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#3197641 - 11/25/13 12:24 PM Golf Mk4 - Won't go into 1st, 2nd or 3rd?
Mr_Accord Offline


Registered: 01/24/07
Posts: 370
Loc: LBP
Came out this morning to head off to work. Start my 99.5 Golf mk4 5-spd and she won't go into 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, but will freely slide into 4th, and 5th. I had the car out a few days ago after I changed the brakes and drove it around for 20 mins, before parking it in my garage and only used it until now. The only think I can think of that has changed since then is that it has dipped below freezing temperatures where I live since the weekend. I let the car idle for a few mins and still the shifter won't go into 1st -3rd gear. Any ideas?
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#3197650 - 11/25/13 12:27 PM Re: Golf Mk4 - Won't go into 1st, 2nd or 3rd? [Re: Mr_Accord]
scurvy Offline


Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 2268
Loc: Chicago IL USA
Realign the shifter linkage. Either it came out of alignment or you broke a bushing.

Unfortunately with a 99.5 you are likely stuck with the bag-of-poo leftover from the mk3, unless you can get the shifter cables & shift tower off a later mk4 to get the much improved design.

YouFacing some videos of these repairs is left as an exercise to the reader. wink2 But this should help you out quite a bit.
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#3197681 - 11/25/13 12:47 PM Re: Golf Mk4 - Won't go into 1st, 2nd or 3rd? [Re: scurvy]
Mr_Accord Offline


Registered: 01/24/07
Posts: 370
Loc: LBP
Is this a difficult job?
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#3197837 - 11/25/13 03:06 PM Re: Golf Mk4 - Won't go into 1st, 2nd or 3rd? [Re: Mr_Accord]
scurvy Offline


Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 2268
Loc: Chicago IL USA
Originally Posted By: Mr_Accord
Is this a difficult job?


That really depends on what you consider "difficult".

The mk3 linkage is a real bag of poo to align properly, so I would call it "twitchy" and "annoying" but not "difficult".

By contrast, the mk4 shifter linkage is simple, elegant & very fast to adjust correctly.

If this were my 99.5 Golf, I would look for a shifter tower, cables & interior bits necessary to switch over to the far more robust mk4 design... especially if you've broken a shifter bushing.
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#3197858 - 11/25/13 03:21 PM Re: Golf Mk4 - Won't go into 1st, 2nd or 3rd? [Re: Mr_Accord]
rrguy Offline


Registered: 09/20/10
Posts: 91
Loc: MN
Sounds odd it wormked last time you drove? You sure you don't have water in the trans freezing will cause a problem.
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#3197891 - 11/25/13 03:50 PM Re: Golf Mk4 - Won't go into 1st, 2nd or 3rd? [Re: scurvy]
crashtestdummy Offline


Registered: 08/20/12
Posts: 52
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: scurvy
Realign the shifter linkage. Either it came out of alignment or you broke a bushing.

Unfortunately with a 99.5 you are likely stuck with the bag-of-poo leftover from the mk3, unless you can get the shifter cables & shift tower off a later mk4 to get the much improved design.

YouFacing some videos of these repairs is left as an exercise to the reader. wink2 But this should help you out quite a bit.


Agree with Scurvy here. Check your linkage/bushing. Very sensitive mechanism especially if your bushings are worn or broken.
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#3197944 - 11/25/13 05:10 PM Re: Golf Mk4 - Won't go into 1st, 2nd or 3rd? [Re: Mr_Accord]
asand1 Offline


Registered: 12/16/12
Posts: 738
Loc: Oregon coast
Will it go into those gears with the engine off. Could be a dragging clutch or bad synchros?


Edited by asand1 (11/25/13 05:10 PM)
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#3198013 - 11/25/13 06:18 PM Re: Golf Mk4 - Won't go into 1st, 2nd or 3rd? [Re: Mr_Accord]
dareo Offline


Registered: 10/17/07
Posts: 451
Loc: utah
it's gotta be something with the linkages. I've got a newer shifter setup waiting to be installed on my 99.5 tdi to eliminate the slop.

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#3200472 - 11/28/13 10:47 AM Re: Golf Mk4 - Won't go into 1st, 2nd or 3rd? [Re: Mr_Accord]
Mr_Accord Offline


Registered: 01/24/07
Posts: 370
Loc: LBP
Alright so I came home the other night and tried fiddling with the shifter again. After a few good hard pushes it started going into all of the gears. It felt like it was frozen, and needed to be freed. Anyway it sat for a day and it got really cold last night and this morning. Came out to use it this morning and again tried putting it in gear and it was like it was frozen in neutral. Played really hard with the shifter and soon I was able to get it into all of the gear.

Does this sound like the bushings on tranny where the cables hook are bad?

Also I had the shifter boot off while checking the shifter assembly, when I go to push down and slide to the left for reverse it feels like the bottom portion of the stick that connects with the steel rod is scraping the bottom of the housing a bit...normal?


Edited by Mr_Accord (11/28/13 10:50 AM)
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#3200473 - 11/28/13 10:47 AM Re: Golf Mk4 - Won't go into 1st, 2nd or 3rd? [Re: dareo]
Mr_Accord Offline


Registered: 01/24/07
Posts: 370
Loc: LBP
Originally Posted By: dareo
it's gotta be something with the linkages. I've got a newer shifter setup waiting to be installed on my 99.5 tdi to eliminate the slop.


If I were to take a pic of the internals for my shifter and the top portion of the tranny could you tell me if I have the MK3 or MK4 setup? I'm not sure myself.
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1990 VW Jetta GL 1.8L 8V - SOLD
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1993 Ford Aerostar XL 4L V6 - Retired RIP
2004 SAAB 9-3 ARC 2.0T - Current

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#3204248 - 12/02/13 07:04 PM Re: Golf Mk4 - Won't go into 1st, 2nd or 3rd? [Re: Mr_Accord]
scurvy Offline


Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 2268
Loc: Chicago IL USA
Does it look like the one in this excellent video from Dieselgeek? This is the "later" mk4 linkage. The early mk4/mk3 linkage is completely different.

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#3246885 - 01/13/14 12:09 PM Re: Golf Mk4 - Won't go into 1st, 2nd or 3rd? [Re: scurvy]
Mr_Accord Offline


Registered: 01/24/07
Posts: 370
Loc: LBP
It looks like this. I'm guessing early mk3/mk4 shifter.

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1990 VW Jetta GL 1.8L 8V - SOLD
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