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Volkswagen Cabrio Transmission

this past april i purchased a used 98 cabrio from the original owner. she reported no maintenance problems at all. but after i bought i realized that the intermittent wiper only works when the car the temperature outside is warm. ??? (what's this about?)

ALSO, this past weekend i was driving home from a road trip. i drove about 60 miles at about 70 miles / hour. along the way i made a restroom stop and turned the car off. not too long after i turned the car back on, i noticed the car was stuck in 3rd gear and would not shift -- the car is an automatic. the engine started revving, but the car wouldn't go faster or shift into 4th gear. finally i pulled over, shut off the car. i check the oil, b/c i knew i was overdue for an oil change but everything seemed fine under the hood. when i started driving again, the car drove fine without a problem. this really freaked me out b/c other than this one incident the car drives amazingly!! i'm bringing it to the dealer tomorrow to have it diagnosed, but i'm terrified of being swindled, b/c i was already "taken for a ride" at another vw dealer. the car has 54,000k miles.

any suggestions or thoughts?

thanks, marilyn


  • I'm posting this on behalf of my sister in law who owns a 1999 Cabrio. At approximately 55,000 miles the manual transmission had to be replaced. The VW dealership would not offer any explanation as to which component had failed and as the warranty had expired at 50,000 miles she was on the hook for the $3000 repair bill. The car was never abused and maintained at the VW dealership as it was a lease vehicle. Needless to say she is furious with this treatment, has retained legal advice and is scheduled for a small claims court appearance. Upon hearing that she was pursuing the matter the VW dealership offered a token $500 towards the repairs. My question to any reader is if they, or anyone they know, has experienced similar transmission problems with Cabrio's. Thanks for any assistance you may be able to provide.
  • vwdadvwdad Posts: 1
    Same issue at 47k miles with my daughter's 2002 Cabrio about 10 months ago. Luckily a couple miles within warranty. However, had similar problem with transmission this week. This doesn't take into account the numerous times the check engine light has come on both in and out of warranty. Last time dealer charged me $900!
  • rudockrudock Posts: 2
    I recently purchased an 86 VW Cabriolet, changed out the transmission and now the car is extremely sluggish. It revs up but doesn't go so to speak. I'm just a weekend mechanic so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  • fordjofordjo Posts: 1
    Our 99 Cabrio has started making a noise in the front end when you let up on the accelerator or coast. The car shifts good, has great pickup, but when you let up on the accelerator the noise starts, it seems a little better when you push in the clutch. Any idea on what the problem is.

  • I own a VW Cabrio 2001, I am looking for the wires that connect the harness to the computer sensor, for the Automatic Transmision. Does anyone have any info on where I can get these parts?



  • Hello fordjo. I have a 99 Cabrio as well, and I've had the same exact issue. I do not service mine at a dealership, but at a VW certified mechanic who says it is the trans-axle assembly. He told me that it was not dangerous to drive and that it would not cause further damage to drive the car, so I've been driving it while I save for the repair. The racket it makes is very annoying but as far as the drive, shift,'s fine.
  • I've been out of country for about 8 months. While I was gone my wife has had a continuing issue with her 2001 Cabrio. It seems that there are times when the little knob you depress on the gear shift to put the car into gear won't budge, so she has resorted to beating it with whatevers handy to get it to shift. I feel I'm pretty mechanically inclined, so maybe I can fix it??? Any ideas out there.....
  • Hello all! I hope someone out there can give me some advice. I have 35K miles on my 2002 Cabrio, which has an automatic transmission. Over the past week or so I've had problems accelerating. The car is sluggish and jerks a little between 1st and 2nd gears and has a hard time even going above 60mph. I've noticed that it seems worse when the engine is cold (however, I live in Los Angeles so cold doesn't really mean COLD). The suggestions that I've heard so far are spark plugs and tranmission replacements - does anyone have other advice? I don't have a lot of money to throw at the problem so I don't want to pay for unnecessary repairs. Thanks!
  • I really need some insight on this one...... 010 in '87 Cabrio throwing fluid.
    Replaced seal and torque converter bushing. Still threw fluid. Pulled anew,
    and replaced seal again, along with torque converter. The fluid still flies!
    Is there some 'input shaft seal' that is leaking out onto my converter and flying out the openings of the bell housing?
  • sandeakasandeaka Posts: 4
    we all want to know the same thing...why we cant do it ourselves and not spend the crazy amount of money...ask auto zone..i guess that is my answer. :mad: Anyways its a 98 cabrio and im actually inclined being a female and i want answers darn it....
  • seawarriorseawarrior Posts: 2
    I just bought a 1998 VW Cabrio for my son. I started to notice that when you step on the accelerator there is a slight delay and then it jerks forward. After I drive it a little the problem seems to go away. The Automotive Consumer Guide stated that "the transmission may shift late, may not upshift, or may downshift unnecessarily due to a bad transmission-fluid-temperature sensor". Has anyone experienced this problem or has any suggestions?

  • cortez_01cortez_01 Posts: 1
    YES!!! My car is also a 98 automatic, I bought it a year a half ago from a used dealership. 6 months in my car began to do the same thing. To this day the problem has not been fixed. I've taken it to a couple mechanics and they can't seem to do much. You can feel the car about to do it so tell your son to just let go of the accelerator put it in neutral accelerate a little and then back to drive. It won't do a hard jolt just a small soft one. I am looking for the same info as you are I just don't want it to become a huge problem.
  • seawarriorseawarrior Posts: 2
    Thanks for the advise. If the sensor replacement doesn't look too difficult I may try to replace it, just to see if it works.

    Take care
  • I am original owner of 99.5 Cabrio GLS Manual. I never take my car to dealer. I change my own oil and recently did my first tune up at 80K miles. Car runs great, until I heard a very loud noise under my car when driving, I knew I could not fix this one so I brought it straigt to the dealer (a rare action but I knew I had powertrain wrnty). They called me back and said no trouble found. I asked them to take the car on an extended test drive, then they called me back and said yes I needed a clutch for $1450. I said no thanks paid the $120 assessment fee and drove straigt to mama papa repair shop who quote me clutch replacement for $500. The mama papa shop was real cool and told me in less then 15 minutes I did not have a clutch problem at all but a trans problem. I drove straight back to VW dealer and very politely told them of the mama papa diagnosis. VW dealer held to their original position of this is a clutch issue and they wanted to charge me to look further into the problem. I kept my cool and had to in essence force them to pull some fluid out of the tranny to prove there would be shavings in their (step the mama papa suggested I do if they balked at me...which they did). VW dealer reluctantly did pull some fluid and their ego was hurt further as there was in fact evidence of a tranny problem that was fortunately covered under the 10yr/100K warranty. They still said I have a "suspected" clutch problem, which I do not believe, but I decided to have them change the clutch (what I consider a maintenance item) and flywheel for $640 since most all the labor but 1hr would have been covered under the tranny wrnty.

    Hope this helps anyone. Glad I did not forget about my 10yr/100k wrnty
  • dcoronadcorona Posts: 1
    In 2005 I started having problems shifing my 1998 Used Cabrio, I had to bring it to over 3,000 RPM's and then back off the accelerator to shift to 2nd and over 4,000 back off to shift to 3rd. I brought it to a dealership (I hate the dealerships), they said that the transmission memorizes the driver and they reset the codes. It worked for a little while. When it started up again I brought it to another dealership who wanted to change the module ($ 1,200). I put it off and just last week brought it to Aamco who investigated through Volkswagon and found out that the 98 Cabrio was a test for this transmission module which memorizes the driver. He replaced it with a new module and also discovered because I drove it and shifted mannually that I need my transmission rebuilt, total cost $ 3,400. I hope I did not get ripped off, however I can tell you my next car will be something that does not involve the dealership. I love my Cabrio but all roads lead to expensive repair.
  • Hi, we have a 99 cabrio, automatic. Having trouble with it shifting. Gets up to about 4000 rpms or so and then must take foot off gas to shift into next gear. Had transmission checked, and is ok. Any ideas?
  • mregetsmregets Posts: 1
    I just bought a 2000 VW Cabrio(automatic). It seems to be slipping out of gear between first and second and it only has 80,000 miles on it! I dont see how this is possible!? I am hoping it isnt the transmission....any ideas as to what it could be!?
  • rigatzrigatz Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 VW Cabrio with 60,000 miles on it and it does the same thing when the engine is cold. It's the computer transmission fluid sensor malfunctioning. There's nothing wrong with the transmission. Try warming up your car first. That seems to work.
  • doonebuggydoonebuggy Posts: 2
    this is probly gonna sound like a dumb question... but... i have recently replaced all the hoses/fluids ect.. in my 1997 cabrio. but i cant find where to add transmission fluid. :confuse: i really need to know if someone can give an answer soon im trying to take a trip to the beach this next week.. thanks!!
  • doonebuggydoonebuggy Posts: 2
    p.s. does anyone else here have a convertable too?
  • kominskykominsky Posts: 850
    When my daughter got her Cabrio, I planned on doing all the basic stuff since it's maintenance was questionable. I ordered a transmission filter online and then started looking for instructions on changing the tranny fluid. It wasn't the simple task I'm used to in most cars. Fluid has to be warmed to a certain temperature, etc before filling requiring special equipment. I'm not entirely sure if just topping the tranny fluid would require the same equipment, but I fear it might. When I get home, I'll try to remember to look through the haynes manual and see what it says.
  • sandeakasandeaka Posts: 4
    not a stupid question.....but, i'd put a hundred on it saying you have a great CLOSED tranny. The only way to check or fill or change the fluid is only through the dealership and costs 45 times of luck.
  • Doonebuggy, You seem to know a lot about this subject. I've got a 1999 1/2 Cabrio with a closed transmission. Is there any other option for servicinig the transmission besides the dealer? They claim that most of the cost is for the transmission fluid, not sure if that is correct or not. Is it difficult to do, any parts involved besides the fluid? I gues you know the car is an automatic.
  • kominskykominsky Posts: 850
    I'm not doonebuggy, but maybe I can help. When we got my daughter's '97 Cabrio, it came with no service records. I went online and ordered all of the various maintenance parts I thought would be useful, including a new tranny filter. I also picked up a Haynes service manual for it. I quickly noticed that there was no process for replacing the filter in the manual.

    Upon further investigation, I found that while you can get into the tranny and replace the filter, refilling it was the problem. VW uses some type of machine that pre-heats the fluid prior to filling. Alledgely, having the fluid at the right temp ensures that it flows properly through all the little nooks and crannies in the tranny and that is the only way to ensure proper fill level.

    One webpage suggested draining the tranny, measuring the amount of fluid drained at "room" temp, and putting that much back in. While I guess that could work, I instead took it to a local independant garage that specializes in VW. The cost was probably about 60% of what a VW dealership would charge. Unfortunately, my daughter has our service records for the car so I can't give you an exact $$ amount.

    This is my family's first VW and one thing I can tell you for sure... it's not user friendly if you like to do your own maintenance! :mad:
  • I bought my 98 cabrio at a used car dealership almost 2 years ago with 89k miles and it has been nothing but problems and me cleaning up the messes of the previous owners. A few months ago it started to have problems shifting into the right gear. I went to my regular mechanic who said he could not check the fluid because the way VWs are made, so I took it to the dealership who told me it was giving a code that it needed a part and they would order it for me, but then very rudely did not call me back and when I called the day before my service appointment they told me the part isn't made anymore. I took it to Aamco from the advice of my dad, they checked the fluid and the fluid was burned but there was no metal in it so the car was fine. The problems seemed to go away but a month later they started again. I got a tune up at 100k miles as Aamco recommended and that seemed to help but soon after the problems came back. I took it back to Aamco today and they tell me it needs new fluid and a new filter which will be $285 so I left it there overnight because I need my car by Friday. If this does not fix it I don't know what I'm going to do. I have a Wheelz warranty I bought with the car and I'm hoping that if it's expensive it will be covered but I know warranty companies make money by denying claims. I am really doing everything I can and taking it for all the oil changes and maintenance services it needs but no one has been able to fix this problem or even tell me what it is.
  • pbodypbody Posts: 1
    I have the same problem. Did you get an answer or solution?

  • They changed the transmission fluid and filter for $300 and it seems fine so far.
  • Hi,

    My 2000 cabrio will not shift while in "D". It seems to be in 3rd all the time. I can manullay shift from 1 up, but it goes into 3rd and not through 2 nd. Book say it is in Fail-Safe mode. Does any one know why that happens?
  • so i have had ALLl the problems on my car now (98 Cabrio) if you can not shift into drive...go to a dealer with anywhere from $2000 to $4000 to get the tranny replaced. Costs a lot but if you love your car it is worth it... Just need to replace it. no easy fix or price..remember it is German and they dont let anyone just fix it. it can only be done at the dealership....
  • it will rev up to a high number and will not shift anymore right?
  • redcabbieredcabbie Posts: 1
    My 1999 Cabrio 5-speed developed a shifting issue. It would not go into reverse.
    I noted that the clamp on the shifter rod in the engine compartment was almost at the end of the rod. I got out my Haynes manual for this vehicle only to discover that the manual trans shown are nothing like the one in the 1999. I removed the shifter boot and found that the rod seems to have rotated counterclockwise (sitting in the dsrivers seat) and is now only going in to third and fourth but only when the shifter is pushed down as in going into reverse and moving past the plastic guide. This gives me third, fourth and fifth.
    Anyone have any ideas as to how to correct this?
  • Hey....I have the same issue...

    Here is what I have noticed and know. I noticed that once the car warms up it drives/runs fine. So with that being said + a check engine light illuminated I bought a code scanner and found that it was the Throttle Position Sensor that was malfunctioning. I have one on order and I will let you know if it fixes my Cabrio.

  • Hello....I have a 2001 Cabrio that runs pretty good....but when I am coming to a stop it downshifts pretty rough! I recently put some lucas transmission fix in it and it is doing better but it is still a little rough on the downshift.

    Anyone else have these issues or have any suggestions other than replace the transmission?

  • new owner of 96 cabrio 2.0 with auto tranny when car is cold seems to not want to go in drive however reverse works fine but once you get it going and drive a few miles and it warms up it seems to be fine. car has 140000 miles tranny is the CLK model. also seems after car sits for couple days (daughters first car so not driven daily yet due to tranny) i find puddle of tranny fluid under drivers side front tire. doesnt leak until its been sitting couple days ? any help or suggestions appreciated
  • Hello . I just purchased a beautiful a 1999 Cabrio dirt cheap due to a transaxle problem. I have picked the car up yet but the previous owners described the problem as the transmission making grinding noises and will not go into reverse . I have no prior knowledge of these vehicles , but most manual reverses use 1rst gear and a reverse idler gear for reverse . Is it possible that a bent or misaligned linkage or stretched cable could be causing it to not fully engage ? Any help greatly appreciated . Thanks !
  • I also have a 2001 Cabrio and have had the exact same problem with not being able to depress the knob on the gearshift. They have tried to replicate the problem at the dealership and can't find an issue. I just took it in because when I turned my wheel left I heard a creaking noise. They determined that I needed a new gear box. They replaced the gear box and when I picked up the car I put the car into drive and this time the knob on the gearshift stayed stuck and I couldnt get it out nor could I get the key out. I went back in and had to leave it again. They just called my husband and said they were replacing the gearshift cable....I told my husband that I always felt it had something to do with the know on the gearshift and hoping that this solves my problem. Thank goodness that when we bought the car last year at CarMax we took out an extended charge!!
  • We purchased our 2000 Cabrio with about 60000 miles from the second owner, we had check engine lights problems and had to get the car repaired every two years so it would pass inspection for emissions, the cruise control stopped working and at 96000 the transmission started slipping and required replacement, it did not make sense to put any more money into the car which I loved to drive only on weekends. It is now at the junkyard. My mechanic says these problems are common in VWs.
    I bought Japanese for reliability. So it goes. Cabrio. great car, big problems.
  • I encountered this also . the fill location is on the bottom and requires special fluid which should be changed every 30000 miles, it is very expensive
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