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Well, you were all so helpful for my first bonehead question, I thought I would ask for more of your feedback.

I just bought a VS 356 originally built in 2007 with only 5700 miles.  Everything seemed ok.  When I drove it home I didn't really notice anything, but today, after shifting into 2nd and 3rd gear, it felt like i wasn't getting the acceleration I should and the RPMs would run up.. once i let up on the gas the speed would eventually pick up as it should.. just slowly.  Today, I dropped it at my local air-cooled specialty shop for a thorough once over. 

I was told that the clutch was shot and that it would need to be replaced. He explained that the clutch was slipping and causing the acceleration issue.

Anyone else experience clutch issues or know what might have led to this? The previous owner drove the car very little, and my assumption is that he knew how to handle the clutch.


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Some links I found useful attached... Hope this helps.. This is something you could do easily at home to check your clutch.... Cables do stretch over time. No special tools required. Also getting under the car would allow you to check for potential leaks/wet areas as suggested by Rusty...

Clutch Adjustment.
1.Press down lightly on the clutch pedal and, with a ruler, measure the distance that it moves freely before the clutch resistance is felt. This freeplay should be within the limits of 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. If it isn't, it must be adjusted.

2. Raise the rear of the car and support it securely on jackstands.

3. The clutch cable adjuster is located under the vehicle on the driver's side of the transaxle adjacent to the upper engine mounting.

4. Have an assistant depress the clutch pedal completely. Place a 3-inch extension between the clutch lever and the body, then release the clutch. This will relieve the tension on the cable so the adjusting nut can be turned freely.
Note: Alternately, lubricate the adjusting nut with a suitable lubricant such as WD-40 so that the nut can be
turned freely.

5. Loosen the locknut (if equipped) and turn the adjustment wingnut (clockwise to tighten) until the freeplay is correct. It may be necessary to hold the cable with a locking plier to prevent it from twisting.

6. Set the adjusting nut so that there is 1/2 to 3/4 inch of freeplay in the clutch pedal.

7. After adjusting the pedal freeplay, tighten the locknut (if equipped).
8. Recheck the pedal freeplay.


See also our Clutch Adjustment Discussion ---


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Last edited by Lfepardo

Slack in the cable will not cause the clutch to slip. Slack would cause issues with getting the clutch to disengage when shifting gears because it would not be able to release far enough.

A cable that is too tight and doesn't have the free play at the pedal as described can cause slippage as it wouldn't allow the clutch to engage fully. You'd have a similar problem if the cable was frayed and getting hung up in the clutch tube as you left off the pedal.

Not having enough bend in the Bowden tube can allow engine movement to pull on the clutch cable causing it to slip, however, this usually manifests in a jerking feeling, not a smooth loss of power.

You didn't mention engine size, but assuming it's just a stock or mildly upgraded one, I don't think it'd be an issue with holding capacity of the clutch that can happen with big engines.

Oil contamination is a common issue that will cause slippage. And there's a couple other issues related to part fitment that could cause slippage, but diagnosing those require pulling the engine anyway.

I agree that you should verify clutch cable adjustment first before pulling the engine.

Thanks again for all your help. IMG_3834After some more investigation - and a lot of trust in my newly found vw mechanic (he has 5 other customers with a VS) we dropped the engine and checked out the clutch. The clutch itself was broken and misaligned - causing the problem of not properly disengaging fully as needed... Everything else checked out solid so with a quick swap of the clutch - she runs great!


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  • IMG_3834: You can see the top where the throwout bearing/sleeve  is not flush with the plate

Yes, clutch plates usually last much longer than 6,000 miles.   50,000-ish miles is more typical, depending on how you drive.  If you ride the clutch a lot they last a lot less, but even that won't brake the plate.  Unfortunately, some of the parts we get to work with these days, clutches included, are not up to snuff and fail prematurely, as yours did.

I'm glad your mechanic found it and, while it seems like a BIG DEAL to pull the engine, it's actually easier to do than pulling the transaxle in most modern, water-cooled cars, so there's that.  The throw-out bearing, after 6,000 miles, is probably OK, even with the broken plate, but the mechanic should have checked it out by spinning it to see if it spun OK without any noise or "catching" when turned.   Assuming that he did that, you're probably good to go - and with a brand-new clutch!

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