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Volkswagen Beetle Maintenance and Repair



  • oldbugoldbug Posts: 11
    bpeebles, I bought a '03 New Beetle (diesel) in mid April last. From the time I test drove it til today the right turn signal had been rapidly flashing. The lights worked so I thought it to be some mystical thing causing the rapid blinking. After reading your post re: correct bulbs, I went to a VW dealer and purchased front and back bulbs. I got them in today and my problem has been solved...all thanks to you! Even though the front signal had been flashing, upon examination of the old bulb, I noticed that one of the filaments was broken and there in was the cause of my problem. So, hats off to you!
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    OldBug - You are most welcome :D

    The intent of this forum is for folks to get help with problems. The complainers do not help anyone very much. (but might make themselves feel better)

    I also have a 2003 TDI (Jetta) and am getting over 750 miles per tank of fuel. This works out to about 55MPG. (I track every drop of fuel that runs thru my vehicles.) I almost pity the poor folks who have to stop for fuel every 350 miles or so.... (I am at about 1/2 tank of fuel at that point.)

    My 2 daughers each have a VW (NB and a Gulf) I have the VAGCOM software on my laptop computer so I can run diagnostics on VWs.

    Dont hesitate to ask if you have further questions about your TDI.
  • oldbugoldbug Posts: 11
    I would be interested in purchasing the Vag-Com software and cable system from Ross-Tech but being on a fixed disability income, my first priority with the fuel money I am saving is the timing belt coming up at 100,000 miles. How much tweaking needs to be done to achieve the mpg that you speak of in your '03 Jetta? Also, I think a future purchase for me would be a home bio-diesel kit. If I knew of anyone in my area with the software, I would beg them to tweak mine for optimal fuel economy. I live in central MN and am amazed at all of the gas guzzlers on the road and how much greater than the speed limit they travel I can only surmise that they are in a hurry to get to the next gas station.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Here is a list of VAGCOM owners who have offered to help other VW owners diagnose problems. You may find somone in your area.

    You may also wish to start following the VW TDI forums here on Edmunds. This forum focuses on NBs and may not have the details you seek about your TDI.

    As for your 100,000 mile TB change. Make certain you do some research before you select a mechanic to do this job. If somone tells you that you can get away with NOT changing the waterpump and tensionor or wants to reuse the "must replace" bolts... look elsewhere.

    I have read about many "horror stories" about folks that tried to save a buck by getting TB changed the most inexpensive route. They either ended up with a boat-anchor for an engine or somthing else broke because the job was not done properly.

    If a timingbelt is off by even ONE tooth... the pistons can crash into the valves and destroy the engine.

    You might even consider purchasing one of the timing belt replacement kits available on the web so your mechanic has ALL the necessarry parts in one box.
  • ldawson18ldawson18 Posts: 1
    i have recently received a 2003 new beetle as a gift. it showed no signs of problems for the first couple of days. yesterday, i was inside my house, not anywhere near the keys or panic button so i know i did not press it, and the alarm went off. i went outside to turn it off. about 10 minutes later it went on again. this time i checked everything to make sure i hadn't left a door or the trunk open. about half an hour later, it went off again. i called the dealer and he said to run the car for a bit and turn it off and it should be fine. and it was. until last night at 4am when it went off again, waking the whole neighborhood! there was nobody around who may have disturbed it. it later went off at 7am as well. how anyone else had this problem? and does anyone have any idea how to stop this? or maybe how to disable the alarm entirely?
  • aaronr121aaronr121 Posts: 91
    There's a latch and then there is a sliding lever (going by our '98). You need to get the light assembly in it's socket, then slide the lever down 'till it clicks. Then you can connect the latching mechanism and pull that tight. It's quite a pain on a first (second, third..) try. On '98's it's a tight fit, but you can reach the driver side without removing anything. Later models, I can't say.
  • aaronr121aaronr121 Posts: 91
    I'm not getting the big deal about tail light bulbs. Sylvania 7528 at any autoparts store. As long as you aren't buying dime store specials, shouldn't have a problem. Maybe the persons putting the wrong ones in there, 1157's maybe? They look similar. :confuse: But if you are looking in the book or asking the guy at the counter, can't go wrong. $3.99 at Autozone. They are probably produced by the same manufacturer for VW...
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    You are correct that taillight bulbs should not be a big deal. In my opinion, the Orsam/Sylvania bulbs are better than some others.

    The factory Volkswagen taillight bulbs are the european partnumber "P21W". This is a SINGLE filament bulb.

    The 7528 is a DUAL filiment bulb may fit in the socket and have simular shape glass.... but the internal design is different.

    Also, the type of bulbs that came from the factory may be different if your VW was manufactured in Germany -or- Mexico.

    Here are the specs for P21W

    Here are the specs for 7528
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    The alarm system has a sensor swithch in each door, in the trunk latch and in the hood latch.

    Many folks forget about the one on the hood latch when they are trouble shooting this kind of problem.
  • aaronr121aaronr121 Posts: 91
    I'm just curious if this is the correct bulb? (P21W) It has only one contact point and one filament. The tailight bulb, I believed, did both brake lights and tail lights. For that you need a dual contact bulb, dual filament bulb. When I replaced bulbs last summer, I don't recall there being two plugs in the tailights.

    You never got good results putting a single contact 1156 inplace of a dual contact 1157 or vice versa.

    Little more research, I think you may have pointed to the wrong link. The P21W 24V 21W BA15D ECE, is the dual contact, filament bulb and is called for. It actually is a direct replacement for 1157's.

    Sorry. But I'm anal.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    I stand corrected... I was thinking of the taillight bulbs for the Jetta/Gulf which are the SINGLE filament type.

    Since I have 3 VWs in the family (Jetta, Gulf and NB), it is easy to get some of the specifics mixed up.
  • aaronr121aaronr121 Posts: 91
    Sorry for being obsessive!

    Anyway have a question regarding the 2.0 engine. I've read and heard owners say they have oil consumption problems. Most of the problems date back to when the car was new. What's the issue? Just curious.

    The 2.0, in ours, seemed like a very good solid motor. After about 70k occasionaly I'd add 1/2 to a quart of oil between changes. Usually after long highway (4 hours or more) trips. It's never seemed excessive. Now that we are close to hitting 170k, it's pretty consistent that I add oil between 5k oil changes.

    Seems like the cars are hit or miss. You get a decent one, or you get a horrible one. The one spot that seems a consistent negative is interiour materails. While the interiour doesn't look bad, things started breaking as soon as the 24k warranty was out.

    Right now all cup holders are broke (they are $35 each at the dealer and I haven't found any used yet), glove box latch broke 3 years ago, the passenger side window trim fell of the rubber seal (drivers side did too at 30k and replaced that), button on the parking brake handle broke, after replacing it once, 3 years ago, and the driver side vanity mirror flap falls off.

    I keep waiting for the local U-pull it's to get Beetles in, they are near the 10 year mark and they usually carry vehicles 7 years old or older.

    Other than consistent and reoccuring A/C problems (expansion valve, temp. cut off switch, and now compressor), the cars not to bad. Typically get a combined 28-30 mpg and have hit 35 mpg in pure highway driving. Only ever had a check engine light once (bad mass air meter). Few other minor problems (notably bad relay for the air pump) but nothing horrid.

    After 170k, car still drives well. That aspect has held up. It hasn't turned into a crappy, noisy, vibrating little heap of pooh! So, good body intergrity!
  • oldbugoldbug Posts: 11
    I bought my '03 TDI Beetle in April and now have driven enough miles for the first oil change. I have heard that the CI-4 oil is good to use but have also heard that it is not. What is everyone using out there? I will be doing my own changes and would prefer the best oil I can get for my TDI. Any suggetstons would be greatly appreciated. By the way, the odometer is now at 90,000 miles.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    From my research, there are several causes for oil-consumption with some of the early 2000s the 2.0 engine.

    1) There was a run of engines with the oil-control rings installed upside-down on the pistons.

    2) Babying the engine during breakin can cause glazed cylinder-walls that do not seal well agains the rings.

    3) Oil getting sucked thru the PCV system at highway speeds. (usualy due to blowby caused by one of the above 2 reasons.)

    Each of my 2 daughters have a 2001 VW, one consumes oil and the other one does not. Like you said, it is essentually a crap-shoot when purchasing a used VW from the (2000 - 2001) years. Choice of oil also plays a part in how much gets consumed.

    As I have said before, oil-consumption IS NOT a big deal as long as one checks the oil and tops off when needed.

    On the other hand -- Allowing the oil to get so low that the oil-pressure light come on is asking for trouble.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Your 2003 TDI engine has VERY SPECIFIC oil requirements. Do not use any oil which does not meet the VW specifications.(VW 505.00 or VW505.01)

    You DO NOT have the "Pumpe Duse" engine so your oil-requirements are not as stringant as the newer TDIs.

    Here are some oils which are availabe in North ameraica which you may use.
    Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel Truck 5W40 (Wallmart)
    Pentosynth 505.00 5W40
    Elf Excellium DID 5w40

    In a pinch, you could use
    ROTELLA T Synthetic 5w40 (Wallmart)

    Here is a list of approved oils.

    Here is some MOR OIL INFO

    Personally, for my 2003, I usually order an oil-change "kit" that has oil and filter in one package.
  • aaronr121aaronr121 Posts: 91
    You are right. Always check your oil. Running it low, even for a short time, can kill the rings.

    I always wondered if new owners not checking their oil, assuming a new car doesn't need to have it's oil checked, was part of the issue.
  • alisonf6alisonf6 Posts: 5
    I have a 01' NB TDI (108,000 miles)-and in the past 6 weeks I have put over $1600 in repairs. I want other TDI owners to be aware of what might happen once your car hits 100K in mileage.

    About two months ago, I noticed a loud, scary whirring or flapping noise coming from my engine compartment. Took it to West Houston VW-and they told me it was the Serpentine belt tensioner. Along with fixing that, they also fixed the alternator pully and two sensors. 300 miles later-the alternator pulley that they just replaced seized up and took out my power steering pump AND my power steering pulley. Because it was a part failure-you would assume that VW would take care of the costs. NOPE. I had to shell out an extra 500 bux for a new power steering pump and pulley. I pity the person who has to go through VW Corporate. They simply don't care. The dealership had my car for 4 days because no one at corporate would return their calls. I needed my car-so I had to pay for the repair without talking to corporate. It's been 2 months-and they still havn't returned my call.

    Two weeks ago-I noticed that I was losing acceleration. It took me a long time to get up to speed (longer than usual) and when I hit a hill I lost HP-about 5-10 MPH. Since learning my lesson with VW dealerships, I took it to a diesel mechanic in Houston that I had heard about and he repaired the Mass Airflow Sensor. He only charged me around 300 for this fix, so I have no problem. My problem is this...the mass airflow sensor drastically effects the driveability of the car-but when I was having this problem, the check engine light DID NOT come on.

    Has anyone else been having as many problems as I have? I have put around $5,000 in my car for repairs in the past 3 years-and I am regreting buying a TDI.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    You may find others that encounterd the ineptetude of VW dealership service.

    Your description of the problems seems to have some holes in it. (Like how in the world can a "alternator pulley that they just replaced seized up and took out my power steering pump AND my power steering pulley.")

    I suspect you were 'rooked', or perhaps you ignored other warning sounds before the original problem occoured. This is because the alternator pullys are KNOWN to get noisy (squeeky) for awhile before they come apart.

    Also, I am not sure how you think VW should pay for anything more than the failed part. Virtually EVERY lawyer-written document I have ever seen speaks of "limited liability" in reguards to incitental damage.

    In reguards to you apparently ignoring your car then complain when it needs some repairs.... check your intake manifold and showscreen to see if they need to be cleaned.... YOU HAVE BEEN FORWARNED!

    Please dont try to blame your car or VW when you have ignored the needs of a Volkswagen to be cared for. There is a LOT more than fuel and oil needed to keep a German roadcar healthy.

    Personally, I think that 108,000 miles is a long ways for any car. If you do not expect to put some money in to it, then the fault lies NOT in the car.

    There was a time not long ago that most cars were ready for the junkyard after about 60,000 miles!!

    If you want a car that is designed to be ignored.... consider a Toyota. Also be prepared to drive a booring car.
  • alisonf6alisonf6 Posts: 5
    Here is how the alternator pulley fiasco happened:

    I went in because of the noise that was coming from the engine. They first diagnosed the problem as the timing belt and belt tensioner. They later discovered that it was the Serpentine belt and tensioner. While they were fixing that problem-they came to me and told me that there was another problem and that they recommended that I replace the alternator pulley (I replaced the alternator at 60,000 along with my first timing belt)as well, as a precaution. I DID NOT REPLACE THE PULLEY BECAUSE OF A NOISE. That was Friday. I got the car back Saturday morning-and drove the car to Austin. The car was driving ok, and I did not hear any kind of noise or rattling and the check engine light was off. On Monday afternoon-I am driving back from lunch and my serpentine belt and pulley FELL OFF THE CAR. I lost power steering and VW towed the car back and told me that they did not know what the problem was, and they would get back to me. That was when I was told that the alternator pulley that they just put in the car (3 days ago) malfunctioned and damaged the power steering pump and pulley. To answer your question-NO, there was no noise from the alternator pulley before it malfunctioned, nor was their a sound from the pulley when the belt fell off. The part was 3 days old-less than 400 miles on it. They were going to discuss this problem with volkswagen corporate because my car was the 6th car that this had happen to, and they did not know why the alternator pulley was seizing up. This is why I am expecting some sort of reply from Volkswagen.

    I am not expecting to receive a check in the mail-that is not why I am wanting to hear from Volkswagen. I want to know why this happened-the dealership did not know-and if they have discovered anything from the damaged parts that were sent back to the eggheads in Germany.

    When I bought my TDI-I was well aware of the amound of maintenance that would be required. I was not aware that every year I would have to put in around 2,000 in repairs.
    I never miss an oil change, fuel filter change or anything that would damage the inner-workings of my car. I have friends that have normal gas engines in their beetles-and they have not had the problems that I have had. How many people replace a glow plug at 80,000 miles?

    108,000 is NOT a lot for a TDI engine. They are known to go into 300,000 without breaking a sweat. I bought the TDI engine with hopes of driving it for 15 years. Hell, they tell you that when you hit 80,000 you are just breaking in the engine. I broke in my engine by replacing a glow plug.

    I find it kind of weird that you are assuming that I ignore my car. You can't ignore a diesel engine. There is constant maintenance that I do to my car-including cleaning out my manifold. I do it every 60,000 miles-what volkswagen suggests.

    I met a guy on Friday afternoon at volkswagon-also waiting for his Toureg to be finished-he lost a piston. The car had 45,000 miles on it. Wierd things happen-and I am sick and tired of paying for "german engineering". The next car I buy is a ford-at least when they break down you can find a mechanic easily and they wont cost you your life savings to keep it working.
  • aaronr121aaronr121 Posts: 91
    So, basicall you heard a noise and they recomended changing the timing belt and tensioner, then found the serpentine belt and tensioner was bad. THEN they found the alternator pulley (it wouldn't be the pulley itself, a bad bearing in the altenator, so replace the whole altenator). You had all that replaced and the noise went away? Yet, 3 days later the whole Feed system goes Kablooey?

    It honestly sounds like they didn't hit the problem in the original diagnoses and still didn't, or didn't get it back together right, get it after replacing part after part. It could have been the power steering pump was bad all along. And now the parts failure is covering it up. And how can you prove it now?

    I worked at a dealership for a few years, and they never admit mistakes when it costs them money.

    Sorry about all the problems. It sounds like you couldn't do anything about it.

    My opinion 108k is nothing for a modern powertrain. For the most part manufacturers(i know Ford definately does), test and plan on the powertrain lasting 150k for gas cars. The unspoken consensus, from what I've read, is 200k shouldn't be a problem. As long as reasonable efforts are done to maintain the vehicle and the drivers don't abuse the vehicle.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    (aaronr121)I agree with what you say except you are mistaken about the alternator pully.

    The alternator pully on TDI engines contains a "sprague clutch" which allows the alternatror to freewheel in one direction. This type of pully is used on the TDI engine to help reduce belt wear due to the power-pulses that the TDI engine applies to the serp. belt.

    There have been MANY folks that had this pully malfunction. Before failure, the pully will most often make a squeek or screeching sound for several hundred miles. (If ignored, it will eventuially fall off.)

    It sounds to me as if the alternator pully was perhaps the ORIGIANL problem all along... and the bonehead dealership started throwing parts at it (at alisonf6 expense.)

    (alisonf6) I apologize to you for assuming you had ignored your TDI. Now that I have read thru the scenereo you describe, I am convinced that it was the DEALERSHIP which took you for a ride. They should KNOW that the alternator pully is a common failure item and replaced JUST THAT in the beginning.

    Personally, I am suspecting they did not properly torque the special screw that holds the alternator pully onto the shaft.... thus it fell off a couple days later.

    Another possibility is that the dealership reused some of the MUST REPLACE bolts. There are a number of bolts used on VW engines which are designed to stretch when they are installed and must NEVER EVER be reused because they will not properly torque down ever again.
  • aaronr121aaronr121 Posts: 91
    Ahh. Did not know that. But you are right. The bonehad working on it, should have checked that first.

    And, you could be right about them not replacing the torque-to-yield fastners. Why they would not replace them is beyond me. They would have just charged the customer for the new bolts anyway.

    On the diesels, don't you need to remove the serpentine belt to get at the timing belt? Any mechanic should check the feed accesories before even moving on to the timing belt.
  • oldbugoldbug Posts: 11
    I will soon be making an appointment to have the timing belt on my '03 Beetle TDI (91,000 miles) changed. I thought I read somewhere on this forum that there were "must replace" bolts somewhere in the procedure. It would take too long to scan all the posts here to find out for sure but the service dept at my VW dealorship says there are no "must replace" bolts in the procedure. Am I wrong? I plan on having the water pump done at the same time. Please advise.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Your 2003 TDI ABSOLUTELY has some must-replace bolts in the timing-belt replacement procedure. (for example- the bolts on the engine-mount which must be removed) There have been some reports of engines almost falling out of the car becaues the must-replace bolts were not replaced on the engine-mounts.

    Given that they seem to ignore the shop manual about how to do the TB replacement -- I would be wary of having them do the work...

    Have you tried researching for qualified TDI mechanics in your area? There are several websites which have lists of qualified TDI mechanics.

    BTW -- here is a kit that contains ALL of the parts needed to do the TB replacement on your 2003 TDI. (note it includes the bolts too)
  • stevenk2stevenk2 Posts: 2
    I have a 2002 Turbo Volkswagen Beetle and the drivers side headlight is burned out again. I do not want to pay the dealer to replace. Can I fix it myself? Can someone please tell me how to do it?


    Stevenk2 in Cincinnati
  • alisonf6alisonf6 Posts: 5
    If it's the entire light harness-you can go to any mechanic and get that repaired.

    I have a Haynes book-and I use it for all my repairs, I like to take a look at it even before I put the car in the shop to get an idea of what I am getting myself into.

    If it's just the bulb-it's very easy-the Haynes book will take you step-by-step.
  • stevenk2stevenk2 Posts: 2
    It is just the bulb that is burned out. Where can I get the Haynesbook?
  • aaronr121aaronr121 Posts: 91
    Just about any Autoparts store cars the Haynes manuals. Just a matter of having the one in stock for your vehicle. You can order off Amazon too.

    You can try this link

    or do a Google and look for others.
  • oldbugoldbug Posts: 11
    Is it possible to add transmission fluid to a New Beetle TDI auto transmission? Does it have to be taken to a dealer for this? Please advise! Thanks!
  • I've just purchased a 2001 VW TDI Beetle, and it has a leaking problem that fills the drivers side floor. Where do I start????
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