Q: Car will not engage in drive

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I have a 2001 Volkswagen Gti 1.8t automatic, drive will not engage unless it rolls a few inches so it seems like it’s in limp mode but when it engages into drive it switches through the gears perfect. But reverse will engage immediately. Transmission fluid was checked. Why once drive engages its fine it’s just when you put it back to park to drive. Once you try to put it into drive the rpm’s slightly goes up but after driving it awhile it will sometimes engage. The CEL light did come on once for the crank sensor which we replaced

My car has 162000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Your transmission is electronically controlled, and if there are any problems in the control system, there will be trouble codes stored in the memory. So the first thing you need is a thorough scan of the controllers with the appropriate VW software. The generic scanners like the ones they sell at the auto parts stores will not do the trick in this case. That way you can see if there are any sticky solenoid valves or such that might cause this problem. But I’m sorry to say that the symptoms you have describe a transmission hydraulic problem that is most likely due to wear of the components of the transmission hydraulic system. The most common scenario is that it will gradually take longer and longer to engage drive until eventually it will not work at all and the fix will require a transmission rebuild or replacement. But don’t panic yet! There may be a simpler solution that I can’t see from this chair. Contact YourMechanic to have a technician come out to your home or office to check out your Golf Transmission and let you know what can be done for it.

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