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General E46 Forum
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Old 07-20-2012, 02:03 PM   #1
WALDE_BORA
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HELP with dead clutch pedal ... I'm new here and to BMW.

Greetings everyone. I'm new to this forum, I live in PR and own a VW Jetta MK4 with a few mods, but my wife owns a stock '99 std 323i.

Problem I have with the 323i is that the clutch pedal is completely dead. I used the car yesterday perfectly. Today when I depressed the clutch pedal it went straight down to the floor with no resistance. I was told to check my brake fluid level. It was missing some fluid so I filled the reservoir to the max level. Still my clutch is dead. I can't see fluid on the floor, so I have no idea what can it be. I never had any indication with the clutch pedal going weak or any other issues.

Please give me some troubleshooting information, before I take it to a mech, and find out it was a quick or a $50 fix. Thanks in advance!!
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Old 07-20-2012, 02:07 PM   #2
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If air got into the system then you need to bleed it. Pretty much the same process as bleeding the brakes, but you do it from the slave cylinder on the transmission.
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Old 07-20-2012, 02:11 PM   #3
WALDE_BORA
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is there a DIY for doing this? I'm new to BMW and it's way different than working with my VW lol
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Old 07-20-2012, 02:17 PM   #4
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If it was working fine yesterday and today it's all the way to the floor with no resistance it is not just a matter of bleeding the clutch line as suggested.
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Old 07-20-2012, 02:21 PM   #5
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Your reservoir is missing fluid because your brake pads are worn. It's supposed to go down. Your clutch pedal going to the floor is generally indicative of a failed clutch master cylinder.
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Old 07-20-2012, 02:23 PM   #6
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If it was working fine yesterday and today it's all the way to the floor with no resistance it is not just a matter of bleeding the clutch line as suggested.
If a line is broken/discounted, bleeding will obviously reveal this. If fluid isn't spewing from somewhere, then you know its a master/slave cylinder issue. But considering you have little knowledge on how the system works, I'd just take it to a mechanic. Replacing a line or one of the cylinders shouldn't be too expensive (I hope).
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Old 07-20-2012, 02:32 PM   #7
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I know that rear pads need replacement along with the discs, so that could explain the low level brake fluid. You guys think that low level on the brake fluid reservoir could lead to the master/slave cylinders to fail, or filling up with air and not doing it's job?

Thanks for your quick replies so far!!
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Old 07-20-2012, 02:35 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by WALDE_BORA View Post
I know that rear pads need replacement along with the discs, so that could explain the low level brake fluid. You guys think that low level on the brake fluid reservoir could lead to the master/slave cylinders to fail, or filling up with air and not doing it's job?
Thanks for your quick replies so far!!
Nope. Not at all. Just a normal wear/tear item.
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Old 07-20-2012, 03:39 PM   #9
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First I must say my E46 is an automatic, however, my E39 is an manual.

If the E46 is like the E39 the brake fluid reservoir also supplies fluid to the hydraulic clutch system.

As a safety measure, the clutch portion of the reservoir is up higher, so if the brake fluid drops, the clutch is likely the first thing to have issues and to save fluid for stopping the car.

Again, if the E46 is like my E39, the clutch master cylinder needs to be removed from the bellhousing to be bleed correctly. You need to put a clamp on the clutch slave cylinder and rotate the cylinder so the bleeder screw is up, so you can properly get all the air of of the clutch system.
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Old 07-20-2012, 04:19 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by jfoj View Post
First I must say my E46 is an automatic, however, my E39 is an manual.

If the E46 is like the E39 the brake fluid reservoir also supplies fluid to the hydraulic clutch system.

As a safety measure, the clutch portion of the reservoir is up higher, so if the brake fluid drops, the clutch is likely the first thing to have issues and to save fluid for stopping the car.

Again, if the E46 is like my E39, the clutch master cylinder needs to be removed from the bellhousing to be bleed correctly. You need to put a clamp on the clutch slave cylinder and rotate the cylinder so the bleeder screw is up, so you can properly get all the air of of the clutch system.
It's my understanding that the E46 clutch master cylinder is on the floor directly actuated by the clutch pedal. The slave is on the bellhousing.
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Old 07-20-2012, 04:56 PM   #11
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I just glanced at my Bentley manual, it looks like the E46 & E39 are mostly the same set up. The clutch master cylinder, mounted under the dash at the clutch pedal, gets its fluid (brake fluid) from the brake fluid reservoir.

The break fluid reservoir is divided with a vertical separator wall that makes the reservoir into a dual reservoir. There are 2 hoses connected to the bottom of the reservoir, brake & clutch. If the fluid level in the reservoir drops too much, the clutch side will not share any more fluid. This is a safety mechanism to keep as much fluid for the brake system because stopping is a bit more important than moving under most circumstances.

So the OP needs to see if his problem is due to a loss of fluid into the clutch side due to break pad wear and brake fluid level dropping.
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Old 07-20-2012, 05:37 PM   #12
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I would look inside by the pedal to see if there is hydraulic fluid from the clutch master cylinder. When this leaks it often shows no signs under the car on the floor. It's inside.
If it isn't there the next likely suspect is the Clutch Slave cylinder, but when this leaks it shows on the floor.
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:18 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone. I'll check that out tomorrow since it's already dark here. I did check the clutch pedal looking for something loose. I think I identified the master cylinder, but didn't check it out. Let you know tomorrow. Thanks!!
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:36 PM   #14
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I just went ouside and check the clutch and guess what... IT'S WORKING!! apparently it took some time to the fluid to pour down to the master cylinder. I honestly don't know, all I know is that it's working. I appreciate your help everyone!!
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Old 07-20-2012, 08:54 PM   #15
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if i were you, i'd still bleed from the slave cylinder as other have described... at least until i was certain that there is no air remaining in the lines...

i'd bet $1 that you've got air in the lines at this point... the last thing you will want is for the clutch to go limp again while you are out and about... or worse, while your wife is out and about...

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Old 07-20-2012, 11:53 PM   #16
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happened on my e36 just as you are describing. Replaced the slave cylinder and all was well. Bleeding after install requires pressurizing the line. Use a syringe to inject fluid via pressure to the line from where it connects to fluid reservoir while another pumps the clutch pedal until normal resistance.
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:57 AM   #17
werner
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bmw gearbox problems

Hi
I am new to this I have a problem with my gearbox all the gears work except for 2nd gear it makes a turning noise but nothing else it doesn't move in 2nd the revs just pic up any adivce
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