Volkswagen MK6 GTI and Golf DSG Problems

What are the Golf MK6 DSG problems? The challenges of this transmission are related to delayed power, uneven movement of the car, and the less common issues of the DSG clutch pack. This article will detail the worst problems of the Golf MK6 DSG and possible ways to fix or alleviate these problems.

How Does A DSG Work?

DSG stands for Direct-Shift Gearbox. The DSG is a combination of traditional automatic transmission and manual transmission. The DSG is supposed to be the best of both designs because it adds comfort and efficiency to your car. In a DSG, there are two clutch packs for odd and even-numbered gears, which further increases the shifting quality. The particular way that the DSG works is that an electro-hydraulic control module works the clutch and gear shifting. So, you get automatic comfort while still maintaining superior efficiency. However, with so many moving parts in the transmission system, there have been concerns over problems that may crop up for Golf MK6 owners.

How Reliable Is the Golf MK6 DSG?

During the first years of the release of the DSG transmission, there were some problems. Most of these problems were explained by lurching and delayed power symptoms.  In general, this problem would occur when starting from a stop.  This issue was almost exclusively corrected by the replacement of the mechatronic unit.  These types of issues haven’t been seen so much in the transmissions produced after 2008, and once the mechatronic is replaced, the new ones seem to have no problems.

How Do You Tell If Your Transmission Is Going Bad?

The following should be a warning for anyone owning a car with a DSG transmission, especially a Golf or GTI. The following is a list are the top ways to tell if your transmission is on its way out.

Loud or Strange Transmission Noise

Make sure to keep an ear out for loud or strange noises coming from your engine or right below the engine. The gears of your transmission can slowly wear down. If you have a transmission gear or gears that are wearing down, you may hear noises that don’t sound normal as your shift gears. These would be banging, clanking, and scratching sounds that sound loud enough to be heard clearly. Transmission noise is one of the first signs that your transmission may be going bad.

Thick or Dark Transmission Fluid

Any smart car owner should check their fluid levels, thickness, and color regularly. Transmission fluid can last longer than engine oil. However, just like engine oil, you can tell about its lifespan by the color or how thick it is. Transmission fluid is essential to change 40k miles per Volkswagen. When you test your transmission fluid, you want the dipstick to see fresh, bright red sweet-smelling transmission fluid. If the color is black or brown and on the thicker side, have it changed right away!

Hard-to-Control Gears

Transmission is the part of the car that you need absolute control over. If you feel your gears slipping, this can be dangerous. The wear of the transmission or lack of transmission fluid can cause slipping and lack of control on the gears. Also, if you feel delays in the gears shifting, this can be a gearbox malfunction. You will need to have a trained mechanic look at your transmission before you do any more driving for both of these issues.


When the car is moving without your foot hitting the pedals, that is a problem that can leave you in a body bag. Lurching means that you have contaminated or fouled transmission fluid. Fouled transmission fluid is a dangerous condition for transmission. You may need to replace your whole transmission. Try servicing the system before restoring it to see if that helps the issue.

Smells and Sights of Burning or Leaking

The smell of burning in your car is never a good sign; neither is leaking fluid. If you smell burning, this could mean the transmission is overheating and needs to be looked at by a professional. If you see fluid leaking, that could be part of the catastrophic failings of the transmission.

Annoying Bearings Sound

When the mechanical parts of the DSG start to fail, it will cause wear in places like cylinders and bearings. If you begin to hear annoying high-pitched whining, that could be a sign of an overworked transmission. When the bearing is wearing out, you can drive with it for a while, but it should not be left undiagnosed for a long time. Bearings are the canary in the coal mine for your car. If you start to hear that whining sound, it is a danger sign. These bearings may save you from thousands of dollars of damage if you take care of the problem quickly enough.

What Are Other Reasons for The DSG Transmission To Be Failing?

Just because you may be experiencing problems with the transmission does not necessarily mean there has been a catastrophic failure. The following are several reasons to think about repairing your transmission.

Mechatronic Failure

The mechatronic unit is the control unit for the gearbox.  It is found inside the transmission and its job is to control the clutches of the transmission via the transmission fluid pressure.  When this unit fails there is a default mode that the transmission will put itself into if it senses that the transmission is in a failure state. Mechatronic failure can put the car into “limp” or “fail-safe” mode. The “default mode” makes it so your transmission will not be damaged.

Clutch Pack Failure

While not as common as mechatronic unit failure, the clutch packs can wear out and need replacement.  Worn-out clutch packs will prevent the car from shifting and engaging gears to move forward.  Symptoms of this are juddering between shifts and slippage while in gear even at light loads.

How to Maintain a DSG Transmission?

Liqui-Moly DSG Transmission Fluid

Outside of the mechatronics unit failure, all other issues we have personally seen are related to neglecting basic service.  Volkswagen recommends servicing the DSG transmission every 40K miles.  This service should include the filter(s) and the appropriate fluid.  The DSG gearbox requires specific fluid, so if you are servicing it yourself it is imperative that you are using the correct specification of fluid.  Of course, we are happy to help you with this service to ensure the longevity of your transmission.


The DSG transmission has been a solid transmission with few issues with the notable exception of the mechatronics unit.  However, its distinct advantages of improved fuel economy, more direct transfer of power, quick shifting times, and smooth gear shits far outweigh the disadvantages.

If you have any questions please give us a call at (801) 566-6115 and we would love to help you out at Alex’s Autohaus.  Whether it is repairs, maintenance, or even performance upgrades for your Volkswagen or Audi DSG transmission we would love to help.

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