27th Jul 2005, 04:33

Try when you start it up and instead of opting to just put it in reverse... got to 1st gear, then into reverse. Sometimes things just don't exactly mesh up perfectly. either roll up or down an inch or two or what I said just above. I haven't many VW's or any model not require this the odd time.

Also check to see if the shift linkage (cables) are within spec. As they could be off, if so this may also cause a lil problem. Changing the tranny/differential fluid may help, even changing the oils weight may help also. Redline 75/90 weight synthetic gear oil works great.

13th Mar 2006, 16:08

To the guy that mentionned checking the linkage wires... It's a rod based transmission, hence, it uses rods instead of wires. Can't be ajusted. Two things can be done:

- Change out all bushings, which will reduce play in the shifter unit greatly and "maybe" fix your problem.

- Inspect shifter rods to see if any are bent and out of spec.

14th Mar 2006, 08:28

The lock is common happened to me cuz it froze and I tried to turn it still, the cost was $90 back in 2003 almost would recommend getting after market alarm with door locks if you have the p/w locks (think its standard)

21st Mar 2006, 23:09

Ya man, I feel your pain. I have the exact same car and the exact same transmission problem. My reverse is finished the gear is stripped so the tranny needs to be rebuilt so I am told. I am not sure, but I was also told that this is a common problem with Volkswagen's of this era, too bad I didn't know this before I purchased the car. Oh ya guess what same door locking problem, it originally happened on the driver side, but I just swapped the door handles from the passenger side to driver side and now it works fine. Anyways good luck with the car hope this helped a bit.

15th Jul 2006, 10:47

I have an automatic 97 vw jetta and the gears kick in a little hard and plus the revolutions go up to about 30. If anybody knows anything about fixing this problem please post your message.

15th Dec 2007, 17:33

I had the same reverse gear problems. The driver side door lock also died, but I changed it with the passenger side one, so now you just can't open it from that side.

10th Jan 2008, 08:15

Does anyone know how to fix a transaxel seal...? or could tell me how to pull out the right side cup that holds the axel? I'm clueless on how its done and I don't want to take it to the dealership, everyone knows they just want money from us... so if anyone knows what I'm talking about just let me know.

13th Feb 2008, 10:43

Got a used 97 VW Jetta, runs ruff--sometimes intermittently. Any legitimate ideas to help? Have tried wires, coil pack and injector cleaner. Sounds something like running one of the older cars with the choke stuck on full. PS: Had to replace a lot of other mechanical stuff also--ball joints, rod ends, etc., etc.

12th May 2008, 19:37

I've had other cars with worse problems than the 97 Jetta.

I bought it at 140K and the reverse gear was making a noise. I had it replaced for $400.00.

I put a new clutch in it myself and had some front end work done to it, but overall I really like the car.

The locks are a problem. This spring I'm having to replace both door locks because they broke. The reason is they use pot metal that stresses when it is really cold outside, and that strains the metal when twisted. I'm surprised that Volkswagen designed it that way, because other things on this car are very well thought out.

I've had cars that were a nightmare, and now I've gotten to the point where I expect things to go wrong. I live in a cold climate that also experiences hot summers. Show me a car model that no one has ever had problems with in that type of climate. When you buy a used car, you have to expect something is going to go wrong. The key to success with a VOLKSWAGEN is to replace the worn out parts with genuine Volkswagen parts, not the cheap China made parts.

The side moldings are also a constant problem but nothing can be done about that. It would have been a better design to have a way of screwing the moldings on from inside the door.

Moral of the story - keep your expectations low when buying a used car. I like the way this car handles and the drive train - minus the reverse gear issue - is outstanding. It is a well designed car and fairly easy to work on.

31st Oct 2008, 12:05

"The key to success with a VOLKSWAGEN is to replace the worn out parts with genuine Volkswagen parts, not the cheap China made parts."


And to be honest, if reliability is your biggest concern, get a Civic. Old VWs have many little quirks to them, and you really have to love the car to put up with them. A lot of the problems are easy and cheap to fix if you can do it yourself.. but if not, stay far away from VW dealerships. Find a good shop in your area that specializes in European cars.

I currently own a 1997 Jetta GT. I specifically looked for one with power everything EXCEPT windows, because they are known to be problematic. Everything else will be fine if you keep up with your maintenance: regular oil changes, tune ups, timing belt, etc. Check out www.vwvortex.com. There is lots of good info there on everything VW.

30th Dec 2008, 15:57

I have a 1997 Jetta GT at 185000 thousand miles... normal wear and tear.. and just recently the front door power lock broke due to cold weather.. I don't lock it anymore. I bought the car new in 1997, The rubber side moldings fell off over the last 2 years, otherwise I am happy its running and seems to be running fine.. one clutch change, several brake changes..

29th Mar 2009, 15:03

I have a 97 GT that I'm trying to get road worthy. Your comments have been really helpful, thanks.

My automatic tranny is slipping at idle. It takes a second for it to engage into 1st and reverse. When I stop, with it in gear, it slips for a second again. This tranny is a sealed system with no dipstick and no leaks. This tells me it's not a fluid issue. I believe the bands have to be adjusted.

Has anybody encountered this? If so, how was the issue resolved?


26th Apr 2009, 20:11

I had a 97 Jetta with the same tranny issues... apparently there is a sensor that can sometimes need to be changed. My tranny just started making a whirring noise and the VW repair shop said it was most likely a pump - needless to say, as per his advice, the car is gone. As he put it, VW should have never made an automatic transmission. I'm now the proud owner of a 2005 Mazda 3, which I LOVE. Do yourself a favour and get rid of it...

I will never buy another Volkswagen again, in my life.

16th Jul 2009, 17:08

I have a 97 jetta gt. I was told they go forever. I have the same problem as the other guy on here. reverse is shot. I was told it was a $1200 fix too. now im told the linkage is just bad? any comments?

19th Aug 2009, 21:06

I just bought a 97 Black Jetta GT, missing the front drivers side molding. Guy I bought it from said that you need to put the 93 one because it has the clips. As for the guy above me, it's a wheel bearing. My 94 GLS did that before I totaled it. But overall I love the GT thus far, I have to patch a hole in the passenger side floor board which is no bigs, but otherwise I love my v-dubs, always have since my dad's 84 GTI, that thing was so awesome.

22nd Aug 2009, 00:29

I have a 1997 VW Jetta GL. I love the car and always have been a fan. It has about 130k on it. Newer transmission and clutch. I also have replaced just about everything in an attempt to fix a clunking noise in reverse. Had it in to a VW mechanic. He said it's not my transmission, probably CV joints or motor and transmission mounts. I've replaced everything and it still makes the noise. About ready to give up on it. Other than the clunking in reverse it runs fine. I'm kind of thinking it's my differential. Anyone got any suggestions?!?!

5th Jul 2012, 17:39

I have a 97 Jetta GT that was making a noise in reverse. Turned out to be worn out exhaust pipe hangers.

13th Mar 2013, 19:32

Check your transaxle mount. It will make a clunking noise in reverse as soon as you engage the clutch.