Fallen Transmission

I have a 2003 VW six speed Beetle. The car has a little under 42,000 miles on it and has received regular service. While driving yesterday, I ran over something or something fell from the undercarriage. The car then slowed and stopped. After that, the shift would not engage any gear.

The car was towed, and I was told by my mechanic today that the transmission fell out. Does anyone know how that happens? Did I run over something? It seems so odd. The car has never had a problem.

Also, the mechanic tells me the replacement for the six speed transmission is $4,000.00 plus $1,000-$2,000 for labor. Does that sound appropriate?

I am pretty ignorant of cars and how they work, other than the most basic aspects. Any thoughts, ideas or conclusions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

There is far, far, more to this story…Ask your mechanic to show you the spot where the missing transmission once occupied…Transmissions don’t just “fall out”…

The transmission is tightly bolted to the engine, so the engine must have fallen out, too! I don’t think so! Please find an acquaintance or friend that knows cars to go with you to talk to the “mechanic”, this story smells to high heaven.

Well it is a Volkswagen, so you never know…

Thanks for the feedback. Based on what I described as happening, does anyone have an idea of what did happen and/or can be done to correct it? After I ran over something or something dropped from the undercarriage, the shifter would not engage any of the gears. I could almost feel the gears through the shifter but couldn’t engage them.

Whether you ran over something or not, an internal component of the transmission seems to have failed. It is impossible to tell exactly what component has been damaged or simply failed from this vantage point. You may not need a new transmission, but then again you may. Transmissions do not “fall out”, maybe your mechanic was using some form of jargon that only makes sense to him. Get a second or third opinion before you spend $6000.

Please ask your “mechanic” for an exact description of the failure and post back. If he simply insists “The Transmission fell out”, have your car towed to another shop that employ mechanics that are able to communicate accurate descriptions of mechanical failures…

Then we can begin an intelligent discussion on what it’s going to take to fix it…

Thanks again for the input. I am going to see the mechanic today and ask him to show me where the transmission fell out and/or how the transmission failed. I will let everyone know the results.

I think the OP will find out that part of the transmission’s shift linkage became disconnected and fell off. At least that is my theory at this point.

Of course, that does not explain why her mechanic seems to think that she needs to spend $5k+ for repairs, but at the very least, this should be an interesting one to follow. As usual, there is much more to this story than we have been told so far.

Do you have anyone that knows cars that could go? Or maybe get the mechanic to explain it to them over the phone while you’re standing there?

I spoke to the mechanic who has the car today. He said the transmission did not fall out, but there is some type of failure in the transmission. Further, the cost to take the transmission apart piece by piece and diagnose the failure would cost at least as much, if not more than, the cost to replace the transmission. I also spoke to the VW dealership where the car was purchased, and they agreed with the mechanic’s opinion that it is more cost effective to replace the transmission than to begin disassembling it.

Part of the reason for the high cost is attributable to the transmission’s cost. While a five speed transmission costs around $1,200.00 to $2,000.00, a six speed costs approximately $4,000.00. The mechanic is having a hard time locating a reconditioned six speed because it was apparently a relatively rarely chosen option. He is talking to a transmission guy about whether a five speed could be installed. That would cut the cost somewhat and make things easier.

I feel more comfortable after speaking to both the mechanic and the VW dealership. They seemed to be in sync. Does anyone have further thoughts in light of what was learned today? Thanks again for the input received so far.

There is one thing that I can’t shake and it has to do with you saying that this occurred either when you ran something over or when something fell out of the bottom of the car. Nothing that you ran over would cause an internal transmission failure (except something really drastic like a boulder and that would leave nothing to the imagination). It is also the case that an internal failure would not drop anything out of the bottom of the car.

I keep going back to VDCDriver’s suggestion above that you just lost a piece of shift linkage or something.

The only other thing I can imagine is that you just heard something that sounded like you ran something over or something fell from the car. That could have been something giving out inside of the transmission.

Either way, if I were you I’d get at least one more opinion from another shop. What kind of mechanic is this? Is it a corporate chain type of shop? Is it a place you’ve been using and you trust?

I would do a nationwide parts search (Google “used VW Parts”) and see if you can’t find a used 5-speed and the shift linkage which will be different than the linkage installed in your car.

Consumers often learn the hard way when they choose (or simply buy) cars equipped with very low production powertrain options like 6-speed manual transmissions. When repairs are needed, your car becomes an orphan…

It is sad indeed when today’s mechanics shy away from rebuilding manual gear-boxes…But with todays complex trans-axles and uncertain parts availability I guess you can’t blame them…

In response to Cigroller, you might be right that it was something giving out inside the transmission. I was only going about 25 miles per hour and did not see anything in the street. Also, when I stopped the car to look for what was under the car, I saw nothing.

In response to Cigroller and Caddyman, I spoke to the mechanic today and was told he has not been successful finding a six-speed transmission and found out significant work would be required to convert the car to a five-speed.

I do trust the mechanic. He is a local guy here in Philly who I have gone to for the last ten years. Since he is out of options, I am going to a local VW dealership tomorrow to see what they suggest. The car was purchased during two years I was living in Washington, DC, so the original dealer is geographically out of reach.

What strikes me as goofy is the fact that I would have been able to collect money from the insurance company if the car had been totalled in an accident. Because it’s a mechanical malfunction, I am SOL.

Thanks again to all for their input. I am open to any suggestions or ideas.

Here is a place to start looking:


As you fill out the request form, they will ask if your tranny is the EGT or the EZK. So you will need to know that to get the right one. These are both 5-speed codes…

Now here is a 6-speed out of a Jetta, which shares the powertrain with the Beetle

One aspect of this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Your old transmission has to come out no matter what is done. So, whoever does the work is going to end up with your old transmission sitting on the floor. It’s either going to rebuilt or sold for scrap. It doesn’t seem entirely reasonable to me that it isn’t worth an hour of teardown to see if there is an obvious, easily correctable, problem with the transmission.

I kind of wonder if the case might not be that neither your mechanic nor your dealer knows how to rebuild your transmission and they, not unreasonably, don’t want to learn. Perhaps a few minutes talking to an independent (non-chain) transmission shop might be a worthwhile investment.

There are “Tuner” (hot rod) VW sites that just drool over the prospect of rebuilding their transmissions, changing the gear ratios by swapping parts, converting them to 6-speeds. As codger2 said, someplace out there, there is a shop full of gear-heads eager to rebuild your transmission. This is NOT rocket science. This is nuts and bolts auto-repair. If you can live without the 6-speed, I would not be surprised if one of these Tuner Boyz would swap you straight across, his 5-speed for your 6-speed and he does all the work. Maybe not, but trying costs NOTHING…Make your pitch on craigslist and see what happens…

I concur with Caddyman. Visit vwvortex.com and post in there with your plea for help.

You may find the resource for this job.

Heck it may be cheaper to freight the tranny to Mexico get it fixed and shipped back.

You took the car to a mechanic who has a boat payment due? He is a qualified vw mechanic? Sounds like a broken linkage and a desperate mechanic. Boat payments have gotten higher so you may need several opinions on this. My first opinion to share with the mechanic would be “no way I will come back here, this is bs”.