VW Polo clutch / gearbox problem

An interesting one, if I'm understanding it correctly.....you say that the clutch pedal won't return on its own, but if you pull the clutch arm back, the pedal rises...thats about fair enough so I guess the problem is in the clutch itself - maybe a collapsed release bearing.
Please post back with the findings!
John :)

Hi John,

Just got my car back today; took two and half weeks for them to fix it. They replaced the clutch and then also another few parts.

One of the parts that they showed me when I went to pick up the car was some sort of lever, circular at one end and narrower on the other. The circular end looked as if it fitted on a cog wheel type part. This had snapped (and therefore wasn't providing the grip that it was meant to). They stated that this part broke AFTER they replaced the clutch - it meant the clutch pedal wouldn't return to its position after being pressed...the same problem for which I tool the car in.

This little part was in on the gearbox side - linked to the gear mechanism.

I feel as if they replaced the clutch when it probably didn't need to be, and then realised the real fault and fixed that too.

They are a national chain and charged me £250 - this was for a clutch replacement, and the other stuff was done for 'free'.
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Hi All,
Good informative information, thanks. I have a bit to add, as I have had a problem which I am told is a standard issue with Polo, Golf and Lupo.
There is a plate, down in the footwell above the pedal, that holds the clutch cable outer sleeve in place. This allows the inner cable to pull to operate the clutch. What happens it this plate is too flimsy. It bends back and forwards with clutch use, until it actually breaks off, rendering the clutch useless. The first time the symptom was I had to press the clutch pedal hard into the carpet and the gears still graunched on changing. I took the car to the local garage, who assured me the clutch needed changing. Couple of hundred ££ later defect still the same. Took it back and they found this plate defective. They managed to stitch it into place without stripping the car to bits. This fix lasted til the other day when the weld gave out just as we were approaching Dunkirk Ferryport. I am going to strip it all out and have a look. I will probably take pictures as well and write it up when I have finished. If anyone would like the information, please let me know.
([email protected])
Thanks to you both for the update...I'm sure we'd all like to see any pics of the offending parts, if possible!
John :)
Hi All,
Managed to repair the problem with the clutch cable support. I manufactured a bracket using some L section mild steel cut from an old bedstead. I drilled/filed/ground out the bolt hole on the bedstead to take the plastic clutch cable sleeve, then added a short length of plastic pipe the same diameter on top of the sleeve to mount the cable at the right height relative to the pedal. Now, here's the good part: I drilled another hole to take the right hand pedal bracket mounting bolt (where it screws into the car just to the right of the steering wheel shaft) and used that bolt to clamp the new piece in place.
it took 2 goes to make the plate right, as measuring while hanging upside down in the footwell (with a bad back) was not as accurate as it could have been. I am going to take pics and will be right back.
Tested the clutch in anger last night and it is working well. I have put a bunch of photo's in, each one with a description. I hope this helps. If you have any ???? please drop me a line at my email address (removed by moderator - sorry, still trying to get to grips with this. I am having problems putting pictures into this forum, so have made up all I needed to show and have it in a wordpress blog called myvwpoloclutchproblem etc
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Hi All,
I am sorry, I am being a bit thick with this forum from a posting point of view. I uploaded a bunch of pictures and promptly couldn't find them anywhere, even after I had added words.

Sooooo, having already run a blog on wordpress, I simply wrote up a new one called myvwpoloclutchproblem


where I have written the whole repair up, including photo's and sketch. I managed to complete the repair without having to remove anything, other than the glove compartment and the footwell cover (total of 2 screws and some push in thingies. I think I have just found my pics again, but the whole story is in the wordpress blog.[/url]
Hi All,
Well, after doing the repair using a bit of old bedstead and some plastic tubing, I am pleased to say (touching wood and whistling) that the clutch operation is still fine - indeed it is nicer to operate than ever before, which means the defecting metalwork had been around for quite a long time.
I have put the project up on my wordpress page as shown in the previous entries and would be very happy to receive any comments.
Happy Motoring
I think I may have found why the original clutch cable bracket gave up in the first place. I may be wrong but…………….

Read on:

I placed an entry a bit further back up this string, where I had THE problem with the clutch cable mounting breaking off. I managed a repair using some angled mild steel (cut from an old bedstead) some plastic piping and an existing mounting bolt under the dashboard. The repair lasted a whole year and then I experienced a problem where the clutch pedal started to ‘click’ and became a bit heavy. I tried a number of things and discovered that the ‘click’ was due to the bracket having moved very slightly, causing the cable end to touch the plastic sleeve. A gentle tap with a hammer and a slight tightening of the securing bolt sorted that out.

The heaviness continued and also the clutch engaged when the pedal was about half an inch off the floor. Because the cable was soooo stiff, it was causing the whole dashboard to flex. My bracket stayed faithfully in place though. After lots of heart-searching (car now 15 years old - but low mileage, nothing else wrong, MOT due, do we REALLY NEED a car? etc etc,) as she was already booked one month early for the MOT I was spurred on to try and find the cause of stiffness and adjustment. I added a shim (started by slotting a spanner end in and followed it up with a shim made from a penny washer with a slot cut) behind the cable end. This caused the clutch to slip (insufficient pedal play) so I took the shim out and the slipping seemed to go away. Bear in mind, this clutch is only about 15000 miles old and I do not ride the clutch. I put up with the low pedal for a day or so while thinking hard. It turned out that the whole bracket I made was being pulled down, demonstrating that something was very stiff in the clutch mechanism.

I took the cable off the gearbox lug and checked it for movement – nice and free. I tried operating the lever on the engine by hand – stiff as hell. A liberal dosing of 3 in 1 oil and some energetic pumping of the lever made it much easier to operate. I put it all back together and now she drives like new.

THE IMPORTANT OBSERVATION ABOUT THIS? I am now left wondering if the partial seizing of the lever bush on the engine could have over stressed the original cable bracket that failed in the footwell. Hey ho. If anyone does read this, try some 3 in 1 oil on the bearing on the operating lever at the business end of the clutch cable under the bonnet.

Good News is that I popped the Polo to the garage last night for the first test this morning, to receive a message at 0845 saying that she had passed the MOT with only a couple of minor advisories (one tyre within spec but getting a bit low, and one rear light bulb gone (there are 2 each side) but still within tolerance for light visibility.

S’funny, she is such a clean and tidy car and she is very economical (light right foot) so now she is armed with a new MOT we are seriously considering hanging on to her for another year perhaps, unless of course someone offers us silly money for her (but that would apply to any car.)

myvwpoloclutchproblem contains the whole thing and is on word press, along with some pictures and diagrams. I hope it is ok to say this bit as I am running out of time and am not very good at all this web stuff. I do hope this is useful and would be grateful for any feedback
Thank you Boy Electric, you've just saved me a lot of grief. I suddenly found that I couldn't select any gears whilst the engine was running and had resigned my self to replacing the clutch (at 81,000 miles it wasn't a huge surprise). I stumbled across your post and I thought what the heck it's worth a check, sure enough the finned piece of plastic on the clutch cable had sprung away from the bulkhead and simply clipping it back solved my problem. That saved £75 in parts and 5 or 6 hours labour to do the clutch. I can't help but wonder how many Polo owners have had new clutches fitted by garages, who would simply clip the cable back in place as part of the process, when it wasn't necessary... One further note, having clipped the cable back in place I still had problems initially, I found you need to turn the engine off for several minutes and pump the cable several times to get it to reseat properly. It has subsequently popped out again so this time a couple of cable ties are holding it in place.

Thank you again for your post it really has made my life easier.

UPDATE: After a week or so the clutch finally gave up the ghost. It turned out to be the thrust bearing. I suspect that what was happen was that the springs holding the thrust bearing to the fork had failed and so the thrust bearing would work sometimes but not others. When I took the gearbox out I could see that the trust bearing had completely disintegrated and destroyed the guide sleeve that it runs on. Obvious neither part is expensive but it's just a lot of work to get to it. Taking the gearbox out was pretty straight forward other than getting to the bolt at the back of the engine which goes through the rear swing mount, engine block and into the bell housing. The use of an 18mm ratchet ring spanner was the only way I could get to it, other wise I would have had to drop the engine out.
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