Part #: N107101

Screws - Tin screw w/washer

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Replacing Your Clutch Cable. AIR-TECH

Replacing Your Clutch Cable. AIR-TECH

- Categories : Air Tech Articles , Tech-Tips

Replacing Your Clutch Cable

Why is it your clutch cable always has to break as you come up to a busy intersection? You all know what I'm talking about. In this article I would like to talk you through how to replace one. Now bugs, ghias, type 3 and things are all the same. Buses are different. So let's get to it. 

This is how you go about it on everything but a bus. First thing is to jack up the car and get some jack stands under it. If you’re along the side of the road, use anything you can to block up the car. Don’t crawl under it without some kind of safety in case the jack slips, especially if you're using the stock jack. Find the cable, it's on the drivers side of the transmission. If it's broken at the back, cut the remaining strands if it's not completely broken yet. If the cable looks good then unthread the nut that is on the throw out bearing arm.  On swing axle cars the Bowden tube holder is cast into the transmission side plate. Take one hand and pull down on the Bowden tube in the middle and use your other hand to push it out of the holder. Yes it’s a bitch. Once the Bowden tube and cable is out of the holder on the side plate, pull the Bowden tube off the cable.  On IRS cars bring a 13mm wrench or socket under the car with you and unbolt the holder off the side plate. Lots easier to do than pulling. Once you have it free from the transmission, pull the Bowden tube off the cable. Now crawl out from under the car. The fun part is about to begin. 

Grab a 17mm socket and ratchet and about a 4” extension. Try and get your body between the front drivers seat and the door jam. On early pedals there is a metal tab that holds the brake clevis pin in. Pry up the tab and remove the pin and the rod. On later cars the brake return spring holds the clevis. Take the rod off as you take the pedals off.  There are two 17mm headed bolts that hold the pedals into the tunnel. Remove those two bolts. One you can see, it's towards you between the accelerator pedal pivot and where the brake pedal pivots. The other is harder to see behind the pedals. Once you have those out, you can slant the pedals towards the passenger side and disconnect the accelerator cable. Then pull the pedals out. 

If the clutch cable broke in the back and you are hanging onto the pedals you can usually pull the cable out the hole in the tunnel enough to unhook it. If it broke at the pedal end then you get to go fishing for it. If the eyelet end broke off then just pull the cable from back. If it broke in the back or the eyelet end is still on then you get to pull it out the front. If you are pulling it out the front, have some rags because the cable should be greasy. With pedals out now is a good time to look at the clutch pedal hook. That’s the part that cable is hooked to. Is it worn? Is it no longer a hook? If you answered yes to either of those two questions, you better think about replacing it. 

So just when you thought the hard part was over, we now have to get the new one installed. Take your new cable and crawl back into the car. Before you do I take a can of grease with me and a few towels. With your finger you get to find the tube the cable goes in. You can't see it, you will just have to feel for it. I take my finger and put it even with the end of the cable as to guide it into the hole. Once you have it started then I will put my fingers in the can of grease and start greasing the cable as I push the cable into the tube. You don’t have to do this but it does make the clutch work better and I get longer life out of the cable. Once you have all but about 3 inches sticking out of the hole in the tunnel it's time for the trickiest part. You will want to get the clutch cable eyelet over the hook. I use grease on where the hook is going to wear on the eyelet. Now you need to get the pedals back in without the clutch cable coming off the hook. That is the hardest part. What I do is hold the pedals with my left hand and kinda feed the cable into the hole more with my right hand. Sound like a bitch? It is. 

Once you have the pedals close to the tunnel, hook your accelerator cable back up and then get the pedals all the way in, making sure your brake return spring end is towards the firewall (front of the car).   Do not hook the other end to the brake pedal yet. That is last.  It is very important you do not let the clutch or brake pedal fall towards you, so hold on with your left hand. Get the two bolts started. Once you have them started let the clutch pedal fall towards the firewall. This will ensure the cable eyelet stays on the hook. Tighten the bolts. At this time I'm done up front. 

I want to make sure the cable didn’t come off the hook before I finish in the front. I now crawl back under the car and slide my Bowden tube off the cable. Whatever you do, do not push the clutch cable forward. Hang onto the cable and push the cable into the Bowden tube. Once the cable comes out of the tube, hang on to the threaded parts and slide the Bowden tube down the cable. Make sure the end that is towards the front of the car fits over the metal tube coming out of the tunnel. Now on swing axle cars put the cable into the holder on the side plate. Then like you took it off, bend the tube and get the sleeve end of the Bowden tube into the holder. If you have an IRS car then just bend the tube and bolt the Bowden tube holder back to the side plate. 

Now the moment of truth. Pull the cable towards the arm. That will pull the clutch pedal up in the front. Start your wing nut but don’t worry about adjustment yet. Crawl out from under the car and look at your clutch pedal. Is it standing up? If it is then you're good to keep going. If it is not well you get to take it back apart and try again. If you can't get it then I have seen people using rubber bands, dental floss, etc. to hold the cable to the hook. Let's say you got it, now let's finish in the front.  If you have early pedals then put your brake clevis back in and the pin. Bend your metal tab back down. After that, hook your brake return spring back onto the pedal. If you have late pedals then install the clevis for your brakes and hook your brake return spring back on. That’s it in the front. 

Now crawl back under the car. Start to tighten the nut or wing nut down the cable. This is how I get close to the right adjustment without crawling out ten times. I grab the arm the cable is going through and pull it towards the front. I adjust the nut so I can barely move the arm (like not see it move, but feel it move). You are strong enough to overcome the arm return spring but not to overcome the pressure plate. This should translate into about two inches of free play on the clutch pedal up front. Once you think you have it then let the car down, clean up your mess and you're good to go. 

If you read all I just said on the bug, you’re in for a treat on your bus. It is way way easier to change on a bus. On early buses (split window) the first thing is to jack up the bus if you can't get under it and get some jack stands under it. If you’re alongside the road use anything you can to block up the bus if you don’t fit under with it on the ground. Don’t crawl under it if you’re jacking it up without some kind of safety in case the jack slips, especially if you're using the stock jack. Find the cable. It's on the drivers side of the transmission. If it's broken at the back, cut the remaining strands if it's not completely broken yet. If the cable looks good then unthread the nut that is on the throw out bearing arm. Now on swing axle cars the Bowden tube holder is cast into the transmission side plate. Take one hand and pull down on the Bowden tube in the middle and use your other hand to push it out of the holder. Yes it’s a bitch. Once the Bowden tube and cable is out of the holder on the side plate pull the Bowden tube off the cable.  On bay window buses  bring a 13mm wrench or socket under the car with you and unbolt the holder off the transmission. Lots easier to do than pulling. Once you have it free from the transmission, pull the Bowden tube off the cable. Now crawl out from under the bus.  Go to the front, remove the front pan if you have one. Find the clutch cable. On split window buses  this is easy. It’s all out in the open. You will see a clevis pin that hooks back onto the cable. Unhook it and pull the pin out if you can. Sometimes this is a bitch if it's rusted. I have to cut them off sometimes. Once the cable is free from the arm pull the cable out. On bay window buses you will see where the pedal from inside the car is attached to a lever. Using a couple of 13 mm wrenches take that bolt out. Now you will see a bell shaped piece that holds the clutch lever to the frame. I remove the two bolts using a 13mm again. Now I mark what side of the bell was forward to make it easier when I put it back on. When you have the bolts out then that lever will come off and you will be able to get to the clevis pin on the cable. As before, remove the clevis pin and the cable. Now just pull the cable out. On both early and late buses inspect the hole in the clevis arm. Is it still round? Is it about to break? Is it broken? Yes to any of those questions you should be getting a new arm. 

To install the new cable, start in the front and bring your can of grease. As you push the cable into the metal tube, grease it. Hook the cable to the clevis arm using a new clevis pin. Use grease here. It will last a lot longer if you do. On bay window buses, install your clutch lever back to the frame and hook the pedal back to the lever. Hang onto the cable and push the cable into the Bowden tube. Once the cable comes out of the tube, hang on to the threaded parts and slide the Bowden tube down the cable. Make sure the end that is towards the front of the bus fits over the metal tube coming out of the frame. On split window buses, put the cable into the holder on the side plate. Then, just like you took it off, bend the tube and get the sleeve end of the Bowden tube into the holder. If you have a bay window bus then just bend the tube and bolt the Bowden tube holder back to the transmission. . Start to  tighten the nut or wing nut down the cable. This is how I get close to the right adjustment without crawling out ten times. I grab the arm the cable is going through and pull it towards the front. I adjust the nut so I can barely move the arm. You are strong enough to overcome the arm return spring but not to overcome the pressure plate. This should translate into about two inches of free play on the clutch pedal up front. Once you think you have it then let the car down if you jacked it up,  clean up your mess and you're good to go.

if you're going to own one of these old vws then learn how to do this. Also now that you broke one, it is a good idea that you carry a spare in the car. Those of you with buses, not only should you carry a spare, but buy a new clevis pin at the same time. One last note, I see companies selling different style clutch hooks for the cars that not only have less wear and tear on the cable eyelet, they don’t come off the hook as you put them in the tunnel. Might look in to one of those.

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