Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
60,000 miles
Total Complaints:
1 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (1 reports)
1996 Volkswagen Golf transmission problems

transmission problem

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1996 Volkswagen Golf Owner Comments

problem #1

Jan 012000

Golf 2.0L Inline 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


Bought '96 Golf in early '00 used w/~60K miles on it. In all ways a nice care...except the automatic boat payment machine... I mean transmission. My first hint this would be a nightmare was when my independent VW specialist refused to so much as listen to my complaints about the transmission slipping. He advised the dealer was the only ones who could or would do anything. Dealer swapped in a used transmission because that's all my after-market warranty would cover. This procedure took Father's and Sons (West Springfield MA) no less than a month and a half!!!

Six months later, time for another transmission. To help make me feel better the service manager brought me out back and showed me a four foot tall PILE of dead automatics from this vintage Golf/Jetta!!! Yeah, pointing out an obvious design problem that the manufacturer refuses to own up to makes me feel REAL good!!! Second replacement took even longer! I've forgotten as I've tried to forget EVERYTHING about this car.

Guess what happened again six months later?!? Didn't bother with the uselessness at F&S VW again, took it to Aamco (in Westfield MA) and let them rebuild it. These fools took as long as the other ones at F&S! By the time it was ready (less the change in the ash tray and missing mix tape), at least a MONTH later, might have been more, see comment on memory of this crapbox, we went straight to a car dealer and traded it in before it could fail AGAIN! At least my overpriced after-market warranty covered EVERYTHING except three $50 deductibles!!! Might be the world's only instance of an after-market warranty being worth it's price and then some! :)

After ditching the car at trade-in I found out WHY this problem exists. In the U.S. the car is sold with a 2 litre engine. In Europe it's sold with a 1.6 litre. For which the tranny was designed. Americans being Americans and demanding more HP, they gave it to us. But left the same anemic transmission in place!!! Being a car guy and a computer geek, one of the first things I did was get a chip to up the HP even more, not significantly but enough to justify a $~50 chip. Which only exacerbated the underlying crap design.

In general, other than the auto tranny, this car was pretty good, and rather fun. I suspect a stick shift model would be well worth considering but stay FAR away from an automatic unless it has a different vintage/design/model transmission in it!!! Unless you enjoy making your favorite mechanic's boat payments!

At the time we traded it in, we'd owned it for 36 months, 18 of which it was out of service for tranny repairs!!! Again, I don't recall the exact amount of time it was down for each event, but I do clearly recall the 18 month total out of service time!!! Hell, I'd be almost as offended by 18 months out of service on a car I had TEN years instead of three!

PLEASE, learn from my pain!!!

- , Vancouver, WA, USA

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