2003 5 speed shifting issues

79TA7.6

Veteran Member
Joined
May 8, 2006
Location
Live: Wilbur/Creston; Work: Moses Lake Washington
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS 5 Speed
A little history first. I have owned my car since 85k miles. It currently has 288k. I change the gear oil every 50k, the last 150k has been with Penzoil Synchromesh. About 150k ago I installed a Dieselgeek short shifter. I drive this car 140 miles per day, usually 4 days a week. The route I take has me down shifting from 5th all the way to 3rd about 30 times per day.

Now for my issue. I started having issues up shifting into 4th about 50k ago. If I double shifted, rev matching, it would go in fine. Eventually I had issues down shifting into 4th as well. The last 25k or so the same is happening with 3rd. It is at the point that I cannot down shift into 3rd or 4th with out rev matching. I was thinking it might be the synchros, but the reading I am seeing on the forums this does not sound like the case. It sounds like synchros will just flat grind while going i to gear. Is this the case? I tried to readjust the shift linkage a while back and that did nothing. I think the linkage is all good. If it is not the synchros then what could it be? I am at a loss and am really tired of it. It is a real pain when I am driving down my 5.5 miles of gravel soggy road and have to down shift. It usually does not affect me on the gravel, but with it being as wet as it is and climbing hills, it takes a lot of power, which requires me to down shift.

Anyone got any ideas for me? Could it still be the synchros?
 

jokila

Vendor
Joined
Dec 3, 2004
Location
Houston, Texas
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS, Manual
A little history first. I have owned my car since 85k miles. It currently has 288k. I change the gear oil every 50k, the last 150k has been with Penzoil Synchromesh. About 150k ago I installed a Dieselgeek short shifter. I drive this car 140 miles per day, usually 4 days a week. The route I take has me down shifting from 5th all the way to 3rd about 30 times per day.
Now for my issue. I started having issues up shifting into 4th about 50k ago. If I double shifted, rev matching, it would go in fine. Eventually I had issues down shifting into 4th as well. The last 25k or so the same is happening with 3rd. It is at the point that I cannot down shift into 3rd or 4th with out rev matching. I was thinking it might be the synchros, but the reading I am seeing on the forums this does not sound like the case. It sounds like synchros will just flat grind while going i to gear. Is this the case? I tried to readjust the shift linkage a while back and that did nothing. I think the linkage is all good. If it is not the synchros then what could it be? I am at a loss and am really tired of it. It is a real pain when I am driving down my 5.5 miles of gravel soggy road and have to down shift. It usually does not affect me on the gravel, but with it being as wet as it is and climbing hills, it takes a lot of power, which requires me to down shift.
Anyone got any ideas for me? Could it still be the synchros?

Have you checked the level?

I had the top seal of my trans go bad due to a bad bearing on the tower. This allowed moisture to get in and cause the lube to get nasty. My trans would have shifting probs when that happen. I fnally fixed that and all my shifting probs like yours went away.
 
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UhOh

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Dec 24, 2014
Location
PNW
TDI
2000 & 2003 Golf GLS
Have you checked the linkages? Adjusted them?

How's shifting with the engine off?
 

maxmoo

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2011
Location
Lakefield, Ontario, Canada
TDI
2000 golf, 2001 golf, 2000 beetle, 2003 wagon, 2004 golf, 2004 jetta, all diesels
I also would make sure that the linkage is absolutly perfectly adjusted and has no play first before condemning the trans.
try moving the cable ends one or two clicks in each direction and test driving it.
Have you checked the shift tower bearing for signs of any play?
Also remember to check for play or wear in the linkages in the base of the shifter....under the boot.
 

Enabled

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2013
Location
Houston, TX
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI Manual, BMW 328d SW
Yes, they were worn, and it progressively caused loss of 4th gear, and then 3rd gear.

I ordered synchros thinking it was a synchro problem... and promptly returned them when I found out the shift segments were the cause.

That was over 100,000 miles ago. No issues since.
 

79TA7.6

Veteran Member
Joined
May 8, 2006
Location
Live: Wilbur/Creston; Work: Moses Lake Washington
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS 5 Speed
Sorry for the late reply. Work just has me wore out by the time I get home. 12 hour days and nearly a 3 hour drive does that.

Anyway, when my car is running and sitting still, clutch pressed in, I can get all gears but 3 and 4 are still notchy. If I let the clutch out each time I try to grab a different gear then I can get 3, but not 4. With the engine off I have the same issue as if it were idling with the clutch pressed in. I am not sure if this helps figure out what the issue is. I wish I could tear the trans out and open it up to see, but I cannot be without my car for much longer than a weekend. My other cars eat too much gas for me to drive them back and forth to work regularly.
 

UhOh

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Dec 24, 2014
Location
PNW
TDI
2000 & 2003 Golf GLS
Sorry for the late reply. Work just has me wore out by the time I get home. 12 hour days and nearly a 3 hour drive does that.

Anyway, when my car is running and sitting still, clutch pressed in, I can get all gears but 3 and 4 are still notchy. If I let the clutch out each time I try to grab a different gear then I can get 3, but not 4. With the engine off I have the same issue as if it were idling with the clutch pressed in. I am not sure if this helps figure out what the issue is. I wish I could tear the trans out and open it up to see, but I cannot be without my car for much longer than a weekend. My other cars eat too much gas for me to drive them back and forth to work regularly.
Not synchro issue then. Linkages, shift tower or shift fork. Not experienced enough with internals to know whether messed up gears themselves could behave this way: seems so.
 

maxmoo

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2011
Location
Lakefield, Ontario, Canada
TDI
2000 golf, 2001 golf, 2000 beetle, 2003 wagon, 2004 golf, 2004 jetta, all diesels
I also would make sure that the linkage is absolutly perfectly adjusted and has no play first before condemning the trans.
try moving the cable ends one or two clicks in each direction and test driving it.
Have you checked the shift tower bearing for signs of any play?
Also remember to check for play or wear in the linkages in the base of the shifter....under the boot.
I would try the above before....... " I wish I could tear the trans out and open it up to see,...."
 

jokila

Vendor
Joined
Dec 3, 2004
Location
Houston, Texas
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS, Manual
I also would make sure that the linkage is absolutly perfectly adjusted and has no play first before condemning the trans.
try moving the cable ends one or two clicks in each direction and test driving it.
Have you checked the shift tower bearing for signs of any play?
Also remember to check for play or wear in the linkages in the base of the shifter....under the boot.
I doubt it is the fluid level or contaminated oil. When I changed the oil 38k ago there was zero improvement. It just seems to keep getting worse.
I mentioned the top bearing as a possible culprit too, but it's not for just tearing up the seal. The bearing needs to be solid otherwise it allows shifter slop. What is the condition of that? You will need a partner to move the shifter around while you watch that part.
 

79TA7.6

Veteran Member
Joined
May 8, 2006
Location
Live: Wilbur/Creston; Work: Moses Lake Washington
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS 5 Speed
Would it be possible to get someone to take a video of their shifter with the boot off, with it in gear trying to move it back and forth? This would give me something to reference mine to. I will also try to get the wife to move the shifter while I watch the shift tower to see what is happening there.
 

maxmoo

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2011
Location
Lakefield, Ontario, Canada
TDI
2000 golf, 2001 golf, 2000 beetle, 2003 wagon, 2004 golf, 2004 jetta, all diesels
Looking for play is pretty basic.
Any play between any two moving parts in the linkage is suspect.
The shift tower bearing.....grab the "golf club looking thing and wiggle it side to side, should be no play....you don't need help for that.
 
Last edited:

jokila

Vendor
Joined
Dec 3, 2004
Location
Houston, Texas
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS, Manual
Would it be possible to get someone to take a video of their shifter with the boot off, with it in gear trying to move it back and forth? This would give me something to reference mine to. I will also try to get the wife to move the shifter while I watch the shift tower to see what is happening there.
Here's some videos that can help with your request. Dieselgeek has a number of videos on VW shifting. You can source parts from his website to correct much of what can go wrong from outside the transmission and ensure you have all those components working.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HBE5vycg-4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sheTKD03hmo&t=1s
 

79TA7.6

Veteran Member
Joined
May 8, 2006
Location
Live: Wilbur/Creston; Work: Moses Lake Washington
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS 5 Speed
Here's some videos that can help with your request. Dieselgeek has a number of videos on VW shifting. You can source parts from his website to correct much of what can go wrong from outside the transmission and ensure you have all those components working.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HBE5vycg-4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sheTKD03hmo&t=1s


Thank you. This will give me a good starting point. I bought my short shifter from Jim. Honestly I forgot about his videos.
 
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