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1983 VW Rabbit, Transmission Slips at Higher RPM's, Please Advise


My 1983 Rabbit convertible went in for its regular oil change yesterday. My mechanic unknowingly used the 5th gear lockout plunger doodad to top off my transmission fluid. Upon leaving the shop I promptly discovered that I no longer had 4th or 5th gear. It went back and after a brief look at my repair manual (which lives in my back seat) my last 2 gears were returned. This time upon leaving the shop I found my car would slip out of gear at higher RPMs. Most noticeable in 3rd, 4th, and 5th. It is not physically slipping out of gear, as in the stick does not move, but if I attempt to accelerate too fast the engine will wind itself up but the car will not respond otherwise. If I let off and accelerate more gently it will stay in gear and accelerate. It is more prone to happening going up inclines.
My linkage is not in the best of shape but it does not appear to be the culprit. I have gone through resetting the 5th gear detent spring thingie with 2 people more mechanically inclined than myself and that appears to be doing what it is supposed to do. I have adjusted my clutch cable which also did not get rid of the problem. The clutch and cable are both new as of the beginning of summer.
I apologize for the rambling story but it is the only way I could figure out to explain my situation. Any insight on what is wrong with my Rabbit and possible solutions would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you


It sounds like oil got on the clutch disk. It mite be the front transmission seal is leaking.

Or a clutch disk that is just flat worn out. Either way, transmission needs to come out and clutch needs to be replaced. Front seal of transmission, too, if it is leaking.

Oil sounds probable and better than a cooked transmission. I doubt the clutch is worn out (it is only a few months old) but it does seem like I am going to be tearing in to look either way. Thank you for the input.

Slipping could be caused by the clutch, recently replaced or not. No info is known about exactly what was replaced and who done it.
Set the park brake, put the transmission in 3rd gear, rev the engine up a bit, and (while holding the foot brake too), let the clutch pedal out quickly. The engine should die instantly. If not, the clutch is slipping.

The jumping out of gear (assuming it was never doing this before) would likely point to a shift linkage problem. The shift linkages on this era of VW were a bit quirky anyway.

It’s 28 years old…While convertibles escape the jaws of the shredder longer than their mundane brothers, they too finally reach a point…

I was part of replacing the clutch and while that does not insure that it is as it should, I am pretty sure it is. But I will certainly give your suggestion a try.

I will take my junk Rabbit over any car with an onboard computer. I still have a sense of style.

It may be an '83 but it’s still soldiering on. These were actually pretty decent cars. VW sold millions of them and based on what I saw while working for VW, I’d also say these cars have been some of the most flogged cars in the world. People literally drove them into the ground.

I do have an affinity for the GTI though. :slight_smile: