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www.cargurus.com > Questions > Volkswagen > Cabrio CarGurusMar 26, 2012 - My 96 Cabrio pops out of reverse then makes grinding noise. ... worse case is the reverse gear has a few teeth missing which is a common problem in 97 and older ... Won't stay in reverse 1 answer ... 1991 Volkswagen Passat.
Before starting with the hard ones, start with the usual culprit like fluid levels and the condition if it needs repairing. If there are debris in the system it could clog the valves for the reverse gear which makes it difficult or impossible to engage. This unfortunately would need inspection of the transmission from the outside. Check the linkages and the lines and look for leaks to inspecting the internal parts especially the gears.
Sounds like a stripped reverse gear. And for the second gear probally need a new gear (1st 2nd) and the syncros with a new hub. If too much metal from the gears has already made it's way around in the bearings through the transmission oil you might be looking at a new transmission. The Golf 3 generation had many problems with reverse gears. Sorry to be the one to tell you.