VW T5 clutch and DMF problems spoil Ian's holiday

VW Heritage blog editor Ian Cushway’s early T5 Transporter puts a dampener on his holiday with an untimely transmission problem…

It’s easy to put things off and stupidly I’d ignored all the symptoms; I had noticed that the clutch was beginning to slip on long inclines and a worrying death rattle from the bellhousing when allowing the engine to labour provided a clue that the Dual Mass Flywheel (DMF) was on its way out too. In my defence, I had purchased the necessary replacement parts, but alas didn’t get round to having them fitted. Sound familiar anyone?


Worst of all, we were about to embark on a 850km drive from our home in Brittany to the Pyrenees for our annual holiday. Family breaks can be stressful at the best of times, but it doesn’t get any more nerve racking than when you’ve got five kids on board, a rapidly deteriorating clutch and hours of motorway driving ahead of you. Needless to say, by the time we had got halfway down, the clutch had all but fallen to pieces – leaving me to anxiously nurse the 2004 bus all the way to the mountains. Miraculously, it made it but not before stalling on the outskirts of the town where we were staying which meant having to order the older kids out to push it to safety. Not a good start to a holiday!

starter 2upproducts

Instead of spending the first few days chilling in the sun and enjoying the scenary, I was busy knocking on workshop doors trying to find a garage that could do the work before having to drive home again. There’s a self-adjusting clutch on the T5, and while the most skilled mechanics can mount the clutch plate without a problem, it’s wise to use a special installation tool to prevent the risk of activating the self-adjusting mechanism.


The fact that I had predicted trouble and taken the new parts with me was a bonus, of course and eventually, after countless Gallic shrugs, I got lucky and found a workshop with a gap in their diary and the right tool. A few days later it was ready for collection. It turned out that I needed a replacement starter motor too, as the teeth had stripped while trying to restart the car when the clutch had mangled. Replacing the DMF is not really a DIY job, and our Technical Specialist Benjamin Parsons says he usually allows 4-6 hours depending on engine type.


It’s always advisable to fit a new DMF at the same time as a clutch as friction matarial debris can damage it, and in any case having covered over 300,00km (190,000 miles) mine was well overdue for replacement. Driving style and letting the car linger in the wrong gear can cause premature DMF failure. As Benjamin Parsons puts it: “Someone who uses the clutch pedal as a footrest will probably require a replacement in half the time as someone who doesn’t.” Alas, in my case it was just old age – and the fact that some of the damping springs had broken (above) indicated that its efficiency had obviously diminished. I have to say, with the new clutch, DMF and fresh gearbox oil the T5 has been transformed. It’s just so much smoother, and switching cogs in that six-speed ‘box is an absolute joy again. I just wish I’d done the job sooner!


The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage.

3 responses to: VW T5 clutch and DMF problems spoil Ian's holiday

  1. Hi, Thanks for the story. I’ve had a problem which I thought was clutch etc, it started 5 years ago but by the time I take it to be looked at it seemed to be ok (numerous occasions). It sounds like a wining noise (like something slipping) and when I back the revs off it goes, sometimes I get a rubbery burning smell – garages end up telling me they can find nothing wrong and it doesn’t look like any of the drive belts are slipping. I just wondered if you had and ideas.
    Many thanks

  2. Sounds familiar, check all your fluids, especially power steering fluid, I had a bit of a whine in mine untill the power steering pump crapped itself and fell out, got a new one in and no whine. Now all I have to do is take care of the dmf before it gets any ideas.

  3. Hi just wondering if anyone can help. I have a 2013 t5 t28 the fly wheel was knocking so decied to change the full cluch kit.
    So put in all new fly wheel and cluch kit and took out for test drive and its now sliping . Anyone ever have this problem thanks for any info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *