View original topic: First time clutch replacement - What perils await me? Page: 1, 2  Next
kshbaja Tue Oct 14, 2008 6:38 pm

I have never replaced a clutch before. Is this something I can finish in a weekend? I have the clutch kit from Van Cafe. I also have this link bookmarked Do I need anything else? Any non-obvious gotchas to watch out for?

Oh one other question, should I replace the axles/cv joints while I am at it? I don't know how old the current set is and I was planning on servicing them at some point anyways.

glutamodo Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:13 am

I'd check the CV joints for play - if it's minimal, I'd just clean them out and repack them, put new boots on and call it good.

The clutch - a good floor jack for the tranny, maybe another jack to support the engine, a Bentley manual, and a weekend of time, should be good for that job. I've done it in a few hours, non-syncro. Rust adds time - cleaning out nasty CV joint socket head bolts and R+R on the clutch slave cylinder can slow you down. ( Syncros are another thing altogether - royal PITA for clutches. ) If there's any issues with the pilot bearing in the end of the crank, that will add time to the job. No need to change it though if its in good shape, as long as you put some fresh grease in there.

That website you linked to, pretty interesting. How did he get the pilot bearing out? Unless you have a special puller designed for it, it can be quite a pain to remove. Sounds like he got lucky in his method. Like I said above, if the bearing is in good shape you don't need to replace it anyway. And I don't agree with the GL-4 statement - GL5 is fine. Read here for more.


retswerb Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:24 am

If you do decide to replace the pilot bearing, I highly recommend borrowing the free loaner pilot bearing removal tool from AutoZone if an AZ store exists in your area. Other FLAPS may also have a similar tool on loan. Since the vanagon bearing is so small you can't fit both jaws in there but even so, the slide hammer does the job quite nicely with just one jaw hooked inside the lip.

kshbaja Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:06 am

I also read that a seal behind the flywheel should be replaced. I have a feeling this might be leaking as I am experiencing some shuddering, especially in 1st gear. What is the name of this seal? Is the brand of this seal particularly important? I recall that some of these engine seals are notoriously bad and should be avoided.

I bought a new pilot bearing, so assuming I can get the old one out easily enough, I will replace it. I am no stranger to the Autozone tool loaner program! All in all it doesn't sound so bad.

presslab Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:29 am

You might want to have the 'fingers' on the clutch release crossarm fully welded up. Mine broke recently and it was a pain to drop the tranny just to fix the stupid arm. The ones from the factory have two small welds, for the $20 or so to get them welded it's good insurance.

You are probably referring to the engine rear main seal. It's a good idea to change that especially if you have oil in the bellhousing. I'm not sure what brand to use but a Viton seal would be a good idea here. Another seal to change is the input shaft seal in the transaxle, these go bad as well.

glutamodo Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:48 am

Yeah, this viton flywheel/ main seal should be a good one

And, don't forget the O-ring in the flywheel...

You might want to do the tranny input shaft seal while you're in there as well.

tencentlife Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:23 am

That Reinz Viton that VC sells for $10 is a good mainseal. The best is the OEM Sabo one that GW sells for $30.

Here's a thread which reviews a lot of the stuff you'll be looking at, how to evaluate it, and details the differences between mainseals:

More regarding the mainseal:

kshbaja Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:04 pm

The tranny removal went smoothly and I have everything off down to the flywheel. The symptom that motivated me to undertake this job was a nasty shuddering when "riding" the clutch (starting uphill at a red light, for instance), especially in 1st gear. I had read this was commonly caused by oil leaking onto the flywheel.

Looking at the flywheel, it looks pretty clean with no visible signs of oil, although the inside of the bellhousing was quite black, but not obviously wet. The flywheel surface does have a rainbowed look to it, perhaps glazed is a better word. The other interesting discovery is what appears to be many tiny cracks in the flywheel that run radially outwards. The cracks only appear where the clutch disc made contact with the flywheel. Does this mean the flywheel needs to be resurfaced or replaced? In my maintenance records I see the flywheel was "deglazed" in 2000. Not sure what that means. I still plan on removing the flywheel and replacing all the seals since I am in there.

A couple of questions:

-Are these tiny cracks normal? Something to worry about?

-Would I be able to see the amount of oil required to cause shuddering?

Pascal Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:37 pm

a very easy way to remove the pilot bearing is to get a bolt appropriately sized so it's hex head can just fit inside the pilot bearing. Put that bolt head in the pilot bearing and move the bolt off center so the head will now catch on the inside lip of the pilot bearing. Now you take a socket that is large enough for the pilot bearing to fit into and set that over the pilot bearing and position it so the bolt threads protrude out the socket's square hole. Now put a washer on the section of the bolt that is sticking out of the socket and then put a nut on teh bolt. Tighten the nut until it extracts the pilot bearing.

?Waldo? Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:09 pm

There should not be any cracks in the flywheel. If it is cracked at all, then replace it.

I would also recommend replacing the input shaft seal of the transmission and while it is removed, check to make sure the oil slinger is still a press fit in the bell-housing.

If it isn't, then you will be doing the whole job all over again soon.


kshbaja Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:35 pm

The cracks are so faint you can't even feel them with your fingernail. Would a flywheel with this sort of hairline cracking cause this shuddering I have been experiencing? What does a new flywheel go for? I didn't see one at my usual source, Van Cafe. Maybe I didn't look hard enough.

I am planning on replacing all the seals. This is actually what I thought would have been the source of my problems.

Oh yeah, any idea where can I find a flywheel lock?

tencentlife Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:02 am

Take the FW to a machinist and have him assess it and resurface it. There can be fine surface crazing that will mill out completely, but if it's deeper than the milling depth the core should be rejected.

If it happens that it's no good, new ones aren't hard to find, but they're expensive and weighing so much the shipping is a killer. Much cheaper to go to a local wrecker and turn up a used one, then have it resurfaced, which costs $25-30. Check out the mainseal boss on the backside and reject any core that has a palpable groove worn there, because that part can't be reground by most machine shops.

morymob Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:10 am

make sure equal amount that milled fron cluthh area is also milled from area press plate fits flat against,can get a slipping clutch especially if milled before only on face area. my 2cts

tencentlife Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:43 am

morymob wrote: make sure equal amount that milled fron cluthh area is also milled from area press plate fits flat against,can get a slipping clutch especially if milled before only on face area. my 2cts

It's true that has to be done, but I didn't point that out because only an idiot machinist would neglect that, and idiot machinists aren't in business very long. It's not that you might get a slipping clutch if the mounting surface isn't milled down the same amount; you WILL get a slipping clutch. Trust the guy to do his job right.

kshbaja, an irregular flywheel by itself might initiate juddering, but when it's bad all three friction components are involved, or they will be pretty quick. Oil on the friction surfaces will begin to cause irregular clutch take-up, then the uneven heating will quickly warp the disc, and soon after the pressure plate. Always plan on remilling the FW ("deglazing" just means someone put some sandpaper to it), and installing a new PP, disc, and TOB, if you want the job to turn out right the first time.

Always inspect the throwout arms on the cross-shaft, because breakage is not uncommon on these; breakage can be welded up and reground so the TOB rides parallel to the FW as it should, or a new cross-shaft installed.

Renewing seals is optional but always advisable; the presence of oil in the bellhousing says that a seal is leaking, so you should take care of it now. Gear oil will present its characteristic smell and with that you'll know that you need to do the input shaft seal. Oil in the clutch itself is more often due to the FW o-ring leaking. Oil on the backside of the FW is from the mainseal. If you have oil dripping down the front of the engine case but the FW backside is dry, you may have a leaking galley plug in the engine case, probably the main galley; these can be repaired in situ with the FW removed. Leakage from the tranny input shaft seal or mainseal won't normally corrupt the clutch unless they get really really bad.

You can pull out and renew the pilot shaft bearing in the crankshaft, but they are rarely actually worn out; a good cleaning out with solvent and regreasing is all that is needed in most cases. A fresh felt ring in the flywheel helps to keep the moly grease in the needle bearing. One thing you might want to mention to your machinist is to please leave the felt seal retaining ring in the center of the FW hub. I just discovered that several FW's I had reconditioned all had that ring knocked out. I haven't yet found a source for replacements, and without it there the felt ring can't be installed.

?Waldo? Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:33 pm

FYI, the diesel pilot bearings fit fine in the WBX and instead of a felt ring, used a little rubber seal to keep the crud out and the grease in the bearing. Here's a pic:


ftp2leta Wed Oct 22, 2008 6:36 am

Here some more info if your not already done.


kshbaja Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:30 am

Thanks Ben. Every bit helps! I am not fiinished, I haven't had time to work on it in the last few days. I am hoping to find a place to get my flywheel machined today.

kshbaja Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:02 pm

OK so I am almost done and this thread will soon float off into the sunset. In the meanwhile thanks so much for the guidance. I have just a few more questions.

Regarding the pilot bearing, mine looks fine and all the rollers seem to spin easily. Most of the threads I read say its obvious if they are on their way out, so I think I am going to keep it. Is the recommended maintenance to spray down with solvent (brake cleaner??) and then just load it up with grease as best I can? Just a light to moderate application of grease? During the cleaning phase, is there any risk getting the solvent in behind the crank (can I just hose it down wiht brake cleaner??)? What sort of grease should I use? Will the wheel bearing grease I have suffice?

Oh and one other thing...what is the recommended way to pull and re-seat the input shaft seal? It seems like I could just put a curved pick into it and yank it out. Is there a less destructive method? Mine doesn't look bad at all, but I have a new one and would like to check out the oil slinger I have read so much about. After re-installation, should the input shaft be greased up? When I pulled mine out, there looked to be copious amounts of grease on the shaft and around the TO bearing.

glutamodo Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:15 pm

If the bearing looks good I usually don't try cleaning it any, just add some fresh grease to what's in there. Maybe running a pencil wrapped with a a lintfree towel in there to pick up some of the old grease a couple of times first. I use moly wheel bearing grease for just about everything pretty much, including this. (I think if I was going to try spray-cleaners, I'd want to get it totally and completely empty of old lube. Which I think would take a while of spraying, blowing with air, wiping, and repeating, before it was empty)

The tranny input shaft seal removal, two ways that I know of - instead of repeating them, go and refer to this thread here:


ramboberry5550 Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:22 pm

if you go to lowes they have a 3/4 inch (19mm) felt pads for furniture that will pressure fit into place with out modifying the outside. use a solvent to remove the adhesive. then used a dremel tool to make the center hole. i wasnt going to let it hold up the build because it wasn't included in the kit. I think 5$ for 20 of them. plenty to mess up. took me two tries.

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