Volkswagen Cabrio Electrical Problems

djs1144djs1144 Member Posts: 1
Please let me know if any of you can help me diagnose my problem with my 98 Cabrio GLS. Occasionally at night when my headlights are on, the ABS and Brake lights will come on. Because this is only slightly annoying, I ignored it for a while until something extraordinary happened. When the ABS/Brake lights come on, the headlights TURN OFF for a few seconds, then come back on.

This is VERY SCARY on the road! It only happens when the lights are on, though. Anyone else had this happen? What do you think could be done to fix it?



  • vwedvwed Member Posts: 5
    Wow I think we may be having the same problem only mine has gone a few steps further. I have to get mine fixed this week because I am driving to Vegas and I don't have working headlights if I find out whats wrong with it I'll let you know.
  • vwedvwed Member Posts: 5
    Just had it fixed today... It was the emerdency brake switch $160.00 I may have gotten ripped off but hopefully this saves someone a lot of trouble.
  • luvvwluvvw Member Posts: 2
    Am having trouble with a grounding problem. It started after we had the top replaced, and only thing we can think of is that it might be the rear window defroster. We thought we would check it and the fuse cover with the diagram is missing. Any one got any ideas about our problem, or a diagram of the fuse configuration they could send? Thanks
  • luvvwluvvw Member Posts: 2
    I am glad there is is forum for cabrio owners! I have a 2001 cabrio, and seem to have lost the fuse box cover showing the diagram of the fuse placement. I think it was lost when top replaced (due to vandalizem) Any ideas on where to get a new diagram? Also, we purchased this car for a fun runabout while traveling, but now are questioning if it is towable. Cannot find anything online, and the dealer won't say one way or another. Have heard it is a bad idea because it is front wheel drive. It is a manual 5 speed. I just recently saw a VW Golf being towed behind a motorhome, isn't it basically the same car? Would like anyones expertise on this. We would like to be able to tow it on all four wheels to save the cost of a car dolly and accessories, but need to know if it is ok not to. Thanks for any advise or input. I LuvVW!
  • ericuemsericuems Member Posts: 1
    :confuse: Just got a 2002 Cabrio last week, in what appeared to be mint condition. 2 days ago, I pushed the rear defroster button, and it worked fine, but then the power windows, door locks, mirrors and seat-heaters stopped working! The fuses all seem to be OK...Any suggestions??? Thanks!
  • hmcelhaneyhmcelhaney Member Posts: 2
    I have had a similar problem. It is intermittent (aprox. 4 times during 1 1/2 year). When turning the key on, it seems as though I have missed one click to completion. The car will start, but I notice that the parking brake light & the ABS brake lights are on. I also notice that the entire AC/Heating panel (fan, AC light, air flow) does not work.

    If I turn the car off and restart it, or turn the key one more click to the right, all symptoms disappear. My vehicle has no codes at the dealership and they don't know what would cause this.
  • mandymmandym Member Posts: 1
    Help! This was my wifes dream car. it has multiple electrical issues. first the check engine light. checked codes on obd2 and ended up with code 1584. code book does not read code that high(vw only). also my power windows are inop, no fuse in fuseblock. acquired schematics for power window circuit that shows the master circuit breaker, but no location on it. anybody know where it's at? also the power mirrors and cruise do not work. the power top has stopped working, but found a bad lift cylinder, what happened to german engineering? that was extra just to let you know the numerous problems with this thing
  • ogunnikeogunnike Member Posts: 1
    I have the exact, exact same problem with my '98 Cabrio.

    When I start the car, the brake light stays on, as does the ABS warning light. Headlights, AC and wipers won't work but if I flash my brights, everything turns on. Also, if I turn on the wipers and headlights and then start the car in succession three times, the will turn on and then fail after about 3 minutes.

    Sound familiar? Have you found any solutions? I honestly have no money to spend on this and I'm hoping it's just a new set of fuses.

    Any ideas you could share? I'd be very appreciative.

    Please email me at [email protected]

    Please advise. Thanks! Noah
  • jilliaunjilliaun Member Posts: 1
    Please help! I had my ignition coils replaced about a month ago. My current problem is that when I am driving down the freeway at 70mph or and keeping a steady foot on the gas pedal, my car will stutter. It feels like all of a sudden I am taking my foot completely off the gas petal and then slamming it back on. It will do that for twenty or so seconds before it simply has no power no matter what I do. Then when the car gets to around 1000 rpms it dies. It then will turn over but not start again, unless I give it a bit of gas while trying to start it. Could this be an electrical problem? I have had so many issues with this 98 cabrio and I really can't afford to take her to a shop, AGAIN!
  • scoobytsescoobytse Member Posts: 1
    I have the exact same problem for a 1995 Cabrio. I've spent almost $600 (Cdn) for a Volkswagen Dealership mechanic to locate the problem in addition to the fuel pump and other misc items that he recommended that I replace. All in all, I spent almost $2000 (Cdn). Most recently, he told me to replace the main computer at big $$$. I gave up and traded the car in to a Honda Dealership who said that they knew exactly what the problem was but discounted the value of the car by almost $3000 (this includes their standard markup for re-sale). I got soaked, but I feel safer driving a new Honda and will never buy a Volkswagen again.
  • jade98jade98 Member Posts: 4
    I own a 98 Cabrio, Jade. And in the past 3 months I have had the same exact problem. Happened three times. the first two times, it was raining and I have gone through and puddle.
    The third time though, though it was raining, Jade was park. she just wouldnt start. I popped the hood and bingo, my engine is wet. I am not sure how this happened, but i know, my engine get wet, Jade sputters the water out for a good 30mins-1 hour & 30mins then she back running as if all was dandy. SO if you find out whats the problem. please let me know...its scary
  • blkandtanblkandtan Member Posts: 1
    Along the lines of electrical problems...
    Does anyone know how to get the top up manually when the power roof stops working?
    Just looking ahead to the next rain storm when, no dought, this will happen.

  • pab2pab2 Member Posts: 1
    my manual 5-speed 98 cabrio's battery (new, twice) drains after a few days for no apparent reason. My mechanic thinks it's related to the alarm, even though it is not set. Anyone experience anything like this? He thought he could put in a switch to disconnect the battery when it's parked, but even that doesn't seem feasible.
  • mhillacornmhillacorn Member Posts: 1
    Did you find out what the cause was? I have the same problem!!

  • gsquare58gsquare58 Member Posts: 5
    My wife has a 2001 Cabrio. If you do not push the key all the way into the ignition before starting the car the engine starts but the AC won't work. Some other things also may not work but we only noticed the AC because it is so hot around here (FL). I hope this can help someone.
  • gman838gman838 Member Posts: 1
    Drove home from Atlanta the other day with headlight switch in off position, (headlights were, of course, ON!) Do not think the brake lights etc were on. Since home, few days, lights go on when switched on, and go off when switched off .. Any dear folks have THIS ONE ?? Thanks for replying ..
  • debfielddebfield Member Posts: 4
    The obvious thing would be the alternator. But surely your mechanic checked this? Disconnecting the battery would require you to enter the safe code to use the radio! how frustrating. I once had a '74 merc with a alternator that worked too well, it OVERcharged and blew all kinds of electrical systems.
  • debfielddebfield Member Posts: 4
    Are you sure you don't have daytime running lights? I have a '98 5-speed manual. If (1) the motor is running and (2) the parking break is off, then the headlights are always on. No choice. It's annoying because I can't "flash" my headlights on/off at anybody, I can only flash high/low beams. However, tail lights are not part of this system, they only come on when the switch is turned "on". People have told me the daytime running lights aren't as bright, but honestly I can't tell the difference. If you have a later model and are experiencing times when headlights are NOT on, I would question whether your daytime running lights are working correctly. Good luck!
  • nursestacy73nursestacy73 Member Posts: 1
    I bought an 02 last week and the exact same thing is happening to me. I couldn't pinpoint which component was causing the fuse to blow, but my husband replaced the fuse yesterday and when we got back in this morning, I used the winshield washer, windshield wiper, rear defogger, and heated seats. When I tried to lower the windows to clear the condensation off, they wouldn't work. :confuse:

    Have you had any input on your problem? We took the car by the VW dealership right after we bought it, and they checked it over and replaced a tail light bulb and charged us $110! I am a little reluctant to take it back to the dealership unless I absolutely have to!
  • cuscocusco Member Posts: 2
    Question I hope someone can help with,, I have a 2001 VW Cabrio that I had to have jumped, and now the Radio does not work. I checked all the fuses and they are still good, but still no radio. I'm thinking relay? but do not know where it is, plus someone one said theres "2 relays? "
    any help or sugestions? thanks

    [email protected]
  • n2qbrn2qbr Member Posts: 1
    AND of course when you try to start it, the remaining voltage gets sucked down and the alarm goes off.....along with the no start situation.
    I have had the battery load tested, it passed. I put a volt meter inline with the battery and saw 12 volts, which means there's Something, Somewhere, completing the circuit...Pulled the fuses one at a time, and disconnected the alternator, no change....Which now leads me to believe the problem may be something that is live all the time like the computer or anti theft system.......Anyone know if the alarm is integral to the computer system? :confuse:
  • sab0782sab0782 Member Posts: 7
    this happened on my 02 cabrio and the brown ground in the radio wiring harness was bad. regrounded and it works fine. if you have the moonson radio you need the security code if the power is removed. the dealear can tell you the code from the vin #
  • sab0782sab0782 Member Posts: 7
    i have an intermittent abs light sometimes it comes on and then goes off . now it has stqyed on for about a week . anybody know how to fix this
  • 2deltas2deltas Member Posts: 1
    If the battery went completely dead, the radio reverts to 'default mode'. You need to acquire the access code for the radio. Once you have the four digit number, input it into the radio and it will work again, normally. Good luck. Oh yeah, the code should be listed in your owner's manual/paperwork.
  • sab0782sab0782 Member Posts: 7
    if the dealer will not tell you if it can be towed ask a tow truck service they are up to speed on all of the vehicles, if they tow it and it gets damaged they have to pay so they know what can be towed and how far
  • pstreckpstreck Member Posts: 3
    i do not know if these two issues are related but i was travelling on the interstate and the anti lock brake light came on when i stopped and turned off the vehicle the light went out and did not come back on, but the cruise control from that point on only works intermitantly. any suggestion would help
  • snookiedicesnookiedice Member Posts: 4
    O.K. Here you go ! abs light has been on for 6 months,check engine light goes on for a week or two then goes off. Now when I lock the car the windows automatically go up( which was pretty cool) until now when I unlock the car the windows go down then will not work....have no choice but to drive with them down. Don't have the enormous amount of money wanted to diagnose so if anyone knows what to do please respond .THANKS !! PS still love the car !! Its just got a mind of its own !!
  • sassy15sassy15 Member Posts: 1
    Just bought a 97 VW Cabrio, the cruise will work off and on, the horn doesn't work at all, the car was just inspected a month ago. Could this be linked together? I have checked fuzes....
  • momjennimomjenni Member Posts: 6
    The battery is relatively new. We took it to the mall the other day, bright, sunny, hot day. When we went to leave I turned the key and nothing happened. Zip, nada, nothing. The lights and fan and radio worked but the car wouldn't start. Not a sound, buz or crank. Had to have it towed home.
  • deadea45deadea45 Member Posts: 1
    I bought my Cabrio new from a VW dealer. Within a year or so I began having trouble with the accessories after the car was parked in hot sun. The car started and all but no A/C, lights, wipers, etc. Took it to the dealer several times with this issue but the claim was that they had no way of fixing it because they couldn't cause it to fail. From the messages I've read it seems VW has know for a long while that there were electrical issues. A friend told me after I first had the problem that it was probably in the ignition. (He is a mechanic) After having this problem for 7 years the ignition finally quit, while driving in city traffic. Had to be towed. Cost of repair, tow and all was over $900. No more VW's for me. ( former flower child)
  • bchdrmbchdrm Member Posts: 1
    My 1998 Cabrio is doing the same thing too. Bought the cfar in VA Beach in 2003. It started intermintently and now seems its doing it all the time. One not: when this happens, my brake light illuminates dimly, not as strong as pulling the emergency brake though. Nothing works when this happens: the lights go out, A/C dosnt work, wipers dont work, etc. The only thing that works is the radio and the windows. Did you get any resolution on this that may help?
  • angelchicagoangelchicago Member Posts: 38
    Had a problem with my 99.4 VW GLS. At times the car would not start, intermittently. When it did start 19 out of 20 times it would do just fine, crank strong and start right up. Every once in a while 1 out of 20 times it would not start, just click when I turned the key, no turnover. During those times I would just try to start it again, then it would start, kindof a mystery. Eventually it got worse and would not start.

    Finally took it in. Mechanic said my starter and ignition coil were bad. Had both parts changed for $850, see below plus $100 worth of tune up type services.

    Labor - 151 CHECK FOR DRAW ON BATTERY $0.00
    Labor - 500 TEST BATT, ALT, STARTER $45.00
    Labor - 625 REPLACE IGNITION COIL $72.30
    Parts 1 OEM PART DIS STARTER 17415 $266.93
    Labor - 516 RPLS STARTER $153.63
    Labor - CC COURTESY CREDIT $-45.00
    Parts 1 OEM PART 6N0905104 IGN COIL $211.73

    Car starts and runs great now. I am so happy as it took me a few months before I brought it in for repair as I frankly do not trust mechanics. I realized during this time how much I love this car during the period it was not starting well as in the back of my mind I considered an alternate car and could not come up with one. Hope this solution to my intermittent car not starting helps someone else.
  • momjennimomjenni Member Posts: 6
    I had to replace my ignition switch and the starter. It cost around $500.00. Wish I could have delivered better news.
  • moldakmoldak Member Posts: 4
    My fuel guage works, but it does down at the rate of about 10 miles per gallon. When it is reading empty, there is about half a tank left. Not sure if it is the sender unit in the gas tank or the guage on the dash
  • moldakmoldak Member Posts: 4
    My hand brake doesn't do anything. I tightened up the adjustments under the center arm rest (that little thing in the middle) but it goes up and down and doesn't apply the brakes at all.
  • enutileenutile Member Posts: 1
    I have a 97 Cabrio that will sometimes lose power and stall. In the past it would restart after a while. I replaced the fuel filter and it seemed fine for about 3 months. It happened again and no I can smell gas but it won't start. I have spark fron the coil but I can't get the plug wires off the spark plugs. Any ideas?
  • sab0782sab0782 Member Posts: 7
    I would definately change the plug wires if they are stuck. it is possin
    ble that they are grounding out.
  • tompandstompands Member Posts: 1
    I just put this 2.0 back together (new head,timing belt,idler,plugs,wires,etc) and reassembled all components. I have no spark. I rechecked everything. I found out the center wire (blk/red)on the coil plug, which is suppose to be the secondary power to the coil, has no power coming from it. It goes into the ecm. does anybody know where it gets powered from or what I should be looking for. I've checked all my grounds and connectors. I'm a CAT diesel tech and this little thing has me stumped.
  • kominskykominsky Member Posts: 850
    I think would potentially be a good place to find your answer.
  • rdmoore5rdmoore5 Member Posts: 2
    Hi, we have a 99 cabrio, automatic. Having trouble with it shifting. Gets up to about 4000 rpms or so and then must take foot off gas to shift into next gear. Had transmission checked, and is ok. Any ideas?
  • tbyirdtbyird Member Posts: 2
    VW Cabrio 99 has a intermittent Tachometer and Speedometer. I am experiencing that these items in the cluster do not work from time to time. I'll start the car cold and they work fine. However on a start of 3 to 4 times, the tach and speedometer don't work. Is there anyone out there have experienced this same problem? Regards Kurt
  • angelchicagoangelchicago Member Posts: 38
    If you go to the Search VW Cabrio window and enter key word Speedometer to do a search you will find a few inputs to your question. In short for me I have the exact same problem and choose to live with it as it would have cost over $400 to fix at dealer who would have to take the dash apart etc...I do not miss having a speedometer
  • stellaclarkstellaclark Member Posts: 1
    Hello! I have a 99 Cabrio and it's burning through headlight bulbs like nobody's business. I've had if for almost 4 years, and this has started the past year or so. Any ideas on how to fix this, or is it the beginning of the end for my Cab? It has 103k miles on it.
  • kscjags13kscjags13 Member Posts: 1
    I am looking at a '96 Cabrio, automatic with 95K miles. The only thing I have found to be "wrong" is the radio didn't work and the convertible boot is missing. The couple of forums I visited addressed both of these issues... I was glad of that. I am not opposed to installing a new CD to connect to the 10 disc changed, if that's possible, but what I am concerned about, is there any chance this is an electrical problem and not just a grounding wire problem... even if I have to dump a few $$$ into this vehicle, I feel like I'm really getting a deal! Why!?!
  • sab0782sab0782 Member Posts: 7
    My wifes 02 cabrio's radio quit and I reinstalled the factory radio, it wouldnt work either , ran a new ground to the plug and it has worked ever since. fun car for the buck
  • confusedkatconfusedkat Member Posts: 1
    I just bought a 96 Cabrio that started out good but then it started being hard to start and then it started dying while driving and would start right up. Then it wouldn't start at all. Have spark, will start but not turn over. We have replaced everything including the computer. The only thing we haven't changed out is the ignition, ignition module or starter (tested - it works). Does anyone have a clue? I can't afford any more parts and I need a car.
  • angelchicagoangelchicago Member Posts: 38
    I have a 99.5 cabrio. I too had starting problems last summer. It would turn over strong but not start. Then sometimes it would not turnover at all and I was kind of stranded. I ended up neededing a starter and that proved to be the true fix as I have not had any problems for close to a year. I had an intermittent starter problem so if you tested it could be a case where it worked fine for test but not fine for real world. You might want to search the edmunds Golf forum (hard top version of cabrio) as the cars have the same engines so there is much more info there with the Golf being a mainstream car.
  • kominskykominsky Member Posts: 850
    My daughter told me that when she used her turn signal, a puff of smoke came out of the steering column. Her car is a '97 Cabrio. She said it only happened one time on her drive home. Not seeing it myself, I would tend to think that, being a one-time event, it could have been some foreign material (dirt, hair, etc) was on the contacts of the turn signal switch and burned off.

    Any thoughts?

    '97 Cabrio
  • burnetburnet Member Posts: 1
    The headlights and blower motor shuts off and the parking brake light comes on.
    Intermittent issue - solved temporarily by turning the car off and on. The one turn signal is also blinking rapidly.
    Might it be a problem with the sensor that detects when the brake is released? But then the blower shutting off - seems unrelated.
  • jcashelljcashell Member Posts: 2
    I was driving my 99 cabrio in the rain on the highway, it started chugging and stalled on me. I had just gassed up the day be fore. it still starts and i can drive it but the engine light is still on.
Sign In or Register to comment.