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Volkswagen Passat Won't Shift

Q. Hi, I own a 1991 Volkswagen Passat 2.0 liter automatic transmission 150,000 km. A problem surfaced yesterday with the shifting. Seems the car starts out in the third gear when placed in drive, rather than first and shifting up. I'm not sure if it will go into the overdrive gear as I have not been on the highway since noticing the problem. I checked the fluid levels and it's ok.

Not sure when the last fluid change was done. Fluid seems thin brownish versus ruby red. Based on this limited information am I looking a tranny replacement or is this less severe and related to sensors?

Thanks

A. I think you have an electrical problem. That transmission goes into a fail-safe mode when an electrical problem is detected. The fail-safe mode is third gear no matter where you put the selector.

The VW 096/097 is a front wheel drive, four speed overdrive unit capable of either hydraulic or mechanical drive through the torque convertor. All transaxle functions are controlled by an on-board transaxle computer sending signals to seven solenoids on the transaxle valve body. This unit has five clutch packs, one roller clutch, and a Ford AOD style torque converter with a damper plate and direct drive shaft.

I would recommend taking it to your VW dealer and they can hook it up to their diagnostic computer and locate the problem for you.

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