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Hey all, hope this post will help out a few folks and save them a sleepless night like I just had so, here goes:
Two days ago we discovered our 2002 VW Golf with 2.0L manual won't shift into reverse, and shifting into 1st and 2nd is really stiff. Only has 72K miles and the car is well maintained; in fact, I had just pulled it into the garage to wash and wax, check fluids, etc. a few days earlier. Car runs fine but smells like gas/exhaust in the cabin and, like I said, can't shift into reverse.
What happened? When I opened the hood I immediately noticed the oil cap was missing
and it had become wedged into the shift linkage (right hand side of vehicle, below the battery/air filter) preventing full engagement of the fork for reverse. After 15 minutes of wrestling the thing out of there, I was able to engage all gears smoothly.
I talked to a tech at my local VW store and he said he sees this from time to time, especially when the VW logo on the engine cover falls off. It, and the oil cap, are the perfect size to get wedged in there. Hope this helps!
 
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