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Matt, Engineer
Category: VW
Satisfied Customers: 21990
Experience:  Mechanical Engineer with 20 years experience in the auto industry, 8 yrs in formula 1 engine testing
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1999 vw: beetle..wont shift..of 3 gear, doesnt down shift either

Resolved Question:

1999 vw new beetle wont shift out of 3 gear, doesnt down shift either. Started doing this after we ran it through a carwash with undercarriage wash
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: VW
Expert:  Matt replied 7 years ago.

Is the car automatic or manual?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Expert:  Matt replied 7 years ago.

I'd take a look at the colour of the transmission oil it should be a dark red colour if its black then its needs changing together with its oil filter. Also check its level with the gearbox warm and just after you've moved the selector through all the positions leaving it for a few seconds in each one and then back to park.

You can top up the box through the dipstick tube if required and make sure you use the correct oil for your car as the fluids are not all the same. Some manufacturers recommended a change of the type of fluid - Speak to the local dealer and parts dept - they will advise you on the updated fluid to use..

If that’s all OK then check all the connections to the solenoids on the top or side of the gearbox, remove each connector in turn and spray with contact cleaner. Check that the wiring to the gearbox is in good condition with no chafing or frayed wire

Then - you should top up if low and re try it - or, if its level is ok - and condition is ok - then the next step is to drain it off - open it up and clean the filters inside -- refill and retry it..

Often - just doing the above cures many troubles with these - and you certainly can't condemn the unit without doing the above...

Shift issues can also be a loose or worn out shifter cable or loose bolts in the shift mechanism resulting in that the transmission may not be fully engaged into drive

So do that and go from there. If you do still have troubles after that - then the next best move is to let a local Auto Transmission Specialist have a look at it -- they can often repair the unit considerably cheaper than replacement..
Matt and other VW Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Expert:  Matt replied 7 years ago.
No problem
Expert:  Matt replied 7 years ago.

I've just be given some more information by another expert its possible that transmission is in 'safe' mode. It will only release when the fault / diagnostic codes are read and cleared.

Check all codes for cause of safe mode.

Thanks to rrmann for the advice