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Volkswagen Cabrio



  • :lemon: That's the best thing you can do with a VW - get rid of them. The engineering and service standards are atrocious. I've had a bunch of them, from a '61 bug, '67 Ghia, '72 bug, '68 fastback, two '91 cabriolets, '02 cabriolet, and '84 Audi 4000S twodoor (a rarity). They get worse as they get newer.

    The'02 cabrio is the worst of them all. Within les than a year, the driver's side window has failed 3 times. Catalytic converter failed crossing the US and got stuck in Omaha for 4 days. The dealer did not have the part and the computers were down so he could not even order it from the distribution center. He could not use a 3rd party part wthout charging me about $600-$700.

    A few months later, coming back from TX the car begins shake on accelleration, Find a dealer, bring it in, they do a diagnostic, and replace some electronic components for $900. I start driving it and the problem is still there. They never even road tested it to determine the problem or verify the fix. Turned out it was an axle part that they fixed but did not charge me for. This is not one isolated dealer, but is typical of their maintenance philosophy: start fixing things until you get it correct.

    I visited this board to see if I could determine a fix for the window. What I learned is that VW does not get to the root of the problem, but fixes a problem with components that have design flaws.

    The second '91 cabriolet cost me $4,000. Within 5 years I put $5,000 into it.

    Go ahead, waste your money.
  • 98cab98cab Posts: 5
    Ha,Ha,Ha... Why do you keep buying them? I've had my '98 Cabrio for 9 years and never, ever had any trouble. I love that car. I've had other make cars and they all have their quirks. Every Ford I ever own had transmission problems. I had 2 Nissans and they both blew head gaskets. The list goes on and on.
  • :lemon: But wait! There's more!

    Actually, I had fairly good success up until the Cabriolets and the Cabrio. I didn't buy the Cabrio, a family member did, but I get the calls in the middle of the night and usually foot the bill.

    The Bugs, Fastback, and Ghia were reliable. I mean, what is there to go wrong? That simplicity and low cost are what made the VW name. Too bad they got away from it. Remember that in the 60's and 70's there were not many inexpensive imports to be had. VW pretty much had the import market all to itself.

    I also had the '81 diesel pickup.That was probably the best of the lot. I think in the 3 years i had it all I had to do was change the oil.

    My Audi was :) pretty good overall. When I finally got rid of it, the tranny was leaking like a sieve. But it still ran and handled well. One problem I had that forced me to take it to my local, totally incompetent VW dealer here in Reading, PA was that the engine would intermittently cut out. Or not restart if I turned it off for a few minutes.

    The dealer wanted to put a new (third party) cat converter on it for a $500. I said no and researched the issue on a VW newsgroup. Some one suggested that it could be the fuel pump relay. I purchased it from a local shop for half what VW wanted and that solved the problem. I know a failed converter can make a car run like crap, but this was totally intermittent.I would have had some respect for the dealer if they just said "I don't know."

    That brings me to a friend's new Beatle turbo. Not long after the warranty expired, it ate the turbo. So that is the end of the engine. And the car. She liked VWs, but that was the last straw for her. She had minor electrical problems with the car from day 1. Her son's Jetta gets a new catalytic converter every two years, courtesy of VW since it is covered under the emissions warranty. With that history, the woman who owned the bug sold it for salvage and bought an Accura. Her daughter just bought a Mazda 6.

    I just traded sold a '95 Accord wagon with 202,000 miles on it that has been trouble free and still runs well. I have a '98 Civic with 126,000 miles on it and it has never had a problem.

    As much as I like VWs, buying one is a crap shoot. It is either they run perfect, or that will be constantly in the shop.That is where the Nissans, Toyotas, and Hondas beat VW, hands down.
  • 98cab98cab Posts: 5
    I use to drive Mercury Grand Marquis when my kids were young. I had 2 that I drove 'till the miles were really high. I parked one on my property and bought another one with 68k. A friend stopped by one day and wanted the parked Merc for the demolishion derby. It had something like 220k on the motor and I heard it had a great career in the derby.

    Now the Merc with 68k I had nothing but headaches. It was one thing after another. I had to get rid of it.

    Now I've driven air cooled VW's since the 70's. You just can't kill those thing. I was glad when they came out with the Cabrio though. It was a better quality car then the junky Rabbit and it had better, updated features than the VW convertible. My mechanic was doing my brakes and he call my Cabrio a Rabbit. I got very insulted "don't call my car a Rabitt!" I still see Rabbits on the road though. Amazing. If someone gets a lemon on a certain make of a car than that's the name of the game in the car world. You can't say the all those cars are bad though.
  • 98cab98cab Posts: 5
    Oh, one more thing. The older V-dubs were great except in the winter. I'm from New York and I can't tell you how many times I froze my tail off in the winter. Sometimes you couldn't even see out the windsheild because of the frost. But we bought them because we were kids and we didn't have a lot of money. They were practically giving them away in the '70's.

    The heated seats in the Cabrio was heaven! My boyfreind calls them the "Vital Warmer".
  • I hear ya, brother. I had a 1961 in the late sixties that I drove back and forth to college. About 750 miles from central NJ to Knoxville, Tennessee. The winters were hell on route 81. Coming back north before Christmas I'd be bundled in an old Air Force overcoat and a blanket with the window open to stay awake.

    The early models took the heat (whatever heat there was) right off the engine, so the window needed to be open, initially for fresh air, and later in the trip to stay awake. And the trick to beat cross winds was to open both windows so the wind would blow right through the car.

    Ah, to be young and stupid again. Driving amongst the 18-wheelers on skinny re-capped tires with taillights as bright (6V back then) as a penlight flashlight. I'd leave NJ at midnight and get into Knoxville at noon. I'm surprised one of those rigs didn't do me in.

    The funny, or sad, part of it was the 18-wheelers fully loaded would pass me going up hills.

    That car didn't even have a gas gauge. Just a 1-gallon or so reserve tank. I'd fill the 10-gallon tank and know I was good for 250 miles or so.

    And the distinctive rattling sound of the two failed tail pipes.

    Blew the first engine on the NJ Turnpike near Penns Grove. Towed it home friday night, pulled an engine from a '65 bus on Staten Island saturday morning, had the new engine in and on the road again saturday night, only to find it has a bad clutch. Got a clutch locally sunday morning and was back on my way to Tennessee monday morning.

    The second engine blew on a bitter cold day in Manhattan while I was leaving the city. Crossing Riverside Drive, it sounded like the engine just fell out of the back. That was the end of the Green (and Orange) Hornet.

    Maybe Tata can reintroduce a peoples car???
  • ter123ter123 Posts: 2
    had that happen - you have to hold the covertible button dead center of the up or down and apply alot of pressure as soon as you start up or down hope this heps
  • sand6sand6 Posts: 1
    Let's say one was to lock one's keys in the trunk of a '95 cabrio, and was easily able to pop the lock to get in the doors, knowing the rear seat folds in... What is the trick, special shazam button, or whatever it takes to get the seat to pull forward? ...thus giving access to the trunk and said keys?!
  • coniwconiw Posts: 2
    All my engine oil leaked out a bit above the oil filter. I heard a noise like a seal blew out or something. What could that be?
  • My 1993 Cabrio
    Written by: Luke N. Townsley

    The other night I stopped by the grocery store to get some things for the house; some ant poison, some cat shampoo for Minu, and some Mountain Dew. Okay, so only one of those items were for the house, but that doesn't really matter. When I came back outside it was raining and I found myself running out to the car and scrambling to get everything inside the car before I got too wet. Then I was reminded that it didn't really matter how wet I got, because even after I got inside the car it was still going to be raining on me. Those of you with a Cabriolet will most likely know exactly what I am talking about.
    The weather here in Oklahoma isn't exactly what one would consider to be Cabrio-typical. One minute you think it would be the perfect time to curl back the top and bask in the sun and open air, the next you are wading through ankle deep water, glad you were too lazy to even bother with the stiff old thing. But it is still nice to have. Even if the old vinyl top still lets the rain in.
    Don't let that last little bit make you think I hate my car, because I don't. In fact, I absolutely love it and all of it's quirks. I love how only the passenger side heated seat works, I love how heat only blows out of the center vents, how I have to nearly sit on the ground to get into the trunk. It is a wonderful little car that has just as much character as my little kitten does, and just as many oddball little habits and faults.

    In the eight years since I became legally able to drive I have owned my fair share of vehicles.
    First was a 1983 Honda CRX, a car that I will never forget. Not only was it my “first” but it was a wonderful little ride that handled extremely well. My dad bought it off our neighbor for $500 and had a rebuilt engine put in for another $500. Not only was it quick but it took the abuse of a speed crazy sixteen year-old with little complaint.
    Second was a 1984 Honda Prelude. Now, before you decide to stop reading this because you think I am just another little Honda dork buzzing around with a coffee can on my exhaust pipe, hear me out. I will admit I was a bit addicted the the H at the time, but this car convinced me to go clean. Sure it was a sound ride when I bought it. Indeed it had a powered sunroof and windows when I bought it. The only thing it needed was a paint job... when I bought it. Shortly after I bought it, however, it was a nightmare. Thus leading to my third vehicle, another Prelude that generously donated it's heart in an attempt to revive the the earlier. A failed attempt...
    On my fourth car I decided to try something a bit different, quite a bit different. So, I picked up a 1983 Datsun 200SX, one of the elder Silvia sisters, for $250. It took me a good weekend of work to get the thing road worthy, but I have to say, it was the best $250 I have ever spent. For my birthday my dad found me a set of old Supra wheels to bolt onto her and, after a few more weekends of scrubbing and tweaking, she was steadily prowling the streets. I guess the extra meat from the Supra wheels stressed her a bit and soon after the transmission was making noises similar to that of a blender full of gravel, but for another $200 I picked up a used one and had her running like a champ again. Sure, it might have been a brick on wheels with the handling characteristics of a Cadillac but it had just enough character to make me proud.
    Eventually I got bored and found myself craving more. Front wheel drive as a bore and the underpowered, rear wheel drive, 200SX was just a tease so I went out and found my fourth baby; a 1984 Nissan/Datsun 300ZX Turbo 50th Anniversary. It had everything one could possibly want; t-tops, rear wheel drive, pop up headlights, a manual 5 speed transmission and a reliable turbocharged V-6, all topped off by the gleaming gold 50th Anniversary emblem. I can't even begin to tell you what a great car this was and I only paid $2500 for it! However, I was fortunate enough to purchase this car on it's last leg and soon found myself sitting at work with a blown head and a hole in my number 6 piston the size of a quarter which lead to my sixth vehicle, a 1986 300ZX donor car.

    Well, when I started writing this I didn't think about how long this list would be so, for the sake of whoever might read this, I am going to simply list off the last bit of cars and give quick comment on them.

    After the 300ZX came my worst buy ever, a 1978 Pontiac Trans Am. Need I say more? Next was a 1986 Toyota Corolla, my attempt to be a drifter. No, it wasn't a 4A-G, not even an SR-5, just a crappy California spec tin can, but no one else had to know. It was still an AE86 and it was interesting to see the looks from the other kids that were falling into the drifting craze. The ninth car in my sordid past was a 1993 Acura Integra I bought off a wrecker service for $500. It came with a SCI Ignition System, DC headers, and Eibac springs. After some hammering and panel replacement the car turned out to be a wonderful investment, despite the fact that anything under 5000 RPM's made your ears bleed.

    Finally, came my 1993 Volkswagen Cabriolet. Now, to be honest this was not my first pick. When my wife and I first started dating I was broke, without wheels and leaching off my best friend, so when she insisted on buying me a car (despite my many attempts to talk reason into her) and started looking at various Camaro's and Trans-Am's, I had no choice but to turn her eyes onto something I not only knew she would like, but trusted would not fall apart at the first speed bump.
    After racking my brain and using up all other options I showed her the Cabrio. I knew there was no way she could say no to it. It's four round headlights, the convertible top, and loads of character did the job and she was in love.
    We ended up finding OUR baby (my wife hates it when I call it “hers”) in Oklahoma City for sale along with a red 1992 Cabriolet. The 1992 was in good shape but had the ugly steel wheels and, if my memory serves me right, they were asking around $800 more. Condition and anything else that may have made the red one a better buy did not really matter anyways, the wife wanted the black one. In fact, she wanted it so badly that we paid the man his asking price of $3,850 and left. I did not even look it over, we literally paid the man and drove off.
    About half way home I was slapped across the face with our speedy decision when the oil buzzer started sounding and pulled over at the first gas station we came across. After giving the car a good once over and checking the oil I decided there was not much to worry about, thanks to the stock oil pressure gauge that held a steady 2 bar's. So, we hopped back in and headed on home.
    The car surprised me with it's ride quality. I was expecting it to either be stiff and noisy or soft and drafty but it was neither. It did great on the highway at 70mph with only minimal wind and ro
  • The car surprised me with it's ride quality. I was expecting it to either be stiff and noisy or soft and drafty but it was neither. It did great on the highway at 70mph with only minimal wind and road noise. On the city roads it took the bumps and tight turns with ease, letting me know where they were but not tossing me about like a pissed off bull. By the time we got home I found myself musing over it's simplistic interior styling, the awesome assortment of gauges that you would never see in an American car, and it's 1980's feel highlighted with 1990's amenities like heated seats and air bags.
    As you were probably able to tell from my list of past vehicles, I really like cars that are pre 1990 but post 1980. I guess an easier way to word it would be, “I like cars from the 80's.”
    Just looking back at the cars I owned, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that the 80's were a prime time for the automotive world. The years gave birth to the Mazda RX-7, the Nissan 300ZX (wait, I think I had one of those.), the Toyota Supra ('78-'92), the VW Golf GTI Mk I (Still faster than the Mk II, Mk III, Mk IV and I would wager the Mk V and VI), and lets not forget some of the more odd-ball designs like the Porsche 944 ('82-'91), the Audi Quattro ('80-'91) and the Merkur XR4Ti-zxTtRsQ46559... T ... whatever ('85-'89).
    I often times find myself wondering exactly what year my Cabriolet is. The Vin Number, and every other number that means anything on the car, says it is a 1993 but the hazard switch says '92 and every ounce of its styling tells me it is from the 1970's. This car is a mutt. I get the distinct feeling that Volkswagen, at the end of the MK I Cabriolet's production, simply took all there overstock and extra parts and bolted them together then shipped them out hopping that they would sell. And sell they did.
    On rare occasions of automotive history, a manufacturer gets lucky and designs a car that is not only fitting for it's time, but manages to set the standard and hold it's own well beyond its expiration date. I will venture to say that the birth of the VW Rabbit/Golf was one of such occasions.
    Not only is the Golf GTI considered the be the first “hot hatch” but it pretty well set the standard for every subcompact car and created yet another die-hard fan base for Volkswagen. Even today Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Ford, Nissan, Chevy, and even Volkswagen itself hasn't been able to match the styling, speed and overall exhilaration the Golf GTI brought to the middle-class market. Yet, I digress. This is not about the GTI, this is about the Cabriolet.
    I think that to an extent VW knew they got the formula right with the MK I. The sad thing is, they didn't really design what everyone loved so much about it, and that shows with the Mk II-VI. Instead, the Mk I was styled by an Italian by the name of Giorgetto Giugiaro, and if you look at his wrap sheet, you will see that this guy knew what he was doing. Just look at the BMW M1, the Lotus Esprit and ever the DMC Delorean. All cars penned by him and still easily recognized by anyone and everyone to this day.
    I am convinced this is the reason why VW kept building the Mk I Cabriolet unchanged for as long as they did. They knew they got it right and they were going to suck the life out of it. Not only did it hit the niche for the fun loving hippies of the 70's, that painted their Bettles in pastels and daisy flowers, but they also found a place in the hearts of the younger crowd. From what I have read and observed, it was not uncommon to spot a Cabrio with its top down parked in front of the local Universities. Even now you can still see the influence they had on the culture of the late '90's and even the early 2000's in films such as “10 Things I hate About You”(1999), “Shallow Hal” (2001), “The Hot Chick” (2002), and one one my favorite films “Crank” (2006) featuring the Cabrio in a very intense chase where, I must say, it holds it's owns quite well.
    The only thing that initially made me shy away from the Cabriolet is the fact that it is a girls car. Just look at the movies I named off, all of them owned by stuck up, blond haired, bimbos (with the exception of “Shallow Hal”, where it was owned by a fat man with a tail). Needless to say, I really wasn't looking forward to being seen cruising around in the little thing but, the first time I folded back the top and got in, all my insecurities dissipated in the wind.
    There is something about the Cabriolet that I just can't place my finger on. Never have I held so much pride in my vehicle. Every day I walk out of the house and see it sitting in the driveway a smile comes across my face. I peek out from under the carport to check on the weather is just to see if it is possible to put the top down. Somehow this simple and confused concoction of nuts and bolts manages to make every mundane trip into an event. Whenever the sun is shining, it finds a way to make even the most stressful days feel like a day at the race track (I would have said “beach” but I find beaches the be very tiresome and boring, my ideal day is spent on asphalt and enjoying the smell of freshly spent gasoline).
    People always say: “You can't buy love”, but I am going to have to disagree. You can indeed buy love, and all the stuff that comes with it. Just go find you a MK I Cabriolet.

    Thanks to,, for all the very useful info, and to Jeremy Clarkson for inspiring me to write this and showing just as much respect for the little guys as you do for the big guys.

    Copyright © 2010 by Luke N. Townsley
  • Lately, my 02 Cabrio has been overheating when i drive the car for over an hour at a time. I cant afford to stop driving it, so thank goodness when i get a consistent air flow (at least 45 mph) the air cools the engine off, but when i go below 35 mph or sit in traffic for a period of time, it begins to overheat. Eventually, a whirring-rattling noise kicks in, which im assuming is a fan. does anyone have any advice????

    I just had the coolant housing replaced and there are no leaks.
  • has any one had to replace a engine because of the timing belt :(
  • can I program a new igni key without a scan tool
  • new2benznew2benz Posts: 5
    Looking for the oval piece of plastic with the crown logo that covers the moulding hole on each side of the car's front fender.

    I seem to have lost one however Volkswagen does not make the part anymore. I'd like to buy it from whomever can provide one or has the OEM part number.

    Hope someone can help.

  • Anybody know if an 2000 Cabrio has a sway bar if so how do i remove it. THX :confuse:
  • If you live near an LKQ self serve parts center try their i can normally get parts their. They dont have them in every state though
  • Bought a 97 Cabrio for my daughter 156k miles, vehicle ran well for a month, then one day she shut it off and went to restart and it wouldnt start. Lights, radio, windows, ect all work, but no crank. Checked starter and solenoid, both seemed ok, not really sure, used a jump wire from solenoid to hot for starter and car started, any idea what I should be looking for, when car would not start, could hear a click from left side of engine, is there another relay or solenoid I cant find. Thank you.
  • Shot in the dark: Could be an electrical relay that is faulty. See where your relays are and just pull them out and re-seat them.
  • Ck starter relay,switch relay with another like relay to ck.,also poss. that it is related to security sys in the ign lock cyl. Best bet ,take it to a well known vw tech or dealer. Greman cars are tricky don't bring it to just ant repair shop !!
  • hey if you figure this out please let me know. we have a 99 cabrio that is doing the exact same thing. so anything you can pass our way would be great. thanks.
  • I am not absolutely positive, but I believe there is a solenoid associated with the clutch that if bad or if the position bar is worn and has slipped some into the switch it will not activate. Its just a plastic piece of crap that wears and the switch arms gets loose and retracts into the body of the switch.

    About a 20.00 repair.
  • My daughter (19yo) had a 1997 Cabrio. Last week, a 17yo kid in an Tahoe ran a stop sign and my daughter t-boned him. She walked away with some brush-burns on her arms from the airbag. Otherwise, she was totally unharmed. To be honest, I never liked the car... it was unreliable and a pain to work on, but in the end, it sacrificed itself and kept my daughter safe. That's all I could ask of any car!!
  • 00cabrio08reno00cabrio08reno Posts: 14
    edited September 2010
    i didnt think of them as safe cars know i do
  • Anybody know if an 2000 Cabrio has a sway bar if so how do i remove it. THX :confuse:
  • I had serious doubts, also. But I can't argue with results, and my daughter walking away unharmed was the perfect result. Here are some pics of the car. They show that the passenger compartment was untouched (except for airbag deployment).
  • ClairesClaires Chicago areaPosts: 1,222
    Whoa... looks like a bad wreck! Glad your daughter's okay!


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  • tony2123tony2123 Posts: 2
    When I stop at light or stop sign car idles rough. And when taking off feels like its not getting gas. But once moving good it runs fine. Can anybody help?
  • dempsydempsy Posts: 1
    You didn't say what year. I have a '88 Cabriolet with the same problem. been going on for years. I finally discovered the problem hiding in plain sight. The intake manifold was loose, could actually be moved up and down.
    It takes an allen wrench socket on an extension from underneath the car. I'm going to try it tomorrow. Good luck: Dempsy.
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