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Audi A4 B5 Generation – 2.8L V6 Clutch Replacement

Applies To:

1996 – 2001 Audi A4 2.8L V6

Vehicle In This Guide:

1998 Audi A4 2.8L V6 / 5 speed manual / 94,000 miles


After doing the timing belt, valve cover gaskets, and couple of other small repairs it is time to tackle the last big thing; the clutch. Along with the clutch I will be replacing the rear main seal (also called the rear crankshaft seal) and the input shaft seal on the transmission. Although this guide is specifically made for the 2.8L engine, a lot of the information can be applied to the whole Audi A4 B5 generation (1994-2001).

Update – 11/22/2011: The Audi now has a little over 126,000 miles;on it and the resurfaced flywheel is holding up well. No slipping so far.

Update – 04/15/2013: Last year my Audi A4 was involved in an accident and had to be junked as a result. Wish I could have kept it longer as I wanted to see how many miles I could get out of the resurfaced flywheel. The car had around 132,000 miles when it was junked.

Required Parts & Tools:

  1. Torx set, Hex set, and a triple square socket set.
  2. A couple of long socket extensions and some swivels. Also find some kind of bar for leverage.
  3. Sachs (or any other) clutch kit. Should come with release bearing, pilot bearing, clutch disk, and pressure plate.
  4. Optional: New flywheel.
audi a4 clutch removal tools

Preparation And Disconnecting The Driveshaft

1. Put the car on jacks. I would not use anything smaller than 6 ton because they provide not only the correct support but also plenty of height. audi a4 manual

2. Remove the exhaust by following the Audi A4 Exhaust Removal Guide.

3. Remove the exhaust heat shield ( if there is one). The shield covers the drive-shaft and is secured with 4 small bolts.

The drive shaft must be disconnected from the transmission and moved out of the way. Because of the two-piece design and the rubber center bearing, it is crucial that the drive-shaft is aligned properly during re-installation. If you have to completely remove the drive-shaft, make several marks so that you will be able to reinstall it correctly.

audi a4 drive shaft

4. Remove the bolts from the front of the drive-shaft. These are allen bolts. Apply e-brake to keep the drive shaft still. If you are only moving the shaft out of the way, then remove the shield from the transmission and slide the drive shaft out of the way. audi a4 driveshaft transmission side

I removed the bolts from the rear of the drive-shaft. audi a4 rear driveshaft bolts

And finally removed the center drive-shaft support bolts. Once those are removed, the drive shaft could be taken out of the car. audi a4 center drive shaft support

5. Remove the front axle shields. Start with the driver side. Use the 2′ extension and a swivel to reach the shield bolts. These are allen bolts, again. Might have to play around with different extensions to reach these. audi a4 drive axle shield

6. Do the same thing on the passenger side. I couldn’t access the passenger side top shield bolt with the extensions. Instead I got it by feeding a wrench from the bottom. Tricky.

7. Disconnect all the electrical connectors. The nice thing about the 5 speed is that there are only three. All of them are on the driver side of the transmission.

audi a4 transmission connectors

Removing The Slave Cylinder And The Transmission Bolts

8. Remove the slave cylinder. audi a4 slave cylinder

Extension to the rescue. Use a swivel to reach the allen bolt. audi a4 slave cylinder removal

Once the bolt is out, slide the slave cylinder out. Little room to work with, so be patient. audi a4 slave cylinder

Next step is to remove all of the transmission to engine bolts. There are a total of 9 bolts and the diagram below will show their locations. This is looking from the rear of the transmission. audi a4 transmission bolt locations

9. Start by removing bolts 1, 2, and 3. Shot of the passenger side. audi a4 transmission

You can try and use a wrench to remove the 16mm bolts from the transmission but I find that there is an easier way. Connect two 2′ extensions, a swivel and reach from behind the transmission. Play around with the position because there is stuff that will get in the way. Maybe easier if you disconnected the shifter rods first. If you need more room, remove the transmission mounts and tilt the trans+engine down. audi a4 how to reach trans bolt 1

Finally reach in with your hand and put the socket on. This is a shot of the passenger side. FYI, these bolts were on tight. There is some kind of hose in the way so space is limited, but it is possible to remove the top bolts using this method. audi a4 how to reach bolt 2

10. Continuing down the passenger side of the transmission. Remove 4 and 5. Fairly easy to get out. You may have to use a 16mm open ended wrench to reach #5. You do not have to remove the starter. audi a4 starter bolts

11. Drivers side of the transmission. Remove 8 and 9. Pretty straight forward. audi a4 transmission bolts

12. Remove 6 and 7. audi a4 bolts

Here are all of the bolts. Some of them are different. audi a4 bolts

Disconnecting Shifter Rods And Dropping The Transmission

13. Disconnect the the shifter rods.

  1. 10mm bolt. When you remove this you will probably find that you cannot slide the joint off of the rod. What you have to do is twist it back and forth while pulling. It will come out.
  2. 8mm allen bolt. Little room to work with but can be done.
audi a4 shift rod

14. Remove the bolts from the front axles (at the transmission side) by using a 8mm triple square bit. A nice tip that I got from someone else is to tap the bits with a hammer to make sure that it is all the way in. Follow up by disconnecting the axles from the transmission. In my case, once all of the bolts were out the axles would not disconnect. I took a big hammer and hit it a couple times and it broke free. Set the axles on top of the transmission mounts. audi a4 axle disconnect

15. Final step is to remove the transmission mounts. Place the jack under the transmission and remove the 3 bolts holding each mount in place. The metal brackets can stay attached to the transmission. audi a4 transmission mount

16. Double check that everything has been removed and get ready for the scary part. Slide the transmission back so that the input shaft clears the pressure plate and then drop it down. Transmission jack is a nice tool to have but you can still do it with a regular jack. audi a4 dropping the transmission

Shot of the pressure plate audi a4 old pressure plate

Shot of the flywheel. audi a4 worn flywheel

Stock clutch is toast. At the time of this repair, the car had roughly 94,000 miles. audi a4 stock worn clutch

There is a big debate on whether to resurface and reuse the original flywheel or buy a new flywheel. While I chose to have mine resurfaced I still recommend that you buy a new flywheel. When you resurface the flywheel you run the risk of throwing it off balance. The springs in the flywheel wear out as well and require a flywheel replacement as well. Spend a little more now and save yourself the headache of doing everything over again later. At this point I wanted to replace the rear main seal and the input shaft seal. Click on the respective links to read those guides or continue to the next page to see the clutch installation instructions.

Audi A4 Rear Main Seal Replacement

Audi A4 Input Shaft Replacement

Installing The Clutch And The Transmission

1. Install the flywheel. Use new bolts and tighten to 40 lb-ft + 180 degrees. Tighten the bolts in stages and using a star pattern. I tightened all 8 to 40 lb-ft followed by 90 degrees for all of them and finishing off with another 90 degrees for all 8. Mark the bolts so you don’t accidentally over torque them. To prevent the flywheel from turning, find a suitable open ended wrench. Wedge it against one of the guide dowels and have a helper hold it in place as you tighten the flywheel. This method is strange, but it’s free and it works. A better method is to buy the Audi 3242 Crankshaft Lock Tool and use that to keep the flywheel from moving. audi a4 new flywheel install

2. Use the clutch alignment tool to align the clutch disc and then install the pressure plate. Use new pressure plate bolts and tighten to 18 lb-ft audi a4 sachs clutch

3. Next step is to install the transmission. Just take it slow and make sure that the shift rods and slave cylinder do not get pinched by the transmission. You will want to have a second person helping you guide the transmission in. audi a4 transmission install

4. Tighten the transmission bolts using the torque specs below. audi a4 transmission torque

5. Install the transmission mounts and tighten the bolts to the following specs. audi a4 transmission mounts

6. Install the slave cylinder and tighten the bolt to 15 lb-ft. I had a lot of trouble with this step. You won’t be able to slide the cylinder back in with your hand. Find a screw driver and bend it a little. Feed it into the mounting hole and use it as leverage to slide the cylinder back in. Slightly rotate the the cylinder back and forth as you feed it farther inside the transmission. Once it’s all the way in you will see that there is a little indentation on the transmission where you can rest the cylinder without it popping out. Hold the slave cylinder in place with your hand while installing the bolt. audi a4 slave cylinder install

7. Connect all the electrical sensors. The engine speed sensor needs to be tightened to 7 lb-ft.

8. Install the drive axles and tighten all the bolts to 30 lb-ft.

9. Install the shift rods. Tighten the shift rod to 17 lb-ft and the pivot rod (the 8mm allen bolt) to 30 lb-ft. Yeah, good luck getting a torque wrench in there :).

10. Install the drive-shaft. Tighten the front and rear bolts to 41 lb-ft and the center support to 17 lb-ft.

11. Install heat shields over the drive axles. Tighten to 17 lb-ft.

12. Install exhaust. Tighten the exhaust pipe to manifold bolts to 18 lb-ft. The exhaust bracket bolts should also be torqued to 18 lb-ft.

13. Cross your fingers and start the engine.

Related Articles
    • probably bent the shift rod or the thing he said not to bend and be careful with when putting the transmission back in. if so ive seen a post where a guy made that mistake so he just bent them back and it worked for him. just be sure to look into more before attemting

    • What do you mean by, “no gears worked”? Were you able to put the shifter into the gears but the car did not move? You may have installed the clutch backwards. I’ve seen it happen. When you installed the clutch did you properly tighten down the pressure plate all the way and was the clutch disc secured tightly between the flywheel and the pressure plate? Without more details it could be anything – wrong parts, bent shift rod, backwards clutch, slave and/or master cylinder may need bleeding, etc…

  • Thanks for the great write-up. It was very helpful on our ’96 A4 Quattro. The only thing i did differently was how i installed the slave cylinder. I found another write-up that recommended to grease up the the rubber boot while avoiding the end of the piston. This allowed me to seat the slave cylinder by hand without using a bent screw driver. this was much easier. I had the slave cylinder in under 5 minutes.

  • I cleaned the hole with wirebrush when gearbox was off, then lubricated slave cylinder with non-silicon “rubber care”lubricant, it took couple of minuts to install.

  • I recently did this job and this guide was quite helpful. On my early 99 quattro, there were a few differences.

    1. Needed to remove the precat o2 sensors. I couldn’t squeeze the pipes between the frame and mount with the sensors on. Borrowed the 22mm tool from autozone and used a 2′ extension from the top.

    2. Was able to get the top transmission bolts with a 3/8 drive 6 point socket and an adapter to 1/2 drive ratchet. Was not able to get them with the multiple long extension method. Too much stuff in the way made it hard to properly engage the socket and the long extensions gave too much play.

    3. Bolt 6 requires 16mm offset wrench.

    4. Wasn’t able to get the 8mm hex on the shifter linkage. Was off by millimeters with my hex tool. Probably could have hunted down a smaller tool. Instead i loosened it from the inside, moved the transmission back a tad, and was then able to access the bolt.

  • Thanks i had a buddie put my clutch in, i gave him the link to this tutorial it worked great! also i didnt get a new flywheel i had it turned at a local machine shop and i have had no problems with it, just a tip if you want to save like 400 bucks on a new one… not saying it will work for all flywheels i had it checked with a depth gage and mine wasnt that bad so i had it turned id suggest doing your research on the tolerances of your specific flywheel before having it turned, i paid 60 bucks and it worked great, so this tip might save u 340 bucks or so, like i said do your research first! i dont want any one to screw up their car lol 🙂 thanks again!!! Great tutorial

  • great write up! i was wondering when/if i should change my flywheel, my car is about to hit 175 i think I’ve been getting the throw out bearing squeal sound so im gonna do a clutch kit job just wanted your input

  • Accelerator was kinda stuck initially. Pushed a bit harder and it completely loosened and engine revved up to red line. Now every time i start it the engine insta red lines to like 7k rpms. Wtf did i do wrong, help pls?

    • I can’t see how anything with this job would affect the accelerator. If yours is a 97-99.5 1.8T it’s an AEB meaning a drive-by-cable. Maybe when you reconnected all those electrical connections in the engine bay something snagged the cable? You should see a physical cable connected to your accelerator pedal that is controlling throttle input into the engine… follow that to see what is making it stick.

      Other A4’s were drive-by-wire, meaning an electrical signal is sent from the accelerator pedal to the computer, which is then sent as electrical signals to the engine. If you have disconnected the battery then you need to run through a procedure to have the ECU relearn the accelerator position to throttle mappings. Just google for the procedure.

      My assumption is you have an AEB engine since you mention the pedal was physically stuck.

      Good luck!

      • Thanks for the ideas jimmy.

        I was able to figure it out the next day after some rest. When torching the o2 sensor, i think i let the flame get a bit out of control and it melted the plastic housing the accelerator cable slides in causing the cable to hang up. I simply cut away the damaged material and everything works properly.

  • ((((Clutch/Tran smission)))((( PROBLEM—MYSTERY))))))
    I have just purchased a*** 2001 Audi/A6, 2.7-T, V-6, Twin Turbo, Quattro:***
    Symptoms: Turn motor over and engage the clutch, put in gear, disengage clutch, and NOTHING happens…IN FACT…You can take the Gear Shifter, while engine is running, foot completely off clutch…And go “Shift Crazy”…litera lly… AGAIN…NOTHING HAPPENS….I am BAFFLED…Pleas e somebody HELP/SOS…any and all input greatly appreciated, MUCH!!!!!!! (OR) IF you could even point me in the right direction , Thank you.

    • Same exact problem here, we bleed it, pulled our the slave cylinder and all that is fine, about the bring down tbe tranny to access the clutch plate and clutch release bearing. We’ll see how that goes but should be easier thx to this article…. I hope…

  • I followed this and also took the flywheel and had it resurfaced, put everything back together. The clutch and trans. work fine but my engine now chokes up at 1800 rpm, could I have messed up the timing when I reinstalled the flywheel, it would only bolt up one way.

  • This was awesome !!best tutorial I’ve read which will save me a ton of time replacing these parts. Your post is the only one that I found on the internet that showed direct pictures and what to do. All the others was just lousy no pictures, no explanation step by step, no videos at all of a manual transmission or replacing the rear main seal. GREAT LITERATURE keep it up.

  • Have a 2003 A4 1.8 liter quattro. I’d appreciate the required tools and technique applicable to the replacement of the entire clutch assembly.

  • There are actually 10 bolts on my 98 A4. Took the 9 out and there was one more at the bottom. Just a heads up. Just got mine out, great write up.

  • This was and is the best write up on this “pain in ass” procedure. Especially when your DIY is done in your driveway with the car up on jack stands. I saw one video where the gent drops the sub-frame and slides the tranny out that way. Much easier but not doable on the ground. He of course had a full lift and transmission jack which would make a world of difference. The three bottom bolts are inaccessible due to the subframe and a real pain in the ass to remove or install. I saw many comments that were quite hilarious on these bolts. And I needed a good laugh at this point in the process. I am going to NOT put those little bastards in and hope for the best. (The German designer for this transmission needs to be beaten with a stick or worse or tasered into submission.)

    One thing I suggest (that we failed to do when we pulled the transmission) is to label the transmission bolts as you remove them. Follow the guides that I found on this link:

    Scroll down to see the diagram that shows bolt placement and length of the bolts. Label the bolts to match the numbers on the diagram and it will save time on installation.

  • Oh boy what a nightmare this job was. Did this on a 2001 A6, 2.4 V6, 5speed, quattro. Everything that could go wrong did. Now some of the things i did differently:
    1)On the C5 the bottom bellhousing bolts are accessible with a standard 16mm wrench, however the upper driverside bolt hits one of the coolant lines, so the hose has to be brutally bent to get the bolt out. Didnt put that bolt back. F whoever designed that.
    2)Couldnt get the RMS flange to seal. Twice. Ended up putting a light coat of RTV silicone on both sides of the gasket, that did the trick.
    3)Was going to change the guide sleeve too, but the torx bolts holding it in are made out of butter, stripped them and just gave up. Use airtools if you can.
    4)Flywheel was rebuilt(all new internals) and resurfaced by a shop that specializes in that.
    5)For the clutch slave cylinder i used the bent screwdriver method described by OP but i also lubed up the part that slides into the bell housing.
    As for the tools, i didnt have any of the special ones. For the flywheel i got the bolts all “tight” and then added about about a 100 degrees at which point it was “really f’ing tight”. Couldnt be bothered to buy a torque wrench.
    As for aligning the clutch disc, i just eyeballed it, worked perfectly fine.
    Cars runs and drives much smoother, thanks for the writeup OP.

  • This is really well done! I would recommend using a metric allen key set- it saved my life on this project. Also, the Bentley manual (as well as others, I am sure) says that in order to remove the starter, the alternator must be removed (and to remove the alternator, take off the front bumper). This is absolutely unnecessary. It resulted in 4+ hours of wasted time and a badly bruised and swollen hand on my part.

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