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I have a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 4Cyl 1.8L Wagon with a manual transmission.

I had my clutch replaced about a year ago. A couple months ago, it started having intermittent problems getting out of reverse. It never has any problems getting into or out of any other gears.

I'm thinking it's not a problem with the shifter itself, it feels deeper than that - the two ways I can get it out of reverse are to pull really hard (what my wife does) or finesse the clutch pedal to engage ever-so-slightly while I ease the shifter out of gear (what I do). (Either of these methods less damaging than the other?)

I brought it to the original mechanic a couple weeks ago and they didn't see anything wrong, so I'm going to have to get a better understanding of this myself if I want to narrow it down.

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Update: the problem getting out of reverse gradually went away, and it developed a problem getting into first gear unless I was completely stopped. Mechanic said its synchro was probably broken. I decided not to fix it, and it's actually gotten very gradually better over the past months. –  Ken Williams Jun 29 at 0:01

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Your problem is going to be one of the following areas.

  • Clutch, engine off, press the clutch pedal slowly to the floor. The resistance of the clutch is felt all the way until an inch or two before reaching the floor it should then go to a lighter resistence. This is the clutch diaphragm spring throwing over and it is what you want it to do. If OK you can assume the clutch is OK.
  • Linkage, engine off, have an assistant move the gear change lever through its full range of movements, rocking the lever towards and away from its position when a gear-selected position. Watch for undue movement or slack in the linkages. This movement can jam the linkage in the selected position. While doing the linkage check, remove the gearlever gaiter to check the gearlever ball joint is sound and that there is no obstruction to the lever that should not be inside the boot. Make sure any bolts that there are, are tight on the whole set up. If you find you have to disconnect anything, mark their position with office correction fluid so you can replace them back in their exact position.
  • Gearbox, internally the gearbox has roll pins, set screws and detents which control the engagement of gears and the selector lever positions. This is a gearbox removal and stripping job, but with the reliability of the VW gearboxes is the least likely.

(Turning the engine off can in a lot cases make in easier to come out of gear. When you are in neutral just start up and carry on.)

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My first guess would be that the clutch isn't decoupling properly. My wife's car had the problem from the other end: she couldn't get it INTO reverse. I ended up slightly adjust the clutch cable so that it started engaging earlier and now the problem is gone.

If your Jetta doesn't have a clutch cable, then the whole thing is going to get a bit more technical, but it's still the most basic thing to check.

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