My wife's 99 Jetta is very hard to get into 1st gear. 2 out of 3 times you will hit 3rd gear. She often has to start off from 2nd gear.
Is there a way to adjust the linkage or something to allow more room between 1st and third gear?
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I found a video on YouTube which describes your issue and what you need to do to temporarily fix this issue. The video is for a 98 TDi.
I also found this site which describes the issue for a Mk3 with a 2.0L engine. This describes how to actually fix the issue. The shifter linkage is different in this case than for the 98 TDi, so have included it. If you watch the two videos from the site (before and after), you'll see where the bushing at fault lies.
Ultimately the problem lies in plastic bushings which are worn out. The temporary fix (for the TDi) is basically taking up the slack which is left behind by the bushings being (mostly) worn out. You will at some point need to replace these bushings. The second one gives you a source for the bushings and exactly how to fix them.