Is it possible for a leakfrom the slave/master cylinder to leak and then destroy the clutch from melting or burning on?

My brake fluid sensor came on the other night on my drive home from work, about 20 mi. The next morning, the car would not go into gear and the clutch petal "died". Now I'm being told that my master and slave cylinders need replaced along with the clutch as they "burnt" the clutch. Is that even possible or is the mechanic trying to get one over on me?

My car has 111000 miles.
My car has a manual transmission.

Experienced mechanics share their insights in answering this question :
Hello. Yes the hydraulic brake fluid can cause the clutch to burn out and fail. The master cylinder is located next to the firewall on the left passenger side of the engine. The master cylinder is right above the clutch. When the master cylinder breaks leaks it will travel down and can drain directly onto the clutch assembly. This leak may be caused by the master cylinder itself, or by the brake lines going into it. Make sure to repair the brake line or master before you replace the clutch, or this is bound to happen again. It is not my first impression that this mechanic is trying to scam you, we cannot speak for or against this individual. Getting a second opinion and inspection may be best.

How to Identify and Fix Common car Problems ?

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Causes of clutch fluid leaks from the clutch system:

Worn master cylinder seals – Your car`s clutch master cylinder has seals that prevent fluid from leaking out. These seals will degrade over time, which may eventually resulting in them leaking brake fluid from above and around the clutch pedal.

If the cylinder develops any internal issues, it will directly affect the feel of the pedal. A leaky cylinder may cause the pedal to feel mushy or spongy, and in more severe cases, will lead to a pedal that will sink to the floor and stay there when depressed.
Common reasons for this to happen: Leaking Hose from Brake Master Cylinder: One of the most common reasons to notice brake fluid leaking around your clutch pedal is a hole in the delivery hose that sends fluid from the brake master cylinder to the clutch master cylinder.
Common signs of a clutch fluid leak are difficulty shifting or grinding noises while shifting, clutch pedal staying close to the floor, and dirty or low clutch fluid. Bar`s Leaks Hydraulic Manual Clutch Fluid with Stop Leak stops small leaks (adding fluid once per month) and medium leaks (adding fluid once per week).
The master cylinder usually has a plastic reservoir that holds the brake fluid, mounted with rubber grommets. The grommets allow for some movement caused by the pedal and fluid pressures. These grommets can leak brake fluid (a clear liquid) that can be seen with the naked eye.
After a few years, the seals in your brake master cylinder can wear out and start to leak. It is possible to repair this type of leak instead of having to replace the entire cylinder. If, however, your master cylinder is broken or is faulty, you should replace it.
Like other components of the clutch system, the clutch master cylinder can exhibit very characteristic faults. It is therefore very important to be aware of all of them. Depending on the vehicle model, repairing the clutch master cylinder is usually quite simple, as well as inexpensive.
If you can follow the path of the leak back to the brake lines or master cylinder under the center of the car or the rotors or drums near the wheels, brake fluid is likely leaking.
Cause: Chronic master cylinder failure due to fluid leaking past secondary seal in the master cylinder bore. A defective master cylinder pushrod seal in the power brake booster allows vacuum to draw fluid past secondary seal of the master cylinder. Solution: Replace both master cylinder and power brake unit.
If the brake fluid in your clutch system becomes contaminated, it can cause severe damage to the slave cylinder and clutch master cylinder.”
“Oil on your car`s clutch can really ruin your day, especially when you consider that it may cause permanent damage. Unfortunately, oil, coolant or even rainwater can get into your clutch and ruin it beyond a simple drying out or burning off.
Most clutch leaks occur at the master cylinder (under the dash) or at the slave cylinder (on the side of the transmission). Look for wetness around the shafts on both of these cylinders. When the internal seals fail fluid can leak out when the shaft enters the housing.
Faulty ABS Module

The ABS pump in the braking systems tends to carry some braking fluid. Some seals hold it in place, but if they get worn out, it can cause the fluid to start leaking out.

One of the most forgotten or misdiagnosed components is the seal between the master cylinder and the brake booster. If the seal or O-ring is leaking, it can cause a driveability issues with poor idle quality and lean DTC codes. Also, it can cause a hard brake pedal complaint from the driver.
If brake fluid is leaking into the vacuum booster, the brake fluid can cause the rubber diaphragm to fail in the brake vacuum booster. So it`s possible when fluid is leaking into the brake booster that the brake vacuum booster may need to be replaced.
A: Brake fluid leaks are often caused by a worn seal in the master cylinder, caliper, or wheel cylinder. If you suspect your car is leaking brake fluid, call a tow truck to take your vehicle to a service provider for a brake fluid inspection. Brake fluid leaks can lead to total brake system failure.
Clutch Failure Symptoms

Like all mechanical and hydraulic devices, the master cylinder will eventually wear out. Depending on use, the typical master cylinder might last 60,000 to 200,000 miles. Highway commuters use the brakes less often than city taxis, for example, so their master cylinders tend to last longer.

Clutch fluid leaks usually come from the pipes that carry the hydraulic fluid, or from damaged or faulty seals in the hydraulic components. It`s okay to drive with a minor clutch fluid leak, but if all the fluid leaks out you won`t be able to use the clutch, so it`s safest to book your car in to get it checked out.
Filling the Clutch Master Cylinder

Most vehicle`s require SAE J1703, US FMVSS or 116 DOT 3 brake fluid in the clutch master cylinder.

When your vehicle leaks brake fluid, it typically leaves a trail that can range from a light, yellowish hue to a dark brown that resembles motor oil. If you suspect your vehicle is leaking, check on the ground under the vehicle, around the master cylinder, on the brake lines, on the rotors and on the drums.
Light Yellow

The fluid dripping from your car is probably brake fluid. When fresh, brake fluid is light yellow in color but gets darker as it ages. If not maintained, it can even look like a dark brown. If you touch it, you`ll notice its oily, slippery feel.

Your vehicle shouldn`t lose brake fluid in normal operation. The level drops only slightly with wear of brakes. So, if the level is down, there`s a chance there`s a leak somewhere.
The level in the brake fluid reservoir falls because the clutch also uses fluid from the same reservoir. There are compartments in there so that a leak in clutch system will not run the brakes out of fluid.
Pressing the clutch and raising the RPM to 4000 to 5000 can be destructive for the entire car clutch system. A few wheel spins might make you replace your clutch place or even the entire clutch system.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Is it possible for a leakfrom the slave/master cylinder to leak and then destroy the clutch from melting or burning on?
ANSWER : Hello. Yes the hydraulic brake fluid can cause the clutch to burn out and fail. The master cylinder is located next to the firewall on the left passenger side of the engine. The master cylinder is right above the clutch. When the master cylinder breaks leaks it will travel down and can drain directly onto the clutch assembly. This leak may be caused by the master cylinder itself, or by the brake lines going into it. Make sure to repair the brake line or master before you replace the clutch, or this is bound to happen again. It is not my first impression that this mechanic is trying to scam you, we cannot speak for or against this individual. Getting a second opinion and inspection may be best.

I have no clutch it goes to the floor and I cannot find the slave master cylinder for the clutch master cylinder please send pics
ANSWER : The reservoir supplying the fluid to both cylinders is the brake master cylinder reservoir. However, adequate fluid there means nothing as a diagnostic. The clutch slave and/or master cylinder could be leaking internally (no visible external leak) or there could be air in the clutch hydraulic system that will have to be bled out. There are other mechanical causes of the clutch pedal going to the floor but in your circumstances that hydraulic circuit should be looked at first. If you desire a diagnostic, and repair of this issue, right at your location, please request a clutch system inspection. If you request that inspection, the responding certified mechanic will get this taken care of for you. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

Clutch pedal goes to the floor and doesn’t return
ANSWER : Hello, thanks for your question. You could watch the clutch fluid as it mentions in the test, but this really doesn’t tell you much. Most of the time this is caused by a bad clutch master cylinder. If the fluid level is low the first thing to do would be to locate the leak. If the fluid is full then I watch to see that he clutch slave is moving when the clutch is pressed. If it is and if it is releasing but the pedal stays down then that is another reason to change the clutch master. If the clutch slave and fork are not releasing then it may have an internal clutch failure. If you would like help getting this inspected or repaired, consider YourMechanic, as a certified mechanic can come to your home or office to perform the inspection and make or suggest any repairs needed.

Clutch pedal stays to floor. Replaced master cylinder. Clutch push rod broke. Also do I need to change slave cylinder
ANSWER : If you have an issue with your clutch pedal going to the floor, the slave cylinder is normally the cause of this circumstance.

Also, if the push rod has been broken the first step would be to track down a new one because that push rod is a very necessary part of the clutch pedal system.

Once a new push rod has been located and installed, I would recommend having a new slave cylinder installed as well.

If you are in doubt about this repair, I would recommend having it performed by a qualified professional, such as one from YourMechanic. One of our mobile technicians will be able to come to your home to diagnose the issue with your clutch pedal and replace your clutch slave cylinder as necessary.

Clutch not working after replacing slave cylinder and master cylinder
ANSWER : Hello. We will be happy to help you with your vehicle. It sounds like you have a problem with your throw out bearing. You would likely need to drop the transmission once again and check that the installation of the throwout bearing is proper. You may also try to peel back the boot around the slave cylinder to see inside of the transmission. By doing so you may be able to see possible damages on the throwout bearing. It will be a great idea to use a stethoscope before you take the vehicle back apart to help pinpoint exactly what portion of the transmission coming from. Another very important thing that you should check are your axle’s, make sure they are seated correctly inside of the transmission.

My clutch is not working Entire clutch repair or clutch master cylinder repair? How do I check the cylinder?
ANSWER : Hi there. Check the slave cylinder to the clutch and see if the piston is all the way out. If the piston is all the way out or its not touching the clutch fork, then the release bearing has broken and the fork has moved into the clutch. If the slave cylinder is relaxed and the fork is against it, then the clutch pressure plate has sprung a pressure spring. If the pedal can go down but not all the way to the floor, then the clutch needs replaced with a new release bearing. If you need further assistance with a clutch replacement, then seek out a professional, such as one from Your Mechanic, to help you.

Master cylinder and clutch slave cylinder replaced
ANSWER : Unfortunately, using the same plastic clutch slave cylinder assembly the vehicle was manufactured with will cause the same results if the vehicle is abused. The plastic part is very strong, but cannot withstand the heat and pressure from hard driving. You may be able to do some research and find a higher performance part produced by an aftermarket company, as some companies specialize in manufacturing upgraded parts for higher performance. If you would like some assistance with this, one of the technicians from YourMechanic can come to your location to inspect the shaking problem and let you know what repairs are needed.

Replaced clutch master and slave cylinder, but my car still won’t go into gear while running
ANSWER : If the hydraulics are working correctly, there are a couple of things that could be wrong with the clutch that would prevent it from releasing. Unfortunately, any of them will require removal of the transmission for repair.

At 191,000 miles, it could be that your pressure plate has failed and is not fully releasing, or it could be that the disk is severely worn and there is an accumulation of debris between the disk and the plate which would also keep it from releasing. Either of these would be corrected with a clutch replacement.

If you contact YourMechanic, they can send a technician to your home to evaluate your problem and help you figure out what to do next in order to avoid any unnecessary repairs.