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VW MKIII-A3/B4 TDIs This is a discussion about MKIII-A3/MkIII Jetta/Golf (<99.5) and B4 Passats (96,97) TDI's. Non TDI related postings will be moved or removed.

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Old March 19th, 2011, 14:11   #1
other-power
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Default 02A / CTN gearbox tower broken

Hello all,

I have been having trouble with my 02A gearbox gear change tower for some time, sloppy and indesisive at best.

150,000k miles, AHU engine, variant

I had been driving home and had a real trouble selecting gear, dangours trying to get out at junctions etc.

I took out the tower and took apart to find the gear selec shaft bearing has broken apart and more importantly had less bearings in it then it should.

Video prior to removal (in HD): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uszvPtrLRVM


Above picture from: http://www.wagenstad.com/index.php?m...3&page=3-85-00

Item 5 (02A 311 648 C) is the bearing, item 4 (02A 301 241 H) is also knackered and part 7 (02A 301 320 B), a thin rubber washer, needs replacing.

I found a post about up rating the tower but its dated 2007:

http://www.clubgti.com/forum/showthr...=159557&page=2

and

http://www.clubgti.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=138258

I would like to know if any one has had to do this fix recently and what there solution was.

My solutions I will try:

  1. Call my local VW dealer (UK) but am not holding out.
  2. Track down a bearing (as per the second link above).
  3. Get a phosphorous bronze bearing made.
Would be greatful for any advice on this.

Thanks

Jonathan
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Last edited by other-power; March 19th, 2011 at 14:14.
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Old March 20th, 2011, 05:45   #2
G60ING
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I've not seen this problem except once or twice before. Just get another shift tower from a VR6 and call it a day or try looking up the part numbers on www.1stvwparts.com
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Old March 21st, 2011, 06:16   #3
other-power
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Originally Posted by G60ING View Post
I've not seen this problem except once or twice before. Just get another shift tower from a VR6 and call it a day or try looking up the part numbers on www.1stvwparts.com
The seal has gone and where the undertray has been removed long long ago water has got into the bearing, the car has had a hard city life so lots of smashing and bashing.

I have got the new parts coming, I found the top assembly was £96 ex vat so I didnt ask how much for a complete one.

fingers crossed it shall all be ok, worth changing the gear box at the same time?

Regards
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Old March 21st, 2011, 09:56   #4
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Do this instead

I performed the above on my Mk3. The shifting is a MILLION times better, plus the parts are more resistant to wear, there are also less points that can wear. This setup is far more robust than the original 02A design.

I managed to get all the parts used for less than $200 USD.
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Old March 21st, 2011, 13:01   #5
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Originally Posted by Matt-98AHU View Post
Do this instead

I performed the above on my Mk3. The shifting is a MILLION times better, plus the parts are more resistant to wear, there are also less points that can wear. This setup is far more robust than the original 02A design.

I managed to get all the parts used for less than $200 USD.
That does look good.

If I had the time I would do it, but unless replacing the bits I have got new for £25 ~ $40 I wont be doing it any time soon.

I will keep an eye out for an 02J box and see if i can get it cheap, looks like a simple, if not time consuming, mod.

I will keep all posted with spares and installing them.

Regards
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Old January 7th, 2012, 16:37   #6
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Thanks a lot for this thread!

I was having problem with 5th gear on my 98 Vw Vento TDI, 192,000k miles.
When I found this thread and saw that my gearbox tower also was sloppy as yours, I ordered home new parts from my local dealer, and tried to change this bushing.

Everything worked like a charm, 5th gear is not a problem anymore, and overall the gearbox feels more firm and stable.
I took a couple of pictures that I can show.








Look at that bushing/bearing, not a single ball left.



Final result

Thanks again!
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Old November 14th, 2012, 16:29   #7
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Old thread, sorry to dig up.

Glad this has helped out, seems some of the links are now dead/pictures removed, still the part numbers are still there.

Cheers

Jon
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Old November 14th, 2012, 18:29   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by other-power View Post
Old thread, sorry to dig up.

Glad this has helped out, seems some of the links are now dead/pictures removed, still the part numbers are still there.

Cheers

Jon
Yeah it really helped!
Still shifting like a charm, i'm glad that I didn't have to change gearbox.

Skickat från min GT-I9300 via Tapatalk 2
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Old November 15th, 2012, 07:29   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt-98AHU View Post
Do this instead

I performed the above on my Mk3. The shifting is a MILLION times better, plus the parts are more resistant to wear, there are also less points that can wear. This setup is far more robust than the original 02A design.

I managed to get all the parts used for less than $200 USD.

This is a FANTASTIC fix!! Matt did this for me about 3 months after I saw and felt the results in his car. It is like going from a cold,stormy night to a bright Southern California beach day! Really. It is that good.

Matt - give me a call when you can.
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Last edited by john.jackson9213; November 15th, 2012 at 07:32.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 23:04   #10
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Back again from the dead...

My shifter assembly was getting progressively worse in my Mk3, until last Friday, when it got really bad. Popped out of 1st a couple times, grinding into 3rd, and for a while I couldn't find 5th. When I finally got off the freeway, 3 mi from home, I lost all gears. Was able to coast into a parking lot, popped the hood & found the counterweight busted off. Well, the counterweight was still attached to the splined lever, but the lever broke.

Found Matt's "D'oh" thread on my phone, and got myself home in 3rd gear. I borrowed the splined lever from my other Mk3, and after I installed it, I shifted the golf club through all the gears. I noticed how sloppy and loose it was (in all directions, up/down side/side), then went back to Mk3#2, and found that tower was nice and tight. I had first assumed the lever broke due to age and 330k of wear, but realized now that the sloppy shift tower (combined with me putting normal force on the stick) is what broke the lever.

New mission: get a new tower. Went to JY, found a '01 Mk4/gas, but its tower was a bit loose, so kept searching. Found an '03, everything looked good, so I pulled the whole mess for an 02J "upgrade".

Long story short, they charged me one price, then on my way out, another employee said they had to charge me about 3x more. This "surprise" pissed me off, and I wasn't willing to pay that much for used parts that were not plug'n'play and would allegedly take 8 hours to install.

So screw the upgrade. I went back to just find a compatible shift tower. No Mk3 TDI's (never ever seen one in a JY), no VR6 Mk3, but there was a 99 Mk4 gasser. Its tower looked pretty similar to mine, cables looked the same, and that plastic retaining clip for the up/down cable looked the same. It was in good shape, so I rolled the dice.

Turns out, it's not a 100% perfect fit. The Mk3 golf club doesnt fit. The splined lever is different (1. the golf club holes, 2. cable hole is in a different location. Has the same "captive nut" but no washer). The mating surface to the tranny is a bit off. The reverse-switch cap does have the same part# though.

But most importantly - it works.

It now has a kind of crispy feel, like you can feel it clicking into detents as you go through the gears. No idea if that's how the Mk3 felt when new, as I've only had mine for 7 years, and it's always felt like ... nothing in particular. It just went into gear like it was supposed to. Until it didn't anymore.

It was a pita adjusting the cable nuts, but all gears were finally good when I put it in Reverse, then locked them down. Another pita was breaking one of the two mounting bolts, which I had to drill & ez-out just as it was getting dark. It just kept turning and turning at ~2/3 final torque (btw, couldn't find any mention of the tower in Bentley. No idea what torque should be. Was also hoping to find instructions on the gasket sealant. Oh well. I'm sure I used too much.)

My old tower? A disaster. The little mini-ball-bearing sleeve was completely vanished. Those two wimpy springs on the tower shaft were broken and dissolving away. The upper end was completely covered inside with a nasty sludge, that seemed to include rust. I dont know. Will have to drain some fluid & see how it looks.

Anyways, if you need a shift tower and you can't find one from your same model car, the 99 Mk4 is an option.
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Old September 21st, 2017, 18:22   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbodieseldyke View Post
It now has a kind of crispy feel, like you can feel it clicking into detents as you go through the gears. No idea if that's how the Mk3 felt when new, as I've only had mine for 7 years, and it's always felt like ... nothing in particular. It just went into gear like it was supposed to. Until it didn't anymore.

I'm be mentioned it several times, I don't feel the 02J upgrade was that much of an upgrade. For the work involved, I wouldn't recommend it.

If your shift box and tower bushings are totally beat, that's a different story.

What the 02J conversion gives you is notchiness. Maybe that's what people equate to crisp shifts.

My B4V is running the standard stuff with a short shifter. I recently bought one of those Gruven Parts short shifters that reduces side to side movement. Once installed, it may give me the notchiness that the 02J equipped B4 has.

I think you need to get 2000+ 02J stuff for the full conversion to work.

-Todd
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Old September 21st, 2017, 20:55   #12
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I might still do the 02J on Mk3#2, because of the broken shift stick that's jury-rigged back together with a nut+bolt. It just doesn't feel right. I need to look closer at what exactly is bent/broken in there, and what it would take to fix it with original parts. If it's going to require a whole new shifter box, I might as well go 02J, even though my existing shift tower is in good shape - something I have newfound respect for.

As for the other tower I just replaced:
"Working 02J" > "Working 02A" (probably)
but
"Working 02A" >>>>>>> "Broken 02A" (definitely)

I'm satisfied with it now. The good tower also resolved another issue I was having before: When decelerating (engine braking) in 5th, if I let the speed/rpms get too low, it would get stuck in 5th. Not anymore. There was another old thread on that exact problem, but I haven't hit the right search keywords yet to find it, and report my results.
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 17:56   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddA1 View Post
I'm be mentioned it several times, I don't feel the 02J upgrade was that much of an upgrade. For the work involved, I wouldn't recommend it.
If your shift box and tower bushings are totally beat, that's a different story.
What the 02J conversion gives you is notchiness. Maybe that's what people equate to crisp shifts.
My B4V is running the standard stuff with a short shifter. I recently bought one of those Gruven Parts short shifters that reduces side to side movement. Once installed, it may give me the notchiness that the 02J equipped B4 has.
I think you need to get 2000+ 02J stuff for the full conversion to work.
-Todd
You can argue it's not that much more precise in your opinion all you want, but what you will never be able to convince even yourself of is that the Mk3 shifter bits are anywhere close to as robust and reliable as the 2000+ parts.

If you don't do it for the increase in precision and easier serviceability once done, then do it because in the long run these parts are far more reliable and resistant to the failures the mk3 system is very prone to.
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 18:24   #14
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Lol, convince myself? Believe me, there was no proverbial fork in the road, moment of despair, regret, etc. I'm not convincing myself if anything.

I've never studied the differences in design, etc. I'm only stating my opinion and I've also offered other people the chance to test drive my cars, if they wanted to experience the difference for themselves.

The later shifter parts may definitely be more robust and available, but being that my 02A shifter is in decent shape, I'm not looking to fix the what's not broke.

I bought and was expecting to install another 02J setup in my wagon, but decided against it. It'll be going in my Rabbit project, mainly because the shift box sits tighter in the exhaust tunnel.

I also realize that you provide a service for this conversion...


Quote:
Originally Posted by turbodieseldyke View Post
Was also hoping to find instructions on the gasket sealant. Oh well. I'm sure I used too much.)

I forgot to mention that I installed my tower without sealant. I don't see any seepage, at all. I guess if the car goes upside down, I may, but then I'll have a bigger issue...

-Todd
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 19:15   #15
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I also realize that you provide a service for this conversion...
I do. And every single customer I've done it for has exclaimed how much more enjoyable it is to operate, one of which has replied to this thread stating his contentment, unsolicited by me.

It definitely was a revelation to me when I first did it to my mk3 years ago. It went from frustrating to drive to being almost giddy about how nice it is to operate.

FWIW, that's a pretty small part of business here... I'm pretty sure I've done less than 10 total for paying customers (I've done far more auto to manual swaps than I have shift linkage upgrades--although I have convinced a couple of those customers to swap out their pre-2000 parts for the good stuff prior to install--partially for the installers own sanity). Most are "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Which is fine. I'm not that pushy, and I also understand for most they aren't willing to pay for something that isn't completely necessary.

You literally are the only one I've ever heard who wasn't thrilled with the outcome of the conversion.
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