Day two was off to an excellent start, we had a nice breakfast and got on the road early, crossing the border into Santa Catarina before 9am. The engine was getting a bit hot up the many steep and winding mountain roads so we had to stop every couple of hours to let the car cool off a bit, but there were many nice places to stop and take in the scenery and do a bit of stretching and meditation.
After we got about 250km into the journey disaster struck! the clutch stopped working and we had to roll into a gas station (luckily there was one nearby when this started!) after we stopped in the gas station we couldn’t start again as there was no way to get it into gear. We looked under the car and saw that there was fluid leaking, and then we saw that the clutch fluid container was empty! There was a mechanic there, but he seemed really dodgy and was talking about there being many expensive things to take out and check so we thought it best to avoid him. The guys at the gas station said the only other option was to get the car towed to the next nearest mechanic about 10km away.
I decided to do some on-the-fly learning from our numerous Lada Niva manuals on the laptop, and soon found a potential solution which was to “bleed” the hydraulics of the clutch system by unscrewing the hose leading out of the master cylinder barrel and then pump the clutch pedal for a few minutes to clear all the air out of the system. Then when pushing the pedal responded with some pressure again, we put it all back together and topped up the fluid reservoir. We also needed to do a temporary solution on the leaking hose which was causing the problem, so we put some insulation tape around the leaky bit and fastened it in place with a twistie from a bag of seeds. This solution enabled us to get about 20km to a decent mechanic who’s replacing the hose now (and also flushing out the system again because it turned out the guys at the gas station gave us the wrong fluid!). Here’s a picture (taken from under the car looking upwards) of our first DIY repair job, called “gambiarra” in Portuguese – or in my “portenglaise” spelling, “gumbiaha” 🙂