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I have a 2018 Kia Niro Ex (not a plug-in). How much is a reasonable price to replace the engine actuator clutch fluid? The dealer quoted me $149.95 - seems excessive.
 

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This remains a vexing topic. Search the forum for "actuator" (and ignore the top results, which are ads) and you'll find some links where it's been discussed.


Because there's no clutch pedal, you need special equipment to flush the clutch line (but it can probably be had for about $50). What little service documentation there is available on line for the procedure indicates that because the clutch is computer controlled, you really should re-train the computer after the line has been flushed. And apparently you need a special diagnostic computer to interface with the car in order to initiate the retraining sequence (and that costs a whole lot more). For these reasons, the dealer can charge more, and perhaps also is somewhat justified to charge more, since it looks like a somewhat time consuming process.


Some people have suggested the idea of just using a squeeze bulb to remove most of the fluid from the reservoir and then replace it with new fluid. Others have pointed out that this leaves the old fluid in the line and slave cylinder, and probably isn't going to be very effective at removing any contaminated fluid, which is sort of the whole point of doing this. This approach is likely to be better than nothing, but probably wouldn't satisfy any warranty requirements, so it might be a good way to go once you are out of warranty but maybe in the near term, we need to hold our noses and pay the standard rate for this service.
 

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I've seen prices quoted on forums from $85 to $250. This service requires dealer software and equipment so I think you are stuck with comparing dealer prices. You can cross shop Hyundai service as the Ioniq has the identical drivetrain.
 

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Am I wrong in thinking the whole purpose of this is to prevent or get rid of moisture in the fluid? Is the probability of moisture getting into the fluid pretty low? People have reported abrupt shifting which seemed to be blamed on moisture in the fluid. If your transmission shifts fine would it be okay to skip this until problems with shifting show up or no?
 

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Sort of right, sort of not. Clutch fluid is the same as brake fluid. It is a largely incompressible hydraulic fluid. Water is also not very compressible and because of that, it's also a theoretically effective fluid to use in a hydraulic system like a brake or clutch line. In the current context, an important difference between the two is that water tends to give rise to corrosion and brake fluid does not. (Viscosity and lubricating properties are probably also important differences, but not necessarily relevant to this conversation).



A couple of other important differences: brake fluid is an awesomely effective paint remover (meaning: don't spill it on your paint, or your electrical wiring, etc. It works pretty fast and you should always have some rags close at hand if you are working with brake/clutch fluid). Another important difference is that brake fluid is hygroscopic: it sucks moisture out of humid air perhaps even more effectively than a salt shaker will clog up on a humid summer day. If you pull the cover off the clutch or brake fluid reservoir to check the fluid level, you probably introduced some small amount of moisture into the fluid just by doing that. In theory, if you never remove the cover, then it seems like there shouldn't be any opportunities for moisture to enter the fluid until the car has aged significantly and the various rubber seals in the cover and actuating cylinders start to break down.


Which leaves me wondering why Kia is suggesting that the clutch fluid should be replaced every 18 months or 22,500 miles. In days gone by (when cars in the rust belt only lived about 100,000 miles), no one ever replaced brake or clutch fluid, and usually the car failed catastrophically in some other way (frame, engine) before the hydraulic systems failed, although it's probably fair to say that at 100,000 miles, the hydraulic systems were showing their age due to the onset of corrosion causing things to not move as freely as they did when new. Now that cars can live to a lot higher mileage/years, it seems to me that it does make sense to replace the hydraulic fluid in both the brake line and the clutch line at some point, but I'm questioning if 18 months/22,500 miles might be overkill. If I recall correctly, Kia doesn't say anything about replacing the brake fluid (which is chemically the same fluid, but there's quite a bit more of it in the reservoir and brake lines and cylinders). I'm thinking that anyone who wants to drive their car for a really long time and not worry about leaking brake lines or cylinders would do well to replace the brake fluid around 80,000 miles or perhaps 6 years, which ever comes first. It seems to me like the same should hold true for the clutch line, but I'm not an expert, and I have no idea why Kia thinks it needs to be changed more frequently than that.



Perhaps some of this guidance is being driven by Kia's prior experience with issues that showed up in other models that they sold a long time ago.
 

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Not sure I get the short interval either. There are some major differences between the clutch and brake systems though with the largest difference being total fluid, the clutch not having a reservoir. Even Hyundai/Kia seem to be conflicted with some countries not having recommended service on the clutch, and even here not telling dealers when or how to service. Anecdotally, some don't change and have no problems, some have issues after 22,000 miles. I might wait for symptoms myself but that is of course risky if service is really vital to health of the system - costing much more if it fails without required maintenance schedule. I'm only a thousand miles away from the mileage trigger.
 

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Thanks guys for the very intelligent discussion. While I'm tempted to wait also when I get to that point I might get it done ( if the dealer's price isn't ridiculous) to be safe rather than sorry. Also my car came with a lifetime warranty as long as the maintaince schedule is followed.
 

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Quoting myself from a different thread where this came up:

...I checked the receipt and the total cost for the clutch fluid change was $160. $20 for the fluid (DOT 4 brake fluid as it happens) and $140 for the labor. Not cheap, but based on some posts around here not something I could realistically do myself as there is an adaptation procedure that requires the factory service software tool.
I went back and forth on whether to have the service done or not, as others have mentioned the recommended interval seems ludicrously short. In the end I decided to go ahead and do it because
  • I want this car to last a long time
  • The engineer in me thinks there's probably a reason for the short interval
  • In the grand scheme of things $160 every 22,500 miles is pretty cheap
I do most of other maintenance items myself, so this is one of the only things I foresee needing to go to the dealer for. Unless someone comes up with a software package that can replicate the features of the factory tool.

For example, for anyone that has a VW, Audi, Seat etc there's a great OBD-II tool that can do pretty much anything the factory tool can do which means shade tree guys like me can complete just about any service required without needing to go the dealer (Ross-Tech: VCDS <-- shameless plug :D)
 

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Im going to suck mine out I'm at 20500 I'll suck it out one day fill it up then suck it out again the next day. I do all my own maintenance any issues I'll let you guys know how it goes.
 

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I was looking at the owners manual for the 2019 Niro HEV and it now indicates to change the engine clutch actuator fluid at 15,000 miles. Does anyone know why it has gone from 22,500 miles on the 2018 to 15,000 miles on the 2019? Weird? This is under the normal maintenance schedule on page #451. I wonder what is going on? Thanks.
 

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Hey man that was a good find! I wish somebody was on here that is a Kia rep or tech could shine some enlightenment on this. We were talking about stretching the 22,500 mi. and now Kia is making it shorter.....as Artie Johnson used to say....verrry interesting.
 

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So I sucked my reservoir out today it was pretty brown looking but the new brake fluid is clear so Im going to drive it until this new fluid turns brown then suck it out again and I should have a good mix of new fluid. I put in the synthetic brake fluid.

Old fluid in cup, new in reservoir which I only drove like 2 miles then this pic was taken which you can't really see the new clear fluid.
 

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Thanks for the info. Be interested in knowing how long it takes for the fluid to turn brown again since you can't get all the old fluid out doing it your way. But your way is a lot cheaper and less hassle so even if you do it say an extra time it's worth it.
 

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Thanks for the info. Be interested in knowing how long it takes for the fluid to turn brown again since you can't get all the old fluid out doing it your way. But your way is a lot cheaper and less hassle so even if you do it say an extra time it's worth it.
I'll post back with an update I have to drive 140 miles this weekend I'll see what it looks like after that.

$6.50 and used like 1/4 bottle. not bad.
 

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So I sucked my reservoir out today it was pretty brown looking but the new brake fluid is clear so Im going to drive it until this new fluid turns brown then suck it out again and I should have a good mix of new fluid. I put in the synthetic brake fluid.

Old fluid in cup, new in reservoir which I only drove like 2 miles then this pic was taken which you can't really see the new clear fluid.

Nice Post! Thanks for the photos. That's more discolored than I would have guessed it would be for 20k miles. Is your brake fluid similarly discolored or does it look more like the new fluid?



In the past, when I've found myself in need of brake/clutch fluid, and found an old half-used bottle on the shelf that was opened more than a year ago, I've concluded that it would be better to purchase new fluid than to risk using that old opened bottle, because it can begin to absorb moisture as soon as you open it. My point is that you might want to take any near-term opportunities to use up the remaining 3/4 of that bottle, because you might not want to use any of that bottle a year from now.


There's a concern that this "turkey baster technique" of sucking out just part of the fluid might not be effective. The question is how well the old fluid in the hydraulic line and slave cylinder will mix with the new fluid. If it doesn't mix (if your new fluid doesn't become discolored from mixing with the fluid you couldn't remove on the first go-round). then perhaps the technique isn't adequate to allay concerns. But if it does mix, and if you change it a second (or maybe even a third) time and then it stays clear after that, it seems like it might be a smart approach. Of course, there's always the concern that if you had a warranty claim come up, this might not satisfy Kia that you'd done the required maintenance, but it seems like it's better than nothing and also a reasonable approach for a maintenance requirement that is unusually expensive and frequent specifically for the Niro.
 

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Ok I think we have a successful test here. After 150 miles the cup on the left is what was in the reservoir cup on right is fluid I poured from the new bottle. I still have some left so I think I'll go with 150 again so in a few days I'll do it again. I may have enough for a 4th time I'm hoping. If the color in the reservoir keeps getting lighter and lighter in color that'll be a good sign.
 

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Nice Post! Thanks for the photos. That's more discolored than I would have guessed it would be for 20k miles. Is your brake fluid similarly discolored or does it look more like the new fluid?



In the past, when I've found myself in need of brake/clutch fluid, and found an old half-used bottle on the shelf that was opened more than a year ago, I've concluded that it would be better to purchase new fluid than to risk using that old opened bottle, because it can begin to absorb moisture as soon as you open it. My point is that you might want to take any near-term opportunities to use up the remaining 3/4 of that bottle, because you might not want to use any of that bottle a year from now.


There's a concern that this "turkey baster technique" of sucking out just part of the fluid might not be effective. The question is how well the old fluid in the hydraulic line and slave cylinder will mix with the new fluid. If it doesn't mix (if your new fluid doesn't become discolored from mixing with the fluid you couldn't remove on the first go-round). then perhaps the technique isn't adequate to allay concerns. But if it does mix, and if you change it a second (or maybe even a third) time and then it stays clear after that, it seems like it might be a smart approach. Of course, there's always the concern that if you had a warranty claim come up, this might not satisfy Kia that you'd done the required maintenance, but it seems like it's better than nothing and also a reasonable approach for a maintenance requirement that is unusually expensive and frequent specifically for the Niro.
The brake fluid has a strainer on it so its hard to pull fluid out but I got a little bit and it looked brownish.
 

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Ok I think we have a successful test here. After 150 miles the cup on the left is what was in the reservoir cup on right is fluid I poured from the new bottle. I still have some left so I think I'll go with 150 again so in a few days I'll do it again. I may have enough for a 4th time I'm hoping. If the color in the reservoir keeps getting lighter and lighter in color that'll be a good sign.
Good work! Please keep us posted:)
 
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