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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All. I recently got my daughter her first car, a 2003 Beetle Cabrio, 5-speed. We have had it for about a month and have fixed a few little odds & ends. I have been on this Forum many times, and am super grateful to the members here for their wisdom and patience. Thank you!!

I really need some advice. I'm wondering about the 'big' items that we should be concerned with. And, what we should be doing (or checking on) first. As this is my first VW, I'm unaware of the known trouble spots. I drive a Cayenne and the Cayenne Forum peeps outlined the 3 absolutes that needed attention, which saved me mucho bucks and migraines.

Obviously, ours is far from new and may have already had the attention she needs. Is there some way to get a vehicle history report? There is a local VW dealer, but I'd rather not just throw them the keys and give 'em the green light to fix 'whatever'.

Thanks gang. Pictures to follow!!
 

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Momentai!!!
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Welcome to the Org! We're really glad that you've joined the family and bought her a Beetle! First off you did the right choice by picking out a 5 speed over an auto. The automatic trans are pretty buggy and like to leave people stranded.

First thing I can recommend is a timing belt and water pump change!!! If you don't know for sure that it's been done of course. All of us seasoned members on the Org recommend this.

2003 is the first year for the convertible Beetle and can have some issues with window regulators dropping out or top problems. I owned an 03 vert with over 100,000 miles and had absolutely no problems though! There's always an up side:D

If you bought the car from a dealer they can run you a Carfax for free. If you didn't I would just recommend either finding a friend that works for a dealer to get you one or to pay a one time fee and buy one yourself.

That's really all I have to share on it for the time being. I've owned every generation of Beetle that's been produced and I love them. The New Beetle is probably my favorite, even more that my 2012 Turbo. Maybe because my first car was a 2000 New Beetle though. If you have anymore questions or issues arise please don't hesitate to post. We'll help the best we can! Once again welcome to the Org family!

P.S.- I love that you drive a Cayenne. I'm a Touareg lover myself and have owned two and looking for my third now!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the quick reply. I've just ordered the timing belt kit (timing belt + water pump + serp belt + tensioner) off eBay. I'm gonna go ahead and get that knocked out, for sanity sake, as I'm at 138k now.

What are your feelings on tranny fluid change? I see lotsa chatter on the Forums about this. However, I suspect most of the probs are with the automatics, rather than the 5-speeds. Yes?

All of my windows, as well as the top, (currently) operate perfectly, so I suppose I'll just keep my fingers crossed.

Thanks again!!
 

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Momentai!!!
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You're correct! If that's the current mileage and you don't know if the tranny fluid has been changed I would do it. A good flush never hurt it. With it mileage it's at now you're main concern will be preventative maintenance. And it's sounds like you're off to a great start! After those two things I really wouldn't be to concerned. The 5 speeds are pretty bulletproof. The autos have a lot of trouble though.


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5/23/10 <3
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Technically on a manual, its called gear oil rather than transmission fluid, so that's probably why you don't see much info on it. Its still important to change, but not nearly as often. Every 100k is pretty common for a change for gear oil so it probably needs it. We run Redline MT90 in our cars. The biggest thing is that its a GL-4 fluid and 75w90.

What brands are in the ebay kit? Making sure you have good quality brands of products, and all the proper parts is important. Does it come with coolant? Motor mount bolts? Does the water pump have a metal or plastic impeller?
 

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5/23/10 <3
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Yes, you need the motor mount bolts. They are one-time use bolts that need to come out to do the job. You also need the proper coolant. Its also common to do the serpentine belt/tensioner at the same time. For not much more, you could have gotten a much more complete kit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
This kit does include the serp belt; just not in the pics. Also, it's my understanding that they can't/won't ship Coolant?? So, I'll pick up some motor mount bolts and proper coolant locally. That do it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Welp. I did the tranny fluid change. It took waaaay longer than I expected and probably was an unnecessary job, in hind-sight. I wasn't having any problems shifting and the fluid coming out looked great. Oh well! No problems with the fluids or plugs, but the skid plate was a disaster. The previous owner(s) had really done some work down there. The plate was bent and cracked, plus it has a fist-size hole in it; it has been drilled in several places and installed with sheet metal screws and lag bolts. (Most of which were different sizes, and stripped, and had to be drilled out or grinded off!!) Huge PITA. After doing my best to remedy that mess, I took her for a test drive. Shifted very smooth and now (at least) I have peace of mind.
 
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