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Help with clutch problem

I bought my '09 VW Jetta wagon used in February of this year with 7,100 miles on it. This last weekend my wife was driving it on the freeway. She was attempting to downshift from 5th gear to 4th, and she got it out of 5th, but couldnt get it into any other gear. She coasted off the freeway and got it to a parking lot. When I got to it the clutch pedal was fully depressed to the floor, even though no pressure was applied to it.

The car still has a factory warranty on it, but the dealership says this is not covered. They say that the clutch pad is burnt out (I saw it - it is burnt out). They quoted $1,327 to replace the pad, and $2,173 to replace the fly wheel as well, which they recommended.

My questions are:

-Is it reasonable to think that the clutch pad would wear out so suddenly? The car was in motion, not pealing out from a stop.

-If this is not covered under the warranty, what is a reasonable cost to expect for this repair?

Yes, a clutch can wear out this quickly (and quicker) with a driver that does not know how to properly drive a clutch…or chooses to abuse it. If your wife is an experienced and successful driver of manuals, then the prior owner must have toasted the clutch. No warranty will cover this condition.

A flywheel face can generally be resurfaced. But, without seeing it, it’s tough to say they were wrong with any certainty.

I’d call around to privately owned and operated shops. Much of the cost is labor, and that varies regionally.

You mentioned that you bought the car with 7k miles on it in February, but you didn’t mention how many miles are on it currently.

Yes, I have seen clutches fail in a short time on cars, and were either caused by one of two things:

Bad driver.
Bad parts/assembly at time of manufacture.

My girlfriend bought an '08 Chrysler Crossfire back in Oct '08, brand new.
In May of this year, at ~ 9k miles, the clutch very suddenly became very hard to operate.
It was a very low pedal, and when you did hit the engagement point, it was rock hard, and very small.
Pushing the shifter into any gear with the engine running took A LOT of strength.

We took it to the dealer, and told them to check it out.
They inspected it, and said that the pressure plate failed, and that damaged the clutch friction plate, and put hot spots all over the flywheel, so all three parts had to be changed. All were covered by Chrysler, even though the clutch normally isn’t a covered item, but because the damage wasn’t caused by the driver, they were willing to cover it. We didn’t even have to fight with them, they just covered it, completely.

Since your damage sounds like it was caused by the driver, you are going to have to pay for the repair out of pocket. What you should do is figure out if your wife was the cause, or if it was caused by the previous owner. You don’t want to risk your wife killing another one, if she was the cause of its demise.


An additional charge of $850.00 to replace the flywheel makes me think it might be a dual mass flywheel. (That is a lot of money for a solid non-DMF flywheel).
If it is a DMF flywheel, they generally cannot be resurfaced.

The car now has 19k miles.

I have been driving standard since I learned to drive, and have never had a clutch or transmission problem with a standard vehicle. My wife has driven stick for about 5 years now.

Is it plausible that the clutch and transmission would operate without a problem and then suddenly not shift into gear at all? If it were wearing out, I would expect to feel it slipping before complete failure…

Had you not yourself confirmed a toasted clutch plate, I would have suggested a leak in the clutch hydraulics and loss of fluid. Since the clutch was toasted so prematurely, it’s possible that the throwout bearing also failed from abuse and seized in place on the tranny input shaft. I’ve never seen this happen, but it’s possible. Someone apparently was playing race driver with this vehicle.

Your question is a good one, however. Normally a worn out clutch would simply begin slipping. The clutch plate itself has no way of holding the pedal down.

By the way, Joe, nice catch on the flywheel. I completely forgot about those DMF flywheels.