Clutch Pedal Stays Down - VW

When I left the house a little while ago, I was slowing for the stop sign at the corner and felt like I wasn’t slowing normally. I actually looked at my feet and saw that I was indeed on the brake but the clutch pedal was to the floor and not coming back up. I pulled to the curb, shut the car off and pulled the pedal up. When I pressed it down, it stayed down. Doesn’t seem to work (engage?) at all. I started it in first gear and drove back to the house and parked it.

When on level ground, I normally leave the car ('02 VW New Beetle Turbo S) in first gear and no parking brake. Starting off, I didn’t notice anything unusual until slowing down, still in first as it’s just a short run to the corner.

I’m putting it out here first, then I’ll try some VW websites, and then some telephone calls to mechanics. Grateful for any thoughts and advice…

You didn’t say what kind of car you had but it is most likley hydraulic or cable operated. If it is cable you should be able to visually see what the problem is. If the problem is hydraulic you might have a failed slave or master cyl, these will usually leak when they fail. If you had too much play in your clutch a clutch rod might have fallen out and you can also see this by doing a visual inspection. If it failed internaly you will likely need a mechanic to fix it.

I did have it kind of camouflaged in there ('02 VW New Beetle Turbo S)

Thanks HoneyBadger. I just spoke to my nephew, a professional mechanic and he suggested I check the fluid in the slave cylinder. Now I’ll see what kind of luck I have finding it. :slight_smile:

It’s a hydraulic clutch and you already figured out to check the reservoir. Follow the trail of leaking fluid.

I hope it’s a leaky line connection or a bad master cylinder.
Because the slave cylinder is between the engine and the transmission. So at least one of them has to be taken out to even inspect it.

There is a very old leak stain area on the pavement in the regular parking spot. I thought it might have been an oil pan gasket leak which was replaced with some other related servicing and I never saw fresh fluid after that. Don’t see any now.

I don’t know that I can even get to the fill area. According to a diagram in the owners manual, there is a brake fluid fill that though difficult is likely doable, if that is even the correct reservoir. In researching, I’m concerned that even if I were able to add fluid, bleeding and/or a serious leak, and/or a needed part may be involved.

I just spoke with my regular mechanic and told him what I was advised, he seemed to agree and will work on it tomorrow morning. I’m going to attempt to get it there tonight when traffic is very light, second gear all the way :dubious:

Thanks to all for your input and I’ll report the results.

I replied above before I saw your response which really confirmed those concerns to hand it over to the pro.

I knew the SDMB was the first source to ask!

Bwuh? Every slave I’ve ever come across has been mounted on the outside of the transmission, easily accessible & bleedable from under the car.

Of course, “Volkswagen…”

Many many years ago I had a Ford where the accelerator would stick.
It turned out the accelerator cable had worn through the housing. If you pressed too hard or too fast, the cable would pop out of the housing sheath at the curved portion, and the sheath would grip the cable wire tight enough that the throttle would stick open… your basic runaway car scenario.

Check the cable too…

I had this problem in a VW beetle and it was caused by the floor rusting out. There might be a difference between a '67 beetle and an '02 beetle though.

I’ve heard of cars where you have to loosen the transmission to actually replace the slave cylinder, but can you point out an example of one where you need to remove the engine or transmission just to inspect/bleed them?

On the vast majority of cars, it’s pretty easy to get to. A quick google suggests the New Beetle is one of them.

Well, unless they bought it in Mexico, in which case an '02 Beetle would have more in common with your old '67 than an '02 New Beetle sold in the states.

I did like the '69 I had but they are Night & Day. Front engine vs. rear, front drive vs. rear, water vs. air cooled, 180 hp vs. 36 :slight_smile:

And zero rust.

My old series IIa land rover was great for bleeding the clutch. There was an access panel on the transmission tunnel that allowed you to bleed it without an assistant. You did need to be upside down and quite coordinated, but it was do-able.

Turns out it was the clutch master cylinder.

Thanks for that good hope HipGnosis and thanks for the input from all!

Thanks for the update. Hope your baby is back on the road.

Back on the road but with a hiccup. When I picked it up, I drove home a few miles with no issues. The next morning my wife used it for an errand and experienced the same situation as in my OP at the same corner. She was able however to lift it up with her foot and restart it normally. On her return trip it happened again but this time she had to pull it up by hand and then it was fine for the rest of the short trip home. I used it yesterday for about thirty miles or so, and there was no problem.

I’ll let the mechanic know on Monday morning.

Some Saabs and some Volvos among others have the slave inside the bellhousing and do require removal of the trans to service.

The Ford 5 speeds of the 80’s- 90’s did too.

If you need to replace the slave cylinder/throwout bearing heavily concider replacing the clutch and pressure plate.
Of course the pressure plate could be the problem anyway.

The mechanic had told me essentially that. Looks like that’s the way it’s going to go.