1995 Cabrio 4 speed automatic shifting problems

Asked by Nov 20, 2010 at 11:19 AM about the 1995 Volkswagen Cabrio 2 Dr STD Convertible

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I bought a 1995 Cabrio 3 months ago. After driving the car for 1500 miles I noticed that it was running 3000 r.p.m at 65 mph. This seemed like a bit on the high r.p.m range for me. The transmission is a 4 speed automatic. I took the car to a transmission shop. The mechanic said that the tranny was ok, however, he said that the torque converter was not locking out. He said that the tranny was ok, however, the torque converter not working properly would cause the transmission to be no good. His diagnosis...replace the transmission. Took the car to a 2nd transmission shop. Same diagnosis, transmission shifting properly through all 4 gears, however, torque converter not locking out. Once again, diagnosis...replace transmission.
Took the car to my mechanic, replaced the tranny with a salvage yard transmission, reprogrammed the computer and boom...same problem. The transmission was working properly, shifting through all 4 gears but still high r.p.ms at highway speeds, 3000 r.p.m at 65 mph. Once again, the mechanic pulled the tranny and replaced it with another. Once again, same problem, all 4 gears working but high r.p.m.
Now my mechanic says that the problem is in my head after replacing the tranny two times and it still runs the same. My mechanic is saying that the 4 gears in the transmissions are changing and working properly. He says that the 4 speed automatic with overdrive means that 4th gear is the overdrive, and the torque converter locking out is not the overdrive. I only drove this car for 1500 miles before I noticed this but do not think that it was running 3000 r.p.m at 65 mph. I think that it was running about 2400 r.p.m at 65 mph. My mechanic said that the Vw Cabrio runs around 3000 r.p.m at 65 mph. When driving the car, it feels a bit high.
My question is: Does anyone know if I may have a transmission problem or torque converter problem? Is the 4th gear in the transmission considered the overdrive or is the locking torque converter considered the overdrive? Is 3000 r.p.m at 65 mph normal is that high? After countless hours of research and phone calls to numerous mechanics I still cannot get any answers! I have put approxiamately $ 2500.00 into this problem and still have the same problem but now do not know if I even have a problem!
Any help with this would be greatly appreciated...

9 Answers


I think this would be considered part of the "VW Disease" where the mechanics don't want to diagnose anything on the car so they just swap parts. Anyhow, I won't bash VW too much.. but my girlfriend's sister has an 01 beetle with high shifting which could be a similar problem. I work on GM stuff normally, because even though it isn't the "best" they use "friendly" designs to a lot of their systems. Anyhow, 4th gear (ie: overdrive) and the Torque Converter Clutch are two completely different things. The TCC will generally only lockup above a certain speed (generally 40-ish) and under a certain amount of load. 4th gear will also only engage under certain conditions. I don't know if you have a computer controlled transmission but I would assume you do (or else VW was living in the dark ages in 1995).. In a computer controlled transmission generally speaking a pressure sensor and shift solenoids are used to control the shifting - however the oil pump within the transmission MUST provide proper line pressure and the valve body MUST be applying pressure to the correct ports. Anyhow the transmission could be 100% perfect if it is computer-controlled and not shift at all, it is up to the computer to "allow" it to shift. in the circumstance I am researching the car shifts high into 3rd gear (around 4000 rpms). This is likely to be due to a bad engine sensor that the computer is not detecting. A Mass Air Pressure sensor or Mass Air Flow Sensor (depending on system design) are used in conjunction with a Coolant Temperature Sensor and a Throttle Position Sensor to tell engine conditions and engine load. If any of these are non-working there will be problems not only with shifting but the fuel injection and spark delivery. In "my" case the head was recently replaced and I suspect there to be a vacuum leak and will be testing for this. If it is a MAP (mass air pressure) car, a vacuum leak would make the car think it is under a different amount of load than it really is. Hopefully when the head was replaced the mechanic inspected the valve job - or else the "vacuum" leak is at the valve :( bad news, however there would be some other symptoms if that were the case... or at least there will be ;)

2 people found this helpful.

Just wondering if you found the solution to your problem? I have a 1995 VW Cabrio and the problem is very similar. The speedometer is inop, the rpm is high when driving and the transmission seems to slip. I have also noted that the vehicle will not slip when the speedometer doesn't work. I have been reasearching this problem and wonder if the transmission speed sensor it part of the fix. I was able to manual shift the automatic transmission for a short period but now I can only get the vehicle to shift into second gear. If you found a solution please update. If any one can give me feed back I would be very a appreciated. Thanks, Kelly

7 people found this helpful.

Hello i just bought a 1995 Cabrio and the tranmission is starting to slip I was w3ondering what you were able to do to stop this problem? Thanks

3 people found this helpful.

I had this problem with my Cabrio and after exhausting the transmission shop mechanic he found it was a broken wire!!! It had nothing to do with the transmission and cost me $25 to fix the problem, but it took months and mechanic determined not to let the car beat him. I don't know what wire it was, but it wasn't hidden or anything.

4 people found this helpful.

I gave up on VW'S about 25 years ago when I sold my 78 Rabbit. Before that, I had a 1970 VW Beetle. The engine and transmission went on both of them and the Rabbit was in the shop almost every month for the 11 years I owned it. The only saving grace was that I had a friend who was a VW mechanic and kept that car going to 200,000 miles. Otherwise, I would definitely have dumped that car after four years. The first four years were great, purchased it brand new and then the car started to fall apart. My advice is , get an Asian car, they last longer, more reliable and have better resale-value.


the problem is a wire - part number ZVW 311 100. Very easy and inexpensive fix, however this part went out of production in 2003 and are very difficult if not impossible to find. if anyone can find this part please let me know.

3 people found this helpful.

where is located this wire on cabrio 2001 because i have de same trouble

3 people found this helpful.

I gave up and had a new transmission installed problem solved


It is a combo of everything that is said here . the throttle possition sensor combined with the mass air flow and heat sensors will cause the car to not shift , die , or just oiss you off . 92 through 95 ve passat jette cabrio etc: have an obsolete tps . you can convert it and change all wire harnesses via junk yards otherwise big bucks . you can change the entire throttle body to a 96 or higher with a flange and meter to ohms out all resistances . good luck or throw a hand grenade in glove box and run . full coverage insurance suggessted.

2 people found this helpful.

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