TDI Clutch Time!

Jetta Clutch Maintenance

The Jetta needed some rare attention, and I replaced the clutch.

I recently found that my clutch was starting to slip in my daily driver, a 2001 Jetta TDI.  While doing this work I had to order some parts, unexpectedly, so I had to drive my Suburban for the week.  The good news is that my next fill up showed me to be getting almost 26 mpg.  The bad news is that this isn’t even close to the 45+ mpg my Jetta gives me, so I really needed to get this thing back on the road ASAP!

The Jetta currently has over 263,000 miles on the original clutch, so this wear item actually lasted quite a long time.  Of course diesels produce torque at low rpms, so clutch when starting from a stop is minimized and less wear is experienced.  I don’t let it slip at all when shifting between gears.

In addition to slipping, I had noticed that I had to push the clutch pedal to the floor completely to shift gears, and suspected that I might have a bent disengagement fork or need to replace some hydraulics.

Makeshift Spreading Tool

I built a makeshift spreading tool to push the engine forward, allowing the transmission to be removed.

I found a good deal on a clutch kit for the 228mm Luk clutch on Rock Auto.  The kit (clutch disk, throwout bearing, and pressure plate) was a good deal at $110, but it was shipped from overseas for another $50.  $160 was still a good deal, so I went with it.  Using National part number CK9683, I was making the assumption that my dual-mass flywheel was still OK.  I hadn’t had any problems or vibrations, so I expected this to be true.  I was proven wrong.

I finally got the transmission out, which is no small feat.  The Bentley shop manual I use recommends a special VW tool to push the engine forward.  Of course, this can only be done with the left-side mount disconnected and with an engine support holding the engine from above.  Without pushing the engine forward, the transmission can’t be removed.  I used some threaded rod with nuts, washers, and a custom piece of 2×4 that grabs onto the frame behind the engine.

Trashed Dual Mass Flywheel

The original dual mass flywheel needed to be replaced. Note that the bolt heads are only partially visible through the holes.

When the transmission was out, I compared the National clutch with the original Luk, and everything matched up perfectly.  I had checked the fit of the National clutch and was getting ready to start reassembling everything when I realized that I should take a close look at the dual mass flywheel to make sure it was OK.  It wasn’t.  I didn’t have any issues with vibration, or anything, but I noticed that the bolt heads weren’t aligned with the holes in the flywheel’s cover plate.  If the dampers were healthy, the bolts would align with the holes when the system is unloaded.

I had to order another clutch.  I quickly found out that the dual mass flywheels were over $400.  Even with $150 already sunk into the current clutch kit, it was a better deal to buy a kit to switch the system over to a conventional flywheel and clutch setup.  The kit from German Auto Parts cost $383 shipped, but came with the flywheel, clutch disk, pressure plate, throwout bearing, an alignment tool, and the necessary bolts to install it all.  It turns out that this is the setup used in the VR6 models, so this high-performance clutch should be more than adequate for my slightly-modified diesel.

New Conventional Clutch

Because the new flywheel didn’t have a damping system in it, the new clutch disk has to have springs.

So, I made the order and cut up the old flywheel so that I could access the bolts and remove it. The new parts arrived by the following weekend and installation went off without a hitch.

At first I thought I had made my hydraulic issue worse, because I had to pump the clutch up several times in the first few days.  After that, it bled itself and returned to normal.  It was actually better than before, as I didn’t have to push the pedal all the way to the floor, anymore.

The new clutch restored my car’s function and gave me the satisfaction of a job well done.  I won’t have to worry about this conventional clutch, and many people have had very real problems with the dual-mass flywheels.  It’s actually an improvement, and I’m back to using it as my daily driver.

By the way, on my last tank I got 46 mpg.

-Putting the engine back in engineering!

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