2001 VW Golf caught in flooding - now difficult to change gears
February 5, 2011 1:15 PM   Subscribe

My 2001 VW Golf (1.6l manual) was caught in flash flooding on Friday. The car stalled in water that came up to a couple of inches past the level of the bottom of the doors. The car was in the water for about 15 minutes before some local residents helped me push the car out of the water. Luckily, the car started and I drove home. The next day I found it was (intermittently) difficult to change gears. Is it possible that water could have got into the transmission or some other part of the car effecting the transmission? Or is this just a coincidence and the well know problem with the Mk4 transmission has happened? Any advice is appreciated.
posted by hithere to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Manual or automatic?
posted by twblalock at 1:32 PM on February 5, 2011

The car is a manual.
posted by hithere at 1:36 PM on February 5, 2011

From my experience, the problem with a flooded car may arise years later from corrosion in the electrical system.
posted by Cuspidx at 3:05 PM on February 5, 2011

How high up did the water come up? You better stop driving the car and get the car serviced, you probably have water in your transmission. I can't see how you could think this has something to do with anything other than the flood (and I say that as a former MK4 owner). Also there are some great VW forums that you should be asking this question in, if you aren't already.
posted by phaedon at 3:23 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Before doing anything else, I would crawl under the car and see if there is mud caked on the linkage. It may be as simple as cleaning the mud off.
posted by Old Geezer at 3:36 PM on February 5, 2011

Are you the original owner? If so you probably have a 10year powertrain warranty...just a thought
posted by radioamy at 3:41 PM on February 5, 2011

Here in The States, the Golf never came with a 1.6, so I'm not entirely familiar with the configuration of the powertrain in that vehicle. However, given my knowledge of other VWs of that era, it's possible that the manual transmission in that car has a cable operated clutch like some 2.0l Cabrios and Golfs came equipped with here. If it's a cable operated clutch, some corrosion or mud could be causing the braided steel cable to bind in its sheath, resulting in it being hard to shift. It's also possible that water infiltrated the transmission casing and contaminated the oil. Another possibility is that the clutch plate is wet or contaminated with mud, which might fix itself after a little driving.
posted by Jon-o at 3:54 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

Hard to change gears how? Like, the clutch is not releasing, the shifter doesn't drop into gear the right way, the pedal is hard to push or doesn't pop back up right?

It is definitely possible for the clutch plate to have gotten wet. The transmission is sealed, to the extent that weather won't get into it. But being partially submerged, I can definitely imagine that water got into it through the driveshaft seals. They are meant to keep the oil in, and the ones I've seen would not keep water (under pressure) out.

I am assuming partially submerged because the level of the driveshaft is more or less the bottom of the undercarriage. If it was up past the bottom of the doors, it was at or above the axles.

I would get the oil changed, and the transmission fluid/oil changed (by a dealer or by someone who knows those cars- manual transmissions (sometimes) need particular fluid to work right. The wrong stuff can eat synchronizers or be like shifting through peanut butter in the cold.)
posted by gjc at 6:20 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you the original owner? If so you probably have a 10year powertrain warranty...just a thought

Which is, unfortunately, voided by the flooding, no doubt, but that does raise another issue - I'd get it inspected promptly (sounds like you need to take it in regardless). If there is extensive damage, including latent damage from water getting into places where water shouldn't go and requiring an extensive clean-out/dry-out (ex. wiring harnesses), it may be cost-effective to hire an insurance claim. Rates hardly ever go up due to "acts of God" sort of things... if it's been damaged by the flood, it's just like if you were in an accident.

(assuming there isn't a flooding exclusion on the auto-policy. They'd have to tell you that).
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:26 AM on February 6, 2011

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