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Problem with VW Passat shifter

We have a 2003 VW Passat 1.8, front wheel drive. The check engine light is on. The code is p0778. When we start the car the gears light display lights up in red for all gears . We put the car in reverse, back out the garage and when we stop, we get a bump. And we shift to drive the car moves slowly with some hesitation.

Sometimes after the car runs for 10 minutes, then turned of for a few second then started up again, the problem goes away.

Before this problem started, we would start the car in the mornings, and put in “R” , and only the reverse gear would light up. (which is the way it is suppose to work)

Please help

@china check this out

Check the transmission fluid level.
Perhaps it’s time for a transmission fluid and filter service.

Apparently VW automatic transmissions have a reputation for being very problematic and they seem to check out early, if you know what I mean.

I suggest you consider going to a VW specialist or dealer for an expert opinion. A franchised automatic transmission rebuilder will almost certainly say you need a complete overhaul, whether you do or don’t.

The PassatWorld forum link above is a life-saver for the owners of older Passats (I have a 2004 and have saved thousands of $ already from it) and you could learn a lot there.

The funny lighting pattern from your shifter is telling you the transmission is in “limp” mode, meaning the electronics that regulate some of its functions think something may be wrong and are trying to protect it from damage.

It could involve a transmission fluid problem, as suggested by db4690. If that is the case, you might best be served by finding an independent mechanic who specializes in VW’s. This transmission is very solid, but very finicky about the fluid it uses: unfortunately, the expensive VW fluid or one made by Pentosin (same stuff, notably cheaper with that label) are the only ones most knowledgeable owners pretty much insist on. And the filling procedure involves something like a Celtic ritual (car perfectly level, fluid at exactly the right temperature and fill until it’s just overflowing. Really!) Over or underfill - you’re guaranteed further issues. Expect a several hundred dollar bill just to change it.

A second, insidious possibility involves water leaks and is another reason you need a guy who knows these cars in particular. The electronics that regulate the transmission (“transmission control module” or TCM) are, conveniently enough, under the carpet on the floor beneath the passenger seat. Right where water from leaking pollen filters, clogged sunroof drains, or seals on the inside of the doors tends to pool. I’m not saying this is happening to you, but a drowning TCM is another possibility that needs to be at least considered. If that’s the case, you need to fix the underlying water problem, too.

Good luck.

1 Like

What did you end up finding out about this issue? I’m having the same thing happen with mine now.