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Jon ASKED THE GUIDE

Skoda Octavia 2016: Error message "reverse gear not available"

I have a 2016 Skoda Octavia and 30 seconds after starting the engine, I receive an error message "reverse gear not available". The vehicle changes into neutral and starts to roll back down the exit slope from my garage. This does not happen every time I start the engine and is eventually cured by turning the engine off and on again. The dealer has been unable to explain or fix the problem so far. Any ideas?

The DSG gearbox in your car has given Skoda and other members of the Volkswagen family all sorts of grief over the years. The problem you’ve described suggests a build-up of metallic particles (from wear and tear inside the transmission) which are being attracted to the magnetic sensors inside the gearbox and leading to bogus commends being sent to the car’s on-board computer. I’ve also heard of these symptoms being the result of faulty mechatronics and even a software glitch. The mechatronic unit, by the way, is the module that acts as middle-man between the computer and the gear selectors and clutch packs contained within the gearbox itself.

So there are three (among many) possibilities. And the VW (and Skoda) DSG transmission is no stranger to any of them. Either way, a loss of drive at any stage – whether it’s Drive or Reverse – is a potentially dangerous situation and needs to be fixed. Unfortunately, Skoda Australia only extended its factory warranty to five years on vehicles sold after January 1, 2017; after your car was sold. That said, I’d certainly be talking to the brand’s customer relations department with a view to at least finding out what’s wrong and then negotiating on whatever repairs are required.

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