Clutch Replacement

APPLICATION: Early Vanagons and late Buses with the Type 4 air-cooled engine and manual transmission.

What you need to buy before you start: new clutch disc, new pressure plate, new clutch release bearing (throwout bearing), new pilot bearing, and new front main oil seal. Some of these parts can be purchased in a clutch kit.

The first step in this job is removal of the engine and transmission.

Now with the engine and transmission out of the car and lying on the ground separated, you can replace the clutch. The first step is to remove the pressure plate from the flywheel. There are 6 13mm bolts holding it on. You need to loosen them a little at a time as the pressure plate is under tension. Break these bolts loose and then loosen them a half-turn at a time until the tension is relieved. Then remove the bolts.

Now the pressure plate can be removed. It is held onto the flywheel by four dowel pins, so gently wiggle it off of the flywheel.

Now the clutch disc is easily removed, it just sits in between the pressure plate and flywheel and is free to be removed now that the pressure plate is off.

Next step is to remove the flywheel. There are 5 17mm bolts that hold the flywheel to the crankshaft. These bolts are torqued to 80 ft-lbs. and so you will either want an impact wrench to loosen them OR a nice length of angle iron. What you do is re-insert two of the pressure plate bolts into the flywheel a bit, then use them to brace the piece of angle iron (either against the floor or a helper) -- this will keep the engine from turning while you apply the necessary leverage to break the bolts loose.

Now remove the flywheel. It is also held on by a dowel or two, so wiggle it off of the crankshaft. Now you are looking at the front of the crankshaft and you can see the large oil seal. You want to remove this seal. You want to pry it out of its bore, but be VERY CAREFUL not to gouge the sealing surface on the engine case, or it will leak -- and when this seal leaks oil, it leaks a LOT of oil. There is also a special tool for this job, a seal puller. You may want to rent one if you believe in using the proper tools for the job.

Once the seal is out, make sure that the bore it sits in is clean and free of crap. Do NOT use any sealer on the new seal, simply press it into place the same way that the old one came out.

You also now want to remove and replace the pilot bearing. This is the small needle bearing in the front of the crankshaft. You will need another special tool to remove this bearing. It's called a bearing puller and consists of a hook that you stick through the bearing and hook on its other side, and a rod with another rod that sticks out perpendicular to it. You use this second rod to bang a hammer on, which pops the bearing out.

The new one should be greased well with an all-purpose moly grease, then inserted into the hole in the crankshaft. You can tap it in with a socket that is the same size of the bearing and a hammer.

Now you need to replace the throwout bearing, which is still sitting in the transmission bellhousing. On each side of the bearing there are spring retainers which must be pried off. Then there are two retaining clips that must be pried off. The bearing can then be removed from the release shaft and guide sleeve.

To put the new bearing in, grease the guide sleeve (the sleeve the throwout bearing rides on, over the input shaft) and the rotating face of the bearing. Don't put too much on. Then put the new bearing on the same way you took the old one off. Also take this opportunity to clean out the bellhousing and engine case if they are grungy.

Now you are ready to start assembling the clutch. First clean the flywheel very well with some kind of solvent -- the brake parts cleaner that comes in a spray can works well. Do not touch the friction surface of the flywheel with your oily/greasy fingers. Re-install the flywheel. It will only go on one way due to the dowels. Insert the five bolts and torque them to 80 ft-lbs. You will need to use the angle iron trick again to brace the engine from turning while you torque the bolts. Tighten them in a crisscross pattern, like lug nuts.

Now, clean your hands up BEFORE handling the clutch friction disc. Any oil or grease on it will foul it (like brake pads) and you could wind up with a chattering or slipping clutch. Try not to touch the friction surface at all even with clean hands. Handle it by the outside edges or by the center. Set it in its place on the flywheel. Then install the new pressure plate. Align it with the dowels, and then tighten the bolts evenly -- remember, you are placing the plate under tension and you must do it evenly or you will warp the pressure plate. Go a half-turn at a time on the bolts. Don't tighten them all the way, though, as you still need to align the clutch disc. Look through the hole at the center of the pressure plate. You want the hole in the pressure plate to align with the hole in the clutch disc and that to align with the hole in the crankshaft so that you will be able to easily mate the engine and transmission later. A clutch alignment tool is sold for this purpose or if you feel lucky you can eyeball it or even use a broomstick end if you've got one around. Once you've got it aligned then go ahead and tighten the pressure plate bolts down EVENLY.

Now your clutch is installed. All that's left is to mate the engine and transmission and put it all back in the car.

Sean Bartnik
April 19, 1998

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