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6N Gearbox/Linkage issue

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Hello Techinical Guru's!

New as a member but have been reading through for a while now - very knowledgeble members!

So, I now need to get some help from you.

I have read the 5th gear alignment guide but I'm not sue what my problem is.

I have a high mileage 6n. I drive a hell of a lot of miles (about 4000 a month). It's a 1997 6n Polo 1.4. Full service every 5000 miles and a GB oil change at every 10000 through habit of having a beetle.

When I was driving on acountry road, I hit some water, didn't looses control or anything but it was fairly hard.

Straight after, maybe a coincidence I know, there was a rubbing sort of sound, like that sound when a car is reversing, coming from the box. It was only when I was in gear, not accelerating. If I was going to fast and wanted to slow down, took my foot off the accelerator, if would make this noise.

As a result i did another Gb oil change about 500 miles short of 10000 since the last, hardly and metal in the oil, struggling to even find filings!

So I had to keep driving as it is my daily driver and I work a 60mile round trip from my house.

Then it started to pop out of fith when I was again not accelerating but only in 5th.

Ever since I got the car, it never seemed to select firmly - there was no difinitaive 'in gear'. I could and still can push the lever forward until it just touches the centre console, it does wobble a little in gear also.

Then this became more and more common, I had to do a 900 mile round trip to Cornwall. On the motorways I was forced to sit with my clutch leg up on the seat with my knee holding it in fifth.

It has continually got more common until it began to not go in properly and grind a little, then within two times of this happening, it now will not go in at all.

I can push the lever all the way in but holding it forward, when I lift the clutch up it grinds!?!?!

A massive pain, I cannot sit at 4500 rpm all the way to Cornwall for 7 hours! My next trip is 800 miles ound an is on the 9th January.

I don't want to weigh it in and get another as I don't believe it's a write off but I don't know where to look first, could that whining have been a wheel bearing, long shot I know?

Will it be selector?

If so will it be bushes or alignment?

Will it be 5th engagement ring?


Or is the car scrap?

I know these are quite specific issues and questions and I don't expect answers but anyone had any similar issues?

Anyone know the best place for me to look?


Thank you for reading mateys :)

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  • bisto1970


  • caretakerplus


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Welcome to the Forum.

It is difficult to to come up with a definitive solution to your problem(s).

First of all, I can't see that running into water would have any lasting effect, but if the water was in a pot-hole, there is a chance that something got bent upon impact. As you do a high mileage, have you noticed any unusual tyre wear since the incident? If so, this may confirm the 'something bent' theory.

My advice would be to get the front suspension inspected and repaired if necessary, follow this with an alignment check.

If there is a 'something bent' problem, the above action may well sort out your 5th gear fault, BUT, driving whilst holding any gear in via the gear lever can, in the long term, only lead to wear on the selector fork and on the gear sleeve.

If you have got away without causing any permanent damage, I would suggest the following action:

With the car over an inspection pit or on ramps, get an assistant to put engage 5th gear, slacken off the clamp bolt on the selector linkage and ask your assistant to move the gearlever towards the rear by, say 10mm WITHOUT MAKING SIDEWAYS MOVEMENT of the lever. Tighten the clamp and re-try it. You may have to repeat the above to get the optimum position without adversely affecting any of the other gears.

I hope that there is some help there for you, but if the above turns out not to be applicable, or does not effect a cure, do come back with any results, and let us take another look at things.


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Thank you caretaker,

Great response, it definately wasn't a pothole, it was on the M5 on a new stretch, just about amonth ago when we had the heavy rain!

I will definately try what you have recommended tomorrow and give you an answer tomorrow!

I am happy doing work I have a ramp and am comfortable with mechanical work but gearboxes, i must admit, I have always steered clear of! :)

Another thing I have noticed, where the stick joint the first selector rod, a small, 3mm thick silicon/rubber coring has come off. Looking at ETKA it seems to be the intermediate ring 191711238B?

I have attached the picture, would that cause any real agro?



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On its own, I wouldn't think that the item (21) would make that much difference, but of course, general wear on the combined parts of the linkage could cause similar problems.

The gears are maintained in engagement (or neutral)by what are called 'detents', in effect, notches in the selector shaft within the 'box. Engaging with these detents are spring-loaded steel balls which effectively lock the selector in the desired position, it is a bit rare for these to give any problem and there is no way that passing through water could affect them.

Regards again.

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Hello Caretaker.

I have just tried this and have adjusted it. The stick now does not go forward until it touches the dash panel but hits some resistance. Its not anything that feels firm just a stop it won't 'click' in.

When driving it does that same grinding sound?


Thanks again :)

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One more suggestion before you decide that that the box has to come out:

Again with the car on the ramp and an assistant in the driving seat, HAND BRAKE HARD 'ON' and wheels chocked, engine running, clutch pedal held down and 5th gear engaged.

With the above conditions, try moving the gear selector from UNDER the car further into 5th gear position. If the detent now 'clicks' in, the problem is with worn or incorrectly adjusted linkage. If you are unable to move the selector any further, it probably indicates thet the problem is within the gearbox itself.

(I hope that it is the linkage!)


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I did try to do this last night sort of but to entirely correctly.

I will try this again tonight. Why would it not feel like the 5th is hitting something hard? If it was fifth, what would be happening?

I get how it work by meshing, it is because the teeth are so worn that it is sitting in the right position but when I bring the clutch up that the teeth just bounce of each other?

I'm a bit confused why it is buzzing when I bring the clutch up in 5th on idle?


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No, its all the way there!

Under the car moved little more from where the stick pushed it to?

Starting to worry me now?

Sychro ring someone has mentioned?


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From what you have described, it sounds very much as if the problem is inside the gearbox.

If you are unable to 'feel' the the selector shaft clicking into place as 5th gear is engaging (see if you can 'feel' any of the other gears, if so, you will understand what I mean), it could mean that 1) the selector is not moving far enough for this to happen, or 2) there is a broken spring on the locking device.

If it is 1) the problem could be with the selector interlock, this is a system which prevents more than one gear being engaged at once.

As you don't say that there is any problem with other gears, another possibility is that, as I mentioned earlier, the selector fork and/or its groove in the 5th gear sleeve have become badly worn due to holding it in gear manually.

If by 'synchro ring' you mean the baulking ring, it is unlikely that this would cause the problem. What you have in there is a hub, fixed to the mainshaft, and a splined sleeve which slides over it, this sleeve has the deep groove in its outer diameter, into which slots the selector fork. When you engage the gear, the selector fork moves the sleeve towards the gear itself, it first encounters the baulking (sometimes called blocking) ring, which synchronizes the speed of the hub and sleeve to that of the gear, the final act is for the internal splines on the sleeve to engage with stub splines on the actual gear, thus locking the gear to the hub/sleeve.

The above won't help you to cure the problem, but might help you to understand how it works.

If you are not familiar with working on gearboxes, it might pay to get a gearbox specialist to do any work for you, but be careful, there are some cowboys out there just waiting to take your money.

If the rest of the gearbox is OK and the fault proves to be within the 'box, I would suggest getting your own 'box repaired, rather than fitting some spurious second hand unit.

Sorry that I can't be the bearer of 'just-wave-the-magic- screwdriver-at-it' sort of news, but wish you well in resolving the problem.


P.S. Do let us know how you get on.

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