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I’m going to assume from the wording of your question that you have a manual 5 speed transmission, is that correct? If so just to get this out of the way first, you are aware that when attempting to put a vw into reverse you have to push down on the shift lever?

I ask that because I read the story of a guy who bought his first vw and drove around for about 3 months thinking he had no reverse until he finally figured it out.

There are 3 videos at the bottom of the page in this link that explain the whole linkage/bushing setup and shows you how to adjust it.

 

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You might check to confirm but I believe the 98-99 New Beetle models; use the previous generation Mark III shfiter assembly and it is different, then the Mark IV 2000 model on type.

If this is the case; Dieselgeek, sells a different kit for the 1998-1999 VW New Beetle here:


There are many places; that sell rebuild kits for this earlier shifter and the bushings, that are part of other parts of the linkage. UROTUNING, has these and more parts for these here:

Ultimate shifter repair kit:


more parts; including a short shifter kit, as well:


Another part, that fails; is the stock plastic shifter carrier, you might upgrade to a steel upgraded version, which also is a short shifter upgrade as well:

249216




Here is a youtube video; going over the repair and rebuilding of the Mark III shifter assembly:


Many more videos:

 
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