Stiff Gearbox

It appears my car is not all that well. At the start of this week the gearbox was a little stiff, but then we had a cold snap and that sometimes happens. On Thursday I knew I had an issue. I could barely select first gear and the other gears were getting stiffer too.

I contacted my local VW garage in Swindon to book the car in to investigate and they couldn’t fit me in for diagnostics until 21st February which is quite a wait. Given that I had little choice but to accept the date and hope for the best in the meantime, I did so, and I’ve been limping round town since.

Over the weekend I had cause to drive a little further. I collected Shweta from the railway station on Friday evening and had the delights of pulling out of the station in 2nd gear, up a hill. Then we travelled to Avebury for dinner (more on that in a later post) and mercifully, despite the distance the drive was easy as it was country roads 5th gear most of the way.

Sunday was showdown time as I headed up to Milton Keynes to do some skiing practice at the snow dome. The journey there was fine, little traffic made gear usage easy but on the way back I got stuck in traffic on the M40 and almost simultaneously found I was unable to get second gear as I had been unable to get first.

Needless to say it was a painful experience but the old girl got me home. I doubt however that I doubt she’ll be going much further than to the office from now until the garage appointment.

As luck would have it I picked up my skiing technique again very quickly and so don’t feel the need to ensure I go back to the snow dome every weekend before my trip. Good job too, wouldn’t want to have to get back on even fewer gears!

Now for the mechanics amongst you. I’m able to cleanly select all gears when the engine isn’t running. It’s only when I start up the car that the gearbox is stiff and refuses to engage. When it does engage however it does so cleanly without “crunching”. Any ideas most welcome, and of course reassurance that the repair costs won’t be sky high is always appreciated. Paying for a new gear box wouldn’t make my week it must be said!



  1. Norman Said,

    February 17, 2011 @ 12:00 am

    Not sure you want to hear this Kieran but that sounds like a clutch problem and not a gear box issue.. If it is the clutch then it won’t be a huge repair cost but a huge replacement cost. Clutch’s are just too expensive to replace so almost certainly means a new car.

    Hopefully I am wrong and it’s just a gear oil issue which will be nice and cheap!

  2. Kieran Said,

    February 20, 2011 @ 6:12 pm

    Since publishing this article a mechanic friend also suggested it may be a clutch issue.

    According to him however it’s likely to be a repair job so hopefully not expensive, although my investigations into the costs of a new clutch have not been in new car territory so either way there is hope yet!

  3. Rob Said,

    February 21, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

    I know this going to sound silly… But i was a service manager in Londons biggest VW dealership for years… and the No1 course of your complaint was gearbox oil…. esp if its been toped up with cheep oil over time… drain it out (which dep on your box may mean syphoning it out) and re fill it with a good quality minral oil… its the cheepest easyest trick and 9time out of 10 it works… hope it helps & good luck…
    Ps if you fined that after a long jurny down a motoreay etc that selecting a gear is stiff… then this trick works for that too..
    All the best

  4. Kieran Said,

    February 23, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

    Well, I got the car back all fixed today.

    It was the clutch that was at fault, completely worn out and a replacement required. The selector rod was also severely worn and needed replacing too. So all in all quite a bit of work.

    Still, despite some costly work, I’ve never felt a clutch action/gear change so smooth so clearly it was worth it!

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