VW 97 1.4 Polo sticky gears, help!

26 Sep 2012
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West Midlands
United Kingdom
Hi, I have a 1.4 litre 97 polo 98500 miles on the clock, which has suddenly developed sticky gears. It has always been fine until 2 days ago and now I am finding it difficult to get it into gear without a bit of a rough hand! I'm not sure if this is a gearbox issue (oil?) or a clutch issue but basically I had a new clutch fitted about 7-8 months ago after the last clutch had gone. After about 2 weeks of having the clutch replaced the car developed a very slight whirring noise (which I was told not to worry about :confused: ) and this noise has progressed from a whir to well its hard to say but its quite noisy and when you put your foot on the clutch it stops when you take your foot off it starts again. So with this current problem of sticky gears what could be the issue causing it? Any ideas? Thanks!
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Do the gears select nicely when the engine is off?
If so, its a clutch issue really - the noise you hear is the release bearing whirring.
Check the clutch pedal bracket where it fixes to the inside of the car though - these are known to tear away from the metal.
John :)
Thanks Burnerman I shall try selecting the gears when engine is off, havent dont that!
And being totally unmechanical :( I have no idea how to find the clutch pedal bracket, do I have to look under the car and where exactly?
Aye, you do :p
Basically its a bit of a hand stand in the drivers foot well....look where the clutch pedal pivots near the top, and press the pedal with your hand.
Look for any movement in the metalwork that the pedal bracket is fixed to.
Consider a chiropractor visit afterwards..... :p
John :)
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Have just tried selecting the gears without the engine running and it is slightly easier to get into gear although I still think it feels slightly stiffer than it did before the sticky gears problem (or maybe I'm imagining this?!). The noise from the clutch is like a whirry squeeky chuggy sound and when you put yout foot on the clutch it disappears, would this be the release bearing as you said before? I am a complete mechanical novice so appreciate any advise you can send my way :) Many thanks :)
Thought I should add to that the clutch pedal is quite sticky, you think you have your bite and then suddenly lurch forwards when releasing your foot from the clutch. Is this anything to do with it?
I think with a Polo of this age and mileage, there is likely to be quite a bit of wear in the gear linkage - thats the bit that connects the bottom of the gear lever, then goes forwards to the gearbox itself.....indeed the gear stick is prone to waving around a bit.
Either way, you don't want a crunch when the car is put into gear, particularly first and reverse. If it does then its not so good!
If you have the receipt from the original clutch replacement you should have been billed for a friction plate, pressure plate and release bearing (as well as the labour of course). Its false economy not to have all three items replaced.
John :)
Thank you for all your advice John. I have just been looking at the clutch receipt and it just says supply and fit new clutch :/ it is under guarantee to be checked after 500, 3000, 6000 and 20,000 miles I had the 500 miles check carried out but I must admit I forgot about the 3000 mile check and we've now gone another 3000 miles so should be at the 6000 mile check, not sure they'll still cover it under the guarantee :( if the issue is as you have suggested is this a costly, timely repair that requires lots of labour? Thanks again, sorry for so many questions :confused:
For sure I haven't come across this sort of clutch warranty before - after all, the clutch either works or it doesn't, and how long it lasts is really up to the driver.....No sarcasm meant here.
Do check the pedal box though if you can, or whisk the car back to the clutch fitter to ask their advice - humbly, of course!
I would expect any clutch to have 1 year warranty anyway.
John :)
Probably a part has failed that was not changed at the time
For sure I haven't come across this sort of clutch warranty before - after all, the clutch either works or it doesn't, and how long it lasts is really up to the driver.....No sarcasm meant here.
Mr Clutch do a similar style of warranty. As you say though, I'd be inclined first to ask the clutch place what they think is the problem. I'd also have the gearbox oil level checked as I have had sticky gears with a low level and/or the wrong sort of oil.
Back again :rolleyes: well I took my car back to the clutch fitter today, I told him the clutch pedal was sticky and the gears had also become sticky and that there was a noise coming from the clutch pedal as when you put your foot on the clutch it stops when you take it off it starts again. He got down in the foot well and checked pedal, looked under bonnet, muttered it could be the clutch cable, started the engine checked gears, turned it off, checked gears and said half heartedly 'yeah it is a bit stiff isnt it but it shouldnt be a problem just keep driving it and if it gets worse bring it back' I said what about gears and noise from pedal he turned engine back on, tried pedal again and said 'that sounds like your gearbox to me' I said what do you mean, what is the issue with the gearbox to which he said 'could be the cogs or something, its definately the gearbox and its an expensive job cuz getting parts for a car like this is like looking for rocking horse ****...'

do you think I am being fobbed off??
Errr right :p
First, as we've said before the noise is most likely to be coming from the clutch release bearing. Having said that, pressing the clutch pedal does take up some clearances within the gearbox but in this case I don't think so.
Time to consult the cavalry....are there any VW specialists near you?
Failing that, talk to a VW dealer and ask if you can bring the car in for their opinion, both for the clutch noise and selection issues.
Personally I think your clutch man didn't replace the release bearing when he should have, but he'll deny that.
Gearbox repairs are very expensive, and in your case, if a new gearbox is needed (which I doubt) its a case of having a breakers yard one fitted - they usually have 3 months warranty. When gearboxes have called it a day they usually start jumping out of gear.
Finally, when the clutch was done, I do hope he renewed the gear oil....
John :)
Very much appreciated John :) I did ask about gear box oil and he said that the gearbox oil doesn't need to be replaced as it lasts the life of the gearbox so I guess that answers that question as to whether he replaced it :mad: he couldn't have been any more disinterested in the problem! Think I am going to ring company back (Planet Clutch) and complain to the manager. If that doesnt result in any action I do have a local mechanic who I can ask for his opinion. Or do I really need to see a VW specialist?
Fair comment, the Polo does have flanged driveshafts that don't need to be removed from the gearbox, so that bit is ok.
Its only right to check the oil level as a matter of course though.
I wouldn't go in at full speed just yet, but do seek another (professional) opinion first......!
John :)
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