Q: Car wont shift into 5th gear

asked by on January 22, 2017

I bought my 03' Jetta 1.8T from a private seller when it had 83K miles. The car was very impressively well maintained. He did say he put some work into the transmission but couldn't get it to engage 5th gear. When I took it to a mechanic to get it looked at he said the transmission looked in very good condition with lots of new parts in it. He suggested to drive the car around more and in a lot of cases it l"fixes itself". I've driven 3000 miles with only gears 1-4. Luckily I don't do much highway driving. I'm a 17 year old who's school is only 4 miles away so I usually stay around 45-55 mph. When I do get up to 65 mph my car revs at 3700 which lets me know that 5th gear is not engaging. The "check engine" light is on and has been on ever since I bought the vehicle. The car has no other problems whatsoever.

My car has 86000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Transmission Fluid Service $125.08 - $440.73 Get a Quote

Hello, What you are describing may be a result of a faulty speed sensor, potentially low transmission fluid or a even a faulty transmission control solenoid. As your vehicle travels down the road, the computer analyzes data being sent by vehicle speed sensors and engine speed sensors. Based on this information, the Engine Control Unit (ECU), or the Transmission Control Unit (TCM), executes the appropriate upshifts and downshifts by sending a signal to one of several shift solenoids. These transmission solenoids have spring-loaded plungers inside them, which are wrapped with wire. When this coil of wire receives an electrical charge from the TCM / ECU, it causes these plungers to open, allowing transmission fluid to flow into the valve body and pressurize the desired clutches and bands. When this happens, the transmission changes gears and you continue down the road. The computer controls the transmission solenoid in several ways. If the vehicle is equipped with a dedicated Transmission Control Unit, it can open or close the hydraulic circuit using a direct 12v signal. In some cases, the Engine Control Unit (ECU) can control the solenoid’s plunger by turning the ground circuit on and off. When this is not working properly, this can cause a jerking reaction, a delay in shifting or in some cases may cause the transmission to hesitate in shifting gears. I would recommend having a professional from YourMechanic come to your location to diagnose and inspect your transmission.

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