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My niece has a '96 Passat VR6 that I have been helping her maintain over the past 6 mos or so. So far -

1) new A/C Condensor (pretty easy job)
2) new front axles, not too bad but passenger side was a PITA
3) replaced the vaccum lines around the fuel circuit (check engine code). Sucked because moving the air pump cracked the plastic coolant tube and I had to get a new part from the dealer.
4) LOTS of screwing around with the door handle adjustments. Who thought up that mechanical design, it sucks!
5) Just put a fan in it, the motor locked up and blew the fuse inside the fan motor.

So far, most things have been pretty straightforward and I get dealer cost from NAPA so parts haven't been too bad. I am baffled on this one though -

When trying to lock the doors with the key, the locks appear to attempt to go down but don't. In the meantime, it sounds like a very loud vaccum pump is running in the spare tire well. 1st - what is this pump and what does it have to do with the lock circuit. 2nd - any thoughts as to why they aren't going down? They definately have power and will try to move. Also, holding the key does automatically roll up all the windows so I think the circuit is working properly.

Any help from the forum appreciated.

Last - the tranny slips in 1st for the first mile or so until the fluid gets a little temp in it. It's been that way for awhile. VW dealer says that it's shot and even a fluid change won't help. Someone stripped the allen bolt so I can't officially check the level. Haven't worked on getting that out yet. Are there any tricks to nurse it along? My neice is only 20 and really doesn't have much money so I am trying to keep the car running for here as long as possible.

Thanks!
 

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my car had the same locking problem, it appeared to work but would not lock, so i opened the door up and made a small adjustment (it was catching on something) and made sure the lock mechanism was lubed.

not sure about the vacuum motor in the spare tire area, i have a 16v and the lock pump motor is under the hood.
 

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i had a 91 wagon, it had what is a central locking system. there was a pump in the spare tire well as well. that's what powers the locks. i had a connection come loose in the systems and turns out that's what caused it. it affected all my locks though, the fronts would work most of the time but i would have to sit there and wait for the backs to go down cuz it was leaking. i would check all the lines.
 

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The vacuum pump is what operates the central locking system. Make sure all the lines are in place. On some models the pump is located under the rear seat.

I haven't had any experience with automatic VW transmission so I can't offer help there. But you might try a fluid change and see if it helps. If the transmission is already faltering I don't think you can do more damage by putting in fresh transmission fluid.

Good luck.
 

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unfortunately there is not much that can be done for bad vw automatic transmissions. If you figure out something please post up your solution.
 
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