If your floor mats are not guilty, and if you’re not actually leaking hydraulic fluid, I’d ask your dealer to swap out your clutch master cylinder. There may even be a technical service bulletin on it by now.
Clutch master cylinders often fail this way in cold weather. If the seals around the plunger are failing, they can shrink a little bit in cold weather and allow the hydraulic fluid to bypass the plunger. That creates insufficient pressure to disengage the clutch. Once everything warms up, the seals expand enough to do their job, and the clutch works fine again – until the next cold start.
Since you’re under warranty, I think you should politely insist that they replace the clutch master cylinder. They owe it to you to try something, and that’d be my first guess. Plus, it’s the cheapest thing for them to try.
If that doesn’t fix it, then unfortunately – for the dealer – the problem is the clutch itself, and they’ll owe you one of those, too.
You don’t say whether the dealership has actually witnessed the problem, Hugh. It might be that they don’t believe you. You don’t wear your tinfoil hat to the dealership, do you?
Since it’s a predictable problem, I would advise you to leave it with them overnight on a night when the temperatures will be low enough to make the clutch fail. You might even come back in the morning when they open so that everyone can witness the clutch failure together. Once they’ve experienced the failure themselves, they’ll be obligated to fix it for you.
Just remind them not to store your car in their heated garage overnight, Hugh. Good luck.
When convertible will sit for extended time, leave the top up
Dear Car Talk:
I have a VW convertible that I leave garaged in Florida for eight months. Is it better to leave the top up or down when I am gone? – Frances
RAY: Gee, Frances, I'm trying to figure out why you'd want to leave the top down. Maybe to keep the car aired out? So it'll smell musty, like your garage, when you get back?
The top is designed to keep things out of the car – not just rain, but dust, debris and the occasional iguana falling out of a tree. So I’d be inclined to secure the top and let it do its job.
While it’s unlikely to rain in your garage, the car certainly will fill with dust. Mice, spiders, centipedes, larvae, scorpions or lost Boy Scouts aren’t out of the question, either.
Plus, we’ve seen some convertible tops get creased if they’re left down for a long time. You can always un-crease them by putting the top back up for a while, but sometimes the color changes a little bit where the roof is stretched and folded.
And given that I can’t come up with any really good arguments for leaving the top down, I’d say secure the car and leave the top up, Frances.
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