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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Howdy,

I found this forum by uh, frantically googling after buying a single-owner 98 VW Beetle in the Seattle area. It only had 100k miles on it and the mechanics who pre-inspected it said the transmission looked fine and that the fluid had been changed at some point but was due for a service/flush/whatever. Since getting it I've had a new water pump put in, a lot of gaskets/seals replaced and the power steering worked on.

I've been driving it for about three weeks now (and somehow managed to rack up 300 miles), and it's not awful, but it shifts hard sometimes (going both down and up in gear) and often takes a couple seconds to switch from drive to reverse. I haven't driven a car with a 4-speed transmission since high school, so I'm not sure if that's just normal or if there's an actual problem. I've had it looked at by the pre-inspection guys (who had said it was ok mechanically) and by a VW dealer mechanic who's a friend of my employer (and a super nice guy, if he's reading this since I kinda linked him these forums).

The dealership doesn't want to do a fluid flush for fear that it'll start slipping. I was told something similar by the guys who did the inspection - that if there are a lot of metal shavings in the fluid (which I assume there aren't, since they checked it and said it was fine) that changing/flushing the fluid will cause it to outright fail.

It's not failing now, and I realize I'm probably freaking out about something that hasn't happened yet, but I want to take care of it so that it'll last us a while and not just drive it into a breakdown that I can't afford. I got a quote from another local mechanic (German City Motors) and they want $400ish for a flush/fluid change? I am not sure what all they're including in that but I'm hoping it's filter/fluid/gaskets, I'll have to ask.

What do I need to ask for, if I want it looked at? I'm not great with cars and all my knowledge about this comes from obsessively scouring the internet. I just want to take care of everything NOW and stay on top of maintenance so we don't end up with major $$$ issues, and a transmission rebuild would likely cost more than what we paid for the car.
 

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The 01M 4 speed is known for issues relating to worn valve bodies and sticking solenoids. At 100k; it wouldn't surprise me if it needs a valve body rebuilt but there could be more internal issues that need to be rebuilt as well. Check out this website; he has a shop and offers rebuild service for both the transmission and valve body. You might contact him and see what solutions he has to offer and what he thinks of your situation.

Kansas City TDI

O1M FAQ | Kansas City TDI

01M or 01P Valve Body Repair | Kansas City TDI

01M Fluid and Filter Maintenance $90 Labor + Parts | Kansas City TDI
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Okay, I will look into that. I am in Seattle, Washington though, so I'm not sure he could help me as that's pretty far away. I found a local guy and made an appointment to talk to him about it tomorrow morning, and see what he thinks. I'll share this info with him also. Thank you! I just want to fix everything NOW so that all we have to deal with in the future is maintenance.
 

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Mine did the exact same thing. I took a chance and drained as much of the old fluid as I could, then replaced the trans filter and added 3 quarts. This fixed my problem. It shifts perfect now and this was a few week ago and no problems. The old trans fluid was dirty, but no metal shavings. I have 101k.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Okay, yeah. Just nervous about it because my friend & the dealership mechanics (who have been working on these cars for years) insist changing the fluid is gonna cause more problems?

Kinda freaks me out.
 

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Fluid changes rarely cause problems, what happens is the transmission is usually compromised anyway and then someone wants to change the fluid in the hopes that the transmission will not need major/expensive repairs.

When the fluid change does not help and the transmission problems get worse, many foolhardy people/shops then blame the fluid change on the problem when in fact the fluid change had nothing to do with the impending failure and it did not speed up the failure.

New fluid is always good.

Any metal in the pan, and there WILL be metal, should be trapped by the magnets or the filter.

The best fluid flush is to remove the pan, inspect and clean, replace the filter and then flush or at least refill. You can refill then drain again, or just refill.

Flushing is really a POOR description of what goes on, it is a "fluid exchange" that pumps the old fluid out of the torque converter as well as the valve body.

But also be aware that both the 4 and 6 speed automatics in these cars have valve body problems, shifting it fine until the transmission fluid is really warmed up, then shifting is delayed and harsh. This is usually the sign of a worn valve body.
 

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Make sure they know how to check fluid levels and how to re-fill.
I was going to do this myself this weekend. but the weather outside is against me
 

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Is there an easy way to check the fluid level? Says to do it on level ground but I weigh 250, uh yeah I aint fitting under there,lol. Can I pull it up on ramps and get at least an IDEA of the level?
 

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Is there an easy way to check the fluid level? Says to do it on level ground but I weigh 250, uh yeah I aint fitting under there,lol. Can I pull it up on ramps and get at least an IDEA of the level?
This is good enough, most of these cars you check and fill the trans fluid from the drain plug. A very neat and interesting way this is set up, works quite well.

Suggest you check this thread, it was geared toward the 09G 6 Speed, but it is probably similar than the 4 speed.
 
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