hydraulic clutch mystery
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    hydraulic clutch mystery

    So, once again, my stubborn decisions are trying to haunt me. When my son started learning to drive, I went on a mission to find a cost effective car that had a manual transmission. Both my wife and I want our kids to have the "life skill" of driving a stick. We bought a 2009 Jetta with a 5 speed manual. We have had this car for just over a year and my son has just started driving on his own.

    This morning, when he was getting ready to leave for school he notices that the clutch pedal is on the floor. So, the one part of the car that I insisted it has, is now the first part to fail! My wife gets in, and there is a small amount of travel in the pedal, but even with the pedal tight to the floor, she can't put the car in gear. As a matter of fact, she did manage to put it in gear and it promptly stalled the car with the pedal on the floor.

    When I get home, I look for a puddle from the clutch hydraulics. I see nothing. I then pushed the car into the garage and put it up on jack stands. I presumed that I was looking for a bad master or slave cylinder. The first thing I tried to do after it was on stands was to actuate the master cylinder. I pulled up on the clutch pedal (for the first time) and....... It stayed up. Wait? WTH? So I proceeded to actuate it a bunch of times and everything seemed to be normal. I put the car back down and drove it. Has anyone ever seen this before? If the pedal was just stuck (i.e. lubrication issue or something causing the pedal assembly to bind) I would expect that the clutch would have been engaged the entire time. It definitely was NOT engaged when the pedal was stuck down. But, now it works! The car was driven yesterday afternoon with no issue. After sitting overnight, the pedal was depressed. My son is thinking maybe it stayed down when he parked it last night. Could the master cylinder have "leaked down" with the pedal stuck in the depressed state? That is the only explanation I can come up with.

    Thoughts?

    Lee
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    I have definitely seen half of your problem, where as it leaked internally......but never did it ever come back. Usually you either got yourself a new slave cylinder, or just a rebuild kit.

    I also know from experience, VW parts are like 4 times what that same part is on most any other cars. Thankfully though, it seems the slave cylinder is between $50-75...... not sure if they make a seal kit for it but you might get lucky.

    PS, the same part on a 2009 Toyota Camry is only $11.
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    Captain Hook Kennyd's Avatar
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    Lee,
    Can't help much other than to suggest you get the slave cylinder replaced before he gets stranded somewhere-I'd bet that's the issue. Stan (coaltrain) has a lot of experience with diesel VW's so may have some insight.

    All three of my kids and my wife can drive a manual tranny, thats an accomplishment these days! We still keep a 2011 Corolla 5 speed at home as the backup car,
    Kenny

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    I agree that I have a suspect seal, but how do I know if it is the master or slave cylinder? The master cylinder shares a reservoir with the brake master cylinder (which I thought was an interesting design). For a 10 year old car, the brake fluid looks great. I have to wonder if it was changed out at some point. He drove it today and had no issues.

    Lee
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    My tundra did that. It would happen once, then in about 2 weeks it came back and quickly It progressively got worse to failure. It was the master cylinder. The second time it went out I was pulling my boat up the ramp. It died completely pulling out of of the boat parking lot. I made it 20 miles home through 3 towns without needing to make a full stop. I could shift by working the throttle.
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    If you replace the slave, replace the master too because its probably not far behind. Learned that the hard way...

    Also, this sounds obvious, but is the reservoir full of fluid?
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnH123 View Post
    If you replace the slave, replace the master too because its probably not far behind. Learned that the hard way...

    Also, this sounds obvious, but is the reservoir full of fluid?
    The reservoir is full and the fluid looked very clean. I have to presume that it has been flushed at some point in the past 10 years. The car has been driven quite a bit the past 3 days (by both me and my son) and no issues have appeared. I feel like I have a ticking time bomb. I may consider ordering the parts to have them on hand.

    Lee
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljnelson109 View Post
    The reservoir is full and the fluid looked very clean. I have to presume that it has been flushed at some point in the past 10 years. The car has been driven quite a bit the past 3 days (by both me and my son) and no issues have appeared. I feel like I have a ticking time bomb. I may consider ordering the parts to have them on hand.

    Lee
    Great plan.
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    the only other thing to inspect closely would be the joints and rod connecting the peddle to the master cyl.....esp since you see no lowering or leaking of fluid

    another home test for a internal leak would be to fully depress the clutch pedal and brace it pushed and leave it over night then the next morning see if the slave cylinder is still actuated ....be easy to do by just keeping the pedal depressed never letting it release...leave the car out of gear overnite....then get in and start it the next morning and see if it will go into gear ...all the time never releaseing the clutch pedal allowing it it to re-flluid itself

    hope this made sense
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydplrs View Post
    Great plan.
    I thought so, until I just priced the parts. Unless I buy the "economy" parts, I am looking at >$150 for the 2 cylinders.

    Lee
    2305, 200CX loader w/53" bucket, 62C MMM, and 47 SB.

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