vw clutch not returning

VW Clutch Not Returning [Common Causes & Fix]

This guide explores a common issue with Volkswagen cars: the clutch pedal not coming back up or getting stuck down.

It affects various models, including the Tiguan, T5, Caddy, Passat, Polo, Golf, and T6. As an experienced mechanic, I will explain the main reasons for this problem and how to fix it. Let’s begin.

Troubleshooting Volkswagen Clutch Issues: 

Issue Cause Fix
Sticking to the floor Bad Clutch Master Cylinder Replace master cylinder
Clutch not returning Bad Slave Cylinder Replace slave cylinder
Pedal stays down Low Hydraulic Fluid Top up fluid; check for leaks

VW Clutch Not Returning Common Causes

Now, let’s look at the most common causes for a VW clutch not returning in more detail.

This list is not all-inclusive, but it covers the most common issues I have seen from working on Volkswagen vehicles in the last few years.

1. Bad Clutch Master Cylinder

The most common cause for a VW clutch sticking to the floor and not returning is a bad clutch master cylinder.

The Clutch master cylinder also known as a clutch pump is the part that pumps hydraulic fluid to the clutch slave cylinder.

The clutch master cylinder also has a return spring that pushes on the piston to push hydraulic fluid back into the reservoir when you let off the clutch pedal.

If this return spring is bad or broken, it can cause your VW’s clutch not to return and stay depressed against the floor.

other than the clutch pedal sticking to the floor, here are other indications that your VW’s clutch master cylinder may be bad:

  • Brake Fluid is always low (Leak indication)
  • The Clutch Feels loose than normal
  • Changing gears seems harder
  • Extremely dirty clutch fluid

2. Bad Slave Cylinder

Another common cause for a VW clutch not returning is a bad slave cylinder.

The slave cylinder is located on the firewall behind the clutch pedal and is used to push hydraulic fluid onto the clutch disc when you press down on the pedal.

If this cylinder leaks or has a broken seal, it can cause your clutch not to return and stay depressed against the floor when letting off of it.

Some signs your VW slave cylinder is bad include

  1. Your clutch feels spongy
  2. Grinding sound when changing gears
  3. Leaky clutch fluid
  4. Issues when changing gears

3. Low Clutch Hydraulic Fluid

The final common cause for a VW clutch not returning is low clutch hydraulic fluid.

The clutch uses hydraulic fluid to pressurize and disengage the clutch disc. If you run out of fluid, it can cause your clutch pedal to stay down when you release your foot.

The leading cause for low clutch fluid is a leak in the system or a bad slave cylinder, however, sometimes owners forget to add fluid to their system and end up with a low level.

If your clutch is low on fluid, check the reservoir in your Volkswagen and add more if needed.

How to Fix a Clutch Pedal that is Not Returning on a VW

Now, that you know the main causes, let’s look at how to fix a clutch that fails to return.

Check and Top Up Clutch Hydraulic Fluid if Needed

The First thing I would advise you to do is to check the clutch fluid level and top it up if necessary.

The clutch reservoir on your VW is normally located under the hood, near the brake fluid reservoir.

The fluid level should be between the minimum and maximum marks on the side of the reservoir.

If it’s below this range then you need to add more hydraulic oil until it reaches at least halfway between these two points.

And see if this solves the problem, if it doesn’t then you need to get the slave and/or master cylinder changed.

Replace the Clutch Master Cylinder and Slave Cylinder

In order to solve the issue, I recommend that you replace the clutch master cylinder and slave cylinder.

Although the problem might be caused by either one it’s always good practice to replace both parts at the same time.

If you are on a tight budget then finding out which cylinder failed and fixing that one is the way to go.

If you are not sure how to do this, I recommend that you take your vehicle to a mechanic or ask for help from someone who knows how to work on vehicles.

Pro Tip: If you are going to replace these yourself, don’t forget to bleed the system before you drive the car. This will ensure that there is no air in your system and that everything works properly.

How Long Does it Take to Replace the Clutch Slave and Master Cylinder on a VW?

The average time it takes to replace a master cylinder on a Volkswagen ranges between 1-3 hours and a slave cylinder 0.5-1 hour.

This depends on a few factors such as the skill level of the person doing the work and whether or not they have access to the required tools.

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