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LEARNING ZONE

VW Beetle Clutch (air cooled)

Recently, whilst researching an enquiry from a member, I realised I didnít know enough about the set up of the clutch on the Beetle. The following has been a bit of a struggle for the hard of understanding (me).

On this type of vehicle the clutch is described as Ďnon-constant contactí. Itís designed so the pedal height always stays the same, but there is some free-play in the pedal movement. This means there is a set clearance between the clutch release bearing and the fingers of the clutch pressure plate when the clutch is engaged. The fingers have a little movement towards the release bearing when itís off or in the non-contact position.

When the clutch starts to wear the driver should be able to detect there is less free-play Ė at the pedal. A screw thread is built in so the free play can be increased (this is usually checked at services). However, if this is left and free-play is reduced to nothing then the clutch pressure will also decrease and the clutch will start to slip. The adjustment is accessed from underneath the car and the clutch cable should be held with a pair of pliers. Turn the wing nut at the end of the cable until there is about 2mm clearance between the clutch lever and the wing nut Ė this equates to somewhere between 10 and 20 mm free-play at the clutch pedal. When youíve made the adjustment itís important to turn the wing nut until the wings lock into the matching cut outs in the clutch lever. This will stop the wing nut loosening. Itís also important to give the countersunk hole in the clutch lever a good clean as well as the threaded portion of the clutch cable and wing nut Ė followed by lubrication with multipurpose grease. Then pump the clutch pedal several times before rechecking pedal free-play

In the case of the Beetle the outer cable is fixed to the bell housing.

The enquiry related to the clutch return spring which had broken. When itís intact it holds the release bearing away from the pressure plate. When it breaks the release bearing runs against the fingers of the pressure plate. This meant the release bearing  was turning continuously so it wore prematurely and failed. The clutch cable then became unhooked. In many cars the (conventional) return spring is on the pedal, but on the VW itís wrapped round the clutch arm

© Vanessa Guyll, November 08




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