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Well, I was hoping my first thread would be a happy one, but it looks like that won't be the case. I just picked up my dream car (2004 New Beetle Convertible) a few days ago, and as I was heading out for my inspection sticker (waited until today, 8/1, so we could get that extra month), I saw the airbag light on. So frustrated! I had driven my husband to work in an attempt at saving gas, and when he got out, I put the car in neutral and fastened the rear seat belts, then the passenger belt. As I drove out of the parking lot, I saw the airbag light. I'm sure it wasn't on when I pulled in. I came back home, stopped the car, unfastened everything, and started it again....light is still on. Is there any chance this happened because I fastened all the belts with no passengers? If it's something like a seatbelt switch, can any local garage that works on VW's fix it, or will I need to bring it to a VW dealership? Actually, will I need to bring it to a dealership to diagnose what the code is and where the problem is?
Thanks in advance for any help! I knew I'd be inheriting some problems when I purchased this car, but I was hoping they wouldn't start this quickly!
 

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Highly suggest you purchase a VAG-405 for $42. It can read and clear Airbag codes, ABS codes, Engine and Transmission codes.

Likely you have a bad seat belt buckle assembly, these fail often in these cars. A very common cause of airbag lights. Parts are likely under $100 if you shop it around on ebay or via online dealers like VW Parts | Volkswagen Parts

If you cannot install the part, most local shops can install it then they can use your tool to clear the code or you can clear the code once the repair has been made.

Not sure about the 2004, but the 2003 had a recall on the front airbag crash sensor behind the bumper. This is a PITA to access and it is likely the 2004 may have had a recall as well. Some of these sensors go bad and will cause airbag codes and the light to come on as well.
 
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