I have a 1998 VW passat 1.8t and it is triptronic transmission. When
selector lever is put on "D" it illuminates all gears selected and it
moves but does not upshift. When put on "R" there is a cracking noise
from the gear box
It sound like your transmission in safe mode. meening it will stay in one gear tell you repair it(3 gear) thats why it moves very slow. you need inside repair . it could be the shiffting sensor or overhaul for the transmission.
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There is no "dipstick for the VW Beetle transmission". This is a dealer check/repair item. The unit is typically sealed, but can have a leak if the seal on top of the transmission fails. About a $700 repair. This happened on my 1998 VW New Beetle.
the sensor that tells the can bus what position the stick is in is located on the gearbox not on gearstick.you need to know what position that sensor is seeing the only way is with a more advanced diagnostic tool than just a fault reader.i would recomend vw dealer as passat electrical sytems can be a bit of a challenge when they go wrong and a dealer will be best placed to sort it for you.
We are not a parts service, but try an internet search for used VW parts, there are many VW only wrecking yards, that is your best chance of finding it. Also call VW and see if they sell a rebuilt module.