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Stick shift paranoia

I recently purchased a 06 VW Passat with a 6 speed manual transmission. The Passat came with 36K miles on the odometer and was a certified used vehicle. I?ve always wanted a car with a stick and so far I love the vehicle. Nonetheless I?m terrified that I?m going to destroy the clutch on this vehicle. I?m hoping that someone out there can either 1) tell me what I am doing wrong or 2) tell me that I am just being paranoid and should stop worrying.

Here is my concern? when starting from a stop in first gear, there is a shudder as I let up on the clutch pedal and the clutch engages. It seems like the only way to minimize the shudder is to let the clutch out really slowly and slowly put in the throttle once the vehicle has started moving on its own. Also the 1-2 shift isn?t that smooth. In order to get a smooth shift it feels like I have to put the throttle back in and increase the engine speed before I can let the clutch reengage. This usually does not occur on the 2-3 shift and everything above that is buttery smooth.

Should I be concerned? I learned to drive a stick on a decrepit explorer and neither of these issues seemed to be present on that vehicle. Perhaps it was just that nothing was smooth on that vehicle so the transmission didn?t stand out?

Have some one who knows how to drive a car with a clutch evaluate whether the shuddering you describe is from driver error or a indication of something else.

The newer VW’s have what I’ve heard called a “hot clutch” (not to be confused with an overheating clutch?) where they have very low weight flywheels which makes the engine peppier, but it means you kind of have to over-rev the clutch ever so slightly in order to prevent the shuddering. Very disconcerting for those of us who are particularly OCD about our clutch-ing, but it’s really not doing any harm.

Do whatever it takes to make smooth take-offs and shifts. Clutch shuddering is not good, not normal, and should not be happening. You will have to adjust your driving technique to accommodate the clutch, or have the clutch checked for problems.

If you could drive a decrepit Explorer you should be able to drive a Passat. If you’re having problems, it MIGHT be the car. The original owner may have damaged the clutch in 36K miles of driving.

I don’t think you should accept this shudder as normal. Complain, raise hell, do whatever it takes. You bought a “certified” vehicle, make them fix it. Something’s wrong. Don’t wait for the warranty to run out. Then YOU’LL be stuck with the repair bill.

While clutch chatter is not normal, perhaps the best way to find out if it’s likely the car or your technique is to test drive a new version of the same vehicle.

You seem to have solved the problem yourself. Keep clutching slowly until you have a rhythm that you are comfortable with. As you become used to it, you can increase the speed at which you engage the clutch. Go find a parking lot and practice. You’ll be a champ in no time.

For the first to second gear issue it sounds like you are shifting too early, wind it out as bit more.

It could also be bad engine mounts, transmission mounts or the clutch is already gone.

Or the anti-chatter springs in the clutch plate could be bad. A lot of folks don’t even know why those springs are there, but that’s it. If it came with a warranty, it probably excludes wear items like clutches and brakes, but it’s worth asking about. How recently did you buy it?

Thank you everyone for all your advice. I had a friend who was a mechanic in a former life drive the vehicle. He didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. He did have the same suggestion that I should shift a little later. Greasy Jack’s info about the low weight fly wheel is consistent with what I’ve been observing. I may have the dealer take a look at it when I take it in for the next service but otherwise I have decided to stop worrying about it and simply enjoy my new vehicle.

I agree with what some of the other people said…test drive a different car but similar model, have someone else who can drive a stick VERY well drive it…etc.
You might also just take it to a mechanic and just ask them to inspect it. There is some moral hazard involved in that they might lie to you to get the sale, but if you have some confidence and tell them what is going on, they should be ligit and check it out for you.

I have a 07 mini cooper i bought new. I must say, not all manual transmissions are the same. It took me almost 1500 miles before I got my car down to where i was smooth. but then again, i don’t have shutters or anything. It might not be your clutch either…having a specific gear acting up may just be that gear or the syncros…but if you don’t hear grinding it should be fine. I know mine feels notchy at times going into second, but I found out that is just the feel nd nothing is mechanically wrong.

I would take some time and just try to get use to it, say a month or so…and in the mean time get someone else to drive it , and say nothing to them…see if they say something to you or just ask them after wards.

Hope this helps! and good luck!