Just bought this car and I'm not sure whether the sloppy feel of the gear lever is normal, or whether some adjustment can be made. All gears engage, but it doesn't feel anyway near as positive as other cars I've had (never had a vw before).
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Re: 2003 VW Polo TDI 5speed - Sloppy gear lever/shift
It should feel pretty tight, but germans (vw audi bmw porsche mb) put a lot of rubber bits in the linkage and when the rubber wears out, there is more play.
If you want to fix it yourself, check with the folks at blauparts.com for parts and advise on this. They have OEM VW and Audi parts and they run a first rate repair shop also. They will be able to tell you what rubber shift linkage parts are available AND how hard they are to replace.
germanautoparts.com is good for parts also
Dealship is usually most expensive for OEM parts.
Good luck, when you get the rubber stuff replaced, it should feel nice and tight
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Inspect Linkage between shifter and transmission. Determine where the sloppy looseness is. Replace sloppy linkage parts if transmission lever is not loose. Pray you don't need to have shifter leverage (inside transmission) repaired.
What does the gearshift lever feel like? sloppy? it could be a loose linkage between the lever and the box.
Other than that, it could be a blocked valve body. This entails lifting up the vehicle on an overhead lift, draining the automatic fluid, removing the oil pan from the box, removing the valve body and cleaning it out. Normally a professional's job, but you can do it in your home workshop if you have the courage.
The shifter linkage has a two piece plastic / nylon bushing at either end of the gear shift tube that goes from the gear shift lever to the transmission. As the bushes wear through normal usage the gear shift becomes sloppy. The bushes at the gear shift lever end usually wear out first.
You may have to drop the exhaust pipe to access the underside of the gear lever as there is not a lot of space to work in above the exhaust.
To replace, remove the securing nut and through bolt where the underside of the gear lever U section attaches to the tube. Pull down the tube and the worn bits of the bush will come out. Place the new bushes in either side of the tube and put tube end back between the U section. Replace the through bolt and nut. If still a little sloppy, you may have to do the transmission end bushes as well.
Make sure the shift lever is working properly. If the lever is sloppy and loose it is not engaging the proper gear for starting (P or N). If this is the case a bolt is loose or missing on the shift mechanism under the dash. Get under dash with a flashlight and check the shift Mechanism. Replace or tighten the bolt(s) securely. There are two and are probably a brass color. This problem happened to me and it is quite common on the Villager.
Sounds like you will need new shifter links, there are only available from a VW dealer and easy to install. There are two of them, they are usually white (when not covered in dirt) and plastic. They snap into place on to the metal rods for your sifter linkage (located on the back of the trany by the fire wall) when these get worn badly it makes it hard to shift into certain gears not all gears tho. A good indentation that these are worn out is a sloppy shifter. Also the linkage should be lubed up to make it easier to shift, if your shifter is not sloppy then try lubing up each link (think there is 6 pivot points) even the main slide link. Let me know if that helps.
Short answer...not too tough.
Longer more useful answer...
Get quality urethane replacement.
Put car in 1st with gear lever.
Block wheels and climb under with (I think10mm and 13mm) wrenches.
Undo grub screw on coupler (to linkage).
Undo through bolt on coupler.
Push linkage forward and remove bits.
Replace bits with new ones and replace through bolt.
Have friend carefully put shift lever in about 1st gear position and guide coupler onto other shaft.
Tighten grub screw.