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Won't go uphill

(1997 Volkswagen Jetta)
in Portland, OR on July 19, 2009
My 1997 Jetta is having a very tough time going uphill. I have to shift into 1st gear (manual transmission) and it barely makes it. There is a strong odor of burnt metal. I cannot tell whether there is black or blue smoke. The only other symptom is sometimes when shifting into a higher gear the RPMs will rev up and it feels like it's not in gear for a couple seconds, then it will "catch" and the RPMs will go back down to normal. I don't feel that I have as much acceleration power as I used to have, but not sure if that's accurate or just my imagination! Just got new tires, so that's not it. Thank you in advance!
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Popular Answer
It sounds like the clutch is "burned out" in your car. The friction material is worn away (that's the burning smell). The clutch pressure plate can no longer clamp the clutch disc to the flywheel to transfer power from the engine to the gearbox and then out to the wheels.
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