1994 Jetta CLI 3 stuck in 5th Gear

09. June 2013 by

the linkage from the shifter goes into the transmission here

the linkage from the shifter goes into the transmission here

I recently bought a 1994 Volkswagen Jetta CLI 3 from a trusted neighbour. It cost me very close to the book value, as it was in good nick, considering the age and about 260,000 Km’s on the clock. I did consider the would be relative wear and tear, as it was far from new.

A week ago I was driving to a friend, and got behind the last of many sunday (slow) drivers, and I became angry. I stupidly went and wrenched hard on the gear shifter handle while in an external expression of frustration.

The worst happened. The shift got stuck in 5th gear, and I had to pull over. I couldn’t get it out of gear. I almost walked 10 Km’s in the pissing rain to my friends place. I decided to chance it and I managed to pull off in gear, from zero Km’s per hour. I smelled some burning from the clutch, but it went away quickly as I increased speed. I made it to my friends, his mechanic neighbour had a look, and said the problem was definitely in the gearbox itself. Days later, I got a free tow home from my insurance company, as they cover basic road side assistance.

Since then, my (very motor car savvy and great problem solver) brother James told me to check the linkages between the shift handle and the transmission. I tested to see if the lever sitting just on the transmission moved if I wriggled the shift handle inside. It did. This didn’t tell me too much.

My enlightened bro then asked me more questions: does the car jolt forward when I turn the ignition with the clutch pedal down? No. Does the car move if I push it without pressing the clutch pedal in? Yes. Does the engine turn when I do so? No. If I rock the car back and forth without pressing the clutch in, does it pop back out of gear? No, not so far.

So with this information, I can tell that the clutch is engaging. If the mechanic was offering his best judgement, and did his tests properly, then I can assume that the gear box is where the fault is. Some people have said that sometimes gear teeth can misalign, and sit on top of each other, rather than lock together. If that’s the case, then rocking the car probably would have been enough to release them.

So it’s hard to tell. Chances are I’ll need to have the gearbox removed and sent away to be opened up. I’m hoping that while I raise the cash to do so (quoted around R2600 for the gearbox repair), I discover that the mechanic was wrong and I manage to fix it by fiddling with it, but have accepted I probably won’t.

If you happen to be an experienced volkswagen mechanic, or have had this same problem, please leave your thoughts below in the comments.

Categories: Transport | Tags: , , , | 1 comment

One Comment

  1. Update: I had the Jetta looked at by a top engine and gearbox specialist. The repair was performed on the gearbox itself. It was split open and various parts replaced. The clutch had to be redone, because I cooked it when I pulled off in 5th gear. The overall repair cost set me back ZAR 10,000. Bit of a jab in the groin that, but hey, a flash ride ain’t gonna cost you nothing.

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