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Discussion Starter #1
I bought a second hand (2016) Up a few weeks ago under the DasWelt programme. I've mainly driven automatics in the last few years, and last had a manual that had terrible clutch problems, so I'm a bit paranoid about the clutch.

The Up drives well, although the ride is generally bumpier than I'd expected, and I feel most of the bumps on the road. But it's particularly jerky/rumbly/jolty when moving off from stationary, with the car shaking during the gear change. It does the same, but less, from second to third, but is fine for other changes. Reverse sometimes grinds when I go into it, but I understand that's normal for these cars.

Is it normal for the car to rumble/shake during regular low-gear changes? From the below, does it sound like I have any clutch issues?

  • I can avoid the jerking by doing a very deliberate, slow change, and can then take off smoothly. I've driven lots of manuals without needing to do this, but is the Up just sensitive?
  • The biting point is pretty much in the mid point.
  • I've tried taking off in first with the handbrake on tight. The car stalls quickly. (A good sign).
  • I've tried driving off normally but in third. The car doesn't stall in this situation, but instead rumbles and then drives off. (A bad sign?)
  • There's a low-level, very quiet rumble/turning over sound which goes away when the clutch is depressed.
  • I haven't had any other signs of clutch issues, e.g. over-revving without acceleration.
 

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VW had a real problem with clutches on the earlier cars. My 15 plate 75bhp High Up suffered it at 4000 miles. When I took it in, the Service Manager said "What we usually do with these is fit a complete new clutch." I remember he told me they fitted a slightly bigger diameter one from a Polo ?
VW UK authorised the replacement without question.
I was experiencing the "impossible to select first and reverse gear from cold" syndrome.
When they changed it, sure enough there were broken fingers on the clutch cover diaphragm spring. Once replaced, I took the car to 28000 miles with no other problems.
The rumble you refer to when cold idling, that disappears when you depress the clutch is the idler gear chatter. (See my early posts on the subject), and is typical of most series 1 cars, whatever the engine.
 
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Thanks 911. Is your new clutch very smooth, or is your current experience similar to my situation? I struggle to know what's specific to a small, uninsulated three-cylinder and what's a problem.

It's reassuring to hear that VW were relaxed about changing your clutch. I don't know how much of a struggle it's going to be to get them to fix it (if needed) under the DasWelt programme of course. But it'd be pretty bad to get a "new" car with a duff clutch!
 

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Hi @yammer09,
Mine's a 15-plate, bought second-hand at 4 years old with Das Welt. After last winter I can confirm it is showing intermittent signs of refusing to go into reverse in the cold, but otherwise the clutch appears to be behaving. There is definitely a gentle background rumble, which from other posts is common to these cars. I quickly found I had to adapt my gear changing style from other cars I've driven. You do need to take off comparatively gently, and change up earlier than you might think, round about the 2000 rpm mark; that made a huge difference to low-gear jerking. Mine is also astonishingly hard to stall (I believe the last time was attempting to start in third, having stopped at a red light and forgotten to change gear). As far as I know it is the original clutch, and I'm the second driver, but this advice is common to all small-engined cars.
 
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I don't have the car now, but the new clutch was as smooth as silk. (the original one was too, just couldn't get first or reverse when the engine was cold). It remained like that until I sold it at 3 years old & 28000 miles.
There's definitely an issue with yours, that needs sorting under warranty.
Thanks 911. Is your new clutch very smooth, or is your current experience similar to my situation? I struggle to know what's specific to a small, uninsulated three-cylinder and what's a problem.

It's reassuring to hear that VW were relaxed about changing your clutch. I don't know how much of a struggle it's going to be to get them to fix it (if needed) under the DasWelt programme of course. But it'd be pretty bad to get a "new" car with a duff clutch!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks @911ts3 . So perhaps an actual problem and not just my expectations. And it can still be a problem if the car is capable of moving off without judder (when I do the change slow and steady)? Are there any more tests I can do?

@plancast - interesting to hear that yours has some low gear jerking. Do you feel there's a problem with your clutch? And did you have any experience of getting them to fix stuff under DasWelt? I'd really hoped to avoid any issues with paying the premium for Manufacturer Approved...
 

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You should be able to pull away without thinking about what you're doing. If you have to think about it, to pull away withoiut jerking, then it's either the clutch, or soft engine / gearbox mountings, and needs sorting out under Das Welt (provided it's still under that warranty).
Take it back ..........
 
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Hi again,
A bit of advice on signs the clutch is failing here (other sources available, of course):

In my case, at least some of the problem was going from driving intermittently in rental cars (so something completely different every time I drove) to owning a car and commuting (using the same car every time I drove). Even in the compact rental classes, I tended to drive bigger cars than this; it's only after taking advanced driving lessons that I've learnt small-engined cars need to be handled a little differently (although I've never had issues with mine when pulling away - it's always been getting out of 1st into 2nd, and sometimes then up to 3rd). Made gear changes faster, smoother and more controlled all around (also turns out to be the most eco-friendly option). Before those lessons, I was doing much as you describe to avoid the jerking, probably wearing the clutch more than needed and certainly taking way longer than needed to get into the next gear. So, while there definitely is an issue with the clutch - the refusal to go into reverse, especially when it's cold - in my case I think the human was the bigger problem (and the reverse issue never got bad enough for me to take it in).
I think from what you're describing the 'rumbling' is the engine revs dropping too low - that's what mine does when it's about to stall (the whole car shakes). I had it a lot when changing low gears in the first few months of ownership, before I had reliable control over matching the engine revs to the new gear. It's a little hard to diagnose without watching you, but it's always a good idea to take it back to your dealer (or another, if you'd prefer a semi-independent inspection) so that it's in their system for future reference. They seem to be opening up again now for non-essential workers. Mine was in several times under warranty due to another issue; while all visits were covered by the Das Welt, every single time I went in I felt like I had to fight for it. I think the politest thing to say there is that I prefer independents, and now that it's off warranty, either I will be doing the work or it will be going round the corner to my 'local' instead.
 

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VW had a real problem with clutches on the earlier cars. My 15 plate 75bhp High Up suffered it at 4000 miles. When I took it in, the Service Manager said "What we usually do with these is fit a complete new clutch." I remember he told me they fitted a slightly bigger diameter one from a Polo ?
VW UK authorised the replacement without question.
I was experiencing the "impossible to select first and reverse gear from cold" syndrome.
When they changed it, sure enough there were broken fingers on the clutch cover diaphragm spring. Once replaced, I took the car to 28000 miles with no other problems.
I just had the clutch replaced on my 13 plate, and it’s resolved the cold gear selection issues I was having, and I can now smoothly take off and shift gears. I thought I just wasn’t used to the clutch, but it turns out the stock one was faulty.
 

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I'm not sure where to post this but its a clutch-drag issue and difficulty with 1st and reverse gears so I hope it fits here. My 13 plate Up had said problems and I found the forum helpful in knowing I wasn't alone and homing in on the root cause, I think. I spent a long time trying to make sure that I had successfully bled the hydraulics for clutch and then, as slave was squeaky, I took a chance and changed it. Did not solve problem. I then decided to change the clutch which I did myself (30 years after the last clutch I did). Suffice it to say that on that score I learned a lot and only broke one thing, the plastic gear cable pivot arm - all my fault. Anyway, the net result is very pleasing - a silky smooth change in all gears incl 1st and reverse. I inspected the outgoing clutch, pressure plate assembly, and thrust bearing and found no one big issue but I suspect a number of contributory elements of wear incl a groove on the thrust bearing face, 50% (my guess) friction material wear (37k miles, by ANO owner) and I note that the original clutch was 180mm diameter and the new one is 200mm. I still have the bits in case anyone is interested in any info on them. I hope this posting is useful and thanks to the forum - its been a great find for me.
 

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It had obviously had the common clutch issue that may early Up's had early on in life.
My 15 plate 75bhp High Up had to have a new clutch at 6 months old & 4000 miles because of the impossibility to get first and reverse when cold.
That too was changed to a 200mm Polo clutch. All done under warranty with no quibbles, and the dealer said they'd "changed a lot " of clutches at very low mileage. Mine had two clutch diaphragm spring fingers broken. Kept the car to 3 years and 27500 miles and it was perfect thereafter.
 
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