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VW MKIII-A3/B4 TDIs This is a discussion about MKIII-A3/MkIII Jetta/Golf (<99.5) and B4 Passats (96,97) TDI's. Non TDI related postings will be moved or removed.

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Old November 7th, 2019, 17:21   #1
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Southern California
TDI(s): 98 Jetta
Fuel Economy: about 43 :)
Default Clutch Master Slave Cylinder replace problem

I recently replaced clutch master and slave cylinder. 98 Jetta MK3/AHU. Clutch was working but a bit difficult to get into first. I figured at 430k miles fresh clutch hydraulics couldn't hurt (and might even help).

Wow that master cylinder R&R was a PITA, especially the top bolt on the bracket that covers the cylinder mounting nuts behind the clutch pedal. Ugh.

So, got all installed and thought I did a good bleed job (two person style). But afterwards, clutch pedal didn't come up as high as normal, you could get the last 1/2" or so of upward pedal travel by pulling on the pedal, but at that point the plastic clip on the pushrod would be disconnecting from the pedal. Later I realized my cruise control wasn't working because the clutch pedal switch never made contact (even AFTER pulling pedal up as far as possible, still not enough to close the switch). I verified this with a temporary shim about 1/4" between pedal and switch which cured the cruise.

So, my thought was somehow the master cylinder pushrod was too short. So, I gritted my teeth and took it out, compared compressed and extended position with original VW cylinder and found them to be about the same (WHAT??).

Now I'm puzzled. Maybe something about the new/old slave cylinder are different, maybe I somehow didn't get the system completely bled correctly? There could be something wrong with clutch itself, but why would old cylinders work and not new?

I guess my plan is to remove the slave and compare to old. But if they're the same what's next? Don't want to be swapping master cylinder back and forth with the effort involved.

Any ideas/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
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Old November 7th, 2019, 18:52   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: NJ 08002
Fuel Economy: Dismal

Reverse bleed the system. Air likes to go up, not down.

'96 B4V: Kerma tune and PP520s
'97 B4: Stock
Rabbit build
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Old November 8th, 2019, 09:12   #3
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: NS LI, NY
TDI(s): Passat 1997

I recently went through a similar ordeal with my 97 B4. At 270K Clutch started having problems fully disengaging. (trouble with first) Tried bleeding system every which way, things only got worse. Bought a power bleeder, success! (I vaguely recall flushing brake system prior to this - so maybe the clutch ingested air)

About a year later, ran the system dry when a brake line went. Replaced brake line, power bled system, trouble disengaging. Must be air - Bled and reBled. It has to be air, it was working fine before.... Not so much. Installed a new clutch master and slave which made the situation worse. Power bled over and over again, different bad result each time...re-installed old master and slave, got it to the point it would shift again. The next day it wouldn't. Short story long, pulled the transmission, found a piece of broken clutch spring wedged in the pressure plate. BTW, pedal was doing the same thing, about 1/2" travel left. With the new clutch, that's gone. Being that its hydraulic, I'm not sure that was related to the problem, or it being travel related new clutch vs old. Hopefully your problem is solved w/ bleeding - from what I went through, I had better luck with my old OEM master/slave.

Replaced clutch (and a bunch of other stuff) , took it for a drive and quickly forgot the hours spent working on it. Well worth it!
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Old November 8th, 2019, 15:58   #4
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: NJ 08002
Fuel Economy: Dismal

Broken springs usually do exactly what you said, don’t allow disengagement. I don’t think OP is having that issue, just a low pedal.

FWIW, when I mentioned reverse bleed, yes you could use a power bleeder, but you can do it cheaper. The last time I used a spray bottle and I hobbled some fittings and tubing together and pumped the fluid into the bleeder, to the reservoir.

Pics are blurry, but if you squint just right, you can image what you want it to be...

'96 B4V: Kerma tune and PP520s
'97 B4: Stock
Rabbit build
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Old November 9th, 2019, 19:15   #5
Jetta SS
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Grand Bay, AL
TDI(s): '98 Jetta
Fuel Economy: 48

Had this issue before. I was bleeding this thing over and over - was on a deadline, had to be at a job out of town so I took off. After several shifts and 300 miles all was well - it bled itself lol.
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