Clutch pedal and engaging problems



Looking for some advice please before car goes in to garage and i am at mercy of the dealer!
On a long journey the other day the clutch pedal started getting closer to the floor and it was a bit difficult selecting a gear. Parked up overnight and the next morning there was hardly any pedal and I could not select a gear from neutral.

AA said master cylinder a common problem but I had mine replaced a couple of years ago. Mechanic pulled up pedal and pumped it and it stayed up. Drove back abut a hundred miles and it worked but when I stopped it wouldnt engage reverse. Did the same trick of pulling it up and pumping it and it worked again. A friend tried bleeding the system as the fluid looked rather old and dirty. Now we cant get the pedal back.

Am hoping to avoid opening up the gearbox and wondered if anyone had a similar experience and if there my be some easier/cheaper/quicker options to try before it goes in .



You haven’t said what mileage? Mileage, how cars are driven by previous owners and if mileage is city or long distances are key factors for clutch life.

Clutches failing or failed are generally due to just a few faults. Clutch failure usually falls into one of two categories — Mechanical or hydraulic. V.W clutches are hydraulic not cable. Additionally V.W’s use a dual mass flywheel which whilst not a clutch part, has a service life similar (or less!) than the internal clutch parts. Mechanical failure of clutches is usually internal and can be a bearing, the friction disk itself, or the release diaphragm. These failures usually test as slippage when accelerating in a high gear(rpm increases). A worn clutch bearing usually makes a loud noise as the clutch pedal is pressed. A badly worn diaphragm and disk may show as a catastrophic failure with zero resistance felt on the clutch pedal, testing by pressing with your hands. some bad noises may be heard underneath at idle and when the clutch is slowly pressed down. When these internal parts failures occur, the repair is usually a complete clutch assembly replacement together with the dual mass flywheel as a precaution if high mileage.

Clutch hydraulic failures are generally confined to the pedal master cylinder and the internal clutch slave cylinder. When seals in either are worn out, pumping the clutch may allow it to operate for a short time. Another symptom is the pedal may need to be pushed lower to select a gear. There are 2 ways seals can fail. One way is the pedal moves towards the floor but doesn’t produce consistent pressure. The second way is some pressure is produced but clutch fluid gets past the worn seal and pours out from either the master cylinder or the internal slave cylinder. The level of fluid in the clutch reservoir will be going down! Driving and pumping the clutch can make things worse if fluid is leaking inside the clutch housing (you can’t see!) and contaminating the clutch. Whereas you might have just paid for a new M/C, slave cylinder and labor, now it could be the whole clutch and more.

Your problem sounds like a failed internal slave cylinder and somebody will have to get inside. If fluid has poured over the clutch parts and/or they are worn they too should be replaced along with the dual mass flywheel if mileage is high. This will be an expensive repair but probably cheaper to let a 3rd party national clutch repair center do it?

Your early warning signs came when a master cylinder fault was suspected. The garage should have known that the clutch slave cylinder would probably fail later and in doing so would contaminate the main clutch which might have been o.k. But had they have advised you to have it done you might have been shocked at the price — but now it will cost you more!

I suggest you get quotes from a national clutch replacement firm and Stealer to have the M/C, clutch slave, clutch main assembly parts, and dual mass flywheel replaced all at the same time then you should have no further worries. Your clutch problem could occur on any car, but it’s usually due to high mileage and how it was used or abused.

PS: The darkening of clutch fluid is usually an early warning of seals breaking down. When your M/C was replaced they should have replaced the fluid at the same time. Brake and clutch fluid changes are part of the scheduled maintenance procedure. I think I would have a good look at what the brakes are doing if you suspect maintenance may have been neglected?