Engine clutch actuator fluid - Kia Niro Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-19-2018, 11:26 PM Thread Starter
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Engine clutch actuator fluid

Has anyone had this fluid changed on their Niro? The service schedule says to change it at 22,500 which I have on mine now.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 09:02 AM
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Nope, but probably a good idea. There seems to be a correlation between lurching at speed and cars over that mileage. I've read on the Ioniq forum that US dealers charge $80 for this service. Can be hard to find someone to offer the service, needs special equipment and Korea delayed updating dealers on this unusual service.

The clutch has a very low volume of hydraulic fluid compared to brake systems with reservoirs. That means water contamination has a large effect, and the clutch no longer works reliably, causing lurching.

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-31-2019, 12:17 AM
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OK I have the same question. Just about to the 3rd oil change at 22,500. The manual in my 2018 PHEV Niro LX says every 22,500 miles to change the clutch actuator fluid. But as you noted it's just this tiny little reservoir of DOT 3 brake fluid. I can't seem to find anywhere in any manual online or video that shows how to change this fluid. If it's a 1 minute job, I don't want to pay someone $80 or whatever it is to do it. Do they literally bleed the lines and all that or do they just suck out the fluid in the reservoir with a syringe and poor a little new fluid in?
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-02-2019, 02:22 PM
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Same issue here. I took our 2017 Niro in to the dealer for the 22500 mile service, and they said they only check the clutch fluid and top it off if necessary. But the manual mentions changing it. I'd do it myself if I knew how. I may try just pulling some fluid out of the reservoir and replacing it. That's what I do on my 2011 Corvette.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-02-2019, 04:51 PM
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Because there is no clutch pedal, it appears that flushing the clutch line would require a power bleeder (a device that can pressurize the system or put it under vacuum). You can find those on Amazon for about $50, but I didn't see one that said it was designed to fit a Kia reservoir or bleeder.

Also, there appears to be a clutch "learning" mode that needs to be enabled via a shop diagnostic system if you make any changes in the clutch behavior. Presumably, that wouldn't be necessary if just flushing the line, unless you either introduce or remove an air bubble.

My first thought was that this seems like an overly precautionary service interval for clutch fluid. But when you think about the fact that there's a computer running the clutch and that there have been a number of complaints about shifting behavior, perhaps it's not unreasonable. In general though, the main reason to change clutch/brake fluid is because it absorbs moisture and other contaminants. Changing it periodically is likely to prolong the life of the actuator and any seals.

It's interesting that the maintenance schedule doesn't seem to suggest replacing the brake fluid, ever.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-02-2019, 08:23 PM
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Very low volume, so a minuscule amount of water will have an outsized effect. A change definitely needs to be done by dealer unless you are a really insane "no dealer is going to work on my car" kind of guy with some serious bucks willing to invest more for required equipment what the dealer will charge for a single change.

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-02-2019, 10:06 PM
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Yeah, the volume might be relevant. But the primary opportunity for water to enter is presumably via the reservoir cap, and if you leave that on, then water shouldn't be getting in. If water is getting in, then apparently it's entering at an extremely slow rate, or 18 months (22,500 miles) wouldn't be nearly often enough.

On the Niro, as with many other cars that have a hydraulic clutch, you use DOT-3 brake fluid for both the brakes and the clutch. So the same concerns about brake fluid (particularly the concern about it attracting moisture) apply equally to both.

My Honda dealer recently recommended that I change the brake fluid on (what is now my wife's) 2008 CRV. It was kind of discolored, the car's in really good shape, and now that it's my wife's primary car, I'm a little more inclined to perform certain kinds of preventative care than I would be if I was driving it (partly because I love my wife, partly because I don't trust her quite as much as I trust myself to notice when the car has a new quirk that might need attention). In the past, I've only changed brake fluid or clutch fluid when I had the lines open for some other reason (broken flexible brake line, leaking slave cylinder, etc). It was a brand new experience to me to change the brake fluid as just a preventative kind of thing, but I decided it was worth doing (except, not at the Honda garage). I checked just now and I see that Honda didn't include changing the brake fluid in the scheduled maintenance table for that car, but they did put in a foot note recommending that it should be replaced every three years.

My bad, I've gone for a really long time with a number of cars where I never changed out the brake fluid. And then on a couple of them, I wound up doing it because I had to bleed the lines anyway due to some other maintenance that was needed. I don't think changing the fluid would have prevented flexible brake hoses from springing a leak on cars I owned in the distant past, but it might have prevented a clutch slave cylinder from leaking, maybe.

Although the Niro Owner's manual is pretty clear that the clutch fluid should be changed every 18 months or 22,500 miles, it only requires that the brake fluid be inspected, doesn't require it to ever be changed (although I suppose a dealer might inspect it and then recommend that it be changed).

Given that several people have stated that their dealer didn't know how to perform this service, while others said they paid upwards of $80 for it, I might wind up being one of those people that says the dealer isn't touching my car (for this particular service). Assuming you can get away with doing it without needing to retrain the computer and with just the investment in a power bleeder and a bottle of brake fluid, I might wind up doing this one myself when I reach the point where the manual recommends that it should be done. My total cost would be slightly less, I'd have confidence that it was done thoroughly (rather than wondering if maybe the mechanic just changed the fluid in the reservoir).

I'm a fan of having the dealer change my oil because that's usually a "loss leader" for them and the few dollars I save in doing it myself doesn't justify the effort, time, mess, and also because they record the event and also because they are likely to tell me about things that I might not find out about if I didn't visit them. But when the service cost goes up and the service manager is signaling that they don't normally do that and don't exactly know how to do it, I might rather be the one that learns how to do it right, rather than paying the dealer's mechanic to learn at my expense and with less interest than I have in ensuring that it's done right.

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-02-2019, 11:24 PM
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I didn't feel like walking out to my car to get the manual but on the owners website it says at 22,500 mi. to REPLACE the Engine Clutch Actuator fluid. It doesn't say anything about inspecting it.

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-03-2019, 12:24 AM
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No argument: I see the same. Sorry if something I said on that topic was confusing. My point was that they seem to be inconsistent in mandating this for the clutch, but not for the brakes. Both systems use the same fluid and so have the same concern about absorbing moisture and other contaminants over time.

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-03-2019, 11:35 AM
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The difference is that the braking system has a significant reservoir and the clutch actuator has none. Not sure why Hyundai/Kia did this, but it does change maintenance. I believe dealers that discourage the clutch actuator oil change are basing this on their knowledge of braking systems. They may also not be able to do it, not having invested (or their mechanics having invested) in the necessary tools.

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