and see how you go.

Have you got the procedure for bleeding the new slave?

Regards, Joe
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Sunday, March 17th, 2019 AT 6:35 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
Hi Joe,

I don't have the procedure for bleeding the new slave. I have seen three or four YouTube videos, but they all seem to do it slightly differently. If you have something I will look at doing it that way.
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Sunday, March 17th, 2019 AT 11:26 PM
Tiny
JOETECHPRO
  • EXPERT
Hey CHRISTOPHER SA,

I can run you through the procedure that BMW calls for to do the bleeding. The procedure they use in dealers requires a pressure bleeder and a special tool to hold the piston in the slave back.

This is a link to an online BMW repair manual showing the procedure:

https://www.newtis.info/tisv2/a/en/e36-320i-lim/repair-manuals/21-clutch/21-00-clutch-check/Bx2OjOx

The new slave may also come with bleeding instructions, there are a few ways you can get it bled without the pressure bleeder and substituting a clamp to hold the slave piston back. If you put up the links to the YouTube videos i will check them out.

Regards, Joe
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Monday, March 18th, 2019 AT 9:29 AM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
Here is the one I have been looking at as the easiest way to do the bleeding (though he had to replace the master cylinder as well):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPCzhNF1mLE

Here is another one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbZLhtHaDt4
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Monday, March 18th, 2019 AT 10:13 AM
Tiny
JOETECHPRO
  • EXPERT
Hey CHRISTOPHER SA,

The second video link you gave shows a basic bleed as you would with a brake, the two person method which if you have experience bleeding brakes is exactly the same procedure.

You may find that this will work, you may have to repeat the process quite a few times to remove all the air from the system. It may leave some air trapped in the slave because the piston will not fully return whilst fitted to the transmission.

You can also try the gravity bleed first to fill the system. Described in the video link below.
Then try the brake bleed style method with the slave fitted to the transmission.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMlFL3WC6eQThe pro

After that does if you do not have a good pedal removing the slave and bleeding as per the first part of this video below may help. I would not advise removing the slave with the clutch pedal depressed as the second part says to bleed the master. If the slave is not bolted to the transmission you do not want to press the clutch pedal as it may pop the piston out of the slave.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl5WQCgUjDc

The BMW process is shown quite well in this video, shown on a mini but the same process:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoiXWFdSuDM

Hope that helps,

Any more questions don't hesitate.

Regards, Joe
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Monday, March 18th, 2019 AT 12:42 PM
Tiny
CHRISTOPHER SA
  • MEMBER
Thanks for all the help Joe. It is very much appreciated. I will let you know how it goes. I get the slave cylinder on Wednesday. It will take a few days after that to do the job as I will be reading and watching videos to get it down in my head as to what I need to do.
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Monday, March 18th, 2019 AT 12:51 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
I look forward to hearing if it takes care of the problem. If you find the directions to be the same as one of the models I listed, let me know. I can get specific directions and pictures to help.

Take care and let me know what you find.

Joe
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Monday, March 18th, 2019 AT 5:24 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Let me know how it works out. I will also check your other thread.

Take care,
Joe
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Monday, April 8th, 2019 AT 6:23 PM

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