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Jetta Transmission Problems and Questions



  • My 23yr old step daughter recently purchased a 202 Jetta, (her and her boyfriend wanted to do it all on their own) and did not have it looked at by anyone who knew anything about the mechanics. Long story short t3 months later the transmission seems to be going out. It will go into gear then seem like it is either down shifting our going into neutral then SLAM back into gear, it also does the same thing when you drive it down the road. One other thing is that when they bought it the battery that is in it is too small and that made some of the engine lights go on and off and different codes show up. She purchased the car from a local buy here pay here place and they of coarse are not going to help. These kind of places pray on people like her. When she purchased the car she had just given birth to my first grandson 5 days earlier. I really want to help her on this one but $ is very tight. Does anyone know where to start and if the trans is shot how difficult would it be to swap out myself. I have some mechanical knowledge but have never even change oil in a Volkswagen. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated. PLEASE SHE REALLY NEEDS SOME HELP!

    Thanks to all that reply! SKD
  • I sold my red 97 Jetta GLX with only 67K miles on it and no dings, no cracked dashboards or no torn or smushed seats for only $600. I bought it with 35K miles from a VW dealer where it was "certified" for $15,000.

    The mechanic who bought it took it to another mechanic, a VW specialist who owns a 97, & who told my buyer. that the engine is too powerful for the transmission and tears it up. He said it would be useless to replace the automatic transmission because it would just fail again. They're going to install a manual transmission.

    Makes me think that this is VW's error and there should be recourse. Anyone agree and want to figure out a tactic?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,349
    edited September 2010
    I think a VW technician or independent shop should scan the transmission computer for trouble codes and if necessary, then do a pressure test, before you write the whole thing off--there are various electronic components that might be affecting the shifting.

    Looks like R&R is not that big a job, but probably not easy without a lift and proper safety equipment.


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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,349
    Certainly the Jetta can be a problematic car, but I don't think you have any recourse on a vehicle that is 13 years old. Age is a factor in transmission failure just like mileage is; also you bought the car used and you have no idea what the previous owner might have done to it.

    I'm sorry to hear you had such misfortune with it, but it sounds like, in hindsight, you should have fixed the car. The story you got from the VW mechanic sounds fanciful to me on a number of levels. It's possible they just talked you out of the car and will fix it themselves--and I seriously doubt they would go to the trouble of converting and installing a stickshift on a car that really has very little value, even when running well.

    Best thing to do is just write it off to experience, and come see us before your next purchase so that the community can help you make a good choice.

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  • Okay, I have a 2000 Jetta manual 5 speed. No, I don't ride the clutch. It's gettin mighty sticky going into first and reverse. Driving alot and praying it doesn;t go out soon. Had it checked at dealer for 57. bones and they say it's nothing "external". They quoted me 1600. to go in but that doesn't even tell me what they'll find. Do the symptoms sound like a full on new transmission or a new clutch? If it seems a trans, where can I get it done right for like no money?
    Thanks in advance for any advice!
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    edited September 2010
    I cant imagine the problem you are experiencing would be the xmission at all....
    (it is VERY unlikely that both 1st and reverse would fail at the same time.)

    Usually a clutch fails by starting to slip so badly that it will not pull the vehicle uphill in any gear. Your clutch is simply not releasing completely.

    I beleive your 2000 has a hydrolic clutch. What you describe sure sounds like a problem with either clutch-master-cylinder or slave-cylinder. These components are FAR less intrusive to replace than pulling the engine and seperating the xmission.

    Hydriolic fluid (brake and clutch) MUST MUST be replaced every 2-3 years reguardless of miles. This is because it is hydroscopic and attracts water like a sponge. It does this on purpose to protect the metal components... however, once it is saturated with water, droplets form and rust begins inside the system.

    If you have not been replacing clutch fluid every 2-3 years, I would bet your clutch-master-cylinder or slave-cylinder has started to fail due to internal corrosion.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,349
    Pressure plates can go bad however. I'd be more apt to suspect a hydraulic clutch as well, like bpeebles says. I don't see the transmission as much of a possibility.

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  • I have a 2000 Jetta 2.0 5 speed with 111K. It suddenly wont shift into reverse, 1st, 2nd or 5th. Had to drive it home in 3rd and 4th. The clutch doesn't slip. I removed the boot around the shifter and all the linkage appears to be ok. Any ideas?
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Check the cable-lingages where they connect to the xmission. They are right on top and easy to see.
  • Thank you! Found the broken plastic bracket on the top cable. Thanks again!!
  • Sorry for the late reply! Thank you very much for this info! I am going to pursue this avenue.
  • Bought a 99 Jetta for my kids. transmission went. or did it. had it rebuilt. but still had this problem:
    When car was really warmed up, usually after a 1/2 hour driving
    Car would not go into next gear, rpm's would get to 4 -5k, it would finally kick into next gear when i took my foot off gas for a second and try again.

    mechanic tried everything. Read somewhere on these posts that people who had same or like problem had 3 different fixes.
    Valve body kit
    temp sensor
    or wiring harness to transmission.

    well the third option did the trick. once replacing the wiring harness all codes disappeared and car is purring like kitten now

    hope this helps someone cause its a doozy of a problem!
  • what could be the issue, I cannot shift into Reverse, 1st, 3rd and 5th, 2 and 4 are fine, And I am currently 45 miles from home is it safe to drive it that far
  • yerrufyerruf Posts: 4
    edited October 2010
    recently acquired a 2002 Jetta with automatic-I have only driven manuals-so on this automatic-is it normal for the D to delay after it is selected? All other selections engage immediately -
    other than that great car-first owner had all recalls taken care of as well as maintenance-she is my sister-so I have all paperwork etc-
    but on the automatic is there an easy check for fluid?
    It has only 35k on it-sister is not much on driving-
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    You asked "on the automatic is there an easy check for fluid? "

    The answer is .... You need to connect your VW to computer to check ATF level. It is not hard if you have a VagCom.

    I can tell you that my daughters 2001 VW with automatic has over 110,000 miles on it. My 2003 (manual xmission) has over 130,000 miles. My other daugher had 2 VWs ....both well over 100,000 miles.

    I guess I am saying that you should expect relatively good service out of yours. 35,000 miles is hardly even broken-in.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    Have you ever changed fluid on your automatics?

    We have only 40,000 on our 2005, but some day I may need to decide if I believe the "lifetime" transmission fluid story.
  • yerrufyerruf Posts: 4
    I'm not used to an automatic-especially in a VW-nice to know they are long living-I'll have it for at least 100,000 miles
  • yerrufyerruf Posts: 4
    never ever had one before
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    I had 2 cars car with an automatic xmission ... 1976 Chevy Blazer and 1981 AMC Eagle.

    I *much* prefer manual xmission for several reasons.
    *) I can shift better than any automatic
    *) Automatic costs more to buy and more to maintain
    *) Automatic gets less MPG than manual xmission.

    As long as my left knee holds out, I will drive manual xmissions.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    It is no longer true that an automatic always gets less MPG than manual xmission. In many cars today the mpg of the automatic is equal to or greater than the manual.

    More cars are also starting to come with a DSG type of automatic, which gives you the best of both worlds. Seems like Ford is taking the lead on this in moderately priced cars, their "power-shift" is the only auto trans in the Fiesta and I believe this will also be the case for the new Focus. Not sure why VW is falling behind and only offering this on the upgraded versions of their cars.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    I am fully aware of the DSG xmission. It is really an automatic-manual. It uses 2 clutches to swap between enguaged gears.

    A DSG can *match* a well-shifted manual... I feel it is impossible to do better than that.

    HOWEVER: The cost, complexity and reliability of DSG can never even approach the simplicity and bulletproof reliability of a manual xmission.

    Why -o- Why would I even consider paying nearly $1000 extra for a xmission that requires costly maintainance and will likey break before 200,000 miles?
  • katietttkatiettt Posts: 2
    edited November 2010
    My son has a 1998 or 1999 VW Jetta wolfberg manual transmission. It goes into reverse hard, and then makes a loud bang and pops out of gear. Linkage or transmission? also, I have been seeing things about adding transmission fluid to a manual transmission. I thought there wasn't fluid in a manual.

    Thanks ahead for any help.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    My kid had a 1996 and had to hold the shifter to keep it from popping out in reverse. He did this for a couple years and recently sold it as is. He said this was due to a common problem with the manual that eventually can lead to no reverse gear.

    The brake fluid reservoir may supply fluid to the transmission, too...seemed strange to me, but supposedly that was the set up on my kid's '96.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,349
    Could be a lot of things. If the clutch is worn, he might not actually be all the way into reverse gear, and hence the violent disengagement. Sometimes having difficulty going into reverse is the first sign of a wearing clutch.

    It could also have something to do with loose transaxle/motor mounts, or it could be, as you say, a linkage issue.

    The worst case scenario is bent/damaged shifting forks in the transmission itself.

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  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    You said ==> "I thought there wasn't fluid in a manual."

    Are you serious? A transmission is full of bearings and gears. Without lubricant, it would burn up in about 10 miles.

    The entire insides of a transmission (either Manual or automatic) is bathed in fluid to lubricate all the moving parts. Of course, due to the design differences, the type of fluid is different for each of them.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    You said ==> "The brake fluid reservoir may supply fluid to the transmission, too...seemed strange to me, but supposedly that was the set up on my kid's '96. "

    Careful here... VW shares the HYDROLIC FLUID between the brakes and the clutch... but this is not the same the xmission-fluid inside the xmission which lubricates the moving parts.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    Ah, thanks for the explanation, that makes more sense. I had seen something or been told that brake fluid is also used by the manual transmission...thought it was strage as brake fluid did not seem like it would make a good lubricant.

    So it is just that it has a hydraulically activated clutch (just like the hydraulically activated brakes)?
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Correct, the hydraulic clutch shares fluid resivour with the Brake master-cylinder.
  • 03_jetta_18t03_jetta_18t Posts: 1
    edited December 2010
    My 2003 Jetta 1.8T has about 81,000 miles on it. Just the other day it started giving difficulty with 3rd gear. It is harder to put into 3rd gear and will also pop out of gear. Occassionaly it has a similar problem with 1st or 5th gear, but there are no problems with 2nd or 4th gears. Also, after taking the car out of reverse, the gear knob will stay depressed instead of popping back up unless I wiggle the shifter a couple times.

    I have been told that possibly I am having problems with the gear syncros, but I am wondering if that's truly what's going on or if it's something else. Also, I'm wondering if anyone else has had similar problems.

    I know that I am probably going to need to take it to a transmission shop, however I am hesistant to go in without some background knowledge first. I really don't want to be told it needs unnessary repairs and end up with a very large repair bill.

    Thanks for any help or advice that anyone has.
  • billpaulbillpaul Posts: 103
    MPG of automatics equals or exceeds mpg of manuals when the automatics have taller gearing. Otherwise, manual wins. Many manufacturers consider the manual version of a car to be a sporty version in which acceleration, not mpg, is the priority. That is why many manual versions have lower mpg. Also, there are many tricks to driving with a manual that yields even higher mpg.
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