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Volkswagen Cabrio Electrical Problems

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 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 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 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
  • 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!
  • :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!
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 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!
  • 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 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 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 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.
  • Did you find out what the cause was? I have the same problem!!

  • 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 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 ..
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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)
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