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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
2003 Beetle 2.0 Automatic (Power Issues?)

Hello, This past Thursday I bought my wife a 2003 Beetle 2.0 Automatic with 124,000 miles. Great physical condition. I got the car for $1,500.00 but it was advertised as having electrical issues. The seller was honest and described the issues as best she could. She claimed that sometimes when it sat overnight the battery would lose power. She produced paperwork showing the alternator and battery were replaced and the wiring box that sits over the battery. The work was performed by a local shop that only works on VW's.

When she described the issues I thought she may be mistaken. It fired up and everything seemed to be in good working order. I scanned it with my OBDII reader and it had code P0501 speed/range sensor with all readiness monitors completed. The MIL was not on. Starting the car, it seemed to start sluggish but would start up each time and run fine. I bought the car and drove it 30 miles to my house without issue. Turned it off and it would restart every time but it seemed to be having the same weak starts.

Then yesterday morning I went out to start it up and it barely started. I ran it for about 10 minutes and turned it off to restart it and it barely did but this time and was much weaker. The air bag light was on and the ABS. It sat and ran for more than 15 minutes that way. After about 10 minutes the aftermarket radio lost power and restarted itself then turned off completely. The car still idled fine. When I tried to press the gas pedal nothing happened other than a rough idle. I put it in reverse and it shuddered and almost died. I put it back in park and it idled like normal. I then turned it off.

After that it wouldn't start again without being jumped off and still had a slight sluggishness to starting but the starter seemed faster. This is when I started payinmg more attention to it and realized that when I turn the key to the on position, the MIL and battery lights are not coming on at all. I swear I saw them come on when I first bought it but I may be wrong. It's one of those things I always look for but I may not have noticed it and I'm second guessing myself on whether I saw it or not. I disconnected the battery and fully charged it. Now, It's back to the way it was when I first started testing it out. The MIL and battery light do not come on when when they ignition is turned on before starting. The OBDII reader will still connect and read but since I pulled the battery, there are not codes.:confused:

This is my first VW and honestly don't know where to start. I have found similar posts here and elsewhere but most never mentioned a final outcome or didn't apply to my situation.

Any help and opinions are greatly welcomed. Thanks in advance.
 

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Hey, here is a code definition for the above: start using the ross tech wiki for vw specific info.

16885/P0501/001281 - Ross-Tech Wiki

Assuming, that you have a 01M auto trans; here is a page, that shows you the location of the G22 sensor:

http://www.kansascitytdi.com/01m faq.htm

Typically, the sensors fail but they can also be intermittent, which can be confusing.

Based upon what you are saying; I would have the whole electrical charging system tested and confirm everything is in working order. Parasitic draws; seem to be a ongoing problem with Volkswagens. Many times; the aftermarket stereos are a culprit and haven't been installed/wired correctly.

Here is a great thread; on how to test for a parasitic drain:

http://newbeetle.org/forums/questio...0356-how-test-parasitic-drain-new-beetle.html

Keep in mind; when these cars get low power from the battery... basically, it cannot run all the various computers correctly. The car will freak out and throw a zillion codes and the way the car acts, can be confusing. You need to get the charging system working correctly; to be able to evaluate problems correctly. Most auto parts stores; will check your whole charging system for free and use their computer diagnostics system to figure out what is wrong.

Another issue; that happens after a while, is the ignition switch can wear out and crack, give you starting problems. Again, you may have multiple issues but to ascertain these in a more effective way... I would get the charging/parasitic draw issue handled first. Low power on these cars; makes everything go goofy and its hard to tell what is going on! :) Get the charging system and parasitic drain, checked out and we will go from there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Update. Came home from work and wanted to check the cluster out due to the lights not working and it being easily accessible. It appears to have been removed and disassembled previously. It has multiple broken clips and several missing screws. It appears to be missing at least one LED and other hardware. Photo's attached:





<a href="http://s329.photobucket.com/user/doug2060/media/DSC09524_zpsmmsklt91.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i329.photobucket.com/albums/l375/doug2060/DSC09524_zpsmmsklt91.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo DSC09524_zpsmmsklt91.jpg"/></a>
 

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The instrument cluster has the immobilizer on it, so you really don't want to go messing with that unless you have a VW-specific scan tool. You should get your battery issues sorted out first and figure out where the parasitic drain is coming from. Here is a DIY that I put together on checking power and ground connections in the NB that may help as well:

http://newbeetle.org/forums/2-0-liter-gas/82833-diy-check-power-ground-connections.html

Bad connections in the panel over the battery or in the grounds can cause a wide variety of electrical problems. The airbag light is usually the first symptom of wider electrical issues.
 

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If you got a used cluster; it would have to be the exact same one. There would have to be coding involved; a 2003 would be the Immobilizer III system. Here are the typical options; that I went through, when I replaced my speedo cluster.


Five ways of proceeding with the repair; off the top of my head: (#5 easiest and quickest solution, imho!):

1. get another new/used cluster: (ship service out)
a. have speedo shop transfer skc, soft coding and odometer reading, to the new cluster from the old one, (plug&play) repair complete!

2. get another new/used cluster: (ship service out)
a. have immobilizer removed from ecu and have odometer reading, soft coding transferred to the new cluster, repair complete!

3. get another new/used cluster: (diy; allot of work)
a. attempt to get skc yourself with Vag Tacho or have locksmith or other service provider, do it for you.
b. have speedo set to "zero"; match/transfer softcoding/skc to from old to the new/used cluster, match keys to the new cluster/immobilizer, input correct odometer readings with VCDS, calibrate fuel gauge with VCDS and repair complete!

4. Have the VW dealer; do everything: (ship service out) All sanity and rational, cost considerations cast aside!
a. brand new factory vw speedo $500 plus, if still available, plus whatever labor charges for matching of the cluster, keys, installation of physical speedo etc.: I would assume at the least one hour labor, possibly more... based on book rate. Another $150 to $500 plus in labor? Things, could get very expensive quick!

5. Have your original cluster repaired and no need to do any coding or key matching. (Ship service/repair out) Repair complete!

Sent from AutoGuide.com Free App
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you for the replies. I was kind of upset about the cluster earlier and didn't want to find more to get pissed about, so I didn't proceed further. I'll start on electrical testing tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have determined that there is no power drain. I have determined that the battery should be replaced (probably from being repeatedly drained) but will still work and take a charge. The alternator is not charging the battery. What in this car other than the alternator just being bad will keep it from charging? I remember something from somewhere about the battery light on the cluster being bad or damaged and it was part of the system and wouldn't allow the alternator to work. I believe it was a BMW. Does anyone know if this applies to this car?
 

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If the wiring and fuse box seems ok; then did you have the alternator tested? :confused: I always prefer to have the whole system tested with the everything installed and the engine running, that way... you get a pass/fail on the everything in the system at once. I haven't heard of anything; related to the cluster and no charge issues (although, I suppose anything is possible)! As you are noticing; people seem to really rig the hell out of Volkswagens; whether its because they don't understand how to work on them or what.. IDK! :) I worked on a VW Jetta; that had so many jerry rigs everywhere, it was really incredible! You can fix this stuff; it will take time, we will do our best to help! Meanwhile, can you get your charging system tested somewhere or at least get the alternator tested? The wiring from the alternator to the battery: that wiring harness, has been known to have problems for some people (usually allot of resistance; which in turn melts the fuse box). Keep it simple; go step by step, eliminate each possible problem.

Here are free service manuals online; to help with testing and troubleshooting procedures:

http://workshop-manuals.com/volkswagen/
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Both the battery and alternator were tested by Autozone (out of the car). The alternator tested good and the battery barely passed. Fuse box over battery looks like it had been replaced at some point and is in good condition. Once the alternator is in the car, it's not charging.
 

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The charging circuit is simple: only the alternator, battery and cables between them. The voltage regulator is part of the alternator. If the alternator is good and the battery is not charging, then there is a problem with the cables somewhere. The alternator connects through the fuse panel on top of the battery (leftmost fuse) and then through the short cable from the fuse panel to the battery positive post. The problem could be the ground connection (negative battery terminal to engine block) as well. The ground connection is used for the starter motor too, so if you have a normal crank speed I would suspect the alternator to positive terminal connection.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Apparently not... The charging issue has been resolved. Broke down and went to a local VW shop. The guy agreed that the damage to the cluster can in fact keep the alternator from charging the battery. He said that the cluster in conjunction with the main computer acts as a "gatekeeper" to the alternator's ability to charge the battery. He gave me a few options and I decided to let him permanently disable the immobilizer and put in another cluster. Total cost $90.00. The battery is now charging but the battery light still does not work. We even tried another cluster with no luck. He assumes that when they damaged the cluster that something was damaged in the ECM or wiring. Oh well... I would have preferred having everything done properly and working perfectly but I can live with it this way. He taped over the immobilizer LED so I wouldn't have to watch it blink.

Thanks for the help and links. I saved them for future reference. Learned a lot about VW's.

I'll drive it some tomorrow to get the Readiness tests set. I expect the P0501 code to maybe re-appear. Thanks to the links provided above I'm confident I can handle that. Hopefully nothing more will pop up.

Thanks again.:)
 

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Hey, glad you got things FIXED! $90 and his ability to diagnose and fix the problem is awesome! Usually, you find places that are expensive and cannot fix things; a common combination! He sounds like he is sharp and very affordable, I would continue to use him, he sounds like a great VW tech! Were you able to transfer the odometer reading; from the old to the new/used speedo? There is definitely; something to be said for starting at a base level of getting the car "fixed" so you can actually drive the car, then you can work on other issues... as your time and funds permit! :) Remember, we are here to help; so let us know, if there are other issues you end up needing help with! :)

PS: this guy sounds like a great shop; care to share who he is? Maybe others in your area; would like to use his services.
 

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The guy agreed that the damage to the cluster can in fact keep the alternator from charging the battery. He said that the cluster in conjunction with the main computer acts as a "gatekeeper" to the alternator's ability to charge the battery.
Sounds like BS to me. There is nothing between the alternator and battery that allows for external control in any way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
@red99, See that harness on the regulator at the back of the alternator? Unplug it and see what happens. No need to call me a liar. You're more than welcome to stop by and I can prove it to you. Don't believe me? Call Forest City Volkswagen & Audi Repair 828-429-5743 169 East Trade St. Forest City, NC 28043. I'm sure they can explain it to you better than I can. I used all the advice I got here and it was very helpful. In the end all I could find was the damaged cluster. I didn't see how either but I had to try because it was going to need it anyway, and it paid off.

@billymade, He wasn't able to clone it or correct the miles. Disabling the immobilizer was all he could do with the dongle he had. Disabling the immobilizer allowed to the car to crank and run with the non-matching cluster. It even works with the fob key now. It used to crank and immediately die becuase it wasn't matched up to the car.
 

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Well, if you want to transfer the odometer reading from old to new cluster; there are options. You could ship it out and have the odometer reading swapped or use VCDS to input it, after having the odometer is set to zero (a speedo repair shop can do this). This requires a full version of VCDS and access to your secret key code (SKC); you can pull this, using another tool called Vag Tacho or have someone do it for you. You can get everything done by sending it to ian @ Reflect Tuning; probably easiest, most cost effective way to accomplish this. This may not be a priority or you may be happy just to have a car with incorrect odometer readings; typically, the DMV will make the title a "TMU" or total miles unknown... which can affect the value of the car. However, at this point; seeing how our cars aren't worth much anyway, it maybe doesn't matter. Just thought I would mention what your options are; if you wanted to correct the odometer readings.

Reflect Tuning :: Home
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks for that. Once I get everything ironed out I will probably do that. I wrote down everything so I can keep track of the miles. I really don't like the idea of having a mismatched odometer. The guy at the VW shop was using VCDS software but said his cable that connected to the OBD port wasn't capable of cloning.
 

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No need to call me a liar.
doug2060, I wasn't calling you a liar. I was saying the people you were dealing with may have been trying to sell you something or weren't explaining something well. But in this case I was wrong. The exciter wire for the alternator goes to the generator warning light on the instrument cluster. It needs to be shorted to ground to allow the alternator to begin operation. Once the alternator is generating a voltage the connection is no longer needed. If there is a bad connection or control module in the instrument cluster the alternator may not work. In this case you could just permanently short the exciter wire to ground and the alternator will work. The downside is there won't be a generator light, but then it wasn't working anyhow.

Here is a Wikipedia article about alternators that explains the exiter wire how alternators work:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternator_(automotive)
 
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