Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - Philter
I have a VW Polo 1250 CL 1990 H reg. I wanted to check the gearbox oil level so I checked with the Haynes manual. It said there was a level plug and a drain plug but failed to describe where they were located and didn't give a photo or diagram. I therefore undid the most obvious candidate for the level plug - in a similar position to those on Vauxhall Cavaliers and Novas I have worked on in the past. A small amount of oil came out when it was removed so I assumed all was OK and replaced it. It seemed odd because it seemed to have a rod going into the gearbox but I assumed this was a scavenging magnet. I then found I was unable to select first or second gear and reverse was very stiff! I rang VW and they told me that there is another bolt on the front of the gearbox that looks like a level plug but actually supports the reverse shaft inside the gearbox! Apparently I'm by no means the first to make this mistake. They said the gearbox will need to come out and be repaired (£300+ at VW). Thats some mistake!
Why oh why does the Haynes Manual not warn about it when the consequences are so disasterous?
Has anyone else had to deal with this? Are there any tricks I can use to retrieve the situation without taking the box out?
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - henry k
I hope there is a another solution from one of the watching wizards.
Do Email Haynes with details of your experience.
I have sent them details of omissions, corrections, updates and several suggestions for improvements. They have responded immediately and positively. I feel confident they will incorporate them in the next editions of their manuals.
I have noticed at least one specific revision between manuals for different Fords models that avoided buying a one off tool.
I had already worked out the same alternative approach. The original instruction was from the Ford workshop manual. So feedback to them may save some of us even more expense.
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - M.M

Really sorry to hear this, I hate that chill when you realise a 30sec mistake could cost loads of time or cash.

This error is quite well known despite Haynes not actually detailling the possibility.

Interestingly the manual 0813 covering Polos to Oct 1990 does show the level and drain plugs in the servicing section at the front.

I don't have a great deal to do with VWs but there is a distant memory that you may just get away with this by removing the bolt again and then selecting a specific gear before replacing it. I imagine this might bring the shaft back into the corect position.

Possibly a real long shot but I would take the advice from a specific VW forum or specialist if no-one here has actual experience of this.

I wonder if Andrew Moorey(Tune-Up) will know?

Good luck.

Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - Galaxy
Phil W,

I remember reading about this problem before with VW's in the Back Room; try doing a search.

Sorry it happened to you, though.
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - PhilW
Phil W
I think this is also a frequent occurrence on some other makes - MM could probably confirm that it happens with some Cits. Sorry you had to experience this in order to warn others
(The other)
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - Peter D
Hind sight is a wonderful thing but looking back it was not a plug you took out it was a bolt and the diameter of the theaded hole would not have exactly been convient for fitting/topping up would it. As you now know the filler and drain Plugs are quite large in diameter they are taper fits and require a main hex driver to get them in and out. Sorry to hear of your problem though. Look on the bright side and offset the cost by having the clutched changed ( assuming it has done 70/80 Ks Usually suddenly fails at 90 100 k when the gearbox is off and don\'t forget to change the gear box to drive shaft oil seals Europarts £1.50 each Good Luck. Regards Peter
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - Philter
Thanks Peter, that's really useful. I'll get the oil seals this morning. What I'm doing is taking advantage of the opportunity to fit a second hand 5 speed box myself to replace the 4 speed.
You mention clutch failure at 90-100k (mine has done 120k so the clutch may already have been done). How does this manifest itself, is it a sudden catastrophic failure?
As for the "drain plug", the bolt I undid appeared sufficiently large diameter to be a drain plug and the large star-drive head was sunk into the alloy casing of the box, with very similar appearance to a tapered thread. I approached it from the front of the car so I could't see that it was only a deep bolt head and not a plug (i.e. bolt shaft was of a smaller diameter) until the bolt was out and the actual hole was too small to be a filler. As you say, hind-sight is a wonderful thing. Thanks again. Phil W
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - Philter
I've now got a 5 speed gearbox that fits but I'm still searching for the drive shaft flange oil seals. We've two local Europarts and both say the oil seals are dealer only parts. VW say they are £18 each! Where did you get yours?
Phil W
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - RichardW

Try German Swedish and French www.gsfcarparts.com if they do not do them, then you will have to go to the dealer....

Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - Peter D
I thought it was Europarts but it could ahve been German and Swedish 0181 893 1688 but it was not VW although the VW Audo logo is on the seals £18.00 sounds like the price of the flange and they are dealer only it it only the seals you need.


Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - borasport20
Another problem omission in the haynes manual -
it describes replacing the reversing light switch as a one or two spanner job, but omits to tell you that it's below the oil level, so when you take it out, half your gearbox oil dribbles all over the drive !!!

I have to grow old - but I don't have to grow up
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - Peter D
The clutch tends to go suddenly as it runs out of mechanical movement rather then the last mm of plate. The actuator arm sits at rest towards the front of the housing and has a lot of backward movement ( cable disconnected ) a new clutch has got hardly any free play in this arm. My sons polo clutch failed at 113 and my daughters that was previously own by a woman failed at 92k. Hope you find a decent 5 speed box Good Luck Peter
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - FFX-DM
There is an excellent Polo list on Yahoo groups. There is the usual share of customising youngsters, but there is some good knowledge there too.
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - Alan
Iv'e lost count of the number of times that Iv'e said why couldn't the haynes manual have told me that.
Its time they had some competition. Ive given up on my own servicing these days partly because of these type of things.
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - borasport20
I'm sure i've actually seen non-haynes guides in halfords for a limited range of cars.

A publisher called 'peter russek' has a range of guides, and from the states you can get a range of very detailed guide from a publisher called 'bentleys' on paper or Cd

I have to grow old - but I don't have to grow up
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - Robert Fleming
I'm not convinced that changing the driveshaft oil seals is worth bothering with. I changed the ones on my Polo, and they still leak. Perhaps the diff flange bearings wear or something. The leak is never enough to lose a significant amount of gear oil - just enough to coat the bottom of the gearbox.
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - Peter D
You need to polish the flanges to provide a decent surface for the new seals no problem Peter
Polo Gearbox Filler Plug WARNING - martin p
I have a 1993 Polo Genisis and tried to check out the reversing light switch using the Haynes manual as a guide. Guess what? Oil on my drive and ear ache from her indoors. Can any one tell me what nut I have to undo to replace the oil, and were is it?

Value my car