CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

1997 Honda Accord SW leaks clutch fluid

How much will it cost to replace cylinders? And, is there some reason I should have both master and slave cylinders replaced? I noticed the leak when I could not shift the car at all on a long trip. Bought fluid and kept reservoir filled for rest of 5000 miles. I’m waiting to repair until I hear from you all.

Yes. Replace both the master and slave cylinders. If the seals are leaking in one, the seals are in the same condition in the other.

Tester

I agree with Tester. Better to replace both master and slave cylinders and be done with it.

Should I go to a Honda dealership to get it done or can my usual mechanic do it? And, if my usual mechanic, should I be sure he uses Honda parts and not aftermarket, etc. Or any other things I should expect? Thanks!!

I would use Honda parts. They’re not very expensive relative to the labor.
A decent independent mechanic can do it, no problem.
In the future get your clutch fluid and brake fluid (they’re the same stuff) changed every 3 years.

Hi, thanks! I bought this car used at 157,000 miles. But, I owned a Toyota Corolla before this and unless my mechanic changed the fluid, I did NOT know about this. What about mileage? How many miles and then change the fluid? I put 10,875 miles on it last summer when this problem first appeared. Half way through my trip. Lucky enough to be near a place who knew what the problem was. Drove the rest of the way topping off the clutch fluid. Would not changing the fluid have led to the need to replace the slave and master cylinder? If so, why? THANKS!

The cylinders are probably leaking more from age than from not changing the fluid. The seals don’t last forever. This is quite normal considering the age and mileage.

The reason replacing the fluid is recommended is because brake fluid (clutch fluid is brake fluid) is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air. Over time this moisture can cause rust within the brake and clutch hydraulic systems. Internal rust is not good.

I’d have this done by an independent mechanic, just as I have everything else done. Whether you want to use Honda parts is up to you. I don’t usually tell my mechanic where to buy his parts.

If you still have the owner’s manual it will tell you how often to replace the brake (and clutch) fluid. I’d have to consult the manual for my '97 Accord to give you the precise numbers, but I don’t have it here in front of me.

Last question!! How much do you think it would cost to have both slave and master cylinders replaced? Thanks.

You can call a couple of local places and they should give you a ballpark figure.

How many miles and then change the fluid?
I don’t think mileage is much of a factor.

Brake fluid replacement is often not mentioned in owners manuals, but it makes a difference if you’re keeping a car going way past the warranty.

Prices vary depending on where you live. Call a couple of local independent garages and get estimates.