Clunky shifting VW Lupo

I’ve got a 1999 VW Lupo (a 2 door hatchback version of a Golf) with a 1.4 liter 3 speed automatic. I bought the car last year with very low mileage on it, about 22000miles. Excellent shape. My mechanic thinks the car sat idle for a few years. That said, since I’ve had the car, particularly on cold mornings it sometimes shifts from 1st to 2nd with a CLUNK and a jerk. It generally doesn’t happen when the car warms up. Most of my driving is short hops in the city. Any ideas? Would new transmission fluid help? Suggestions welcome. Thanks!

Have you checked the transmission fluid? If it is leaking a little and getting a little low, it can cause problems when the car is cold that clear up after it has warmed up. Automatic transmission fluid expends when it gets hot. So you can start out below the acceptable level and then as it heats is makes it into the operable range. It is still “low” though. I’ve never looked at a Lupo dipstick but most have different ranges for cold and hot. If you checked it cold you might find if below the “add” level. If you checked it hot, you’d find it in the acceptable range, but not up to the “full” level for hot.

That’s just guesswork. New fluid? You said you bought it with 22K on it. How many are on it now. Most transmission techs will tell you to service an auto transmission every 30K miles. So if you’re near there, have it serviced. The most critical part of that is having EXACTLY the correct new fluid added, and having the filter replaced if the is one that can be serviced.

Thanks for this. The car now has 35k on it. I’ll have the transmission fluid and filter replaced.

The OP should be aware that the previous owner’s use of this car (less than 1,500 miles per year for ~15 years), coupled with the OP’s own usage (mostly short hops around the city) is the absolute worst type of usage that a car can be given, and that is why car mfrs term this type of usage Severe Service.

When you look at the VW maintenance schedule, you should ignore the regular maintenance schedule, and instead should follow the Severe Service maintenance schedule. Just like the regular maintenance schedule it will list service intervals in terms of both odometer mileage and elapsed time, with the proviso, “whichever comes first”. Thus, instead of changing the oil…let’s say…every 5,000 miles, the driver who puts very little mileage on the car should be doing all maintenance at the specified elapsed time intervals, rather than at the odometer mileage intervals. This may mean changing the oil every 4 months, even if the car was driven only a few hundred miles in that space of time.

When cars like this are not serviced according to elapsed time, they wind up with accumulations of engine-killing oil sludge, water-diluted brake fluid that can cause an accident, coolant that has lost its anticorrosion additives, and transmission fluid that is has lost its effectiveness and is damaging to the transmission. If you want to keep this little-used, low odometer mileage car running until it accumulates…let’s say…100k miles, you need to begin servicing it according to the Severe Service maintenance schedule.