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Clutch and Release Bearing Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Clutch and Release Bearing Replacement

Peter Bodensteiner

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$400

Talent:

***

Tools:

6mm Allen socket, ratchet, torque wrench, extension, torque wrench, clutch alignment tool, flathead screwdriver

Applicable Models:

Audi A4 (1997-01)
Audi A4 Quattro (1997-01)

Parts Required:

New clutch, clutch release bearing, new pressure plate-to-flywheel bolts, copper and molybdenum grease

Hot Tip:

If you are going to be increasing your car's power, now's the time to install a performance clutch and perhaps a lighter flywheel.

Performance Gain:

Will help the clutch operate properly, which can save gearbox parts in the long term

Complementary Modification:

Replace clutch slave cylinder

Ok, so replacing the clutch isn't really a one- or two-hour job. You first have to move your transmission out of the way and then put it back, all of which constitutes hours of difficult work. You'll want to refer to our Transmission Removal project for those details. But the fact remains that the actual replacement of the clutch and the clutch release bearing is pretty straightforward. And, once you have moved the transmission out of the way, you actually get a nice open space under the car in which to work.

Because it's such a big job to get that transmission out of the way in the first place, it's best to replace or upgrade whatever you can while you're in there, like the pressure plate and clutch release bearing. This is particularly true if you're planning to tune up your engine for more power in the near future--you will probably need a clutch with more holding power if you're going to be doing much more than "chipping" the ECU. If you're willing to sacrifice some daily drivability for faster acceleration, you might as well swap in a lightened flywheel while you're in there.

A word of advice--set aside a full weekend for a full clutch replacement job, and beyond that, at the very least make sure you have lined up an alternative way to get to work on Monday morning. You're probably going to hit a snag or two, and you don't need to add the stress of losing your sole means of transportation to add to your frustration.

The job of the clutch is to transmit the rotation of the engine to the transmission when it is engaged. Then, when you push the clutch pedal, the clutch mechanism separates the engine from the transmission, usually so that you can change the gear of the transmission. In most circumstances the clutch will need to be replaced because it simply wears out over time and mileage. The friction surface of the clutch disc will wear down and eventually cannot grip the surface of the flywheel well enough to establish the solid connection between engine and transmission that is necessary to transmit power from the engine to the drive train. There are other reasons to replace a clutch or clutch release bearing, but this is the most common scenario.

Here's the view you'll be faced with once you remove your transmission, complete with a clutch hose dangling in your face.
Figure 1

Here's the view you'll be faced with once you remove your transmission, complete with a clutch hose dangling in your face. Your next step is to remove the clutch's pressure plate from the flywheel. It is held on by 6 Allen-head bolts, indicated by the red arrows.

Use a 6mm Allen socket to remove these bolts.
Figure 2

Use a 6mm Allen socket to remove these bolts. Whichever bolt you remove first, skip to the bolt on the opposite side of the pressure plate next, and then keep criss-crossing as you remove each bolt.

Here's one of the bolts.
Figure 3

Here's one of the bolts. For such a critical fastener, these are surprisingly easy to strip, so it isn't a bad idea to have a few new ones on hand just in case.

Once you've removed the pressure plate bolts, the plate itself may still need a little persuasion with a screwdriver before it can be freed.
Figure 4

Once you've removed the pressure plate bolts, the plate itself may still need a little persuasion with a screwdriver before it can be freed. The flywheel has three dowels that locate the pressure plate (two are indicated by the blue arrows). As you remove the pressure plate, be ready to catch the clutch disc behind it, as there is nothing holding it in.

As you remove the pressure plate, put your finger into the central hole to secure the clutch disc as you lean the whole clutch apparatus away from the flywheel.
Figure 5

As you remove the pressure plate, put your finger into the central hole to secure the clutch disc as you lean the whole clutch apparatus away from the flywheel. You can just see the tip of my finger holding the center of the clutch disc (red arrow). The disc itself is not very heavy (though the pressure plate is), so you needn't worry about injuring your fingertip when the weight of the disc rests on it.

Here's a good look at the face of the flywheel after the removal of the clutch.
Figure 6

Here's a good look at the face of the flywheel after the removal of the clutch. The red circles indicate the placement of the pressure plate bolts, while the blue circles indicate the pressure plate locating dowels. The light green circle surrounds the six flywheel bolts, which connect the flywheel to the end of the engine crankshaft. These 12-point bolts would need to be removed if you were servicing or replacing the flywheel. In the very center is the pilot bearing.

The new clutch disc and pressure plate are on the left, the old on the right.
Figure 7

The new clutch disc and pressure plate are on the left, the old on the right.

Another comparison shot of new (left) and old pressure plates and clutch discs.
Figure 8

Another comparison shot of new (left) and old pressure plates and clutch discs. Note the difference in thickness between the two clutch discs, revealing the amount of wear to the friction material of the disc. The old disc isn't too far gone; in the real world, if you're replacing a worn-out clutch it will likely be in worse shape than this one.

The fingers of the pressure plate see a good amount of wear over time; this is where the clutch release bearing presses against the pressure plate when the driver disengages the clutch.
Figure 9

The fingers of the pressure plate see a good amount of wear over time; this is where the clutch release bearing presses against the pressure plate when the driver disengages the clutch.

A little brake cleaner removes any loose friction material or debris from the surface of the flywheel.
Figure 10

A little brake cleaner removes any loose friction material or debris from the surface of the flywheel. If this surface is scorched, grooved, or otherwise suspect, you should remove the flywheel for resurfacing or replacement.

You'll need a clutch disc centering tool to properly position the disc as you bolt the new pressure plate to the flywheel.
Figure 11

You'll need a clutch disc centering tool to properly position the disc as you bolt the new pressure plate to the flywheel. Such tools are not expensive.

A plastic clutch centering tool, specific to your car and clutch, is available and comes with most clutch kits.
Figure 12

A plastic clutch centering tool, specific to your car and clutch, is available and comes with most clutch kits. Check with your kit to see if it is included and if not make sure to include one when ordering. It has the benefit of being sized for your pilot bearing at the end, and sized and splined to fit the center of the clutch disc in the middle.

One side of the clutch disc will be marked Getriebeseite, in some fashion (see the blue arrow).
Figure 13

One side of the clutch disc will be marked "Getriebeseite," in some fashion (see the blue arrow). This word may instead be stamped into the metal. which translates to "facing the transmission." As you would guess, this side of the disc should face the transmission when you install it. Here you can see how the teeth on the "official" clutch centering tool fit into the splined center of the clutch disc.

Using the clutch disc centering tool, put the disc in place.
Figure 14

Using the clutch disc centering tool, put the disc in place. The tool should hold the disc in a position centered to the flywheel as you install the pressure plate.

Position the new pressure plate so that the three locating dowels on the flywheel line up with the corresponding holes in the pressure plate.
Figure 15

Position the new pressure plate so that the three locating dowels on the flywheel line up with the corresponding holes in the pressure plate.

As you install the pressure plate, it's easy to get it cocked a bit sideways if you tighten a single bolt too far.
Figure 16

As you install the pressure plate, it's easy to get it cocked a bit sideways if you tighten a single bolt too far. It's best to get each bolt in a few turns and then work the bolts in gradually in a criss-cross pattern. A reminder that these are 6mm Allen-head bolts.

Another reason to tighten the pressure plate down gradually is that it gives you the opportunity to adjust the clutch disc to make sure it's centered.
Figure 17

Another reason to tighten the pressure plate down gradually is that it gives you the opportunity to adjust the clutch disc to make sure it's centered. At a certain point during the tightening process, the disc will be secured and it will no longer move. At that point you can remove the centering tool.

The clutch and pressure plate are now centered.
Figure 18

The clutch and pressure plate are now centered. This will ensure that the shaft of the transmission can engage both the clutch disc and mate with the center of the flywheel when we reinstall it.

Final-tighten the six pressure plate bolts to 18 ft-lbs , again working in a criss-cross pattern.
Figure 19

Final-tighten the six pressure plate bolts to 18 ft-lbs , again working in a criss-cross pattern.

Let's turn to the transmission side of this operation.
Figure 20

Let's turn to the transmission side of this operation. We need to install a new clutch release (a.k.a. throw out) bearing and give a few friction points a new coat of grease. The long metal "fork" rests on a pivot ball (red arrow), to which it is held on by a metal clip. It holds the clutch release bearing in its center (purple arrow). The clutch slave cylinder pushes on the fork at the top (blue arrow), which slides the release bearing up against the fingers of the clutch pressure plate.

Removing the clutch release fork, or lever, is as easy as removing the metal clip holding it to the pivot ball at the lower left.
Figure 21

Removing the clutch release fork, or lever, is as easy as removing the metal clip holding it to the pivot ball at the lower left. Push the top of the metal clip through that oval hole.

Then simply lift the lever and release bearing off of the transmission shaft.
Figure 22

Then simply lift the lever and release bearing off of the transmission shaft.

Two small plastic clips secure the clutch release bearing apparatus to the clutch lever.
Figure 23

Two small plastic clips secure the clutch release bearing apparatus to the clutch lever. Push in on the clips to remove it. Next to the lever, you can see the portion of the old clutch release bearing that faced the pressure plate fingers, which had broken off and was loose in our car.

Look at the old clutch release bearing on the left, versus the new one on the right.
Figure 24

Look at the old clutch release bearing on the left, versus the new one on the right. The big difference is the amount of wear visible on the now-concave surface that touches the pressure plate fingers (red arrow).

This should give you a better idea of the way the parts work together.
Figure 25

This should give you a better idea of the way the parts work together. The release bearing presses against the pressure plate fingers (imagine that my hand is the clutch fork pushing the release bearing hard against the pressure plate).

The new release bearing clips right into place.
Figure 26

The new release bearing clips right into place.

The manual calls for copper grease in the divot where the clutch slave cylinder pushes on the clutch fork.
Figure 27

The manual calls for copper grease in the divot where the clutch slave cylinder pushes on the clutch fork.

My local auto parts store looked at me like I was crazy asking for copper grease for some reason, but Pelican Parts has it in stock.
Figure 28

My local auto parts store looked at me like I was crazy asking for copper grease for some reason, but Pelican Parts has it in stock.

Place some molybdenum grease on the pivot ball inside the transmission bell housing.
Figure 29

Place some molybdenum grease on the pivot ball inside the transmission bell housing.

Grease up the fork itself and snap the metal clip (red arrow) back in place.
Figure 30

Grease up the fork itself and snap the metal clip (red arrow) back in place.

Reinstall the clutch fork, with the metal clip and clutch release bearing in place.
Figure 31

Reinstall the clutch fork, with the metal clip and clutch release bearing in place.

Push the bottom of the clutch fork onto the pivot ball until it snaps positively into place.
Figure 32

Push the bottom of the clutch fork onto the pivot ball until it snaps positively into place.

The last thing you need to before reinstalling the transmission is to grease up the splines of the transmission input shaft.
Figure 33

The last thing you need to before reinstalling the transmission is to grease up the splines of the transmission input shaft. Use the small packet of grease that was provided with your new clutch. You don't need much.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Matt Comments: Is replacing the release bearing sleeve guide tubeon the transmission input shaft vital or recommended when doing this job for an A4 B5 quattro with high miles? Would there be obvious signs it was in need of replacement or is it simply worth the extra expense to do the preventative replacement if you are dropping the trani to replace the throw out bearing?
Would it also be a good idea to replace the stock clutch slave before putting everything back together?
February 22, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: iT'S NECESSARY if the parts are worn and smart if they are not worn. As you won't want to go back in there.

Replacing the slave is also a good idea. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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