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Hello, I am the second owner of a 2003 VW 1.8 Turbo New Beetle and love the car but hate paying so much to maintain it. I have had multiple issues and recently my transmission has been acting up pretty bad.

All the gears are engaged on the dash instead of just the [D] and it no longer counts what gear I am in. The check engine light is also on and their are really hard shifts when I slow down or speed up. The engine revs and the rpms increase until it kicks into gear.

I took it to a different shop then I normally go to and they told me it could be an electrical problem considering I had so many codes from my check engine light. They deleted all the codes and my car worked fine for a little while, then once I get off the highway it acted up again.

I got it reflashed or whatever last week and it ran PERFECTLY sometimes, slipping here and there but then the next day it would be fine again. The problems became severe and a check engine light came on and the gears became all engaged again. Same issue as before.
Also my back right tail light is working and then not working... before the flash it appeared to be out then was fixed again even though no one replaced it. Now it is out again.

Today my car would not catch any gear... after increasing speed it would red line and I had to pull over.

What is wrong with my car? It is intermittent and gets really bad when I down shift especially. Before today of course.
 

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5/23/10 <3
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What do you mean "reflashed"? What specific codes are coming up?
 

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What do you mean "reflashed"? What specific codes are coming up?
a bunch of random codes, one was for my 02 sensor. 2 hours ago I reset the TCM and drove it across town to the shop and it was fine, but the gears are still all engaged and the engine reved and did one hard downshift. I stayed under 42 miles an hour and it drove okay.
 

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i am not sure what they meant by re flas or whatever but they told me that my computer was just throwing out random codes.
 

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It would help to know the exact codes that were thrown. I don't think the shop you took the car to knows VWs very well.
 

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You need the transmission valve body rebuilt or replaced. Rebuild valve body is about $600, new about $1200. Take about 2 hours to replace so you need to add fluid and labor on top of this.

Reflash on the tranmission will not solve the problem, a software solution for a mechanical problem will not correct the problem.
 

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Exact same problem

My 2003 vert's transmission was doing the same thing. Slipping while accelerating, clunking hard downshifts, it finally gave out after coming up an onramp, wouldn't shift out of second.

Now, the transmission has been replaced once at the dealer, and on the way home (12 miles) the digital display stopped counting and all the modes were highlighted. The next morning the check engine light came on.

As I took it back to the dealer the (factory rebuilt replacement) trans gave out completely again after getting off the freeway, revving in first gear and barely moving. Luckily I was only 1 1/2 blocks from the dealer. This was after less than 100 miles. They say it's an internal electrical problem.
She has now been waiting at the dealer for 8 days for a second replacement, since the New Years holiday stopped shipping for 3 days, plus the weekend. Hopefully this second replacement will work correctly...sigh.

I love the car and it's paid off, so I hope to keep it for a long time. She has 115,000 miles on her, still plenty of life left, right?
Carolyn
 

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I have the same car as you. Under 70k miles the valve body was shot, we purchased the car new as well so I know the entire history.

I pulled the trans pan on my 6 speed auto and it was very clean, so I decided to have the valve body from MY car reworked, it did not need a transmission and I did NOT want a different valve body.

My car is running fine now. I sent my valve body to Pacific Coast Transmissions in CA after speaking with the owner Johnny in great length. I am happy I went this route.

Sounds like a wiring or solenoid problem in for the valve body, however, the dealer will likely put ANOTHER transmission in the car?

Let me know if you have any additional questions as I have had almost EVERY common problem with these cars catch me.

Oil pump pick up clogged, transmission valve body, catalytic converter replacement, center exhaust hanger welds break, front axle boots fail, vacuum check valves fail, thermostat soft failure, coolant tank issues, WINDOW and DOOR LATCH problems, did I say WINDOW and DOOR LATCH problems, water leaks and on and on.

I hate to hear you took your car to the dealer for a replacement transmission, the 6 speeds are fine if they are not driven until the point they will not drive any more, they just need the valve body replaced/reworked and they should give a good service life.

As for how much life your car has left, it depends if you have replaced the timing belt, tensioner, water pump and thermostat yet? If not, only about 5-10k miles if I had to guess.
 

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My 2003 vert's transmission was doing the same thing. Slipping while accelerating, clunking hard downshifts, it finally gave out after coming up an onramp, wouldn't shift out of second.

Now, the transmission has been replaced once at the dealer, and on the way home (12 miles) the digital display stopped counting and all the modes were highlighted. The next morning the check engine light came on.

As I took it back to the dealer the (factory rebuilt replacement) trans gave out completely again after getting off the freeway, revving in first gear and barely moving. Luckily I was only 1 1/2 blocks from the dealer. This was after less than 100 miles. They say it's an internal electrical problem.
She has now been waiting at the dealer for 8 days for a second replacement, since the New Years holiday stopped shipping for 3 days, plus the weekend. Hopefully this second replacement will work correctly...sigh.

I love the car and it's paid off, so I hope to keep it for a long time. She has 115,000 miles on her, still plenty of life left, right?
Carolyn
They must have screwed something up when they reconnected the electrical transmission harness. Since you have the tiptronic transmission it could also be your magnets under the shifter itself. They break off and then your triptronic system doesn't engage any longer. A common issue with these cars.

I totally concur with jfoj if you haven't had the much needed timing belt and water pump service done you are on borrowed time and when the timing belt snaps you are looking at a couple of thousand dollars to get the head rebuilt or replaced.
So don't delay on that very important and very necessary service. Don't take it to the dealer. They will charge you between $1300-1700 for that service. Take it to a reputable VW service shop in your area. You shouldn't have to pay for than about $750-$800 dollars to have the Timing belt service done which should include a new timing belt, accessory belt, water pump, tensioner, pulley, thermostat and coolant.

Good Luck with the second transmission. I hope you didn't have to pay the dealer a small fortune to get the transmission replaced.
 

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I had the timing belt, tensioner, etc done at 85,000 miles. I was the third owner, purchased at 82,000 miles. I have also had the tiptronic switch replaced, as well as the fuel pump, have also had window and door switch issues, CV boot replaced.

I purchased an extended warranty when I bought the car, so the first transmission cost me $100 deductible. The second transmission (aside from the aggravation) is free, since the first replacement was warranted by the dealer. And I have a nice but boring 2011 Jetta loaner from the dealer.

Oh, and minor things, replaced the 6-disc CD changer, and have tried in vain to get new light bulbs for the interior lights under the rear view mirror.

Regardless, there is just something about the car that has my heart, and I will keep her going as long as I can. We all understand this, that's why we're here.
Thanks..
 

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Hello.. many years later.. i hope you are still around to help answer this. I have a 2003 VW Beetle GLS 1.8 Turbo. I just changed out the valve body with rebuilt valive body, changed the filter and fluids. Performed the shifting of gears to make sure the fluid flows to all gears multiples times before taking for a drive. I took it for a test spin and noticed huge improvements in 2 - 6 gears. 1st gear still shifted hard. My mechenic friend side to reset it by turning on the car not all the way then hold the gas pedal all the way down for 20 seconds, release and start the car. This did not help 1st gear...

I am lost what next? I made sure everything was put together correctly. Am I missing a step?

Thanks
 

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Hi Billymade, thank you for responding. I have a MaxiLink that is OBDII and ABS/Airbag. I have no codes other on the OBDII. The EPC does comes on when it shifts hard into first and then i do a soft reset the EPC goes away for a while and comes back. I think that is a seperate issue with the mass airflow sensor.
 

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Hmmm, i don't know; if you can read all the vw factory codes for the trans or abs system? To view the live data: you need a higher end scan tool or a VW specific scan tool like VCDS by Ross Tech; this capability can really help diagnose things correctly.
 

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@billymade I appreciate your help. Unfortunately I don't have a VAG tool. I found a link and suspect this may be the issue. Changing out the valve body has fixed my 2nd gear which was the problem. So gear 2 - 6 are perfect and gear one as described exactly is my problem. Fingers crossed that is it. :)

Volkswagen New Beetle Transmission Problems & Solutions

Common Volkswagen Beetle 09G Transmission Problems
Dragging sensation or partial bind on 1st gear take-off
Problem –
Drivers may experience a dragging or binding feeling when they try to take off from first gear.
Solution – One of the common 09G valve body problems is internal fluid control, which may have led to ATF contaminating the internal harness connector, causing one of the solenoids to partially apply a clutch or brake, resulting in the dragging sensation. This solenoid, clutch or brake will also be subjected to premature wear. To fix this issue, the internal wiring harness will have to be replaced.
 

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We, have seen bad and compromised wiring harnesses; cause, a number of issues, resulting in shifting problems. Replacing the internal/external harness, would be something to try; beyond that, diagnostics, using live data, would be a next step (using a vw factory level scan tool; like vcds by ross tech). The harnesses, seem to be available as a replacement part; lately, we have seen, the external plug get damaged or previous owners, attempt poor repairs of the harness, causing more problems (heat seems to be a factor with intermittent connectivity issues). Many transmission techs, say to replace the wiring harness; as part of a valve body replacement repair and this can help, to ensure, the harness doesn't cause any other shifting problems. Many say, the harnesses can be damaged; during replacement, then there is damage from vibration, heat, age and physical damage, from previous attempts at trans repair or replacement, other times that people have messed with the car. Another thread, had someone with the external plug, being physically crushed and this messed up the terminal ends and killed the trans signal, to the valve body.

 

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@billymade Just heads up.... .I had a mechanic friend look at my work. He plugged in a Matco Tools Maximus20 equipment to the Beetle... he found several errors with transmission and the shifter in the car. The shifter was shifting but was spitting out an error. It did not recognize that I was in gear. He reprogrammed the shifter (Whatever the actual name is) and solenoid, tested all the solenoid (Good) with his Matco Tool. After an hour, we took it for another ride and the Beetle is back up and running smoothly. I felt so much better that I did everything right, I just did have the tools to tell the beetle to relearn / reprogram how to work.

Thanks again, your dialog help me talk with him and we got it done !
 
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