Can You Use Brake Fluid For Clutch Fluid

can you use brake fluid for clutch fluid

Brake fluid, as we know, is key in ensuring that you can brake correctly without much of a problem. Of course, the clutch fluid will also help improve how you can use the clutch and change the gears smoothly. However, can their fluids be used interchangeably?

It is possible to use brake fluid in place of clutch fluid. This is because these two have the same chemical components and quality. As a result, you can easily add brake fluid to the clutch’s master cylinder, and it will work great. The best part with the brake fluid is that it does not decrease performance.

Importance of Clutch Fluid

If you have driven a manual transmission car, you know just how important the clutch is to the car. The clutch fluid is responsible for lubricating the various moving part of the clutch system. You can imagine what happens when you are low on the clutch fluid. It becomes harder to engage the gears and can make the car undrivable.

Some might ask, is there a need to change the clutch fluid as you do for brakes?

Most of the time, you would not be touching the clutch fluid unless necessary. Most people would top it off or have it flushed when there is an issue with the clutch system.

We always recommend taking good care of your car; thus, you should flush the clutch system every few years to have a clean clutch fluid. This definitely makes the clutch work better.

Some drivers will be quick to point out that the clutch system is closed, meaning you do not need to keep changing the fluid. However, it does not hurt to check the condition of the clutch fluid and change it if necessary.

Brake Fluids You Can Use as Clutch Fluid

Brake fluid can be used in the clutch system so long as it does not contain water or mineral oil. These two are the ones likely to make the clutch work incorrectly. Keep in mind that the clutch also needs hydraulic oil, just as what is used in the brake system.

The most compatible brake fluids you can use as clutch fluids include DOT 3 and DOT 4 brake fluids. These brake fluids also have the same chemical components so mixing them is possible.

DOT 3 and DOT 4 brake fluids are all glycol-based fluids. This means they contain glycerin as the main ingredient. They also do not have water, making them safe for the clutch system. Water can easily lead to the corrosion of the master clutch cylinder.

This video looks at how to change the clutch and brake fluids.

Signs You Are Low on Clutch Fluid

One of the times you would have to think of using brake fluid as the clutch fluid is when you notice that the clutch fluid is low. Here are a few signs to help you know when to take action and improve clutch performance.

Signs You Are Low on Clutch Fluid

  1. Grinding gears

This would be the most obvious sign that you are low on clutch fluid.

The gears will start grinding each other when there is insufficient fluid in the clutch system. So, the first thing to do if you notice the gears grinding is to check the clutch fluid level first. If it is too low, consider refilling and monitor it for leaks.

  1. You feel vibrations while changing gears

Vibrations in a car can be many things, and low clutch fluid is one of them. When the clutch fluid is low, it leads to vibrations and resistance to changing gears. This makes the car hard to drive unless the issue can be addressed adequately.

  1. The gears feel sluggish or tend to slip

You might have been expecting that your car should be picking up speed quite well with the current gear, but it seems it is not working. What could be the problem?

If you have sluggish gear performance, there could also be a low clutch level that makes it hard for the gears to perform. In this case, you also notice there is gear slipping.

This problem would be best sorted by topping up the clutch fluid to the right level.

  1. The car tends to lurch as you change gears

Some might claim that the driver does not know how to change gears, but in the real sense, it could be that the car has a problem with its clutch system.

When there is no clutch fluid, it is possible that the clutch pedal will not be as smooth as expected. This makes the car lurch back while changing the gears. This generally makes it uncomfortable for you and the passengers too.

If you want a smooth gear change, ensure the clutch fluid is topped to the right level.

This video looks at the symptoms of a bad clutch line.

How to Pick a Good Clutch Fluid

The first thing any person should do is consider the brand. If you can get the brake fluid from Bosch, Prestone, Motul, Castrol, and other top brands, it can help get you the right type of clutch fluid you need.

Do not be easily fooled by the labels “clutch fluid” on products. Inside the bottle is the same product you buy as brake fluid. So, stick to top brands, and you should get the right clutch fluid.

We recommend going for DOT 4 brake fluid. This type of fluid is quite good in terms of performance and can keep the clutch working well for many years. You could also consider DOT-3 brake fluid as it will do a good job too.

We advise against using DOT-5 brake fluid as it contains silicone. The silicone compound cannot be mixed with other types of brake fluids and may also lead to damage to the transmission.


Is DOT 4 brake fluid good for the clutch?

Yes. DOT 4 Brake fluid offers the high performance that you need for your clutch to work correctly. We can recommend it to you in case you need clutch fluid.

Can you use DOT 5.1 as clutch fluid?

Yes. DOT 5.1 is made with a glycol base rather than silicone, which you get with DOT 5. These two are not the same, so do not confuse them.

Are clutch fluid and transmission fluid the same?

No. Clutch fluid creates the hydraulic pressure for clutch execution, while the transmission fluid helps lubricate the gearbox.

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