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How to Adjust the Clutch on a Volkswagen Golf

Updated July 20, 2017

The Golf was first produced by Volkswagen in 1974 to replace the Beetle in the U.S. and Europe. Since then it has become the world's third-best selling car. The Golf is a solid automobile with above average marks in reliability and safety. The Golf clutch is a series of spring-loaded plates that come together as the clutch pedal is released, and it connects and disconnects the engine from drivetrain. While the very latest Golf models may have self-adjusting clutches, most require occasional adjustment of the cables to compensate for wear in the clutch plates.

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  1. Locate the clutch cable adjuster in the engine compartment. The cable adjuster, which consists of a white plastic adjuster and steel locknut, is on top of the transaxle on the left or driver's side of the engine compartment. Look for the white plastic locknut atop the transaxle just to the left of the battery as you are looking from the front of the vehicle. The clutch cable leads from the clutch cable adjuster through the firewall to the clutch cable.

  2. Turn off the engine and set the parking brake.

  3. Depress the clutch pedal with your hand and feel how much free play or easy movement it has before you feel clutch resistance. The free play is the first easy movement in the pedal and you can test it by pushing the pedal with your finger. In contrast, you will probably need to use your whole hand to disengage the clutch and push the pedal the rest of the way to the floor.

  4. Measure the free play distance in the clutch pedal by holding the ruler at a right angle to the movement of the pedal. The specification for free play in the Golf clutch is 5/8 inch or 15mm. If the free play is greater than this it requires adjustment.

  5. Push the clutch pedal in and release it several times before making adjustments.

  6. Loosen the clutch cable locknut with a wrench. Tighten the cable adjuster with your fingers until there is the specified amount of clutch free play. In 1985 and later models, insert the 15/32-inch spacer between the plastic flange of the adjuster and the transaxle housing beneath it. Turn the adjuster counterclockwise until the flange is snug on the spacer, and then tighten the locknut. Remove the spacer.

  7. Test the free play again to ensure it is still correct and make adjustments as necessary.

  8. Tip

    Clutches eventually wear out. If you can no longer adjust free play to the specified amount, you should consider overhauling the clutch assembly.

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Things You'll Need

  • Wrench set
  • 6-inch ruler
  • 15/32-inch or 12mm spacer

About the Author

William Boyce

William Boyce started writing professionally in 2009. His work has appeared on FreePress.net and his own blog. Boyce was a registered professional forester in central British Columbia for 24 years. He has a Bachelor of Science in forestry from the University of British Columbia.

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