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Volkswagen Beetle Transmission Problems



  • elenewlifeelenewlife Posts: 21
    Boy am I with you!! My entire life I wanted a powder blue Beetle Convertible. Well, it reminds me of that expression - "be careful what you wish for - you may JUST get it". I have driven VW my entire career, almost 35 years now. Was a painfully loyal customer. The car is a DOG. What you are describing sounds like their "flywheel" problem in the transmission. It is a well-documented "issue" that has affected many, many vehicles. Mine "went" at around 7,500 miles. That "clunk, clunk" could just be what you are explaining. Maybe they are hoping you get out of warrantee and they don't have to cover it anymore. The flywheel, unfortunately, is not covered anyway. Only people in the world who don't consider the clutch part of the drivetrain. I always chuckle over that. Try to drive a car without a clutch.

    Anyway, yes, the lights. Another "issue of endearment". Mine was just brought back to the dealer this time. Both my low beam and high beam on the driver side don't work this time. But I have someone to blame I believe for it. Look at the internet and all the complaints about the electrical issues. Tons and tons of complaints out there.

    I have been advising people to do only one thing that has any merit: Tell the NTSB. They are THE ONLY agency with the authority to do a recall on these cars and give us $$$ back. Other than that? No one cares. Look, it worked for the Hondas and Toyotas. Enough complaints and enough safety issues they listen.
    Lights are certainly a BIG safety issue.

    VW knows they had big problems with these cars. Just LOOK. They are no longer making them. THAT says it all.

    Good luck with yours. I hope I can drive this safely soon. I have lost TOTAL confidence in it. And THAT was the reason I drove VW to begin with. Very very sad.
  • Like so many other bug owners, my wife loves here 2003 Beetle convertible. It is a fun little car to drive. This is the second one she has ownded and the first one we have had any major problems with. In March 2010 I put in a new water pump at 76,000. Which is really no suprise given the histroy of it. While my mechanic had it he called and said the cv joints on were leaking a little and needed to be replaced on both sides. So all totaled up new water pump and timing belt, both cv shaft and oil change just over $700. On May 10th I was driving through Coulumbus, OH, which is 2 and a half hours away from my home, and the transmission will not shift out of third gear. It gave no warning or anything. Pulled out of a parking lot onto a busty street and it shift through 1st, 2nd, and into t3rd but nor out just revs. Took it to a very reputible foriegn car machaninc who diagnosed my worst fears. Transmission is gone at least $4,800 to fix. Called VWoA and was told sorry can;t help you! Upon the adives of those on this forum I have filed a complaint with Office of Defects Investigation with USDOT. Hope something can be done. My wife is pretty upset without her little bug and I'm not to happy with VW!
  • 0949flo0949flo Posts: 1
    2005 VW Convertible auto transmission, (73,000 miles) I had the lurching problem also, after a couple of trips to dealership, a new tcm computer chip($716.48) and a new valve body($1,124.00) it seems to be okay. This is my first major problem other than having to replace both back windows. Based on the comments on this forum I made a mistake purchasing the cutest car I ever seen. I am beginning to wonder if I should trade it now! I really like the car but making payments and making large repairs does not make good sense.
  • elenewlifeelenewlife Posts: 21
    Oh boy I read yours here and wondered now that mine is quiet for a wee bit is THIS gonna start up now. You see, they had a flywheel problem in many of the transmissions. I have heard from several owners who complained bout that "bumpety bump" thing. I had wanted a powder blue beetle convertible all my life. Gotta watch what you wish for - just might get it. Sure did. At around 7,500 miles (mine is a 5 speed) if the car got hot at all, namely traffic and there is NOWHERE in northern NJ where you don't sit in rush hour traffic getting to a job - it would literally JUMP up and down etc. while it smelled like burning metal until it became disabled and had to be pushed to the side. Initially I would have it towed to the dealer.

    Well, the dealer would instruct me on how to drive a 5 speed. Nice, huh? Of course they also wanted a new flyewheel on ME? I said screw them. Another dealer just pretended they didn't have "issues" and said "DRIVE IT" so I did until it died about 3 weeks ago and I had it officially replaced. Until that time it would overhead, jump up and down, etc. if it got stuck in traffic. Terrible. One trip reading complaints on the internet and I saw it had problems. Next thing you know, they don't MAKE a 5 speed - then you stop manufacturing the Beetle. Gee whiz - why do you think THAT is???

    Anyway, they have a litany of service issues a mile long. Cutest cars I ever drove but a service nightmare. And the transmissions seem to have been the most ill-thought out of all their issues.

    I have only ever driven VW so it is a terrible disappointment for me. Don't know what to buy next. Boat???
  • momelmissymomelmissy Posts: 1
    I am currently having transmission issues with my 2006 Beetle convertible and I was wondering what kind of information you had when you called. I have taken my car to Aamco and they have told me that the transmission is bad and needs to be completely replaced. The sad thing is that I've only owned this car for 3 months I want to get it fixed but the 4,000-6,000 dallor quote that I got is a bit out of my price range. Any advice that you can give would be greatly appreciated :cry:
  • nospfnospf Posts: 3
    I think I found you all too late!!!! Have had my convertible two months. The passenger window will not work automatically, the key will NOT turn and I have to work with it, and the car just sputters at an intersection.... It is quite scary. Is anyone having trouble with 2009 Beetle? My second time to take it in is next week and they will replace key switch. What could the hesitation and lurching be? transmission like the rest of you? Oh no... what have I done.
  • vwbugssuckvwbugssuck Posts: 15
    Sorry, but the same thing happened to me, wish I had found this website first. The window motor is out and it will cost around $400 to repair, then your other window will go out; the 2 back ones in mine went. The hesitation is your tranny and while I had the lurching the mechanic could never duplicate so we didn't figure it out. I would be sitting with foot on the brake and car in gear then it would "jump" until I took foot off and put back on real quick, scared the crap out of me! I'm trying to locate an attorney who is willing to start a class action lawsuit cause the gov doesn't give a damn. I will post on here when I find someone! Good luck!
  • nospfnospf Posts: 3
    Was your bug a 2009? I presume if I am under warranty then if windows go - they will be covered. My car starts to go and then just stops. You press the gas and after a few seconds it shoots forward. Sometimes it just sits. I have pressed the gas, tapped the gas, etc., etc.... Of course, they cannot duplicate it either...
  • vwbugssuckvwbugssuck Posts: 15
    edited June 2010
    There are only about 25 complaints on NTSB, compared to the number of vehicles sold that is nothing. You must file your complaint! Go to NTSB and do it now! Another place, if you were almost involved or you were involved in an accident is to file another complaint (have your VIN handy if possible). In addition, you need to go to to file a complaint there as well as request a review for class action lawsuit. Need to get the word to those individuals who can help!
  • vwbugssuckvwbugssuck Posts: 15
    That's how my 2005 started then a few weeks later discovered the transmission needed to be replaced. If yours is a 2009 there is no maintenance on these so get it back into the dealer and get them to replace with a new one (not rebuilt). Don't let them put you off either; it's the tranny. Also, your window motors will more than likely go out, you'll want the extended warranty, those are $400 each. Also go onto NTSB and to file complaints. The more that file the better chance we'll be heard! Also go to and file for review for a class action lawsuit.
  • Thanks vwbugssuck

    I have been waiting for something to happen for 8 months on it's own but your last post inspired me to get off my but and file my complaint. I just finished it and it took me about 5 min. All they asked for was to discribe the incedent and a seperate page for your personal information so I may be contacted if necessary. I have attached the link and encourage everyone to stand up for all of us.

    I also attached this link to this blogg as 264 reasons they should listen to our complaint.

    Good luck to all of us.
  • belinda1belinda1 Posts: 3
    I just purchased a 2002 beetle for my daughter havent even made the first payment and the transmission went out along with the brake switch windows and the windshield cracked. All in the first 2weeks. So what do I do can't take it back cost 4200.00 to get the transmission fixed not to mention the windows. So if anyone has any advice I sure need it. Don't know if the brake switch going out would cause the transmission to go or not but I sure got took on this car deal. Paying for something I can't afford to fix. I am just paying for it to sit at a garage guess they will drag it here and I can look at it every time a payment is made and just wish I had something to drive. I HATE VW BEETLES !!! They are Cute but not that Cute! Belinda
  • tpadelfordtpadelford Posts: 33
    If you bought it at a dealer you may have a limited warranty on it. you need to look at your paperwork. If you bought it from a private party you may be screwed unless they bought an extended warranty that extends to you. Also sometimes you may think you do not have a warranty when you actually do so look at the paperwork and get the car back to where you bought it from. Also see if you have any outs in your state i.e. lemon laws or if the dealer has a trial and exchange program. If none of these work out Find a shop that specializes in V.W. The first step is to have them check the magnet to see if there is any metal in the pan. If no metal your transmission may still be O.K. the valve body may just need to be replaced. Also when they check the pan don't have them waste the fluid if it is good. Most specialty places will work with you because they know how expensive this mess can be. If there is metal in the pan you have two choices one rebuild it for about 3000 to 3500 or get a replacement for about 4000. a valve body is 1000 or so and if you can reuse the fluid you wont have to pay for that but they may want to replace the fluid and filter this would be around 400 dollars. so in short if magnet is o.k. you may be able to replace valve body and filter and fluid for a total of 1000 to 1500 dollars. these bugs are a mess. One other thing to check into is that if you have comprehensive insurance you may be able to get the insurance company involved and file a comprehensive claim. Comprehensive claims are sometimes not easy because there may be strict guidelines for getting your claim approved. I filed a comprehensive claim to get mine fixed but it was because someone caused harm to my car by putting the wrong fluid in it and it was documented. It would be a good idea for you to look at all paper work on the car and see what work has been done if you have that information. Then if there has been any type of transmission service done look into that and see about any warranty from anyone who has worked on the car. Also if there has been work on it cross reference the type of fluid used with the type that is required by the maintenance manual. This cross referenceing is how I found out the incorrect fluid was used and was documented on my paperwork so I had all of the ammo needed to get my claim approved. There are different types of transmissions and different fluids that are special to the type of transmission you have. and if the transmission has been serviced by a garage that does no know any better they might think it is O.K. to use a similar type but not the same type of fluid. I had a mechanic once tell me the fluid type did not matter and he was wrong. I am in the aviation field and the Germans have modeled their cars after aviation technology. In American cars it may not be a big deal but in these cars it is huge. Do not let just any one work on your car. Take it to a specialty shop.Have them cross reference any information on the car you can find. Also get a car fax from There may be something in the history you can track down. Like if it was serviced at a dealer and you can call or write the service manager at that dealer to get a more detailed history if you see there was service work done on the transmission. Maybe a new one was put in or they replaced a transmission control module anything that can help you claim that the car has had an existing condition and should therefore be covered by V.W. or the dealer the work was done at. The only other thing I can tell you is to get a hold of the regional rep at V.W. and see if there is anything they can do after you have compiled all of the information I have compiled. I can say that when I got my carfax
    I was surprised to see that there was a problem within the first month my car was put into service. Apparently the previous owner had a problem with it and I saw on the carfax record that they had replaced the transmission control module (500) which could also be the issue if your magnet is clean of any metal. Good luck to you I hope it works out. I took me five months to get mine fixed. I hope all this information has not been confusing. if you have any further questions let me know.
  • elenewlifeelenewlife Posts: 21
    Oh brother I'm so sorry! My flywheel in the transmission went at 7500 miles! Knew then and there I had a problem on my hands. Who did you buy it from, someone private? The ONLY recourse we have at this time is to file a claim with the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board). If they see enough of these bum transmissions they will RECALL the car as the Nissans have been recalled and the other duds that were manufactured with defects. It is THE only recourse at this time. I won't tell you the other problems the car was MADE with. A few hours on the internet and you'll find out yourself. There is a website "Ask a VW expert" who can also help you go in the right direction. Get the car away from a garage that isn't VW. ONLY VW can help you. A VW dealer who is sympathetic will sometimes take it off your hands as a trade and get you in another car. They don't like the bad PR. And there's LOTS of it with the Beetles. They didn't stop making them for no reason. Cute as heck but loaded with problems. I know. Believe me. First and ONLY VW to give me any trouble. I was a loyal VW driver all my life. ONLY car with problems. So sorry. Get moving. There IS help out there.
  • buglessbugless Posts: 2
    I had the weekend planned out-the 2004 Bug picked out-a deposit down to hold the Bug for me - my girlfriends signed up for the road trip from Washington to Oregon to buy the car of which my daughter's dreams are made of, and then my invaluable friend suggested this site to evaluate the adorable Blue Bug, which is staying right where it is, on the dealer's lot.
    It was sad to tell my daughter that a Bug is off the menu; I'll keep my fingers crossed for you all that VW is made to reimburse you for the multiple miseries you've endured. Good Luck.
  • cbahalocbahalo Posts: 5
    I've had my 2005 Convertible Bug for 5 years, had nothing but trouble. The dealership has been great and eaten a lot of the troublesome dollars, but the last straw just snapped. The rear passenger window quit working. I drive with the top down and the windscreen in place, the only time the window ever moves is when I lower or raise the rag top. A rebuilt motor for it was $535! A new one would have cost $1000. I also have a 4 door Buick with 195,000 and have NEVER had a window motor problem on it. I no longer LOVE my car. I will be selling it and replacing it with a BUICK.
  • elenewlifeelenewlife Posts: 21
    Oh boy, isn't that awful? Boy thank heavens I haven't had those types of problems although the button which raised the top did fall off and I had to pay to have that replaced. No window issues. Only transmission or drive train issues. ONLY I say, right?

    I'm so sorry. If you scan the internet you'll see your problem is quite common. Just check THIS site alone and you'll find it. I'm so sorry. We've all had so many problems with these and spent a fortune. It's quite sad. I wish you well.

    Go out and file your "mess" with the NTSB (the National Transportation Safety Board). They DO listen. Only way we might ever get any money back or a recall on them.
  • nospfnospf Posts: 3
    I'm sorry.... This makes me scared to death..... Just got rid of a lemon Mustang... only to find out Beetles have so many problems. My 10,000 miles check is coming up and I'll ask them once again to check my ignition switch. Live and learn.
  • nanlifenanlife Posts: 1
    I bought mine used, at 64,000 miles. the transmission went at 78,000 miles. The dealer said they don't fix them, must be new. I said..wait...isn't it under warrentee? Yes, by 13 miles..yes only 13 miles! Dealer said, oh then we will fix it.. hm? thought you said you couldn't? But they tried to fix and it wouldn't so I did get a new one for free.
    Now.. Top motor broke. I think the little door was jammed and when it finally opened the mechanism broke.Dealer said needs replacing, $400 parts, $400 labor.
    Ugh! I am having someone else look at it. No longer in warrentee. Should have gotten the extended. Would have paid for itself 10 fold!
    Other problems have been window motors, those were replaced. Windsheild cracked, seat latch falls off.
    Lucky I had a warrentee between 60-80 thousand..but now.. I am afraid. Should I keep it? 120,000 miles now, newer transmission...or should I sell before my window fall out? Feel free to contact me,
  • Boy where'd the dealer get that info on the transmission? It is COVERED (or was) until 100,000. VW was always so good about their drivetrain warrantee. So the guy was jerking your chain and thank heavens you got the transmission.

    That other stuff is all pretty typical of the electrical/miscellaneous issues the car has had. Put those things in the search engine on the internet and you'll see hundreds of complaints just like yours. The only thing anyone can do is file a complaint with the NTSB. They then get a record of all of it and maybe if they see enough activity it screams "Recall" them and we get our money back. Or at least some of it. The transmission problems specifically are pretty common.

    I'm in that awful place now where I've put so much into it I really can't afford to get rid of it. I have to drive it for awhile and try to get some of my money back. I keep praying nothing else too serious goes on it. I just knocked on anything wood that I could find.......

    Good luck to YOU!!
  • jcrabjcrab Posts: 1

    I am having the same problems with my 2000 beetle. The automatic transmission wont shift above first gear after it has been driven for awhile. Dealer couldnt find anything wrong with it. Any advice would be most appreciated.
  • Oh I'm so sorry for you. Trust me, been there, done that. TWO things I had go wrong and BOY did I have a hard time.

    First thing was the FLY WHEEL ASSEMBLY in the transmission. When the car got hot, anytime it was overheated, say sitting in traffic, oh boy, it jumped for joy everywhere. Had to be pushed off the side of the road, then towed. This was in the beginning. After awhile I learned just not to sit in traffic, or on a hill, or ever let it get hot. That was in the beginning. As it got more miles on it it didn't matter. Dealer did NOTHING for me. This stuff started around 7500 miles and they KNEW it had problems. VW manufactured these cars with transmission problems. Knew all about it. Wanted ME to pay. I said no way. Drove it until about 75,000 and then it was disabled and HAD to be fixed. Once I saw what a flywheel WAS I knew immediately that was my problem. As the car got hot this thing wobbled and got all out of round and literally I could see how my car would drive and shift with that thing.

    A friend of mine, also a Beetle driver, had problems with the actual stick shift itself needing to be screwed back into the transmission itself!! Whoever heard of such a thing? But THAT was HER problem. Imagine that. Went through all the things that I did, paid thousands, and when HERS got hot it literally wiggled away from the stick shift and did the same stuff as mine. Boy THAT was tough to diagnose but eventually she did figure it out. Could've bought a new Beemer for what she's spent on hers. Me, too.

    Terrible thing to go through, isn't it? Sorry you've had to "join the club".
  • You are screwed. you will do all the research like many of us to find the best course of action only to find yourself more confused and not sure what you should do. My advice is to take it to a v.w. specialty shop and hope they do not rip you off. good luck.
  • shaunnalshaunnal Posts: 27
    There are only about 25 complaints on NTSB, compared to the number of vehicles sold that is nothing. You must file your complaint! Go to NTSB and do it now! Another place, if you were almost involved or you were involved in an accident is to file another complaint (have your VIN handy if possible). In addition, you need to go to to file a complaint there as well as request a review for class action lawsuit. Need to get the word to those individuals who can help!
  • orangebugorangebug Posts: 13
    edited August 2010
    My 2004 VW New Beetle Convertible with Triptonic transmission, with only 53,800 miles, lurches in the lower gears after the car warms up in about 10 minutes. The car will not shift smoothly between the lower gears and often revs up to 5000 rpm before it "clunks" into higher gear. The VW Dealer mechanic would like to replace the transmission, at a cost to me of $6800.

    An alternative would be to go to someplace like Aamco or a local shop and have the transmission rebuilt. Does anyone have any experience with a rebuilt transmissions reliability? It would be way cheaper than a new one.

    My research has learned that the first generation of VW’s double clutch transmissions had a chronic weak point. They combine a wet clutch (as in traditional automatic) and a gear part (as in traditional manual transmission), however both are lubricated out of same oil sump. The gear part causes the oil to be more contaminated with wear particles (vs. traditional automatic transmission). This contaminated oil is used also in the valve body and the wet clutch, and these wear particles can deteriorate the performance of the wet clutch (clutch material, resulting in slippage, or clutch and gear change hydraulic controls, resulting in defective shift strategies). Once that happens, damage is usually irreversible. VW changed the oil service recommendation recommend from (fill for life) or 100,000 miles to 40,000 miles. Even at this reduced amount, they clearly still had a problem. They probably modified the design since but have not admitted it. VW has not been ethical in their handling of the defective transmission design.

    I am planning a letter writing campaign to flood VW with complaints. Has anyone had any success?

    In addition, I have filed my complaint, along with many others, on the NHTSA website:

    If you haven't filed a claim on this website, please do so, it may be our best hope of a recall or at least reimbursement for the repairs. :(
  • Yes, I also have the 04 convertible bettle..I brought it to Aamco about 15,000 miles ago..and they worked wonders! It is amazing how other mechanics see design problems that VW didnt'! VW said they never heard of the problem - very insulting! They needed to rebuild a few great now. I also registered a complaint with NHTSA and also the consumer website that someone earlier in the week suggested. I let all those people who think the car is cute that I would never buy another VW and tell them of the need for a new transmission at 80,000 miles...absolutely not acceptable to me. Please let me know of any organized letter writing campaign; also thinking of writing to the Wall Street Journal for their "auto" advice. Save all your receipts for any work done.
  • My car still sits in my driveway as I cannot bring myself to spend between 5500 and 7500 for a transmission when the car is bluebook at 7500. The re-built by volkswagen is only guaranteed up to 12,000. I would check your warranty re the transmission, I thought it was up to 65,000. Even if it is only 50,000 I would contact VW of America to discuss, only 3,000 outside of warranty, they should just pick it up but don't wait any longer. Good that you filed a complaint! I wish others would do it! I've been trying to find an attorney who would take a class action lawsuit but no luck so far. The more complaints the better!! Let me know how it goes with VW of America and good luck! Cathy
  • Thanks, I will let my car limp to Aamco and get an estimate.

    I will continue to post as I make progress in my fight with VW. I am going to send them a book with 56 pages of printouts from this forum, 14 pages of NHTSA complaints on 2004 convertible, and copies of what the mechanics tell me.

    Wall Street Journal is a great idea. Also, what about somebody calling the "Car Talk" guys on NPR? I wonder what they would think? At least we'd get a good laugh.
  • My car hasn't been fixed yet, it is out of warranty (5 years) and VW was not receptive on the first call. My husband called, the woman listened politely and offered nothing.

    I am going to send VW of America a book with 56 pages of posts from this forum, 14 pages of complaints on NHTSA website, and repair estimate from the VW mechanic.

    There was a post sometime last year on potential class action, nothing ever became of it. Was that you? How many people are required for class action? For my model alone there are 36 complaints on NHTSA, I'm sure there are many more who haven't filed a claim. Too bad, such a cute little car!
  • Hi there,

    I've got a 2003 Beetle, and I got the same story from the dealer. And their apologies that I was 100 miles out of warranty. The warranty apparently expired at 65,000. I had had trouble with it clunking and shifting hard for months, and had taken it to the dealer four times complaining of the problems and each time they claimed they couldn't find any problem.

    Then at 65,100 miles, the transmission just completely froze up on a busy Los Angeles freeway. Thank god I was able to get to the side without causing a major accident. I had the tow truck take my car to the dealer and they said new transmission for $6,800 and refused to do anything for me about the warranty even though they had previously checked the car out four times.

    I got a tow truck to take the car to an old-time transmission shop in business and under the same owner since the 1960's! Seriously. They were able to rebuild the transmission. I'm over 100K miles now and the car's been fine. I also had to replace a Valve Body and a Transmission Control Unit, I think it was called.
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