Manual transmission sticks in 4th gear


New member
I have a 1986 Vanagon that I have owned for just over a year. It has 383,313 kilometers on it (i live in Oregon but bought it in Canada).

Supposedly, the previous owner replaced the clutch and rebuilt the transmission in 2012, and about 15,000 KM before I bought it (when I bought it, it had 375,000 km on it).

As it is my first Vanagon, I do not have a lot of personal experience to go on. I feel that the engine has run well in the time I have owned it, but that the clutch has been less than smooth. I was driving it two weeks ago and was traveling at approximately 40 mph in 4th gear and tried to downshift to 3rd gear--- I was stuck in 4th and could not get the gearshift to move into neutral or 3rd. I coasted to the side of the road and parked, then called AAA and had it towed to my local independent VW mechanic. Once there, the mechanic said it shifted just fine and he could not reproduce the symptoms. A second mechanic drove it and thought the problem might be the "pivot bearing" (between the clutch and the transmission) but also did not experience what I did.

I had the mechanics replace that bearing, which meant they had to get into the clutch---- they also replaced the entire clutch because they thought it looked bad, resurfaced the flywheel and did the rear main seal and the main shaft seal as well as the rear transmission mount.

Then I picked up my van and went for a 30 mile drive on a 2 lane highway at about 50 miles per hour... no stops for about 30 minutes and once I was in 4th gear no need to get out of it... until of course I came to a stop light. Then of course the vehicle was once again stuck in 4th gear---- exactly the same symptoms before the above-mentioned "fix" to my problem. In order to finish my drive, each time I was in 4th gear the only way out of it was to coast to a stop, turn off the engine, let the vehicle roll a very slight (very!) distance and then the gear shift would ease out of 4th and go wherever I wanted it to go.

Does anyone have an opinion about what is going on with my van?