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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I recently took my 2003 New Beetle convertible (2.0L) to the shop for a 60k service, and they helpfully diagnosed my airbag light as caused by a faulty driver-side seatbelt buckle. They suggested that I could fix this on my own (nice!), but before I do that I have a few questions for you all:

* As it currently stands, would the airbag deploy in an accident? Or am I in for a world of pain if I get into an accident? (knock on wood)

* Assuming I can remove the seat (should be doable judging from the posts I've seen about it), is there any other difficulty in replacing this? For example, is there a risk of accidentally setting off the airbag (which would be an expensive mistake)?

* What's the cheapest option to diagnose and reset the airbag codes myself? I'd prefer not to buy a $200+ vag-com, if possible. Links appreciated.

Thanks for your help!

-Nick
 

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My NB had the same problem. I don't know if anyone actually knows if the airbag would deploy in an accident with the airbag light on, but I prefer to assume the worst. I ordered a new buckle from 1stvwparts.com and the tools needed from idparts.com. I guarantee you will not be able to find the special tool at any parts store. The husband of another NB owner replaced the buckle for me. He disconnected the battery to make sure we wouldn't have any problems with the airbag. The dealer cleared the code for me (no charge).
 

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When the airbag fault light is on, the system is disabled until it's repaired.
 

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Are you sure that a failed seat belt buckle is causing an air bag light? I recall getting recall notice on my 03 NBC for the airbag light and my light was on at the time. Failed sensor left front crash sensor. It's best to read the codes to find the faults.
 

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I guarantee you you might be able to find them locally - they are called Triple Square Bits - they are similar to a torx bit, but have 12 facets...like a square rotated 3 times.

Performance W1395 4-Piece Metric 12-Point Bit Triple Square Bit Set

I found a set like these for about $7 at O'Reily Auto Parts. Can't remember right off hand which size, but I could check if you want me to. Sure they aren't the highest quality in the world, but if you aren't going to be using them daily/professionally, then they will get the job done. I have used my set twice and haven't had any problems with slipping.

Anyway - I researched the seatbelt issue, I was actually getting a code via VAG COM when the light was on that pointed directly to the passenger side buckle. TDIClub or Vortex discussed this issue, or the code I threw and their concensus was that the Airbag system would still work with this particular fault.
Many folks suggested checking all of the wiring from the harness under the seat to the seatbelt for any breaks...many found that they had cuts or cracks in their wiring. Then some folks suggested contact cleaner in the buckle itself...as a last resort - $150 for a new assembly.

I happen to have my original set of seats - so I was able to change mine out and clear the code and all was well.

I used an Ebay cable and VAGCOM to clear my code. I think you have to have a licensed VAGCOM to clear the airbag codes though.
 

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Oh - and no spontaneous air bag deployment as a result of disconnecting the wiring harness from under the seat. People do this all the time, I do this all the time. The only caution I tell people is to not put your key in the ignition...because if the harness isn't plugged in it will throw the airbag code. But you already have that code, so that's not really an issue here.:p

I never disconnect the battery when I pull my seats either...never any any problems.
 

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You need to fill out your "User CP" - if we were able to see where you were located we might be able to tell you were you could find a member with access to a VAGCOM.

You can always check the following thread for members or other VW folks that might be able to scan your car and clear the codes for you.
http://newbeetle.org/forums/technical-how/533-vag-com-sharing-thread.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi all,

Thanks for all the replies!

There is indeed a recall for the front airbag sensor, but the shop told me that the airbag code specifically pointed at the seatbelt buckle.

Here's my plan:
* I dropped the car off at the official dealer to get the recall fixed - with a little luck they can clear the code and it won't come back.
* If not, I'll try calling VW and get them to cover it. I've read some threads that suggested that this might work, what with the safety liability.
* If not, I'll do a check for loose wires and try the contact cleaner solution.
* As a last resort, I'll replace the part. If it gets down to that, I'll be looking to borrow a vagcom from someone - I'm in SF, so hopefully there's another member somewhere in the Bay Area!

Cheers,

-Nick
 

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My NB had the same recall for the sensor but the buckle issue was seperate. I looked at AutoZone and O'Reilly's for the triple square and they looked at me like I had antenna growing out of my head. We even tried a similar tool but JoAnne's(yello_jellybean)husband didn't want to strip the bolt because it didn't fit quite right. You might check www.tdiclub.com for owners with VAG-COM.

Good luck.
 

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I picked up a 4-pack of triple-square bits at Autozone a few years ago. :confused: Guess your local one isn't with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Alright folks. The recall didn't fix the issue, and VW won't pay for it, so I guess the fix is on me.

A few questions about removing the seat:
* How much time do you think this would take? How hard is it for a repair-novice?
* Should I disconnect the battery, or is setting off the airbags not a concern?
* Anyone know the exact size of triple-square bit I need for a 2003 NB?
* Can someone confirm that a vag-com can be used to clear the airbag light?
* Anyone in the SF Bay Area have a vag-com I could borrow?

Thanks again for your help,

-Nick
 

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I think many of your questions have already been answered. Some people have disconnected the battery, some haven't. Your call. The VAG-COM will clear the light - I said that in my previous post. The scanner at a parts store will not. If you search "triple square" you should find more info. I'll see if I can find it.

edit - I couldn't find the thread I was looking for when I had this same problem. Aaron aka Growler helped me alot. Send him a PM.
 

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I think it is the M12, I went to check it out when I was cleaning up the garage this weekend and noticed that the M12 isn't back in the set, so that must have been the one I used - straightening up tools is my next task :p

If it isn't the M12 it's the M10. If you pick up a cheap 4 pack like the one I posted the link for, you'll be set.

Might take a couple hours if you have never pulled the seat before...for me, prob 30 minutes. Seat is only a couple nuts in the front and taking the plastic covers off the back slides (philips screw).

VAGCom - check the links within the VAGCOm sharing thread...there are folks through the TDI club as well that are willing to help out a fellow dubber.
 

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thanks

You guys are so helpful! I just bought my bug YESTERDAY and the airbag light is on. Luckily, the place I bought it from said they would fix it...along with the right back tail-light being out. We tried to replace the bulb and the brake light and signal work...just not the light that comes on when headlights are on. SO....hopefully they'll fix this stuff. I love this bug...it's just SO me.
I'm happy to be on this forum, you guys are awesome!!!
Bug cheers,
Kimmie
 

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Airbag System Light

Thank you for all the info in this thread. My light been on for weeks. I checked the driverside buckle this morning, right below the buckle there are some wires, bend the buckle around you will noticed some wires. There are four wires and I noticed that two were clipped, not sure how. I hope this is why the airbag light turned on. I will be heading to the dealership today, buy a new buckle, make sure all the wires on the new one are connected, replace the damaged buckle and clear the code and hope it does not turn on again :confused:... I will let you guys know if this worked. Wish me luck!!!
 

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I think it is the M12, I went to check it out when I was cleaning up the garage this weekend and noticed that the M12 isn't back in the set, so that must have been the one I used - straightening up tools is my next task :p

If it isn't the M12 it's the M10. If you pick up a cheap 4 pack like the one I posted the link for, you'll be set.

Might take a couple hours if you have never pulled the seat before...for me, prob 30 minutes. Seat is only a couple nuts in the front and taking the plastic covers off the back slides (philips screw).

VAGCom - check the links within the VAGCOm sharing thread...there are folks through the TDI club as well that are willing to help out a fellow dubber.
You now I swap seats so often, I don't put the plastic covers back on the rails anymore. I really forgot about that part! LOL!
 

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Same problem among many others...

Yes, I know this problem too well....and lo and behold, the little computer said the same thing about mine. Here is the deal; according the vw mechanic it is "HIGHLY UNLIKELY" that the airbag will deploy while driving....however, it also means the airbag will NOT deploy if you are in an accident. I am currently in a large dispute with VW corporation on this along with 3 pages of problems with my beetle which has 44,000 miles and is 5.5 years old. Don't you love paying $150 for labor for a part that will cost maybe $50 bucks...and be prepared, most of the problems that need fixing are almost impossible unless done by VW themselves. Dont EVEN get me started......frustration is way too mild a word to describe the huge amount of problems I have had, I could probably answer half the questions on this thread! :mad:
 
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