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Jetta Transmission Problems and Questions



  • hi, ive got a 1997 jetta gls, 5 speed manual.
    it had always clicked a bit when in reverse, but recently, its grinding, and kicking a bit when in reverse. the forward gears are fine..

    a. does the manual transmission need fluids level checks? if so where do i check it ?
    b. do transmissions ger 'replaced' or 'repaired' typically, if so which is better?
    c. about how much [approx.] would something like this cost?

  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    edited March 2010
    General answers

    a: You can check the level of the fluid on manual xmission. It is typically done by removing a screw-in "plug" and making sure that the fluid within is barely trickling out. (filled up to the level of the plug)

    b: It is possible to 'rebuild' a manual xmission and replace individual components. Typiclly, on a 1997, you might find it cheaper to replace entire unit with good used xmission. (I dont think you need to consider either of these yet)

    c: Cost! The bottom line! You would get more accurate answer by simply opening a phonebook and making some phone calls to reputible shops.

    From your description, it sounds as if somone may have "jammed" the xmisison into reverse and damaged the reverse gears at some point... this is just a guess. You really need to get more details on what the noise is. You may chose to 'live with it' and continue to drive. It may last for the rest of the vehicles life.

    The manual Xmissions in VWs are historically very, VERY reliable if they are treated with respect. I have driven a total of nearly a million miles on VW manual xmissions over the years with never EVER a problem. (nor wearing out a clutch!)
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    My kid tells me that, based on his research, destruction of reverse gear is a common problem in VW manual transmissions of that era. He has 1996 Jetta with just over 100K mi, reverse sounds terrible and he holds in gear when in reverse to prevent it's popping out.

    He got one estimate from a transmission shop of around $900 to repair, or maybe it was replacement with rebuilt trans.
  • thanks to both of you for the assistance, i am indeed going to have 'it checked' by the xmission shop near my work, theres lots of auto repair places around there.
  • robin_boyd05robin_boyd05 Posts: 1
    edited March 2010
    I have a 2005 Jetta GLI and the other night when I went to drive home the reverse did not work. It's like the car was in neutral. I had to push it out of the spot I was in. She drove just fine home and once I arrived the reverse was fine. It happened again today. It seems like after she has been sitting and cooling off over a few hours the reverse won't engage but when she is warmed up it starts working again. I was recently laid off and cannot afford to replace the tranny.... any ideas of what it is and what the potential costs would be? I appreciate any help in this time of massive need.
  • slomoshnslomoshn Posts: 12
    Yours is reverse, mine was 4th gear. You have an '05, I have a '00. Same symptoms-sucks when it is cold, but works fine once it warms up. Eventually it worked itself all the way down to only first gear. Now I am getting it rebuilt ($3000).

    If you still have warranty, get it to the dealer. Leave it overnight so they can check it first thing in the morning, that's when it is at its worst.
  • Hows it going people , so my problem is somewhat of the same sort . i had my 95 jetta about 3 weeks of driving traded my 86 accord across for it had a oil leak problem. fixed that and drove for about 3 weeks , went to the store one day and drove fine. backed out from parking spot . put it in 1st to go had to stop for people walking bye . then when i went to let off the clutch to go again it made a loud rattleing sound from the tranny and wouldnt move . also the car now rolls in every gear . what could b the issue ? shortly after though my car got hot and spewed water every where.. so the big question is what happend to my car ? and a lil off topic, but iv been having problems removeing these front axles . do i really need the tool ? they dont pop out ? iv tryed a 6mm hex socket lil to loose iv tryed a 7 mm hex socket to big .. is there a special tool i need for this process ? and is it at all possible to drop the whole tranny wit axles still attached ? the vw dealership isnt helpful in the least ..
  • I have an 04 jetta, 5 speed manual. I believe the engine is a GLS. My car is making a strange clicking sound, kind of like a helicopter. I took it to the mechanic and he thought it was a problem with the axle, but after taking a closer look he said it was coming from the transmission. My mechanic told me my best bet is to replace the transmission with a used one. How much should I expect to pay? Do you think my mechanic is right? Has anyone had this same problem with their jetta? Thank you!
  • 42bjones42bjones Posts: 1
    Dealer stated the key was desensitizing & to thread it. Tried that-did not work. All dash lights will not come on. Car will crank then immediately turn off. Tried to crank again this a.m., now it's making clicking noise as if the battery is dead. The megatronix unit was replaced @ 35,000 miles. Not sure what is happening...HELP!
  • 01tdi01tdi Posts: 16
    It sounds like the transmission might have died. As for the axles you need to get a special tool for them I believe for manual transmission the axles are 8mm square heads to get them off and for automatic its 12mm. however I have herd of people having multiple size screws and what not on their vw. You can get these tools at advanced auto for pretty cheap last time I checked.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    If the engine starts ... then immedeatly shuts down - that is EXACTLY how the immobilizer is supposed to operate if the wrong key is used in the ignition switch.

    It sounds to me as if somone tried starting SOOO many times, that now the battery is dead too.

    What you need to to
    1) Fully charge battery (or replace with fully-charged one)
    2) Try all 3 keys (2 standard keys and the Valet-Key)

    If ALL the keys do the same thing with the immobilizer kicking in, then the prolbem is most-likey the sensor around the ignition-switch which 'reads' the keys.

    If ANY of the keys start the engine normally, then the other keys need to be re-programmed. It is pretty easy to reprogram a key as long as you have ONE good one. Re-programming entails putting the GOOD key in the ignition and the BAD one in the drivers-door keyswitch. (there are detailed instructions on the web)
  • ok i was thinking the tranny cause the clutch peddle still has alot of stiffness. now as for the axles , 8mm square ? not hex as the book states ? will have to go grab one of those today .. one other question , is there a diff year tranny i can put in here , a newer year that will bolt right up and wont have this issue with or atleast somewhat feel safer it wont happen again ? and as with my other car when i changed my accord trans for a prelude had to change axles is that nessary as well or any other things ? srry still lil new to my vw . thanks for the tool answer though maybe can get back to busting knuckles open...
  • yachtengyachteng Posts: 1
    Similar deal here 04 Jetta. I have a loud helicopter style vibration that is speed sensitive. Replaced wheel bearing and axle but still have the vibration. After getting under the differential and feeling for play at the drive flange I have excessive play on driver side flange. It feels like a flat spot on the roller bearing (it clicks only a little as you turn it). I am trying to diagnose the repair but does anyone know if you can replace the bearing in the case without removing the transmission? I don't have a Bentley manual and this is as far as Haynes goes.

    I will keep you posted if I get some answers.
  • 01tdi01tdi Posts: 16
    If you have a manual and it says that they are hex then I would go with that, I'm probably getting confused with a different car. Either way advanced auto or any other auto place should have a set of those tools. as for the transmission I am not sure if 1999.5 and newer transmissions will fit in your car, however you could go up to 1999 model cars and switch out the transmissions but they will be the same as the one in your car. The axles should be interchangeable but chances are you are going to get a newer transmission and have to do all the work, so you might as well replace the axles too right? Just my thoughts, good luck.
  • jetta7jetta7 Posts: 17
    I have a 2003 Jetta TDI Diesel, auto trans. It shudders when climbing hills at 1800 2000 rpm, in overdrive. It also shudders sometimes on flat roads, at same rpm. Has anyone experienced this problem?
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    On your 2003 TDI, 1800 RPM is the torque-peak of the engine. This is where the engine provides the most pulling-power and is most efficent.

    I am not sure that I understand what you mean by "shudder". That is not a technical-term which I am accustomed to. Perhaps you can describe better?

    My initial thought is that your automatic xmission is the problem... especially since you suggest that this "shudder" only happens in a specific gear (overdrive). I wonder if you have had that xmission "serviced based on the factory-recommended requirements?

    ...yet more proof that an automatic xmission is less desirable than a manual. - Less MPG *and* costs more to maintain!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,840
    Yeah I was thinking the same thing---the lock up on the torque converter.

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  • jetta7jetta7 Posts: 17
    Are you saying that the shudder has something to do with the torque converter lockup?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,840's a possibility. First of all, you should check for an engine misfire to cause this problem, as could bad engine mounts, etc. If it's in the transmission, sometimes a fluid change will correct the shudder.


    As you can see after reading this material, tracking down the cause can be tricky.

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  • hi..i got a vw jetta 2002 1.8 t . i don't know if is my car's transmission or not...the problem is when i start my car any time..i need to let 'em start for a 1 hour on...because if i drive my car right away when i turn on , it won't go on and doesn't make the right changes , some times get stock and makes a wird noises, i spoke to some technical people and they told me if the check engine light is not on ( orange color ) i don't have to worry about it. do you think that i need to make a transmission oil change..? :
  • slomoshnslomoshn Posts: 12
    I have been dealing with a situation very similar to this since Dec. I have a 2000 1.8T. You cannot change the transmission fluid so easily, as it is a sealed case. Is the "check engine" light on? Mine comes on and goes out. Sometimes it shifts perfectly, sometimes it gets stuck. The last time, the mechanic said the "coding"was not set properly. He set it and it drove fine for about two days, then it got stuck in 2nd on the freeway (thank God for rush hour traffic)- no one noticed. After about a mile, it corrected itself. I was told that if the "coding" wasn't the problem then I probably needed to replace the transmission. :sick:
  • 01tdi01tdi Posts: 16
    Changing the transmission fluid and filter can help but chances are the transmission is already starting to fail. 1999.5 to 2005 automatic transmissions are notorious for failing. Mostly because of volkswagen saying that they have "lifetime" fluid in them and that it does not need to be changed. Biggest load of bs I have ever heard. These things are not cheap either, volkswagen does not sell rebuilt transmissions, only new ones with a few numbers stamped on the serial code to tell you that it has been replaced. My car has the same problem because the previous owner put the wrong fluid in it. It would not move unles i let it idle for about a half hour. If i tried to move it it would stall itself out and whne in reverse it would shake like a wet dog. once the fluid and filter was properly changed I have not had any of these problems except the occasional miss shift going from a complete stop to speed while on a steep incline. The check engine light goes on and off but for the most part it shifts fine. I baby it too, just want it to last a year or two longer then I am goig to get a new car.

    You can have the transmission serviced but not everyone will do it and the dealer charges around 500 bucks for this around here. However a new transmission is 5000 so its not so bad if it works. I would say if your check engine light is off it would be a good thing to try.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    I think the price varies, but it is expensive mainly due to the expensive synthetic transmission fluid, I think. I guess the alternative would be what the previous owner did yours, put the wrong (cheap) fluid in and ruin the transmission that way.
  • thaks for replay my e-mail...ok like u said..sometimes the check engine light turns on and stay like 1 or 2 days , after this time dissapears, i been taken my car to vw dealer and for some reason nobody detects any kind of issues on my car.talking with another tecnichal said that might have a special chip inside of transmission ( i dont know if is true ) otherwise i need to buy a new one. And i am really desesperate cause whenever i go , anytime, any place..i need to let'em warm it on for an hour to drive and get home, and every day is the same thing.


    Mr Ramos :confuse:
  • I have a 1996 vw jetta trek 5speed 4cyl one day clutch dropped to floor so I pulled the trany to see if the clutch broke it was fine. so I pulled the back cap of trany off and clutch release arm was broke so I replaced it and sealed trany back up the problem was the same clutch pedal stays to floor checked cable no problems
    What could the problem be? its frustrating cause I just put it back together with same problem as result could it be a pressure thing where there isn't enough fluid in trany or some thing? help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 01tdi01tdi Posts: 16
    Yeah I know the price varies I was just giving you guys a ball park of what it will cost. It is a pain because it has to be special transmission fluid with a very very low viscosity compared to conventional trans fluids. But like I was saying the wrong fluid makes the car act like it has a failing transmission, stalling and shuddering when it is not warmed up enough. This sounds to be the problem that is being discussed but it could be a trashed sensor like this forum discusses
    The TDI club is a very knowledgeable and helpful forum for any VW owner. Good luck
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    Understood and I mentioned the price varying as my dealer's website indicates VW trans fluid change is "only" about $250 or $265 for DSG. It does say "Prices start at the amount displayed, your vehicle may differ", but it is specific to VW.
  • 01tdi01tdi Posts: 16
    well that price is the entire trans service. which just includes new fluid and a new trans filter.Which if your are going to get the fluid changed, you might as well get the filter changed to. I would always get the filter changed with the fluid if you don't they might just hook the vacume machine up to the and that can knock loose particles in the transmission causing problems later
  • scoop9scoop9 Posts: 1
    I have a 2005 Jetta GLS. Since I bought it 18 months ago the automatic transmission clunks when it goes from 2nd to 3rd. I've brought it to the dealership and one service guy told me it's the computer communication, not the tranny but I'm concerned that it can't be good for the tranny to keep clunking like that.
    Have you heard of this before and do you have any ideas on how I can approach the dealership for action to be taken. So far they haven't been too helpful.
    I have a few months left on the powertrain warranty.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    edited April 2010
    OWCHIE! nearly $300 for a "xmission service". How often does this have to happen? No thanks....I will stick with manual xmissions.

    VW manal xmissions are known the world-over for being some of the very finest examples of German Engineering. I have cumulative nearly a million miles on VW manual xmissions and never EVER had an issue. Even though VW says the xmission oil can last the life of the vehicle.... I usually change mine at 150,000 miles just for my own sanity. (mebbie $20 worth of oil every 150,000 miles is not too bad.)
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