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Firstly let me say I am not very mechanically minded. Please forgive me if my descriptions are in layman's terms. Any help will be greatly appreciated. I'd like to give a full history, so this most may be lengthy. Any help and advice will be greatly appreciated. Also please note I'm in South Africa, so prices will be in Rands. (Roughly 10 Rands to the US Dollar). Also please forgive me of I use some local lingo... Firstly my car has been long overdue for a service and general maintenance which I have put off for financial reasons. I have a 1996 VW Citi Golf Deco. A few weeks ago my car started leaking water close to the water pump. I put on radiator sealant. I found out later this was not ideal. After that the car started cutting out when depressing the clutch and coming to a stop. I went to a mechanic who picked up numerous problems. Firstly with the cooling system. He flushed the system and pressurised it. Found numerous leaky pipes and a faulty water pump. All this was replaced. He then found the carburetor foot was broken. He replaced this and serviced the carb. He found the break booster and master cylinder were both broken and replaced these. He told me this was probably why the car was stalling when braking and depressing the clutch as the break booster uses pressure from the engine. He also did a full service on the vehicle. This all cost me R7000. He also noted that my clutch and clutch cable needed replacing. There was also a crack in the firewall where the clutch cable went through. He said I could drive with this for a few weeks till I again had some money. The car hasn't felt quite perfect. And the clutch got progressively worse. Also it is still stalling sometimes. This happens when bringing the car to a stop and depressing the clutch. The revs drop rapidly and the car cuts out. It doesn't happen all the time. But started to be more frequent. Sometimes at idle the revs are low too. Other times it's normal. I went back to the mechanic this week and asked for a quote on the clutch replacement as the clutch pedal was getting very hard and low, only had an inch or so that it went down. He quoted me R6000, which I thought ridiculous as I priced the parts and the total was R1400. He told me the carb probably just needed some carb cleaner and that would sort out the stalling. I decided to now get a second opinion. The second mechanic told me he would first replace only the clutch cable and repair the firewall with a steel plate. He said he didn't feel the clutch needed replacing. He also did some adjusting on the carb. Total for this repairs was R600. The clutch really feels much better and smoother and the car seemed to be running better and not stalling. Today I went for a long journey, car felt good. After 120km it kinda felt jerky. But not bad. I thought maybe this was a sign that the stalling problem was there again. I depressed the clutch, and the revs dropped and it stalled. I got to my destination but car stalling every stop. The car cooled down while I was there for 4 hours and then I had to drive home. Decided to drive conservatively. The revs seemed low on the return trip, but didn't quite get to the point of stalling again. I do feel comfortable with the second mechanic and know I'll have to return to him or another mechanic. I'd just like to go in prepared with a bit more knowledge on what could possibly be wrong with the car. Any advice and suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you kindly

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Jessica Howe, Automotive Expert & Coach at


Be prepared to have to put more work into the vehicle eventually. The clutch will likely need to be replaced at some point in time. You also want to make sure that the previous repairs that were done to the clutch master cylinder are holding, as the problems you describe sound like a hydraulic or clutch issue. If your transmission is overheating, you may want to check the condition of the transmission fluid and filter and replace both if needed. Good luck!

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