Driving through water has rendered my clutch inop


Asked by Jul 13, 2008 at 10:10 PM about the 2004 Volkswagen Jetta

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have an 04 Jetta 1.8T 5 speed manual. The other night I received a call from my mother-in-law asking me to take her a shop vac due to havy rains (5 inches in less than 2 hours). I didn't realize until I drove down my street and turned on to the main street that it was an aproximately foot deep river. Mind you I live in a newly developed sub-division no where near a body of water.
The car started to sputter and the belts were slipping. I turned around after only getting a few blocks and drove right back to my garage and there it sat until this morning. I got in the car this morning and it had the parking brake not been on it would have gone through the front wall of my garage. Although the clutch was depressed it did not engage. Just to let you know, the car only has about 35,000 miles on it and has never slipped or given any indication of any trouble whatsoever. Can anyone tell me if driving through water can burn up a clutch? It never slipped while I was driving in the water.

1 Answer


in my experience it's not an issue of the clutch being 'burnt' just that when forging deeper water, even when the car is mechanically sound, the area between the motor and the transmission is usually vented, allowing heat from the clutch to escape and also for moisture to drain out. However i have see these drain holes that are often smaller than a dime, become clogged with debris, thus not letting the water drain out, thus "soaking" the clutch and causing it to slip. It's the same thing as if your brakes sat immersed in water for overnight, they will be very soft and spongy. This could also cause the clutch to wear out a little bit earlier because it essentially is softening the clutch material. I suggest looking underneath, next to the oil pan for some little holes, or a little rubber nipple looking thing, play with it and make sure it's clear. Otherwise just let it dry out. This is natural for clutches. Depending on if it's a mechanical vs. hydraulic clutch it may just need adjustment at it's 35,000 mile tuneup. let it dry, be sure to not ride the thing and it'll last over 150,000 miles. cheers

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