1997 VW Jetta Transmission Won’t Come Out Of Park

Reader Question

Here is my problem with the car.

It is a 1997 VW Jetta Gt, 4 cyl. and the starter went bad. Having replaced starters on other vehicles over the years I thought this would be a fairly simple task so my son and I decided we could fix it. My first mistake was removing the old starter without realizing it was mounted to the front motor mount bracket.

Once I removed the starter and returned from the store with the new one I realized my mistake. None of the mounting holes lined up because the motor had dropped or the mount had risen once unloaded. So I thought jacking up the motor to meet the mounting bracket would enable me to install the starter.

Well I was able to install the top long bolt and the bottom shorter one, but the 3rd bottom bolt (long bolt) was still not in alignment, so I decided to take the car to the shop and get the job finished or redone.

I attached all the wires to the starter and the car started with no problem until I tried to put the car in gear (manual trans.) and the shifter would not go into any gear. I had this transmission rebuilt roughly 2500 miles ago.

I looked over what I had done and couldn’t find any reason why the car wouldn’t go into gear. I did notice however that I could put the car in any gear when it was not running but not when running.

Could I have damaged something by jacking up the engine? Any idea as to why the car could go into gear without running but not when running? The clutch was also replaced when the transmission was rebuilt. Thanks for your thoughts.

Howdy Mark

Hummmmm, what the heck could have happened, good question my friend. The only thing that comes to mind here is that jacking up the motor could have done something.

I would get your son to get inside the vehicle and move the gear shifter level through all the gears as you watch what is happening with the transmission under the hood and under the vehicle. With the transmission mount not properly attached the “parking paw” inside the transmission could be in a bind.

The same thing happens when you park your car too far forward in a parking lot and the front tires are up against the concrete curb, it can be difficult to get the vehicle out of park.

You might want to try and slowly jack up the transmission as your son works the gear shifter to see if you can remove the bind.

If there is this much of a bind on the transmission as to not be able to move the gear shifter, you might not want to drive the vehicle in this bind condition once you do get it in gear. You might look in your phone book and call a mobile mechanic to come to you and correct the problem.


Austin Davis

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