Auto Service World
Feature   July 1, 2004   by Rich Diegle, Automotive Technical Editor

Reversing VW Shifting Problems

A few years ago, I was sitting in the hospital emergency room with one of my best technicians, Torque. He got his nickname because he was fanatical about tightening every nut or bolt to the correct torque. If there weren't published specifications...

A few years ago, I was sitting in the hospital emergency room with one of my best technicians, Torque. He got his nickname because he was fanatical about tightening every nut or bolt to the correct torque. If there weren’t published specifications for a particular fastener, he would calculate the torque value by its metal composition and size. Although some jobs would take him a little longer, he still could beat the flat rate time and never had a “come-back.”

Why were Torque and I visiting the emergency room? It seems he was tightening a Volkswagen transmission selector shaft bolt when the socket slipped off and introduced Mr. Hand to Mr. Transmission Case, leaving him with a broken finger and a jagged gash requiring 10 stitches. As the doctor was getting the last stitch knotted, Torque leaned over and whispered with a concerned look, “Hey Doc, do you how tight those stitches are supposed to be?” You got to love Torque’s dedication.

The problem Torque was repairing concerned a 1995 Jetta that was hard getting in or out of reverse and occasionally would not shift into reverse. The customer said he bought the car used and that the problem existed as long as he had owned it. Because the problem was fairly intermittent, no shop really wanted to tear down the transmission for an inspection only to find no apparent problems.

Torque’s first order of business when beginning a job was to always check a vehicle’s TSBs on our Internet-based information resource, ALLDATA. Luckily, he had found one that addressed the Jetta’s shifting problem perfectly and had the TSB clipped to the repair order on his toolbox. I was able to pick up right where Torque left off using the information from the TSB. Here is the procedure described in the TSB:

Some 1995-97 Volkswagen Golf, GTI, Jetta and Cabrio models, equipped with a manual transmission, may not shift into reverse or could occasionally be difficult to shift in or out of reverse.

The problem may be caused by an incorrectly dimensioned slot on the selector shaft (with reverse gear brake) on transmissions produced between July of 1995 and January of 1997. If this condition exists on a vehicle equipped with a transmission built within this range, perform the following procedure:

Repair Procedure

(Review safety procedures contained in the ALLDATA system before beginning)

NOTE: This procedure can be accomplished with the transmission installed in the vehicle.

1. Remove the clutch cable.

2. Remove the selector lever (1).

3. Remove the selector shaft lock bolt (2).

4. Remove the selector shaft cover (3).

5. Remove the selector shaft (1).

6. Measure the length of the selector shaft slot (A).

* If the length of the slot is 40 mm, replace the selector shaft with VW Part #020 301 235S (slot length = 38 mm).

7. Install the selector shaft, spring and cover.

* Tightening torque: 47 ft lb (50 Nm)

8. Install a NEW selector shaft locking-bolt.

* Tightening torque: 30 ft lb (40 Nm)

9. Reinstall the selector lever using a NEW nut.

* Tightening torque: 18 ft lb (25 Nm)

10. Reinstall the clutch cable.

When he called the shop from home that afternoon, Torque wanted to know if everything had been tightened to specifications and if the repair had cured the problem. “Hey Torque,” I answered, pinning the phone to my ear with my shoulder while wiping a little grease off my hands. “I tightened everything to specs and the transmission shifted flawlessly. The customer is really happy.” “That’s great,” he said. “The doc says I have to take a week off to let my hand heal.” He added, “You know, I think these stitches are a little too loose. What’s the tensile strength of suture thread?”

Written by ALLDATA Technical Editor, Rich Diegle. Rich is an Advanced Engine Performance Certified, ASE Master Technician with an AA Degree in automotive technology and 23 years of dealership and independent shop experience.

2004 ALLDATA LLC. All rights reserved. ALLDATA is a registered trademark of ALLDATA LLC. All other marks are the property of their respective holders.

VW, Jetta and Cabrio are registered trademark names and model designations of Volkswagen AG and are being used solely for reference and application purposes.

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