Please can you give advice on a problem with my Skoda Octavia 2.0-litre diesel (PD engine, code BKD) registered in March 2009. It has the direct shift automatic gearbox.
Forward gears are not usually a problem, but when reverse is then selected, the car refuses to respond and does not move. Occasionally, reverse will engage, but the car moves only at a snail’s pace no matter how much throttle is applied, then it jerks after a few inches and stops. If Park is now selected, the ignition turned off and the engine restarted, and then put straight into reverse, (mostly) it will reverse normally. During this problem period, the dashboard gear indicator flashes ‘R’ where normally all indicated gears are steady or non-flashing.
When stopping at a junction or long hold-up and selecting Neutral (as advised by handbook), the transmission thumps three times, as if trying to drive the car, then settles in Neutral without further issue. Select Drive again and you move away without any problems. The engine has a smooth idle and seems absolutely fine otherwise. There is a whining/droning noise when driving, but I’ve been told this may be due to feather-edged tyres. It’s not worth doing any other jobs until the gearbox issue is resolved, though.
Mileage to date is 90,000 and the car has a full Skoda service history, for the first 7000 miles by the supplying dealer (it was an ex-demo/employee car), thereafter by a second Skoda dealer.
At the 80,000-mile service with the second dealer, I asked them to look at the reversing problem and vibration while driving. The verdict was that a “new clutch may be needed at about £850.” On an automatic? There was no other verbal information or written report/estimate, and no advisory of consequential damage.
Recently, a third Skoda dealer in another part of the UK inspected the car with a view to quoting for a cambelt change and to investigate the worsening DSG gearbox. This dealer said the gearbox was finished and quoted £5000 (yes, you read that right!) for a factory exchange gearbox plus a replacement driveshaft.
Significantly, the third dealer reported that, although it had a Skoda service history, the DSG gearbox oil and filter should have been changed at 40,000 miles and again at 80,000. The service history and invoices reveal this was never performed. The former owner was never informed that this unusual gearbox service was required.
An independent VW, Audi and Skoda specialist has, over the telephone, considered just replacing the Multitronic unit (on the end of the ’box?) at a cost of about £2000, but we both agree that this gamble is not guaranteed to work and that a new gearbox would still be required.
Please can you give any advice or opinion on what you think the gearbox problem(s) may be and how best to sort it all out. We currently have a near-mint car that is worth just scrap value! Keith King
The DSG gearbox is not strictly an automatic. It is a combination of two manual gearboxes with two clutch systems and all operations controlled by a combined hydraulic and electronic control system. Each clutch controls alternate gear changes, making this a very complex unit. I can only assume that when the dealer mentioned replacing the clutch that they were referring to the two clutch mechanisms within the gearbox.
Unfortunately, there is no cheap answer to your problem. Missing the oil and filter change may or may not have contributed to the demise of the gearbox, but it could also be a faulty electronic control that has damaged one or both of the clutch units. Rebuilt gearboxes are available from specialists for around £2800, which is more reasonable than the £5000 you have been quoted and not too far away from the risky option of only replacing the Multitronic unit, which I would not recommend as, from your description, I would imagine that clutch damage or wear has taken place. The final option would be to source a secondhand unit – this would be the cheapest option, with secondhand DSG gearboxes going for around £1250, but, of course, the guarantee will be limited.