Did garage repair cause Emergency Running Mode fault?


Just spent >$2000 with an independent German car specialist garage to have a VW Jetta (99 Wolfsburg edition, automatic transmission) repaired to fix an ignition problem (bad battery), significant oil leak (engine unmounted, new gaskets) and non-functional AC (compressor replaced).

Driving the car off the lot, the transmission was revving high, gave a jerky transition from 2nd --> 3rd and would not shift to 4th even at high speed, coasting conditions. This problem was not present prior to service. Dash also has an illuminated engine check light. Immediately returned the car to the shop for further checks. Mechanic suggested problem may have arisen from a) introduction of water from steam cleaning engine, or b) a misalignment during motor reassembly. Promised to investigate and fix free of charge.

So far, however the problem remains unsolved. Engine check fault cannot be located nor reset. Not sure if he has run full diagnostics on the Transmission Control Module.

Question: Is the car locked into Emergency Running Mode because of a Drive (D) gear problem ? Any advice on how this came about (misalignment, incorrect sensor connection/settings) and how to proceed from here ?

I’m willing to give the garage the benefit of the doubt and another shot at trying to get this fixed. They appear open and genuine but at the same time I don’t want to get suckered into a perpetual “let’s-replace-this-part-and-see-what-happens” situation, especially if they start to charge for parts+labor.

Any helpful comments much appreciated.


(Fiscally constrained) VW owner


If the check engine light is on and the transmission is shifting harsh (an indication of the trans being in limp mode) then there should be some sort of trouble code coming up. Are they getting any codes?? If so, what codes?? You might not know this, but are they using a code reader to check this or a true scanner?? I would give them another chance to locate the problem, and it seems like they acknowledge there is a problem and want to resolve it for you, but I would nicely let them know that you can not accept the vehicle back running in limp mode and if they cant fix it, have THEM send it to the local dealer for diagnostics. Good luck with it and keep us posted on whats happening with it.