1997 Jetta GL 5-speed Shifting Problem



I’m having problems shifting into 1st and 2nd gear. It feels like there is a wall keeping it from going into gear and when you hold it against the ‘wall’ for a couple of seconds it finally goes into gear. The only time this isn’t a problem is occasionally when I’m shifting down from 2nd gear into 1st.

My problem started when the shop replaced the clutch because it was worn and slipping after 100,000 miles. When they replaced the clutch it was still slipping. I brought it back for an adjustment and it was slipping even more. I brought it back again and when I picked it up it was no longer slipping BUT about 5 miles after leaving the shop I started having problems shifting into 1st and 2nd gear. They figured it was because they hadn’t adjusted it to the correct point so we went through another 2 rounds of this. Each time I picked up the car it would shift with no problem for about 5 miles and then it got really difficult to shift into 1st and 2nd gear. The 4th time I brought it back in (6th visit overall) we noticed that the self-adjusting mechanism at the transaxle end of the clutch cable wasn’t staying extended and taught. You can yank on the adjustable segment and compress the spring fairly easily. After doing this a couple of times the internal ratchet finally catches and if you try to compress the spring again the clutch cable pulls the clutch lever and engages the clutch as it’s supposed to. The shop manager figured that it must be a bad clutch cable and replaced it with a brand new one (free of charge of course). Once again, I picked up the car and about 5 miles after leaving the shop the problem was back.

I’m sure that most of you would suggest taking the car to another shop and I’m seriously considering it, but this shop is willing to work this problem free of charge until it is fixed.

Anyone ever seen this before? More importantly has anyone ever solved this before?


My guess is that they have the shift linkage out of adjustment. This is common after trans removal. I have attached the VW technical service bulletin for linage adjustment. Print it out and take it and the car back to the shop. Make sure they follow all the steps exactly. It should cure your problem. If it doesn’t look at the TSB attached about the lock out bolt. I am not sure if your VW falls into the appropriate category for this repair but I have included it so you can check. Start with the linkage adjustment first.



Thanks for such a speedy reply. I took the linkage adjustment TSB to my shop. It’s not a dealer or vw specialty shop so they don’t have the lever gauge tool. They’re going to attempt to follow the procedure as close as they can without it. Do you think that they can realisically expect success without the tool?

I asked the manager whether he thought it would be useful to check out the selector shaft locking bolt and he said that those are usually only on an automatic transmission and not the manual transmission I have.