Today we’re going to be talking about Sachs clutches.
A Sachs Performance Clutch kit.
Clutch kits from ZF Sachs are well known by motorsports enthusiasts for their ability to enhance the transmittable torque, stability, and thermal resistance of your engine while also extending its lifespan. Sachs is also an OEM provider for street cars such as Volkswagen.
Other notable perks of Sachs clutches include higher burst number of revolutions, distinctly better dynamics via higher clamp load, less abrasion, and the ability to effortlessly exchange them with OE clutch kit.
With the latest CAE equipment including Pro-Engineer 3D-design and FEM calculations, each Sachs clutch is tailored to each individual vehicle. Sachs Performance Clutches are assembled by hand.
Sachs recognizes that the individual service life of each clutch component—the pressure plate, the disc, and the release bearing—are essentially identical. For this reason, they focus on complete-package clutch kits provide all the components needed to fully replace a clutch and synchronize the lifespan of all clutch parts.
ZF Sachs: A Bit of History
ZF Sachs is a world-renowned German manufacturer of automotive parts that focuses primarily on powertrain and suspension components. Founded in 1895 by a humble bicycle repairman with an initial capital of 15,000 Deutschmarks, the company that would become ZF Sachs started out making ball bearings and bicycle hubs.
Sachs branched out into automobile parts in 1932, during the interwar period in Germany. But by the end of World War II, about two-thirds of all Sachs production facilities had been destroyed.
The company slowly but surely recovered throughout the postwar period. In 2001, the company was sold to ZF Friedrichshafen and officially renamed ZF Sachs. In 2017, their Schweinfurt location with 9,500 employees reached the same peak employee numbers it had had during the war.
These days, Sachs is a brand of ZF Friedrichshafen AG. Their product range includes components such as clutch systems, dual-mass flywheels, torque converters, electric drives, and complete modules for hybrid vehicles. They also offer suspension components including shock absorbers and damping systems for cars, trucks, motorcycles, and rail-based vehicles.
Sachs in Motorsports
Sachs clutches have been especially popular with motorsport teams around the world, from mass sports to Formula 1. Since 2012, three premium German brands—Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz—have been fully relying on Sachs clutch systems for all their DTM (touring) vehicles.
A Sachs pressure plate.
At the Nürburgring 24-Hour, the first 4 of the total ranking teams used Sachs clutches. A Porsche 911 equipped with Sachs racing clutches and dampers took third place. BMW Motorsports teams who came fourth and sixth, the seventh-placed Audi and ninth-placed Nissan all use Sachs clutches as well.
According to Will Turner from Turner Motorsport, the Sachs clutch in his racecar “worked so well that some of my competitors thought I might be cheating … the shifts were so quick.” He went on: “Over the years, Sachs components have really impressed me with either their reliability or their quality.”
“For an example of how powerful these clutches are,” Will noted, “at Sebring 12-hour race we shifted approximately 35 times, so imagine 35 times a lap for 12 hours.” Simply put, “the abuse this takes is amazing, and Sachs clutches have never let us down.”
If any of this sparks your interest, you can search for a Sachs Performance Clutch here.
The Best Sachs Clutch Kits for Passenger Cars
Now let’s look at some of the best Sachs clutch kits for Volkswagen and BMW. These clutches will fix clutch shudder and give you a smooth and quiet driving experience on the street. We’ll also take a look at what Sachs has to offer for LCV drivers.
Check out Sachs’s page on their clutches for passenger cars here.
Sachs Race Engineering Volkswagen MK7 GTI Stage 1 Clutch
The MK7 GTI Sachs Stage 1 Clutch and pressure plate for Volkswagen.
If you’re looking for a new clutch but want to hold on to your OEM duel mass flywheel, this Sachs clutch is the way to go. With very little pedal increase compared to the stock clutch, this kit is rated at about 405 lb-ft of torque. It is fitted for Volkswagen GTI from 2015 or later, and comprises of the following components:
- Race Engineering clutch cover
- Reinforced clutch disc
- Optional OEM metal throw-out bearing
- Optional upgraded rear main seal
Overall, this clutch will make your pedal feel considerably lighter and grant a fair bit of additional clamping force.
Sachs makes the stock clutches on the Volkswagen GTI. However, this clutch is a great and reliable option for any TSI engine. As an OEM supplier for Volkswagen, these Sachs clutches undergo the same rigorous quality control processes that all VW products are subjected to.
Sachs Race Engineering Volkswagen GTI / Golf R Stage 1 Clutch Kit
This clutch is very similar to the previous entry on our list, except that is it specifically engineered for the Volkswagen Golf R. It’s rated to 405 lb-ft of torque and can handle up to 500 lb-ft of torque without a problem. Parts include:
- Race Engineering clutch cover
- Reinforced clutch disc
- Optional OEM metal throw-out bearing
Sachs Race Engineering Volkswagen GTI / Golf R Stage 2 Clutch Upgrade
Source: Four Season Tuning.
This upgraded Sachs clutch lets you retain an ideal pedal feel while also affording substantially greater holding power. Rated at 405 lb-ft of torque (tested up to 500 lb-ft, in fact), this clutch kit also comes with a 16-lb billet flywheel for enhanced engine response. If that weren’t enough, the flywheel is so perfectly balanced and finely crafted that, unlike many competing clutch kits, it barely makes a sound.
It uses sintered iron discs to provide a top-quality on/off feel. That makes this clutch perfect for drag racing and launches. Its components include:
- Performance clutch cover
- Sintered iron clutch disc
- Billet lightened and balanced flywheel
- Clutch cover bolts
Sachs Race Engineering Volkswagen GTI / Golf R Stage 3 Clutch Upgrade
This stage 3 Sachs clutch, like the stage 2 version, lets you retain an ideal pedal feel while also affording substantially greater holding power. Rated at 450 lb-ft of torque and tested up to 520 lb-ft, this clutch kit also comes with the same 16-lb billet flywheel for enhanced engine response.
Sachs Clutch Kit for BMW E30 325e and E28 528e
This Sachs BMW OEM clutch kit comprises of top-shelf OEM Sachs parts such as a throw-out bearing, clutch disc, and pressure plate. It will allow you to maintain the same factory-standard drivability. This is the perfect solution if your BMW clutch has been slipping or recently suffered a clutch failure.
Carefully consider the following fitment information before investing in one of these clutches:
- E30 325 (1986 up to 4/1986 production date only)
- E30 325e (1984, 1985, 1986 up to 4/1986 production date only)
- 325es (1986 up to 4/1986 production date only)
- E28 528e (1986 up to 4/1986 production date only)
Sachs NFW6605 Clutch Flywheel
The Sachs flywheel. Source: Amazon.
This flywheel fits various make and model specifications and is super easy to install. Measuring at 13.92 x 14.2 x 2.28 inches and 22.4 lbs., this flywheel can help fix common problems like clutch shudder (excessive vibration) and give you smooth and reliable gear shifting. It’s made of cast iron and features drilled-out sections to indicate balancing.
Sachs Clutch Kits for Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV)
Sachs also offers top-quality clutches for LCV that will work equally well whether driving in stop-and-go city traffic or for hours on end on the highway. A Sachs LCV clutch provides maximum comfort while masterfully dampening vibration noises. All this provides light commercial vehicles with the comfort and reliability their drivers need for the long haul.
Most notably, this clutch kit includes the Sachs XTend pressure plate technology. It works by keeping the facing separate from the movement of the diaphragm spring. This guarantees a consistent balance of forces while extending the lifespan of the clutch. When installed, the XTend reduces the axial installation space required within the clutch system under operational wear.
For more information on Sachs LCV clutches, click here.
Running In Your Sachs Clutch
Take your MK7 GTI (or whatever you might drive) out for a spin to run-in your Sachs clutch. Source: Autocar.
Before ending this article, we should discuss a crucial yet often forgotten-about step in getting a new clutch: running it in. Most Sachs clutches need a bit of run-in time to work effectively. As a sports clutch, you won’t be able to just install it and get full power right off the bat. Properly running in the clutch is crucial to avoid overheating and incurring serious damage.
Immediately after installation, you will probably notice that your new Sachs clutch feels stiffer than the OEM clutch you had in your car previously. The clutch will engage with the gears rather stiffly, with a shorter and more aggressive clutch engagement period.
To fix this, try to drive your car approximately 300–600 miles at a reasonable speed and acceleration and without pushing the torque too far. The clutch needs to go through a heat cycle to work properly. Take the time to get used to your new clutch and run it in at the same time.