Hydraulic Clutch system


New member
VW dealer clutch replacement cost 3/03/06
1985 Westfalia Camper

Flywheel 401.50
-Core return 150.00

Clutch 195.02
Clutch 214.48
Bearing 52.05
Washer 24.67
Engine and transmission seals:
(have done while you're paying labor)
Seal 5.67
Seal 2.34
LABOR 492.00

- 10% VW Labor discount
- 10% Parts discount 74.47

total including tax 1179.84

VW of Old Saybrook on Middlesex Tpke in CT did the work promptly and effeciently, and I'm really pleased about the discount and the core return. Going with the dealer seemed the best way to insure no one messes up the transmission I replaced. My previous clutch went fast- thanks to a year driving in New York city. I would also love an alarm that beeped whenever my foot is touching that pedal! No more city driving for me- we've moved to the country. Parts from a discount supplier for the clutch kit would have been only a couple hundred bucks, but you get what you pay for.

Oh, and never let anyone else drive your van. I thought the guy I was seeing was a great mechanic who would fix anything for me, but he knew the clutch was going and decided not to tell me because he was "afraid of my reaction" (!) Guess what my reaction was when I had to have her towed? Left him behind in the dust. One reason my van is the most important thing in my life- what's good for my baby is good for me.


New member
I had air in my clutch fluid line, so I suspected the slave cylinder. A quick look at it informed me that it was leaking, so I changed it. Now when I bled it, I found yet another problem.

I am leaking fluid from the line, somewhere between the master and the slave cylinder. Most probably, that rusty line is leaking near the slave, under the large metal protection plate. Looking at it carefully, I realized that line goes on top of the fuel tank (my west is 82 Diesel).

Now my question is: do I have to remove the fuel tank to change the fluid line? As a quick fix for the remaining of the season, would that be possible for me to "seal" the lead directly on the line with some sort of product? If so, what is such a sealer?




I've never heard of any product to seal any kind of pressure line. Remember that the line carries very high pressure. I think you are going to have to bite the bullet and replace it. As to r/ring the tank you'll have to consult the bentley.

good luck

Capt. Mike

The diesel is little different than the gas models for hydraulic clutch and I find the diagram for the Syncro on 30.8 to be more useful than the picture on 30.2. First, however, is slow down and be sure you know where your leak is. You state "most probably" & "near the slave." That doesn't sound like a furshur diagnosis.j

You can test the line. It's messy (with all the yadda-dah about paint damage) and you'll have to do a full rebleed after, but the line is in four sections. You can disconnect each section and test each without removing them from the vehicle, either via pressue gauge or vacuum. Vacuum would be less less likely to blow fluid all over the place if there is a leak. Three sections are fixed metal but one is a flex hose. You changed the slave -- there should have been no disturbance of lines escept the rear-most. Start there.

I've not experienced the need to change a line so can't comment on whether the fuel tank must be removed to change the forward most line, but the answer should apply to any Westy except a Syncro so opens up possible sources.

Capt. Mike

Transferred to consoilidate same topic. Apparently refers to a 1988 Vanagon w/ hydraulic clutch.

spitsnrovers Member Posted October 08, 2006 10:20 PM

I've discovered that the clutch action on long trips is giving me chronic knee pain.

The clutch requires quite a bit of pressure, but I'd say not undue amount. But it does require knee action as well as ankle action dur to the pedal to seat relationship.

Has anyone thought about or heard of a 'clutch booster' similar to the brake booster that is common on all vehicles?

F & W & Turtle

Capt. Mike

I'm surprised you find the existing hydraulic clutch requiring high pressure. It's whole purpose was to provide a lower pedal effort and smoother operation. You can test the clutch system for pressure. It should register 2-2.5 bar at the slave. This is more than enough to operate the factory pressure plate. After testing your pressue to be sure the master is producing as desired, investigate your release shaft and pressure plate. Spring fingers in some HD pressure plates significantly increase the pressure. Hydraulic clutches still operate like the mechanical, so any resistance from the release arm would also affect apparent pressure. You may have a non-stock replacement clutch.

WENLINGSHI AODA MACHINERY is a manufacturer and supplier to Asian vehicles. Clutch boosters are not common on cars since a hydraulic clutch already reduces much of the pressure plate spring tenstion. It's more likely to be on HD clutches in trucks & commercial vehicles. Can it be done? Yes; but expect considerable manufacturing of parts & mounts to make one of the their units fit & work. I saw units as small as 3" for the Mitsubishi Canter truck, but the length looks twice that. Also remember that the booster is "add-on" to the master cylinder assembly -- it does not replace the master cylinder -- so necessary working room becomes much larger.


New member
86 westy, manual. just started driving today when heard loud sudden noise. after this unable to depress clutch pedal and vehicle stuck in first gear. was able to depress clutch with slave bleeder open. how can i tell if this is slave (i fix) or clutch (they fix) problem?

Capt. Mike

The clutch is still mechanical; the slave only operates the clutch release lever (Bentley 30.2). Disconnect the slave rod; the clutch pedal should move it easily. Activate the clutch release lever manually; if it is jammed or doesn't release the clutch, your problem is the clutch, which has its own "Clutch problems" topic.

Capt. Mike

Transferred to consolidate same topic.

NewOwner86 Junior Member Posted May 21, 2007 05:47 PM

Hi, I am a new owner of an 86 Westfalia With a hydraulic clutch system. I have checked the master a slave they are operating properly. The slave has reached the maximum of its travel and will no longer disingage the clutch. I have not been able to locate a haynes service repair manual for this model. My qustion is there a way to adjust the clutch or should I look at replacing it. I plan to do the work myself and I need any diagrams avilable.

Thank you

Capt. Mike Tech Writer Super Member Posted May 21, 2007 06:06 PM

This site requires the Bentley factory shop manual (Guideline #2). It will tell you on page 30.1 that the hydraulic clutch is not adjustable, although there is some clearance adjustment available to the clevis rod to adjust the master cylinder for fit at the pedal.


New member
For anyone having difficultly with pressing in the clutch or the clutch not seemingly disengaging properly, I would suggest replacing the flexible hydraulic hose that connects the slave cylinder to the steel hydraulic line back at the transmission. I just replaced mine and it made a MAJOR difference in how easy the clutch works.

I replaced the clutch master and slave cylinders two years ago, but because a part didn't arrive in time, I waited until now to replace the clutch flex line. I know the other parts of the system are in good order, so any improvement was a result of replacing the line. I think the line starts to constrict as the rubber ages and begins to absorb some of the brake fluid in the line. The clutch was slow and hard to disengage. Now it’s as easy as a 1970s Japanese econobox.

Because of the fragility of the metal line running on the chassis, I heated up the junction and it made removing the old one much easier.

Anyway, for a $30 part and 90 minutes to install and bleed the system, it is an easy thing to replace if you're wondering about clutch issues and think the clutch is in good shape.


New member
I found another reason for replacing the flexible clutch line. As these lines get older, some of them get softer. This means when you press on the clutch, the fluid in the line expands the line rather than disengage the clutch. For several of the hot rod cars out today, such as Honda Civics, the motorheads replace the stock rubber hoses with braided stainless steel lines to reduce line expansion, forcing the hydraulic pressure to work on releasing the clutch. I am not suggesting a stainless steel line, but it goes to show that expansion in these old rubber parts make the clutch process less effective.

Jere Powers
1984 Vanagon Westfalia, named "The Twinkie"
Clutch pedal free play

My 84 Westy has quite suddenly developed a lot of free play in the clutch pedal. Does not engage with any hydraulic pressure til at least half way down. When it hits pressure, it is firm pressure, not soft, and clutch disengages OK, but not completely (shifting is stiff). No loss of fluid.
Puzzling, becaus:confused:e does not meet all symptoms of leaky slave or master cylinder.

Capt. Mike

But it does meet the symptoms of air in the system! A very small amount of air can cause clutch activation problems without being particularly noticeable as a fluid leak or consumption, especially since it shares the reservoir with the large brake fluid system. Did you bleed the sytem as described above? If it improves some, then goes bad again shortly, you have a bad master or slave cylinder. I suggest replacing in pairs.
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New member
Clutch Hydraulic Fluid Leak

I discovered a leak in the hydraulic system of my '81 Westy. Turns out the plastic nipple that connects the reservoir hose on the master cylinder has a crack. I tried different two component glues but none will stick. I couldn't find the plastic nipple in anywhere online and I don't want to replace the whole cylinder. Any suggestions?


New member
You're going to be hard-pressed to find a patch for anything in the hydraulic lines. Brake fluid, which is the shared liquid in the system, is designed to clean almost everything from its path. Through the 1970s, brake fluid was an effective paint remover. No glue or goop or gizmo will set it straight. Time for a replacement.


New member
I think you are right, Jerepower. I got the new master cylinder in the mail today. Installing it was a real pain. I had everything in place just to realize that the pressure line wouldn't screw in. So I had to take the cylinder out again, screw the pressure line in first then try to fumble the piston back into the cylinder and finally screw everything to the frame. It is such a tight work space there between the pedals.
No comes the bleeding of the hydraulic fluid. I was going to pump fresh fluid back to front into the slave valve but the cheap hand pump I got jammed after a few strokes.
I guess I should drain the old fluid first right?


New member
Hydraulic line to slave cylinder '85 westfalia

Hello everyone,
Just bought this white elephant used it 3 times then the slave went....ugh! Bentley show a hard line going into the slave, mine had a plastic line which coupled into a hard line 13mm/11mm/13mm. Problem, new slave is a 13mm old an 11mm? This line is no longer available from what I have found out, hence the plastic line I keep seeing. Any suggestions to convert back to the original workings?

I'd like to be driving yet I find myself just sitting in it with my morning coffee.

Please help


[Modertor Note: In mid'-87, they switched from the pipe-plug style direct fitting to a banjo bolt connection. (See Bentley 20.10 diesel fuel tank where it connects to the injection pump and tank at the fuel filter flange for an example.) See if this happened to yours via a previous owner upgrade. These fittings are common generic or the original metal lines & flare fittings pipes are easy to fabricate so most any competent shop should be able to do it from meter-ware stock.]
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New member
I have a 83 westy with a 1.9L engine. I just purchased the vehicle a couple of weeks ago. Last weekend we took it on a 200 mile trip. Once we arrived I started having problems with shifting. The clutch started to catch immediately, stalled out a few times, and then finally lost all pressure in the clutch. Lucky for me there was a VW repair shop nearby, so we left it for the week and the shop replaced the slave cylinder. I just picked it up today. It was shifting so smooth and felt great the whole way home. Right when I exited the highway less than 2 miles from my house, I started having problems again. This time it feels like there is pressure in the pedal, but it is very difficult to shift and the van won't move at all when releasing the clutch. I noticed it looks like the slave cylinder is leaking some, not real bad, which may explain still having pressure in the pedal. It acted like it did not want to come out of gear even with the shifter in the neutral position. I just tried it again and it is now finally in neutral, but still nothing is catching, release the clutch and nothing, just a reving engine. I am not very mechanical. I can change oil, spark plugs, the basic stuff, but I have never torn apart a clutch, engine, etc. Any ideas of what may be going on here?

Capt. Mike

Often, when a hydraulic clutch component is replaced, residual air will cause it to appear to be failing. After such a major repair, you should re-bleed the clutch per page 1 of this post as a first step. Directions above. If that doesn't fix it, you may have to replace the flexible lines. When the deteriorate, even just old age, the act like a check valve. I.e. there is sufficient pressure to force fluid but the swollen inner linings of the hose prevent flow in both directions equally the way it should.