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The Volkswagen Mk7 clutch is directly responsible for transferring power from the engine to the transmission. While the clutch is often referred to as one unit, several parts make up the assembly. The clutch disc is a plate with friction material on either side designed to grab the flywheel and pressure plate, connecting the engine to the transmission. The pressure plate is what allows the clutch to be released so that gears can be changed.

The pressure plate, clutch disc, and flywheel all eventually need replacement due to wear. An engine or transmission removal is necessary to service these items, so replacing them is the easiest way to save time. Doing the job yourself is not an easy task but is doable. Having a large number of tools at your disposal is necessary. 

 

Volkswagen models and years applicable:

  • 2015-2018 Volkswagen GTI
  • 2015-2018 Volkswagen Golf R

 

Symptoms of a failing Volkswagen Mk7 clutch:

  • Slipping under acceleration
  • The engine revs freely, but the vehicle does not accelerate
  • Difficulty shifting gears
  • Squeaking noises while clutch pedal is pressed
  • Sticky or spongy clutch pedal feel when clutch pedal pressed
  • Burning smell from a slipping clutch

When the friction material on the clutch disk wears down, it loses its ability to hold the torque the engine produces. Once this happens, the disc will slip in-between the pressure plate and flywheel, resulting in a loss of drive. A slipping clutch will also cause excess heat on the pressure plate’s friction surfaces and flywheel. This will generate hotspots and can cause these parts to warp. 

Engine modifications will also eventually necessitate a clutch change. As power increases, the stock clutch’s lifespan shortens. The OEM friction material wasn’t meant to hold an excess of power over stock and will slip once a certain power level is reached. 

 

What will it cost to replace a VW Mk7 clutch assembly?

The cost of the job is subjective. Are you replacing the clutch with stock parts, or are you upgrading? Are you completing any other services or changes while the transmission is out? Cory Calvin chose to install a Sachs performance clutch and flywheel kit on the GTI used in the video. The cost of that kit runs just under $1500. It’s also advantageous to replace the throw-out bearing while everything is apart. An OE bearing from LUK will cost $32 and change. 

Add around another $900 to have this job completed at a dealership. The extra money will cover the dealership markup on the cost of the parts and the cost of the labor. 

 

How long will it take to replace a VW Mk7 clutch assembly?

This is entirely up to you. With all of the tools and an extra buddy or two for help, the clutch can be changed in around six hours. If you’re doing any other work or need to use a makeshift tool, add on time. Give yourself a full weekend to safely complete the job at home. 

 

Tools required to replace a VW Mk7 clutch assembly:

 

Parts required to replace a VW Mk7 clutch assembly:

 

Steps required to replace a VW Mk7 clutch assembly:

Step 1: Remove the Intake

The GTI in this video has an IE intake setup, but the factory airbox removal is mostly the same. Remove the fastener from the left side of the heat shield with a 4mm hex bit socket. Then, loosen the clamp that connects the intake pipe to the turbocharger inlet with a 7mm socket. 

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Under the intake, behind the filter, is the connection for the secondary air hose and a vacuum line. Pull down on the hoses to remove them from the intake. Then, pull the heat shield and intake out of the rubber isolating grommet and remove them from the engine bay.    

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Step 2: Remove the battery assembly

Move the battery cover off of the top of the battery and use a 10mm socket to remove the two battery cables. Then, use a 13mm socket to remove the bolt for the battery clamp and then pull the battery out. 

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Next, use a 10mm socket to remove the three bolts and one nut that secure the battery tray to the car. Additionally, there are two clips for the wiring harness that need to be pulled off the tray. One clip is at the front while the other is at the back. 

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Step 3: Free the topside of the transmission

Directly under the battery tray are the connections for the shift cables. The cable that sits farthest forward uses metal tabs to secure the cable to the transmission. Use a flat head screwdriver to pry up on the tabs and release the cable carefully.

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The other cable uses plastic tabs and can be separated by prying against it with a flathead screwdriver.    

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Next, remove the bracket securing the cables to the transmission. Use a 13mm socket to remove the three mounting bolts. Two of the bolts mount to the transmission, and the third sits behind the charge pipe. 

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Pull the cables off of the transmission and push them out of the way. Next, use a 7mm socket to loosen the hose clamp from the charge pipe. Then remove the T30 bolt the secure the charge pipe to the engine. You should now be able to wiggle the charge pipe out of the rubber elbow. 

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10-DIY_VW_GTI_Clutch-Job-Prepping-Topside-Transmission

Part of the wiring harness is clipped into the charge pipe towards the front of the engine bay. Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the harness from the charge pipe. Now, the top two transmission-to-engine mounting bolts are accessible. Pull the charge pipe back and use an 18mm socket to remove the two bolts. 

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12-DIY_VW_GTI_Clutch-Job-Prepping-Topside-Transmission

Next to the starter is the hydraulic line for the throw-out bearing. Use a pick to pull up on the locking tab, and then pull the line off of the bearing. A small-cap or foam earplug can seal the line from leaking once removed. 

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Lastly, remove the starter bolt. Use a 13mm socket to remove the but securing the ground strap to the starter motor bolt. Then, use an 18mm socket to remove the stud/bolt. 

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Disconnect the starter by pulling back on the red locking tab and then pushing down. The plug will click when it is unlocked, signaling that you can remove it. 

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Step 4: Drain the transmission and differential fluids

Lift the car into the air and remove the front wheels. Then, use a T25 bit socket to remove the eight fasteners that secure the car’s belly pan.

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To completely remove the belly pan, use a flathead screwdriver to pry the two lacking tabs out of the front bumper.

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Next, drain the fluid. Use an 8mm hex bit socket to loosen the fill plug on the transmission and remove the drain plug. Catch as much of the fluid as you can to be properly disposed of at an automotive shop. 

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The differential fluid is held in a separate housing and has its own oil. Use a long 8mm hex wrench or socket to remove the drain plug. 

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Have a very wide drain pain ready for the differential fluid. The fluid will pour out directly onto the subframe below it and run off of it in several different places just to spite you. 

Reinstall both drain plugs and tighten them down after all of their own fluids have drained. 

 

Step 5: Remove the charge pipe

To make more space, remove the starter. Use a 13mm socket to remove the two nuts on the starter. One nut secures a bracket to the starter mounting bolt, and the other is on the starter itself, securing the main power lead. 

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Then, use an 18mm socket to remove the remaining starter bolt. Support the starter while removing the bolt so that it doesn’t fall out of the car. 

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To the left of where the transmission meets the engine, under the car, the charge pipe is mounted to the engine with a T30 bolt. Use a T30 bit socket to remove the bolt from the engine, though it won’t be removed as it is captured in the charge pipe. 

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Next, loosen the two hose clamps used to secure the rubber elbow to the intercooler and charge pipe. Use a 7mm socket to loosen the factory hose clamps. Then, remove the elbow.

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There are also two more spots where the wiring harness clips into the charge pipe. Use a flathead screwdriver to separate them.   

Head back into the engine bay and pull out the charge pipe.

 

Step 6: Separate the axles from the transmission

Behind the transmission side cv joint on the passenger’s side axle, there is a heat shield. Use an 8mm socket to remove the two nuts securing it to the car and then pull off the heat shield. 

Next, disconnect the swaybar end links from the ends of the swaybar with an 18mm socket. Then use a 10mm triple square bit socket to remove the bolts securing the axles to the transmission. Remove the bolts for both axles. 

Then, remove the three 16mm nuts, per side, for the ball joints. 

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Pull the control arm down and pull the hub outward to move the axle out of the way of the transmission. 

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Step 7: Remove the LSD

All Mk7.5 GTIs and Mk7s with the performance pack have limited-slip differentials. If you own an early Mk7 without the performance pack, skip this step. 

To start, there is a 6mm hex headed bolt in the center of the passenger’s side axle cup on the differential. Use several long extensions to get the required length to reach the bolt. An extendable magnet will help pull the bolt out of the cup. 

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Then head to the center of the differential and unplug the two electrical connectors.

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Two of the bolts that secure the differential to the car are above the differential itself. You’ll need to use a 16mm socket with wobble extensions to remove the bolts blindly. Have a pattern guide the socket onto the bolts from the engine bay if you have the help. 

Remove the bottom two bolts with a 16mm wrench once the top two are out. The bottom bolts will be on either side of the electrical connections.

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A wiring harness runs below the differential. Unplug the oil level sensor and then use a flathead screwdriver to remove the oil pan’s harness clips. 

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Lastly, the dog bone engine mount sits in the way of the LSD removal. Use a 16mm socket to remove the bolts that connect the mount to the engine. 

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Use a pry bar to move the engine forward. Then, have another person pull the differential unit out of the car. This will be very difficult to do with one hand while prying the engine forward. 

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Step 8: Remove the remaining axle cup

Use an 18mm bolt to remove the bolt mounting the engine to the transmission. 

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Then, use a 21mm socket to remove the dog bone mounting bolt.

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Next, move to the driver’s side of the transmission to remove the axle cup. The cup will spin while you try to loosen the bolt, so use a pry bar between two of the axle bolts to prevent any rotation. Use a 6mm hex bit socket to remove the bolt. 

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Step 9: Support the engine

Head into the engine bay and remove the plastic engine cover. Positioned over the engine support tab is a mounting point for the engine cover. Inside the hole in the support tab, is a locking tab for the mounting point. Press the locking tab with a flathead screwdriver and pull up on it, removing it from the support tab. 

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Next, lay the engine support bar across the engine bay and attach it to the engine support tab. 

 

Step 10: Remove the transmission

Use an 18mm socket to remove the engine mount bolts. Three bolts hold the mount to a bracket, and the other two bolts hold the bracket to the engine. Pull the bracket out after all of the bolts are out. 

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Use a floor jack to support the transmission. Then, use an 18mm socket to remove the remaining bell housing bolts. 

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The transmission needs to be moved around the clutch assembly and past the subframe to be free of the car. Be creative with the pulling and twisting to get it free of the obstacles. 

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Step 11: Replace the flywheel and clutch assembly

Use a 13mm socket to remove the six 13mm pressure plate mounting bolts. Then, use a 12mm triple square bit socket to remove the flywheel bolts. 

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Use a rag and some brake clean to wipe down the mating surface on the crankshaft. Make a note of where the offset bolt hole is on the crankshaft and then line the flywheel bolt holes up accordingly.  

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Thread in the bolts by hand and then tighten them down until the flywheel starts to rotate. Use a prybar or flywheel locking tool to prevent the flywheel from spinning and torque the bolts to 60Nm, plus another 90° of rotation. 

Wipe down the flywheel’s friction surface with a degreaser to clean off any residue that may contaminate the clutch disc. Look at the clutch disc’s hub to see the proper orientation, and install it with the clutch alignment tool’s help. 

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Clean the pressure plate’s friction surface with a degreaser to clean off any residue that may contaminate the clutch disc. Thread in the new pressure plate bolts with a 6mm hex socket and torque them to 20Nm. 

 

Step 12: Replace the throw-out bearing

Even if it isn’t leaking or making noise, changing the throw-out bearing is cheap and easy to do while the transmission is out of the car. Use a 9mm socket to remove the three bolts that mount the bearing to the transmission. 

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Next, fill a cup with brake fluid. Inset the bearing’s hydraulic hose end into the cup and pump the bearing until air doesn’t bubble out of it. Bench bleeding the bearing will make bleeding the clutch significantly easier when everything is installed. 

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Reinstall the protective cap on the bearing to prevent any fluid from leaking out and any air. Dab the bolts with thread locker and thread them into their holes. Use a 9mm socket to torque them to 12Nm. 

 

Step 13: Reinstall the transmission

Place the transmission back onto the floor jack and wrestle it back into the car. Wiggle it around until it is sitting on the dowels, and all of the bell housing bolt holes are aligned. Make sure that the transmission is sitting flush against the engine before threading in any bell housing bolts. Use an 18mm socket to tighten down the three bolts that were removed last.

 

Step 14: Bleed the clutch

Next, head into the engine bay and install the clutch line onto the throw-out bearing.

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Push the line on until it clicks and then press the locking tab down. Hook up the bleeder bottle to the bleed nipple on the clutch line, and open up the nipple with a 9mm wrench. 

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Fill the clutch fluid reservoir with fluid and let gravity push any air out of the system. Shut the nipple once the fluid level in the reservoir stops decreasing. Then, hop into the car and give the pedal a few pumps. Open the nipple back up until the pressure releases and then close it again. Do this until the clutch pedal feels normal.

 

Step 15: Reinstall the LSD

Push the driver’s side axle cup into the transmission and use a 6mm hex bit socket to tighten the mounting bolt. Prevent the cup from rotating with the same technique used to remove the bolt. Torque the 6mm headed bolt to 33Nm.

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Swing the axle over to the cup and thread in the bolts. Use a 10mm triple square bit socket to tighten the bolts to 70NM.

Next, insert the bell housing bolt that sits next to the LSD unit. Use an 18mm socket to tighten the bolt. Then, slide the LSD unit past the subframe and seat it into position on the transmission. Use a 16mm socket to thread in and tighten the four mounting bolts. 

Then, use a 6mm hex bit socket on a very long extension to install the passenger’s side axle cup mounting bolt. Torque the bolt to 33Nm. 

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Head back into the engine bay and reattach the transmission mount bracket. All six bolts use an 18mm socket and get torqued to 60Nm, plus 90°. Remove the engine support bar when all of the bolts have been torqued. 

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Head back down to the passenger’s side axle and install it into the axle cup. Tighten the bolts with a 10mm triple square bit socket and torque them to 70Nm. 

Place the ball joint studs back into the control arm and thread the nuts on. A dab of blue Loctite won’t hurt either. Torque the nuts to 40Nm, plus 40°. Repeat this process for both sides. 

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Next, place the swaybar endlinks back into the sway bar and tighten the 18mm nuts to 65Nm. Then, finally, clip the oil pan wiring harness back onto the pan, and then plug in the two LSD connections. 

 

Step 16: Install the starter and secure the dog bone

Thread in and tighten the top two 18mm bell housing bolts. 

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Then, reinstall the shift cable bracket and reconnect the shift cables to the selector. Use a 13mm socket to tighten the nut and two bolts for the shift cable bracket. Don’t forget to secure the shift cable with its metal locking tab. 

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Then, slide the charge pipe into position on top of the engine. Slip the open end into the intake and align the upper T30 fastener. 

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Head under the car and install the starter. Secure it to the transmission with the two long 18mm bolts that have the small stud on the head. Slip the bracket onto the bottom stud and then secure it with the 13mm nut. Plug the connections for the starter and reverse light switch in as well.

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Resecure all of the wiring harness clips that were removed when taking out the charge pipe. Then secure the bottom of the charge pipe to the car with the T30 fastener. 

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Slide the rubber elbow onto the charge pipe and the intercooler. Tighten the clamps with a 7mm socket. 

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Before heading back into the engine bay, re-secure the dog bone mount. Thread in the back bolt, and then the front two. The longer of the two 16mm bolts goes in the middle, while the shorter bolt is the front-most. 

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Torque the front two bolts to 50Nm, plus 90° with a 16mm socket, and torque the rear bolt to 100Nm, plus 90° with a 21mm socket.

 

Step 17: Fill the transmission and LSD with fluid

Use either a fluid pump or funnel and hose to fill the transmission and LSD with their fluids. Fill the units with fluid until it starts to run out of the fill plug hole. 

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The transmission will take about 2.5 liters of gear oil, and the LSD unit will take 1 liter of Haldex fluid. Tighten both fill plugs with an 8mm hex bit socket. 

 

Step 18: Reinstall the axle heat shield

Slip the heat shield past the axle and onto the studs on the LSD housing. 

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Use a long wobble extension to install the two aluminum nuts with an 8mm hex bit socket. 

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Step 19: Button up the engine bay

Use an 18mm socket to tighten down the top starter bolt. Then, slide the ground cable onto the stud on the top starter bolt, and tighten the nut that secures the cable with a 13mm socket. Slip the main power mire over the stub on the starter and tighten the nut securing the cable with a 13mm socket. 

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Tighten down the remaining clamp for the charge pipe with a 7mm wrench or socket. Then secure the pipe to the engine via the T30 fastener. 

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Step 20: Reinstall the battery

Seat the battery tray into position and secure it to the car with the 13mm nut and three 13mm bolts. Then place the battery on top. Place the battery clamp onto the battery’s foot and secure the clamp with the 13mm bolt. 

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Place the battery cables onto their respective terminals, and tighten them to the battery with a 10mm socket or wrench. 

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Step 21: Reinstall the intake

Take the intake assembly and place it into position. Seat the intake pipe into the rubber coupler, and then sit the locating pin into the rubber grommet. Then, reattach the vacuum line and the secondary air pipe. Use a 7mm socket to tighten down the intake’s hose clamp. Finally, reinstall the 4mm hex headed bolt for the intake’s heat shield. Place the plastic engine cover back on and shut the hood.

 

Step 22: Refit the wheels and belly pan

Refit the wheel and use a 17mm socket to torque the lug bolts to 120Nm. Then, slide the tabs of the belly pan into the front bumper. Use a T25 on the eight fasteners to secure the belly pan to the car. 

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VW Mk7 Clutch Replacement Torque Specs:

  • VW Flywheel Bolts = 60Nm or 44.3 ft-lbs of torque, plus 90°
  • VW Pressure Plate Bolts = 20Nm or 20.8 ft-lbs of torque
  • VW Throw-out Bearing Bolts = 12Nm or 9 ft-lbs of torque
  • VW Axle Cup Bolts = 33Nm or 24.4 ft-lbs of torque
  • VW Axle Bolts =70Nm or 51.7 ft-lbs of torque
  • VW Transmission Mount and Bracket Bolts = 60Nm, plus 90°
  • VW Ball Joint Nuts = 40Nm or 29.5 ft-lbs of torque, plus 40°
  • VW Swaybar Endlink Nuts = 65Nm or 48 ft-lbs of torque
  • VW Rear Dog Bone Mount Bolt = 100Nm or 74 ft-lbs of torque, plus 90°
  • VW Front Dog Bone Mount Bolts = 50Nm or 37 ft-lbs of torque, plus 90°
  • VW Lug Bolts = 120Nm or 88.5 ft-lbs of torque

With the clutch replaced, you’re ready to be banging gears once again. If you’re interested in more DIYs for your Volkswagen, you can visit vw.fcpeuro.com and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Written by :
Christian Schaefer


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