Passat Headlight Burnout Rate

tess2gotess2go Member Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Volkswagen
I've experienced four burned out headlamps on my 2001 Passat in eighteen months. Called VW customer care - claimed this is a disposable item and that they have no record of other complaints. Called my dealership service manager to ask about mean time between failure rates, known electrical problems, headlamp assembly problems, quality control issues, got no answers. I think this is a serious safety issue. I drive for a living and have been left in the dark each time!!! Suggestions?? Experiences??


  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    there are a lot of issues like are the roads rough enough so a more responsively-sprung car like a passat will break more filaments... is the alternator voltage low or high... is there an o-ring that helps seal as well as cushion the bulb in its mounting, or is it more rigidly fastened....

    but for me, with 9000-series bulbs for my ford running under ten bucks, screw it, carry a spare and put it in when I have to.

    if you've something like HIDs and they don't last, you have a good reason to ask questions, because these are not only supposed to outlast everything else, but they are darned near pricey as transmissions.
  • frapzoidfrapzoid Member Posts: 127
    Cars with Daytime running lights seem to have that problem more than others. Yank out the DLR relay and your bulbs will last a lot longer...
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Member Posts: 1,391
    If you're driving for a makes sense with the DRL's, as frapzoid said.

    An easier way to disable the DRL is as follows:

    1. The headlight switch on "off" position.
    2. Push that knob in and turn right
    3. Remove the switch
    4. Remove the wiring connector
    5. Locate the "TFL" pin
    6. Cover the "TFL" pin with electrical tape
    7. Reinstall

    Sometimes pulling the relay, many people find that the brake idiot light (for the parking brake)will not light up.
  • outrunoutrun Member Posts: 539
    I wouldn't say many people experience the brake light problem. I'm guessing 1% of people on vwvortex and clubb5. And at that rate, it might be "modifier error" by loosening another relay in there. I have mine removed and everything works fine (2002 GLS). I also have a euroswitch.

    The "taping over the pin" method isn't always TFL. With the 2001.5 models onward, it's 56D that needs to be taped over. With the pre-2001.5 models, it's TFL.

  • frapzoidfrapzoid Member Posts: 127
    I have heard that some of the older Passats might have that problem with the brake light not lighting up after pulling relay #173. I have a 2002 wagon and the idiot light works properly without the relay installed.
  • consaacsconsaacs Member Posts: 1
    We have had a 2001.5 GLX wagon since it was new. Twice we have replaced the left headlight and within a few days it is dead. I'm driving now with the fog lights on every night so I have a left beam, as it didn't seem worth replacing it. Will try disabling the running lights.
  • chatter77chatter77 Member Posts: 1
    My left front headlight went out recently. And a friend who also bought a 2001 passat at around the same time had her's burned out recently too. Same light. Is this normal? Is this the fault of the bulb or the car's electrical wiring?
  • kevfreykevfrey Member Posts: 1
    I am currently driving with a burned out left front low beam also. What's the deal? We appear to be identifying a discernable pattern, at least in this group.

    What are some good replacement recommendations (brand of bulb/model, etc.)?
  • passatfamilypassatfamily Member Posts: 2
    Purchased used with 32K miles, after cam seal oil leak was repaired. Headlamp replacement has been only problem so far. Had 40K service performed ($225 at local specialist shop) 2 weeks ago - nothing unusual found.
  • sympaticosympatico Member Posts: 8
    I don't know if this is good news, but I have my own tale to tell. You see, I hate throwing away stuff, particularly items that cost a pretty penny and/or are hard to replace.

    a few months ago, my first right-side low beam buld seemed to have burned out. I took it out but instead of just replacing it, I fiddled with contacts, wires and such. I bet you're on to me now: I put it back in just for the hey and it worked! In fact, it's still working months later now.

    Could this be the common thread?
  • jonrickjonrick Member Posts: 8
    I have a 2001.5 new Passat GLX wagon. I've had all low beams and both fog lights replaced. The car will be 2 years old in April 03.

    I thought is was crazy, too, for this to occur but when my mechanic replaced each bulb with one that he described as "heavy duty". Seems that these are lasing fine. Maybe the VW parts are just cheap!
  • mrd63mrd63 Member Posts: 8
    Just had another daytime running light bulb burn out. That's three since April of last year. I had replaced this latest one myself back in early November. Hell, I got 3 months out of it, I suppose I should be happy.
  • wiseone2wiseone2 Member Posts: 15
    Just today passed a newer passat
    with a headlight out. Been thinking
    about buying a passat. Still
    waiting for nissan to buy back
    my suv under the lemon law.
  • erik23erik23 Member Posts: 1
    I've got a 2001.5 with 28k miles - I've had the driver side burn out twice on me and the passenger side three times now! The guys behind the desk at the dealer wouldn't acknowledge any problem but the actual service techs didn't seem surprised by the burnout rate. I'm waiting to see when VW will acknowledge the problem...
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Member Posts: 1,391
    The lights, are may be fulling the specification life, by the number of hours in operation. Since it is DRLs, the number of hours is quicker than our perception of "life" by calendar days.

    If you want long life by way of calendar days, disable your DRLs
  • peacefieldpeacefield Member Posts: 4
    I have a 99 Passat. An array of headlights, tail lights, signal lights, even dash lights have all burned out, some multiple times. I was slow in replacing one of the tail lights after it had gone out but it started working again. The electrical systems in Passats are clearly nuts, but I can't get the dealer or VW to do anything about it. Now the power windows and locks are starting to go.
  • dieselbreathdieselbreath Member Posts: 243
    I have a '98 New Beetle TDI with almost 150,000 kilometers on it.
    The driver's side headlight bulb has been replaced 4 time for the low-beam burning out, and the wiring harness replaced once (because the "dead bulb" was still good).
    The passenger side still has the original bulb!
    I'm wondering if its a vibration problem?
    Other than that, this car has been driven hard, over 115 MPH to see what it would do, driven on logging roads, and driven through lots of snow and rain and its been trouble free!
  • nigel11nigel11 Member Posts: 1
    I own a 2001.5 Passat V6 .. by 15K, both headlights (DRL's) needed to be replaced (one at 12K, the other at 15K). I had an Acura 3.0CL before the VW that didn't have DRL's. However, for 30,000 miles, I drove around with the regular headlights on all the time (I'm live in downtown Chicago kids, not some nice little need all the collision avoidance you can get here...and let me not ever MENTION the potholes and gridlock). The Acura lights never burned out. Before this, I drove a Nissan Altima the same way...crap car, but headlights remained strong for 48K. Driving habits haven't changed one bit.
        As with all automobile companies, this is just cost-cutting on VW's part with its suppliers. Pity they couldn't cost cut the quality ofsomething a little less valuable like the floor mats...oh wait a minute, they did,,,;-)
         With that in mind, anyone have any experience "heavy-duty" aftermarket DRL bulbs?? Replacing them every 6 months is getting old fast.
  • rrwmsrrwms Member Posts: 5
    Gosh, I just started reading this column and I'm beginning to think I bought the only good Passat ever built. My'99 1.8T GLS had the left bulb burn out after approx. 90,000 miles - oh yeah I replaced a brake light (RR) somewhere around 65,000. I found these things to be normal considering that the headlights, at least, are on all the time. A new HL bulb is only around $8 at the car parts store......kind of a tight fit for the hands but rather easily replaced.
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Member Posts: 1,391
    A standard headlight bulb will have a life of around 500 hours.

    The "Long-Life" bulbs roughly double the life. It costs about $1-2 more per bulb
  • passatsjpassatsj Member Posts: 1
    After reading all the posts on headlights burning out, it finally happened to me. I used to own a Honda and the bulb was easy to replace. I took a look under the hood and cannot figure out how to replace the left front headlight. I was able to locate the fog light casing and wiring but can't seem to locate the headlight bulb and wiring.

    Can someone post some instructions on how to replace the left front headlight and which bulb they would recommend?
  • ihvapstihvapst Member Posts: 4
    Just replaced my drivers-side low-beam lamp. I have a 2k1 Passat (Bought in 7/00) with 46k miles.

    Replacing is a piece of cake - Pop the hood and remove the gray rubber seal over the light assembly. The lamp is locked in, in a twist-lock fashion. Very easy. Took me 5 minutes! I bought the lamp at Napa I believe. ~$20.

    Prior to this I used to notice a lot of VWs with lamps out. I'm sure the lamp manufacturer could tell you how many of those he's sold!
  • hatemyvwhatemyvw Member Posts: 1
    2002 passat, had left front headlight go out, about a week later had right front go out while night driving. Had to use high beams to get home, flashed an officer with my highbeams and he gave me a ticket. Read cant get warranty work done on passat discusions. that my car.
  • altair4altair4 Member Posts: 1,469
    Some have speculated that the reduced power used by the headlights when in DRL mode is the reason they burn out, i.e., the bulb is designed to be powered by 12 v, and is getting like 10.2 v in DRL mode. Don't know if it's true, but I throw it out there for discussion purposes.

    Do other cars with DRL's run them at reduced voltage?
  • bodble2bodble2 Member Posts: 4,514
    As far as I know, all cars in Canada runs DRL on reduced power. They use the high beam though (at least for Japanese cars).

    Exceptions that I have observed are: Chrysler minivans which use the parking lights, and Audis which use the fog/driving lights.
  • nanny5nanny5 Member Posts: 10
    I have 2 passats a 2000 and a 2002 the 2002 had the headlite burn out at 9 months the 2000 bulb burned out at 36 months I replaced the 2000 myself but the dealer replaced the 2002's bulb both bulbs happened to be the driver side low beam. Any one had problem with the new areo-type wiper blades found on the new models ie 2002 and beyond? 36 dollars a piece to get new wipers at the dealer not sold at auto stores I had a probelm with clattering and excessive squeaking as soon as i bought the car but never reported it to the dealer, now with more than 12k on the car they won't replace them I call a large auto parts retailer(online) who stated the "word on the street" was that VW made the blade manufacturer change the rubber on the blades since the early 2002 models were having problems with wiper performance I would be interested to know if anyone had a silmilar experience. VW will not honor the warranty since it is past 12K and I did not report my problem sooner I just figured I had loud clattery wipers
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