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What’s a girl to do?

July 19, 2010

In a vehicle with a hydraulic clutch system, the master cylinder and clutch slave cylinder assembly are essential when it comes to releasing your clutch, getting it into gear and making it go.  “Going” is exactly what my Midge hasn’t been doing lately.

I was never schooled in these things, so I pick stuff up as I go along, teaching myself the basics.  And the way I understand it, when you press the clutch pedal, hydraulic fluid runs from the master cylinder to the slave cylinder along a line.  Initially, I followed the line to find the positioning of the slave cylinder and understand how the process works.

Pictured at your left is a view of the master cylinder; the black cap is where the fluid goes.  Note the line that runs from just below that cap.  The line leads to the slave cylinder, positioned at the front of the car, and rather easy to reach in the set-up of the ’95 Hyundai Accent.  Every car is different, but this one isn’t too bad.

This master cylinder is located at the front of the car, directly in front of the driver’s side dash.

If you don’t drive a stick shift (manual transmission), you may not know what I’m talking about.  Future articles will include “How the Clutch Works”, so keep your eyes open.  In the meantime, I will say that without the basic parts of the clutch in full operation, you aren’t going to get very far, depending.  My little Midge runs very well, but she doesn’t move.  I have taken to calling her a stereo system on wheels.

Pictured at left is my old hydraulic slave cylinder, which I replaced recently.  As you can see, fluid was leaking out of the rubber boot.  Under this rubber boot is an arm that is supposed to pump into the cylinder when the clutch pedal is pressed.

Standing in the 90 degree South Florida heat, covered in brake fluid and talking to myself, I … ahem … slaved over this slave for weeks.

I remember being out in the parking lot–the only place I have to work on my car–and seeing one of the neighbor’s friends come by.  A stark contrast to me, she was tall and blond and stylishly dressed, and looked like the type of person who wouldn’t be caught doing the kind of work I am doing even if someone paid her.

That thought in mind, I got back to work and kept working… until I realized yesterday that it was quite likely that there was something else wrong… something other than the slave cylinder.

Beer in my hand, I looked to the sky and wondered why there wasn’t a patron Goddess for car repair.

So what’s a girl to do? In future articles, I will discuss the clutch system, what to do if parts of it fail, and how to come to the dreadful conclusion that you might not be able to do it yourself after all… We’ll talk about all of this, and more… Hopefully without too many tears.

Until next time,

Your Self-Taught mechanic, Rosy, or as some call me… “She who rides a bike to work.”

Pictured at the right is my bike, surrounded by three of my cats, who are currently considering making off with it in the middle of the night and riding it to Miami.

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