Manual Transmission problems


Capt. Mike

Moderator
Responding to query, "What grease for linkage?"

First you have to determine if this is a transmission problem (subject of this forum) or a linkage problem (Shift Rod System, . . . forum). You do this by disconnecting the shift rod and see if the transmission shifts smoothly by shifting with the rod assembly back at the transmission. If it's the shift rod system, repost in that forum.

Note, the type of grease is not particularly important -- MS02 is basically MPG2 regular grease with the addition of an additive. Frequency & cleanliness are more important. [I presume you are talking linkage grease -- the transmission does NOT take grease, it takes GL-4 or GL-5 transmission hypoid oil WITHOUT MSO2.]

Further note -- stiff shifting can be the result of improper clutch adjustment or operation. See Clutch topic.
 

deedu

New member
I've just bought an 87 with 4-speed manual with around 125k miles. Runs fine, and I've been reading through the great posts on this site, as well as the Bentley's and the 2005 Gowesty catalog. In the latter I came across (page 109-110) the write-up on the "Vanagon Stick-shift Transaxle: Sudden Death Syndrome" which suggests that the 3-4 Syncro hub develops stress cracks which "eventually breaks without warning, usually before 150k miles, sometimes as early as 70 or 80k miles." When this happens , to quote Gowesty, often "you ain't going nowhere".
I know Gowesty is a site sponsor, and I've read the complements about their parts and service, so I'm inclined to believe them when they state that their rebuilt trannies have the improved replacement part which fixes this problem. I thought of this as I read the opening posts (November-Dec., 2000) on this thread. Capt. Mike's words, "These unsupported conclusions just cause rumors and add to the "bad rap" reputation. If they were true, you'd see a whole lot more posts from the 400,000 site visitors, many of whom own Vanagons." ring true as well, which leaves me somewhat confused. If the tranny is likely to break in the next 25k or so miles, I'd rather repair it with the new part and not get stuck out in the boondocks with a big tow bill to pay and who knows what local mechanics available to replace the tranny. On the other hand, I'm not anxious to sink $1-2k into a van I just bought, since I don't know what else may be wrong with it. Any advice or collective wisdom to share? Thanks in advance, and for the great site and informative posts. cheers, dee
 

semiret

New member
deedu,

I would agree that it is better to fix the trans now instead of waiting for it to break somewhere. I tend to think along the same lines. I have a '78 Westy that I am going thru this winter. I plan on having aatransaxles go thru my trans. I have read many good posts on these guys from multiple places and feel good in placing my trust in them. Their site is http://www.aatransaxle@direcway.com

Daryl is good at responding to email questions. He might be able to help.

Good luck
Steve '78 Westy
Salt Lake City, Utah
 

icarus

Moderator
Just an opinion, but,,,,if it aint broke, don't fix it. If it drives well, shifts well, the gear oil looks good. I would just drive it. You could make the argument that if you were heading off for a trip from Alaska to S.America, you might want to do a pre-emptive fix. The question is, are there legions of vangagons stuck in the bush with dead trannies? I have heard of few.

Good luck
Icarus

PS. Find out what history you can on the trannie. Perhaps it has been done before. Also get an opinion from a shop you trust.

I also have heard good things about aatransaxle
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
deedu: Since the synchronizer hub for both the Syncro and the std. 4-speed are the same, that would mean ALL Vanagons are having that transmission failure, which I think you will find emphatically not true. Thus I tend to agree with icarus. You can get your transmission oil analyzed if you think it is full of wear metal, but just to replace it on the rumor that something might break is a little extreme. I'm at 168k -- shouldn't mine have already broken? Especially since mine has major boonie miles to AK & beyond and off-road use, like right now during hunting season.

There is some misconception about the Syncro tranny. First, it is basically the same, bullet-proof tranny for all buses dating back many years into the Type II's. Yes, it's been modified & upgraded over the years, including some items I'm not happy with such as nylon needle bearing cages, but the bulk of the design (Porsche design synchronizers, by-the-way) has stood the test of time and millions of high-mileage customers.

The primary difference on the Syncro is the addition of the idler & granny gear 1st shaft & housing ADDED ON to the end of the regular transmission. The differential, at the other end, is also different with the limited slip & locking mechanism. These changes are not to the internal 3-4 hub so claimed as defective. What is often the case is that Syncro owners go where they probably shouldn't and do more things that are tough on any transmission, and thus may experience a higher failure rate -- not because of design but because of owner practices. Another cause of failures is owners failing to keep all 4 tires identical with the same wear rate, thus activating the 4WD unintentionally to excess, adding wear & stress.

IF you have it apart because of worn syncros, leaks or other symptoms, by all means investigate the alleged upgrade. But otherwise ask yourself the pros & cons -- and if you'd do that with every other part that can fail at those mileages.
 

deedu

New member
Thanks much Icarus and Captain Mike - sounds like good advice and music to my ears. I'll have the trannie oil checked before I take any long trips, but otherwise will leave (hopefully!) well enough alone. I'm sure I'll find other things to fix/spend the money on!
icon_smile.gif
cheers, deedu
 

icarus

Moderator
In defence of go westy and others, the general consensus is that the 3/4 syncros are the week link in these gear boxes. Having said that, I've got 130,000 on my with no problems. If you get to the place where you have to do a clutch, or remove the engine at some point, then the equation becomes different. I'd stand by my earlier post, get it checkec, save a penny every few days to put into the trannie when it finally does go. When it does come time, get the box rebuild by a reputable service.

Icarus
 
I just bought a 1982 westy. I took a road trip to test it. It drove fine for about 1000 miles, then I had problems. I pulled out onto a busy road and to gain speed fast I was shifting fast. When I went from second to third I think I may have hit first. There was a clunk and I couldn't get into any gear. I pull off the road and after many attents I got it in first gear. I drove up to the top of the hill and was able to get it in third. I was able to get it into a town where I stopped for gas. When the motor was turned off I could shift it into all the gears, but with the motor running I could not get into a gear (that is I couldn't get into gear easy. If I continued to try I could get into one of the gears.) What ever gear I get it into it drives fine in that gear. Any ideas of what my problem is?
Thanks, Sam
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Have you checked the linkage yet and shifting separate of the linkage -- as recommended above? Guideline #4.

Engine running vs. not running indicates something possible with the clutch or main shaft. Check cluth per recommendations in that topic.

If it runs in each gear but not shifting indicates -- after checking above -- you have may have damage in the shifting fork assemblies inside the tranny.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to conslidate same topic.

Final drive flange seal

schneidj53 Junior Member Posted January 02, 2007 08:28 PM

Newbie with question about difficulty in getting to seal after pulling CV joint. Any help greatly appreciated. Vehicle is 1984 vanagon.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
See posts of 19 Feb 2002 above. Replacing the drive flange oil seal with transmission installed is clearly described in the Bentley, §34.18. Note the special tools required.
 

ronwolffjr

New member
1971 VW Bus Transmission woes-
I read through the previous strings regarding manual transmission leaks in between the engine and transmission. However, they seemed to all apply to the later Westy's.

Issue: The transmission fluid is pouring out where the engine meets the transmission. It has less than 200 miles on it, as it was rebuilt by a company called Transworks. I looked in the Bentley manual and could not decipher exactly what could be causing this type of leak, other than a main shaft seal.

Is it possible that Transworks sent an incorrect transmission, with a different sized shaft? I did not see any references to different sizes, however, I do remember some old posts on here that stated they experienced some issues with different types of shafts.

Any help would be appreciated.

P.S. I put the original VW Beetle 1975+ fuel injection system on the 1600 motor in the 71 bus, and boy, it really works nice. However, I hate to take it all out!

Thanks.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
'71 should have manual transmission CA; they didn't switch to the CN until the boxer engine in '74. They do have different propeller shafts, as they call it, but the difference is apparently not in diameter as they use the same seal.

I'm going to guess you have just got a bad or damaged seal. It can happen on new seal installation as the shaft through the middle means you can't use a 360° installation surface (except VW's special tool) so it's easy to get one cocked and damage it. Of course, that's assuming the shaft is not damaged or worn, which any competent rebuild would have checked. In fact, I would have thought the rebuild would have fluid tested the job, even if they had to remove it for shipment later.

I could not find any Google hits on "Transworks". I would assume they have a warranty and that should cover the leakage repairs. If not -- this is definately worth posting on the Mechanics forum as a warning.
 

ronwolffjr

New member
As always, thanks Capt.
I concur with your diagnosis. It's just the denial of removing the whole works again! LOL

I will see how they react, as the vehicle is only driven sporadically. So, a lot of time has passed.

Until than, here is the link. I am placing it here so you have it, as they do every type of transmission repair for VW's.

I'll keep everyone posted as to the outcome.

Thanks again!

http://www.transworks.biz/
 

ketchikan

New member
Goldie, my 86 westy, is getting some routine maintenance. She has 168,000 miles and is shifting fine with no apparent oil leaks. When I took off axles to replace and repack CV boots there was oil leakage on drivers side in boot. Here's where I need help. The oil seal has a 5/8" hole worn through it. When I grab onto 'axle housing' on transmision it has a slight movement/wobble of .013". Passenger side is fine. Whats your prescription before relacing seals? Thanks for your time!
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
An '86 M/T should have an 091/1 tranny. The Bentley is very remiss on discussing it because most of the work is "shop" level. Get a Type II manual and brush yourself up on the procedures and possible causes in the same basic tranny design started with the boxer engines. In short, probable causes of excess play and seal failure are not optimistic. There is a possibility of tapered bearing wear, shaft wobble, gear wear and loss of the correct adjusting ring depth. Unfortunately, correct the adjusting ring depth and bearing replacement are tranny-out jobs.

The saving grace is that you don't have to pull the engine to R&R the tranny, and you can rebuild the differential end of the tranny without rebuilding the entire transmission and gear side. However, at 168K, and the labor of R&R-ing the tranny already committed, does that justify doing a transmission rebuild while you're at it? Your call.
 

skeye

New member
Dust in Tranny???

Two years ago, I had German Transaxle in Bend, Oregon, rebuild the tranny out of my 91 Westy. This year, after about 20,000 miles, took the tranny back to have GT retrofit a locking diff. They noted that there was a remarkable amount of dirt in the tranny, requiring to replace a few seals. They asked me if I had been in down many dusty roads.....I had, but mostly on pavement. They said I should have my mechanic attached breather tube to the vent, with a air filter.....they said this was similar to what is on the syncros....mine is 2wd.
Heck, I did not know the tranny even HAD a breather hole! AND, all my westy buddies, with almost 200,000 miles, with original trannies, have driven down MANY more dusty roads than myself. How did the dirt get in the case??? I thought ALL transmissions in ALL vehicles were tightly sealed, not to allow any dirt or moisture in. ANY suggestions or input?
Thanks,
Gary
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
Tranny breather filter

GT is correct in that the Syncro has a breather, but they all have to breath in some manner. Think about it. As the tranny warms up, the oil and air expand so have to have a place to go. Where I'm stumped is that I can find it on the Syncro tranny parts fisch, but not on any 2WD fisch.

I suspect the 2WD Type II is just like the Type I's in that there is a small breather hole drilled in the top of the case (back at the shift housing). In Type I's, it's very small -- just a couple mm -- and is not a straight hole, but is doglegged in the middle. No filter. I suppose that if the top stayed covered in muddy &/or water water, it could suck a tiny bit back through as the transmission cools. In your case, I'm more suspicious of outside contamination or a bad clean in the first rebuild.

The fisch does NOT show a filter for the Syncro. It's a banjo bolt with barb for 5mm hose. It's located on the top of the transmission's forward most (gearshift lever end) case. The hose would drape down to allow outflow, but the intake would have to suck up the hose, not likely in normal use unless the hose end was submerged. Haven't forded any streams lately, have you?

My question is where & how are you going to drill & tap the case for a banjo bolt? I don't doubt it can be done -- in fact would think it right up GT's alley since the should have major machine shop abilities to machine and bore tranny cases. There MAY be a through bolt that goes into the upper case that could be swapped out for a banjo bolt & fitting. IF you feel adding a filter in addition to the banjo bolt & hose is necessary, I'd look into the hose-end fuel filters for small engines like chain saws. I know Homelite has one that fits into the fuel pick-up hose with a hose barb and is covered with a felt filter.

Breather or not, significant dirt in the tranny sounds more like a seal problem than which breather you might have.
 
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old school guy

New member
Worn Syncro, transmission damage

I bought an 89 Wolfsburg a couple of weeks ago, from two guys, mechanics, who have a shop not far from my house. They are not VW exclusively, but they said they “grew up” with VW vans, and that in the country they came from it was the most popular car on the roads and that they knew “everything” about them. They “guaranteed” that all mechanicals were “perfect” and that they would correct any problems I found within the first 30 days at their shop. As it turned out there are a number of major problems, which they refuse to fix. But I’m only asking for advice on one of the problems, the one I think is the most serious, at least for now.

The day I test drove the van everything seemed fine. I picked it up a day later and after driving about ten miles, second gear synco stopped working. To up or down shift I either had to double clutch or bear the pain of grinding metal. The “mechanics” said it was the linkage. They “adjusted” it. Now it is harder to get into any gear. They insist there is no problem, that this is just how all “these vans work.” I will be seeing them in small claims court about this and other issues, but meantime I still have the transmission problem.

I went to my son’s VW mechanic, who has a good reputation. He said second gear synco was worn out and needed to be replaced. I asked him how it could go from shifting OK to having a worn syncro in ten miles. He said that there was a “trick” that dishonest mechanics could do that would hide the problem for day or so. The “trick” involved the clutch slave cylinder and excess pressure that would last for a day or so, or until the excess pressure bled off. I may not be explaining that entirely accurately. My grasp of mechanics is limited.

In any event he gave me a quote of $1200 to replace the 2nd gear syncro and $350 to replace the slave cylinder. I went to another VW guy with a good reputation to get a second opinion. He agreed on the diagnosis, but said I should consider having a remanufactured transmission installed, cost for the transmission would be about $1000, installation about $1000, same price, $350, for the slave cylinder.

Problem is, I can’t afford either one right now. The questions I’m hoping someone here can advise me on are these:

Will I do more damage to the transmission by driving the van in its current condition?
Should I park the van and not drive it until I can afford to fix it?
Should I have the existing transmission repaired or should I replace it?
Do the prices I have been quoted sound reasonable for SoCal?
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
There is no "trick" with the slave cylinder to make a bad syncro disappear temporarily. Slave cylinders basically work or don't work. The limited adjustment they have may relieve a dragging clutch, which would have caused clash, but that is a correction that should have been done with the basic adjustment. Beyond that, they are self adjusting. A failed slave or master cylinder will almost always give clash and that should be investigated first because if they are bad, fixing them may reduce your clash and make a worn syncro bearable for a while.

2nd is the syncro that generally goes first. It's compounded by the fact it's the most sensative to adjustment of the linkage and also usually the gear that gets abused the most in both up- & down-shifts.

Guideline #8! Your VW dealer has a factory standard shop times book. He can give you the exact number of hours VW authorizes for a specific job. For example, there will be a set hour charge for R&R a clutch slave cylinder or a tranny. With these hours and a little internet work with the PARTS forum vendors, you can then decide if an estimate is reasonable or not.

There is a topic on reman vs. o'haul in the ENGINE forum. It pretty much applies to transmissions as well. There is no set answer as the decision can't be made until the old tranny is opened up, an advantage to opting for a reman before you start. You won't have invested into opening the tranny up just to find it's not a good candidate for local rebuild. It's a decision only you can make. A factory reman from VW may be hard to find -- I've heard they have discontinued, though your dealer can do a national dealer stock and special order from Germany status check. There are a couple of specialist in transaxles (good & bad), including one on the West Coast (Washington I believe). See the MECHANICS & PARTS forums. You are near GoWesty, which has a good reputation and handles tranny repairs/replacements. Remans have various warranties; local rebuilds usually have very limited warranties; a dealer rebuild yet another but it has VW's backing and is honored at all VW dealers.

As to the general comments, people who know the least about VW's are usually the first to make sweeping comments that they have not and connot support. Their old wive's tales about what can't be done, what's bound to fail, and what's not worth doing are basically that. Ignorance is bliss because they don't have to justify their positions, usually based on "I heard from this ol' guy . . .."

The transaxle in Vanagons was excellent and durable. Most get a couple hundred thousand miles out of the syncros. If you can double clutch, you can safely drive a worn syncro for a while. One characteristic of VW trannies, especially 2nd gear, is that if you don't rush the shift -- give it time to mesh -- the pause in neutral will let the syncros cut clash.
 
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