Transmission Issue




I have a VW Jetta 1997 5 spped manual. A few weeks back I pulled up to a stop sign and the clutch pedal did not return from the floor. Broken clutch I thought. Machanic said no, and took the transmission out and said that it was a broken clutch release fork.

Once everything was back togther, car crunches going into third gear. Machanic did not know what they would have done to cause that, but agreed to replace the transmission with a low mileage (<60K) used transmission.

Now two weeks later, the machanic has (supposedly) put in two replacement transmissions. The first transmission crunched going into all gears and the second transmission crunches going into reverse.

If he is getting the used transmission from a reliable source would it be normal to receive two duds?

I am at a loss at what to do. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


It’s possible to get multiple duds in a row, but I’m more inclined to think the problem is clutch related.

Has this guy installed a new clutch assembly? If not, why in the world has he not done this?
A worn clutch, improperly adjusted clutch, or failing clutch operating system would more than likely be the cause rather than numerous bad transmissions since VW builds pretty good units.


It sounds more to me like a case of a clutch that is not adjusted properly, or perhaps a clutch plate that is just plain worn out. In either case, it seems to me that your mechanic did not do a complete or proper repair job when he replaced the clutch release fork.

As OK4450 said, it is not likely that your mechanic found that many defective used transmissions. Once this guy finally resolves the issue, I strongly suggest that you find a new mechanic.


Never having worked on a 1997 VW, I assume an hydraulic clutch? If so, it sounds like air in the line, or a defective slave or master cylinder. If there is air in the clutch hydralic line, or if either cylinder is leaking, you are not getting a complete clutch release when you press the pedal – sort of like shifting without the clutch. There is also the possibility that they have installed something with an improper clearance or adjustment such that a complete pedal press is failing to fully release the clutch.


Thank you all for responding. Initially the mechanic did not replace the clutch. However, when he put in the replacement transmission I asked him to put in a new clutch.

So could it be that the original transmission was fine, but it was the clutch that was worn? And then, when they put it the new clutch and used transmissions that it was a bad clutch setup?

Also, I don’t know how to relate this information to the mechanic without seeming like I am undermining him. Any suggestions?

In response to VDCdriver, I do intend to find a new mechanic once this issue has been resolved.

And, to N55, I don’t know if the clutch is hydraulic or not, I do know that it meant to be self adjusting. Does that help?


You have a couple of oddities on this deal.
One is that a mechanic should replace the clutch assembly while the trans is out. The exception might be if the vehicle only had 15-20k miles on it and the clutch was found to have 90% of the lining left.
The other is a broken clutch fork (if that was the problem). It is highly unusual for a clutch fork to break.

Whether your clutch is cable or hydraulically operated depends on the engine code. (Working from memory here.)

Any problem with the clutch (adjustment of the cable, wear of the disc, leaking hydraulics, etc.) can cause transmission “symptoms” if you want to call it that.
Reverse gear may be worse because the teeth are straight cut and is not synchronized. Third gear is often the “cruncher” because that is the most common shift (2-3) in city traffic and is generally used when someone is aggressively accelerating and going through the gears. In other words, the 3rd gear synchronizer assembly is getting more use. Factor in a clutch problem and 3rd gear is usually the one to crunch. Properly working clutch and it may not be noticeable.

Still sounds like a clutch problem more than a transmission one.