Volkswagen Front Wheel Drive 1974-1989 Repair Guide



On some 1986-89 models with 5-speed transaxles, a self-adjusting clutch cable is used. The cable incorporates an adjustment mechanism on the transaxle side of the cable which automatically adjusts to compensate for normal clutch disc wear.


Prior to free-play adjustment, check total pedal travel as follows:

  1. Hook a tape measure to the top of the clutch pedal. Measure distance between the top of the pedal and the centerline of the steering wheel.
  3. Depress the pedal and measure the total distance again. If the difference between the measurements exceeds 4.7 in. (119mm), the floor covering may be interfering with pedal travel.


See Figure 1

Clutch pedal free-play should be 0.59 in. (15mm) for all Dashers and pre-1979 Rabbits and Sciroccos. On 1979 and later models, there should be 0.85-0.98 in. (21.5-25mm) of free-play.

Clutch pedal free-play is the distance the pedal can be depressed before the linkage starts to act on the throwout bearing. Clutch free-play insures that the clutch plate is fully engaged and not slipping. Clutches with no or insufficient free-play often wear out quickly and give marginal power performance.

  1. Adjust the clutch pedal free-play by loosening or tightening the two nuts (or locknut and threaded sleeve) on the cable near the oil filter on Fox, Dasher and Quantum. On the Rabbit, Jetta, GTI, Scirocco and Cabriolet, it is on the left side at the front of the transaxle.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: Clutch pedal free-play checking/adjusting

Correct free-play cannot be measured correctly if the floor covering interferes with clutch pedal travel.

  1. Loosen the locknut and loosen or tighten the adjusting nut or sleeve until desired play is present. Depress the clutch pedal several times and recheck free-play. Readjust if necessary. Tighten locknut.
  3. On late models, VW recommends that a special tool (US5043) be used to determine proper adjustment. The procedure for adjustment is as follows:
    1. Depress the clutch pedal several times.
    3. Loosen the locknut and insert the tool.
    5. Adjust the sleeve until zero clearance between sleeve and tool is reached. Tighten locknut.
    7. Remove tool and depress clutch pedal at least five times. Check free-play at the clutch pedal.