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Brake Master Cylinder and Reservoir Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Brake Master Cylinder and Reservoir Replacement

Steve Vernon

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$200

Talent:

**

Tools:

13mm deep socket, 11mm flare nut wrenches, power bleeder

Applicable Models:

VW Golf GTI (1999-00)
VW Golf GTI 1.8T (2002-05)
VW Golf GTI 20th Anniversary (2003)
VW Golf GTI 337 (2002)
VW Golf GTI GLS (2001)
VW Golf GTI GLX (2000-01)
VW Golf GTI VR6 (2002-05)

Parts Required:

New master cylinder, reservoir

Hot Tip:

Use paper towels and plastic bags to contain any fluid leaks

Performance Gain:

Better braking

Complementary Modification:

Replace brake booster

Without a doubt, your brakes are the most important systems on the car. The heart of the brake system is the master cylinder, which controls the hydraulic pressure of the entire system. Unfortunately, over many years, the master cylinder and reservoir have a tendency to wear out and leak. The leakage can occur internally or externally, resulting in a weakened braking system. If you have any problems with your brakes, and you think that it's related to the master cylinder or reservoir, you should probably replace it.

Replacing the master cylinder on the GTI MkIV is not difficult, it is just a tight fit, but it should take no more than three hours including bleeding the brakes. The first step is to disconnect the battery and remove the airbox and MAF sensor. Please see our articles on how to perform these tasks.

Note; some master cylinders will have brake pressure senders attached to the cylinder and you will need to disconnect the wiring from the sender before removing the master.

When you are finished you will need to completely bleed the brakes. DO NOT drive the car without completely bleeding the brakes

The heart of the brake system is the master cylinder, which controls the hydraulic pressure of the entire system.
Figure 1

The heart of the brake system is the master cylinder, which controls the hydraulic pressure of the entire system. Unfortunately, over many years, the master cylinder and reservoir have a tendency to wear out and leak. The leakage can occur internally or externally, resulting in a weakened braking system. Begin by removing the vacuum line from the brake booster (red arrow) and the retaining clip (yellow arrow) and move it aside.

The vacuum line just pulls straight up off the booster (red arrow).
Figure 2

The vacuum line just pulls straight up off the booster (red arrow).

You may want to move the relay box out of the way to give you more room.
Figure 3

You may want to move the relay box out of the way to give you more room. Release the plastic tab on the side (red arrow) and remove the top.

With the top off unclip the box from the wall (red arrow) and set it aside.
Figure 4

With the top off unclip the box from the wall (red arrow) and set it aside.

You'll want to try and get as much brake fluid as you can out of the fluid reservoir (red arrow) on top of the master cylinder.
Figure 5

You'll want to try and get as much brake fluid as you can out of the fluid reservoir (red arrow) on top of the master cylinder. Clean around the cap and then remove it. Use a fluid pump or turkey baster and get as much of the old fluid out as you can. This helps prevent excessive spilling of brake fluid inside the engine compartment. It's also helpful to stuff a bunch of old rags or paper towels under the master cylinder to absorb any spills.

Remove the supply line for the clutch from the reservoir (red arrow).
Figure 6

Remove the supply line for the clutch from the reservoir (red arrow). Make sure you plug this line (yellow arrow) to prevent anything from getting into the clutch hydraulic system.

There are two brake lines attached to the right side of the master cylinder (red arrows).
Figure 7

There are two brake lines attached to the right side of the master cylinder (red arrows). You can remove them from the master while it is in the car but I like to just loosen them and then remove them from the ABS module. It makes it easier to get the master out.

Clean the top of the ABS unit and remove the two supply lines (red arrows) from the master.
Figure 8

Clean the top of the ABS unit and remove the two supply lines (red arrows) from the master. Make sure to cap the lines and unit to keep anything from getting in them.

If your car is has a heat shield you will need to remove the two 13mm nuts holding it on (red arrows).
Figure 9

If your car is has a heat shield you will need to remove the two 13mm nuts holding it on (red arrows).

With the nuts removed remove the heat shield (red arrow) from the brake booster.
Figure 10

With the nuts removed remove the heat shield (red arrow) from the brake booster.

Use a deep socket 13mm and remove the two 13mm nuts holding the master cylinder to the booster (red arrow, one shown).
Figure 11

Use a deep socket 13mm and remove the two 13mm nuts holding the master cylinder to the booster (red arrow, one shown).

Pull the master cylinder (red arrow) from the brake booster (yellow arrow) and take it to your bench.
Figure 12

Pull the master cylinder (red arrow) from the brake booster (yellow arrow) and take it to your bench.

If you are reusing the lines and reservoir begin by removing the two supply lines (red arrows) from the master cylinder.
Figure 13

If you are reusing the lines and reservoir begin by removing the two supply lines (red arrows) from the master cylinder. There are plastic tabs over a retaining pin (yellow arrow) assisting in holding the reservoir on.

Fold the tab (red arrow) out of the way and push the retaining pin out (yellow arrow).
Figure 14

Fold the tab (red arrow) out of the way and push the retaining pin out (yellow arrow). You will need to install the pin in the new master cylinder. Next pry the reservoir out of the rubber grommets in the master cylinder.

This should be how your new master cylinder looks out of the box.
Figure 15

This should be how your new master cylinder looks out of the box. Make sure it has a new gasket (green arrow). Remove the two red plugs for the supply lines (red arrows) and install the lines. I find it easier to remove the rubber grommets from the master cylinder (yellow arrows) install them on the fluid reservoir and then use a little clean brake fluid as lubricant and install the reservoir to the cylinder. Make sure to install the retaining pin.

Installation is the reverse of removal.
Figure 16

Installation is the reverse of removal. Make sure when installing the master cylinder that the push rod (red arrow) is installed correctly in the master cylinder. Reinstall everything and bleed the brakes. DO NOT drive your car until you have completely bled your brakes!

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Comments and Suggestions:
Cromo Comments: I have a 2000 golf gri vr6 and i need to replace my master cylinder. How do i know if i need to replace it with or with out the esc system
July 28, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: if just the master cylinder is faulty, replace only it.

Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
tomjv Comments: what about bench bleeding?
November 11, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Bench bleeding is a good idea. Throw the master in a vise and run hoses from the master to the reservoir, then slowly press the piston until the air bubbles are gone. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 02:36:17 AM