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Old 29th July 2020, 19:41   #1
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Default Gear slotting issues in my VW Polo

Hey there folks,

Need your help in understanding a gear slotting issue I am facing with my 2011 Polo 1.6 MT Petrol.

The issue has been there since the last one year or so, but happening much, much more frequently in the last two months. When slotting into the 3rd gear, the stick will move about halfway and doesn't go further so it doesn't fully engage the gear. Once this happens, I have seen a few different outcomes:
  1. A couple of times (2-3 times in the last year or so) I didn't realize that the stick didn't move all the way through. The stick actually moved back to neutral without slotting as soon as I let it go, and the car revved up when I pushed on the gas pedal. I didn't realize that the car was then in neutral.
  2. A couple of times (1-2 times in the last year or so), the stick sort of stuck in between neutral and 3rd gear position, and I heard gear grinding noise when leaving the clutch. I immediately engaged the clutch (1-2 secs max) and brought it back to neutral and engaged 3rd again with a bit more force. After this happened, I have grown quite fearful of this issue. The last this happened was sometime in 2019.
  3. Most of the times now (almost once every day now) when it happens, I can now feel the stick has traveled lesser than normal when engaging 3rd. I consciously then bring the stick back to neutral and engage 3rd again with a bit more force, which then engages fine but it definitely feels different when engaging (as if going over some notch which is resisting the stick movement). This is also a bit distracting from the road, as it takes conscious effort whenever it happens.

Other observations:
  1. Most times the 3rd gear engages fine. Drove Pune to Mumbai and back recently and saw it 2-3 times max in 350+km drive. Although much lesser gear changes once you hit the highway, compared to city.
  2. Issue does not happen with any other gear. Only the 3rd gear is problematic.
  3. Car has done around 88,000 kms and still on factory clutch.
  4. Never had engine or gearbox trouble before. Engine mounts have been replaced ~2 years ago.

I am really hoping it is just a bad clutch which is close to its end of life. I fear what diagnosis the authorized service center will come up with, how accurate will that be, and how expensive it will then turn out (given the recent post-lockdown Skoda horror stories on the forum). I have previously seen below-average problem diagnosis capabilities with VW service centers in Pune.

Any suggestions/ideas on what's wrong and how expensive it will be to fix?
Should I take the car to a FNG for diagnosis? Please let me know if you have any recommendation for honest and competent garages in Pune that work on VW MT gearboxes.

Thank you so much folks!
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Old 29th July 2020, 19:47   #2
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Default re: Gear slotting issues in my VW Polo

Your gear synchronizer is on its way out. Kindly get it checked.
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Old 29th July 2020, 20:18   #3
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Default re: Gear slotting issues in my VW Polo

Quote:
Originally Posted by nec2152 View Post
Issue does not happen with any other gear. Only the 3rd gear is problematic.
Sounds like a worn Synchronizer ring as Rshrey22 said.

Quote:
I am really hoping it is just a bad clutch which is close to its end of life.
A worn out clutch plate would manifest more commonly as difficulty in shifting to 1st and reverse gears specifically, while other gears would be fine on the move.

Quote:
I fear what diagnosis the authorized service center will come up with, how accurate will that be, and how expensive it will then turn out (given the recent post-lockdown Skoda horror stories on the forum).
Pay them a visit and see what their total diagnosis comes out with. You can then take a call on getting a second opinion (and perhaps the repair itself) elsewhere since your car is already out of warranty.

Last edited by vb-san : 30th July 2020 at 08:22. Reason: typo
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Old 29th July 2020, 20:47   #4
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Default re: Gear slotting issues in my VW Polo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rshrey22 View Post
Your gear synchronizer is on its way out. Kindly get it checked.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KarthikK View Post
Sounds like a worn Synchronizer ring as the Rshrey22 said.
Thank you Rshrey22 and KarthikK for the super quick diagnosis

Looks like I am looking at anything between 5K to 20K depending on how many synchro gears are bad. My regular service is anyways due and also pre-paid in an offer ran by VW late last year, let me give the car for service and see what sort of diagnosis and estimate they come up with. I foresee them pushing me for a clutch replacement, however I don't really feel any slipping issues with the clutch at the moment.

Is a gearbox overhaul also necessary at this mileage of ~90K kms, or is that only recommended when some problem arises? I also get a feeling that VW service would push me for a gearbox overhaul, deeming it necessary for this mileage and synchro gear problem.

Thanks!
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Old 29th July 2020, 21:18   #5
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Default re: Gear slotting issues in my VW Polo

Quote:
Originally Posted by nec2152 View Post
Is a gearbox overhaul also necessary at this mileage of ~90K kms, or is that only recommended when some problem arises? I also get a feeling that VW service would push me for a gearbox overhaul, deeming it necessary for this mileage and synchro gear problem.
They’ll have to overhaul (dismantle and inspect) the gearbox to be able to check and replace the synchroniser ring, and while they are at it, they will also take a look at the condition of the clutch and other components and will advise replacements accordingly .
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Old 30th July 2020, 12:03   #6
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Default Re: Gear slotting issues in my VW Polo

Potentially there are several reasons for this problem apart from a worn synchromesh. Two potential issues can be checked without having to take the transmission off, so it is worthwhile checking.

Just about the most common reason for gears popping out is wear in the linkage. From your gearstick there are several linkages, bolts and indents. These wear out over time, so have them check first. It is a very easy check. On the Polo there is a 10mm bolt in there that just wears out, causing play in the linkage.

The other often overlooked reason is simply not enough transmission fluid! So again, have the level checked before taking the whole transmission off. Check for obvious signs of leakage. Transmission can have a tendency to weep. So you would not see a big puddle of fluid underneath your car, but the area around the transmission box / engine would be oily.

Do you drive whilst keeping your hand on the gear stick? If so another cause could be a worn selector fork. Only way to diagnose it to open the transmission.

So there are at least four different potential causes. Two can be very easily verified and sorted within minutes. For the other two the transmission has to come off and be disassembled.

Good luck, let us know how it goes.

Jeroen
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Old 30th July 2020, 12:08   #7
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Default Re: Gear slotting issues in my VW Polo

There is a chance the gear linkage mechanism is shot in your car. Synchro wear, and that too only third gear is unlikely.

Please get it checked from ASS.
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Old 30th July 2020, 13:02   #8
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Default Re: Gear slotting issues in my VW Polo

to add to my earlier post:

To get some idea on what a synchromesh and a worn selector fork looks like have a look here and scroll down: This is a transmission from an Alfa Romeo but you get some idea what these parts look like:

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/diy-d...ml#post4563770 (My Car Hobby: A lot of fiddling, and some driving too! Jaguar XJR, Mercedes W123 & Alfa Romeo Spider)

Jeroen
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Old 31st July 2020, 02:52   #9
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Default Re: Gear slotting issues in my VW Polo

Thank you Jeroen and dhanushs.

I will ask the SA to check the linkage and the transmission fluid first before opening up the transmission.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Do you drive whilst keeping your hand on the gear stick? If so another cause could be a worn selector fork.
Jeroen
I have had habits before sometimes holding the stick with the left hand, mostly at times when driving spiritedly I guess (frequent gear changes). Introspectively I see that I don't do it often. Also my hand would actually hold the stick from the side (like when we change gears) rather than resting on top of it for support.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dhanushs View Post
There is a chance the gear linkage mechanism is shot in your car. Synchro wear, and that too only third gear is unlikely.
I have actually installed a Vento type armrest in my Polo ~2.5 yrs ago (procured it from Aliexpress and followed the guide on TeamBHP ).
As you guys know, the armrest position is way in front, so the way I hold the stick has changed a bit. With the armrest in place, my left arm rests on the armrest, and the wrist actually falls down towards the stick from the top, so now I hold the stick similar to holding a Pepsi bottle from its cap, with the bottle dangling below. This position does not give me as much grip strength on the stick as before (compared to holding the stick normally from the side).

The lesser amount of grip strength becomes more prominent when pushing the stick forward into 1st, 3rd or 5th. Pulling the stick backwards into 2nd and 4th gears is still ok grip wise.

Since 1st and 5th gear usage is quite rare and 3rd gear being much more used in the city, slotting the 3rd gear with lesser force so many times over the last 2.5 years seems to have taken its toll on the mechanism somewhere, esp. with the 3rd gear compared to other gears.

This is something I suspect could be the root cause of the problem.

Hope this info throws more light on how I screwed up and what not to do with your gear stick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
to add to my earlier post:
To get some idea on what a synchromesh and a worn selector fork looks like have a look here and scroll down: This is a transmission from an Alfa Romeo but you get some idea what these parts look like:
Jeroen
Ah, so cool! I will now have some idea when the defective parts come out and if they look similarly worn.
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Old 1st August 2020, 10:57   #10
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Default Re: Gear slotting issues in my VW Polo

I have faced a similar issue with my Fabia 1.6. Disengaging and engaging the clutch at that instant would usually allow the gear would slot in normally. I experienced this intermittently between 45k-60k kms and towards the end, the problem started extending to fourth gear as well. At about 62,xxx kms I changed the entire clutch assembly (due to regular wear) and now I'm at about 74,xxx kms and I haven't faced any issues so far. If your clutch effort has increased, that could be a sign that your clutch is on it's way out. Hope this helps.
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Old 1st August 2020, 13:42   #11
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Default Re: Gear slotting issues in my VW Polo

Something like that happened to my 27000 kms run polo 1.2 mpi as well a year ago, i had driven in a water logged street for like 300 meters. 3rd gear behaved in the same way which you have mentioned, it disappeared after 10 days somehow.
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Old 1st August 2020, 14:26   #12
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Default Re: Gear slotting issues in my VW Polo

I faced a similar issue with my Polo 1.5 TDI, however in my case the issue popped up about 5000 kms after I got the clutch assembly replaced. When I got it checked with the ASS they said there was no problem with the synchroniser, all they did was realign the gear selector and the problem was solved. I have driven about 3000 kms post the service and so far I haven't faced the same problem.
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