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Pelican Technical Article:

Bleeding Your Clutch Slave Cylinder

Steve Vernon


1 hour1 hr





Applicable Models:

VW Golf GTI (2000)
VW Golf GTI 1.8T (2002-05)
VW Golf GTI 20th Anniversary (2003)
VW Golf GTI 337 (2002)
VW Golf GTI GLS (2001)

Parts Required:

1 Quart of brake fluid

Hot Tip:

Use different-colored brake fluid so you know when your system is flushed

Performance Gain:

Proper working clutch

Complementary Modification:

Bleed brakes

If you are having any problems with your clutch; whether the pedal is feeling spongy or you are starting to grind gears when shifting, before you actually start working on the clutch or transmission it is a good idea to bleed your clutch system. The clutch in the GTI MkIV is hydraulic and gets its fluid from the brake reservoir. Just like your brake system the fluid can absorb water over time and affect the performance of the system. Like the brakes you should also bleed the clutch system every two years to keep fresh fluid in it and keep it running as designed.

The clutch system draws brake fluid from the brake reservoir down to a hydraulic pump that is activated by depressing the clutch pedal. This sends pressurized fluid to the slave cylinder which works the throw out bearing. Water or air in the system can cause the slave cylinder to not travel the correct distance or with the correct amount of force and effect the performance of the clutch.

Note; I have removed the air box along with the intake tube and MAF sensor to get better pictures. Depending on the size of your arms, hands and comfort working in tight spaces you may be able to perform this work without removing the components. If you want to make more room to work please see our articles on MAF and air filter removal.

There are few little tricks that you can use when changing your brake/clutch fluid or flushing your clutch.
Figure 1

There are few little tricks that you can use when changing your brake/clutch fluid or flushing your clutch. It's a smart idea to fill your reservoir (green arrow) with a different-colored fluid and then bleed the clutch. When the new-colored fluid exits out of the nipple, you will know that you have fresh fluid in your system. Make sure that you use DOT 4 brake fluid in your car. The use of silicone DOT 5 fluid is not recommended for street use, and never mix DOT 4 and DOT 5 fluid together or brake failure can occur. Never use DOT 5 in an ABS system, unless it is designed for it or brake failure can occur. Shown here is the Motive Products Power Bleeder (red arrow) attached to the reservoir (yellow arrow) by its hose and cap. Available from, it is a huge timesaver when it comes to bleeding your brakes. Pour a quart of fresh brake fluid into the power bleeder, attach it to the reservoir and pressurize the system. If you do not have a power bleeder you will need a friend to pump the clutch pedal and then hold it in while you crack the bleed nipple open. Do not let the clutch pedal retract while opening the nipple as this will cause air to be drawn back into the system and defeat the purpose of bleeding.

Located to the right of the transmission mount and behind and below the linkage is the clutch slave cylinder.
Figure 2

Located to the right of the transmission mount and behind and below the linkage is the clutch slave cylinder. On the end away from the clutch is the input line and bleed nipple (red arrow). Remove the cover from the bleed nipple if it has one.

Open the bleed nipple by loosening it by about a quarter of a turn (red arrow).
Figure 3

Open the bleed nipple by loosening it by about a quarter of a turn (red arrow). If you can fit a flare-nut wrench over the bleed nipple, then I recommend using one, to help avoid rounding out the nipple. Let the brake fluid run out of the caliper until no more bubbles appear. You should use a clear tube and catch bottle (yellow arrow) so you can see the fluid change color (if you are swapping colored fluids) and air bubbles escaping and when they stop. If you are working by yourself I always like to have a large drip pan or rubber container underneath my work area, brake fluid is very messy and will stain or ruin anything it comes in contact with.

Comments and Suggestions:
Anto Comments: I recently changed the rear axle bushes on my golf mk4 gti and since then my clutch has been slipping I have bleed the system till there's no air but still doing it. It was fine till then.
January 31, 2018
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Air in the clutch would cause hard to engage, not a slip. Your clutch may be worn out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Techno Comments: Has anyone removed the silver cylinder which is on the passengers side of the fire wall it's is a junction on the clutch line I have been told it clogs up if removed and replaced with a standard piece of brake line it helps to get a strong pedal
September 16, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: if clogged, I would replace it, not bypass it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
KingKAO Comments: Is there any reason a person a person couldn't use a hand vacuum pump/bleeder for a one-man job?
August 4, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, that can work. As long as you don't induce air working alone. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Lucky Comments: Hi I my jetta 4 . 2l brock à slave cylinder and I got it replaced but know I have to pump my pedal every tym I'm driving I've tried bleding it tru the master and is as if I have done nothing plz help
July 4, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Air is still likely trapped. Try a pressure bleeder. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
davie Comments: when it is not working as it should the clutch when depressed still allows the car in first or reverse gear still wants to drive the clutch is dragging?
April 23, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: answered your other post. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
davie Comments: I have a new clutch fitted new clutch pedal and new slave cylinder but I cannot get the clutch to work properly it as been bleed manualy and also by pressure bleeder it ok for a day then it is back to not working again bleed the clutch and there we have air in the system again any ideas please
April 23, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try helping the slave cylinder fully extend when bleeding. That can help trapped air escape. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
dallas Comments: My golf 1,8 gti is always poping slave cylinders just in two weeks after bleeding it. I have replaced the flywheel due to the bearing which was damaged. Is it posible tht the pressure plate is the cause of this? Becouse my clutch is always hard and vibrating sometimes. Pls help
April 18, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I haven't experienced that myself. The slave should be bale to handle the pressure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
lee Comments: There's no fluid in pipes breakfluid i.e only in the brakes reservoir pls help ...tried bleeding but only air comes out ...pedal lying flat if I pull it up it comes but no pressure a all...thankz Lee
April 18, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try pressure bleeding it backward into the reservoir. If that doesn't do it, the master may be faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
1goodman Comments: I have a 2004 v.w beetle 2.0.turbo.gas burner.I replaced the clutch with a new one.and also a new clutch slave cylinder. I've been bleeding my slave cylinder for a couple days now because I lost fluid from my container. I have went threw many steps bleeding the air.I have now a fair paddle but it will only go in 2nd gear only.what do u do.? Do I need to bleed it differently?
January 29, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You probably still have air. Try pushing fluid up through the slave to the master using a bleed pump. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tone Comments: Hi just tried to bleed the clutch after changing front flexis then bleeding the brakes. The bleed screw was really tight and the plastic housing snapped. No fluid leaked out, I tried the brakes and clutch anyway and they both work fine, maybe a little spongey. I need to replace the plastic part presumably, what is it called?
November 20, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Can you share a photo of the broken part and tell me your vehicle make and model? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jim Comments: I did this to my golf after changing clutch but no fluid runs out when attaching 15psi motive bleeder. cant figure it out
June 2, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check if the clutch pedal is stuck down. If not,t he bleeder may be plugged. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Sun 2/18/2018 02:46:21 AM