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Martin, auto electrical
Category: VW
Satisfied Customers: 760
Experience:  South African Trade Diploma in Auto Electrical
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Volkswagen Golf TDI shifting trouble

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Hi, I have 1999 VW Golf TDI that has developed a manual transmission problem. I can engage 5th gear easily but, and this often, but not always, cannot disengage it readily for neutral / downshifts. The shifter is very loose sideways and up / down when in 5th, firm in other positions. With the exception of occasional trouble engaging 1st smoothly, all gears and reverse work fine. There is no whine or other untoward transmission noise. Any ideas? Approximate cost of repair?  Thank you in advance. L. Krysl

Hi, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I am at your service to assist with your VW problems. Welcome to Just Answer.

The fact that you say the shifter is very loose and that the fault varies and is erratic, leads me to think the ball that the lever hinges on is worn out and causing this behavior. I do not think there is any fault with the transmission itself, because then it would be a more constant problem.

As I reside in South Africa I cannot advise as to prices in your country, but you could perhaps search eBay for them.

Should you require further advice or assistance do not hesitate to ask.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hello Martin, and thank you for the answer re my shifting troubles. I'm glad to hear the transmission is not the problem, but if as you state the ball supporting the shift lever is worn out, would not all gears exhibit looseness? It is only noticeable in the 5th gear, other positions are firm. Anyway, I understand your inability to quote cost, but do you have any idea as to required repair time? Thanks again, and enjoy your summer.
Hello Ludvik,
I think if you replace the ball the problem should be fixed as those are the positions where there is the most wear.
The labor should not be more than 1 hour. I have found a site where they have photos and prices of the spares, perhaps you would like to see for yourself.

I hope this is helpful and please let me know if there is anything else with which I can assist you.

Martin and 5 other VW Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hello Martin,
Took my transmission troubled Golf to a mechanic who diagnosed the shifting problem as something broken in the actual trans and a linkage problem also. The trans fluid is apparently very black and sludgy. Bushings are worn. I realize your difficulty in forming a diagnosis based on verbal description, this is for your knowledge if you run into such a problem again.
1999 Golf TDI

Hello Ludvik, You are correct in saying that I can only judge from what you write. Dirty oil comes down to bad maintaining. Regards, Martin.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thanks Martin, will let my mechanic know. Will also check the repair schedule provided by the manufacturer when I see the car again; don't recall transmission service periods.
Hello Ludvik,
manual gearbox should get an oil change at around about 50000km

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