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Automatic trans sticking in first gear after highway commute

My 2004 gas VW golf automatic trans seems to be getting stuck into 1st gear and not upshifting after my commute. Car runs and shifts fine, but after 40 minutes or so on 95, when starting and stopping as I get close to office, the car gets stuck in 1st, RPMs go up but nothing. When I start car back up after work no issues until I get off 95 again and get into start and stop traffic in town
Checked fluid level and all good

When was the last time the tranny was serviced.??? Filter replaced and filled with new fluid.

What color was the fluid when you checked it???


Actually never. It has the sealed VW transmission (not even a dipstick) which is suposed to never need servicing. In order to check fluid the plug needed to be removed, so I actually had it done at shop. No feedback on burnt coloration. Has 150 k on it

Sorry to tell you this, but the “sealed, never need service” transmissions are total bunk. This bit of marketing-speak is intended to reassure you, and also to mollify the european countries that have rigid fluid disposal rules.

Yes, they will last 100k miles or even longer with no service. But if you want to get to 200k or beyond, you have to service the transmission every 30-50k miles. That means replacing the fluids and filters.

There will likely be a fault recorded in the Transmission control module indicating the cause of the low gear limit or limp mode.

I hear you. With that symptom set, does it sound like a filter/overheat issue or a kiss that tranny goodbye song?I am getting a little tired of working on this car, but if the transmission isn’t toast I would probably keep it going at least til tax time

my coworker’s daughter used to have 2005 Passat with “sealed” transmission.

around 115K miles she gave it as a “gift” to her dad as transmission was sticking on low gears and developed some vibration. car had a great body, quite worn suspension, but great clean interior, so he figured he would repair and keep it

upon getting transmission pan removed, he found some gunk, but other than that, he made a research and found that VW solenoids controlling valves are “open type” and get their magnets to grow “beards” of metal particles, eventually making valves to stick and transmission to develop “sticky gears”

he found that these solenoids are sold only in full pack, at some ridiculous price, so he cleaned it as much as he could, get fresh ATF if and traded car

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When this problem happens and it seems to be stuck in first gear, then when you step on the gas does the engine rpm keep going higher, but the car doesn’t move at all? Does it move forward a little, but not as fast as it used to for that rpm in first gear? If either of those two describe the symptom, given the number of miles and no routine transmission servicing, you are probably looking at a complete transmission rebuild or installing a used transmission. 150 K without spending any money on the transmission, all in all that’s pretty good. Things w/moving parts don’t last forever.

That said, there’s some chance – not a high % bet imo — the problem can be corrected for relatively short money. Fluid and filter replacement, a general clean out, maybe replacing a solenoid, that sort of thing. You’d need a transmission expert to do the appropriate tests to know for sure. To me this sounds like the clutch packs are near their wear limit. Automatics have clutches just like manuals, only more of them. And they always eventually wear out.