A Clutch Solution

Feb 20, 2016

RAY: This one is from Jeff Sager.

A buddy and I were out late one night. When we got back to the parking lot, my car was the only one still there. At the time, I was driving an otherwise very reliable Honda Accord. As I was preparing to start the engine, I stepped on the clutch pedal and it sank to the floor. I could start the car in neutral, but there was no way to shift it with the engine running.

The fluid in the clutch master cylinder had been leaking out slowly. I'd been meaning to get it fixed, but I just didn't have any time. I'd been topping off the reservoir with a can of brake fluid that I had in the trunk every two weeks or so, and I guess I just forgot. So, I opened the trunk, while I reassured my friend that just a few ounces of fluid, a few quick pumps of the clutch pedal to remove the air in the system, and we'd be back on the road.

I found my can of fluid, but it was bone dry. Desperate, I started rummaging through the trunk. I found the usual stuff: a jack, a spare tire, a deflated football, my high-school diploma, a picture of my mother-in-law, a can of oil, some antifreeze and a jug of water.

I knew I couldn't use any of those things, especially the liquids, as I was afraid they would contaminate the fluid that hadn't yet leaked out and damage the other rubber parts and seals in the clutch system.

What to do? Just then, my friend walked off to a burger joint across the road to take care of some urgent business. Ten minutes later, he returned with a spring in his step and something in his hand, claiming that what he was carrying would solve our problem and get us home.

What was he holding and how did it work? And, no he didn't pee into the cup.

Here's a hint: He didn't buy anything.


RAY: Remember that I mentioned that the brakes and the clutch use the same fluid?

What he brought back from the restaurant was a soda straw. He placed the straw in the brake fluid reservoir, put his finger on the end, and took the straw out. He moved it over to the clutch master cylinder, took his finger off and the fluid dripped into the cylinder. That's not enough so that the brakes don't work, unless you are out of brake fluid.

TOM: In which case, you're really in trouble.

RAY: Do we have a winner?

TOM: The winner is Charles Nichol from Palm Beach, Florida. Congratulations!


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