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Discussion Starter #1
hello all,
i am new to the forum, and having a problem with my girlfriend's 2004 VW new beetle.
i have a 1966 mustang that i have restored, so i have some car knowledge...but the interworkings of a classic mustang are VASTLY different from that of a new bug, as i am finding out. everything is covered in plastic and it's hard to see what's going on under there.

with that said, i can see the problem, but am unsure of the solution...and even more unsure about the cause.
she went to leave this morning, and her car wouldn't start. sounded like her battery had died. so i popped the hood, got ready to jump start the bug, and quickly realized that there was a problem with the fuse box on top of the battery. the black wire looked like it had blown in half, and it had melted much of the plastic on the fuse box itself.

this is not the first time this has happened. she had this same problem last year, when we were living in maui. then, it was under warrenty, and she took it to the dealership on maui (cutter of maui, which was the only authorized VW dealer on the island, and was by far the world's worst car dealership....they have since went out of business). but since it was under warrenty then, we took it there and they supposedly fixed it. the guy said this was a common problem, and that they replaced the fuse box. i asked him what else they did...like "why did this short out in the first place" and he just shrugged and said these things happened, and that it was a common problem. so i think replacing the fuse box was sort of like putting a band aid on the problem, instead of really fixing it. because now it has happened yet again. unfortunately the car is no longer under warrenty, we are in florida, and the said service station is out of business.
and volkswagen customer service is completely worthless.

anyway, can anyone help? i've seen similar problems on this message board. is it that there's a short in the wiring somewhere? in particular, the black wire? i can't even see where the thing goes with all this plastic.
i figure i have to replace the fuse box....and what else???
help!!
thanks
 

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wow! My '98 melted it around one of the green fuses, that end always looked perfect. I bought the replacement from 1stvwparts.com, it looks like you need at least the fuse box and the fuse for the black wire. BTW, until you replace it, I would disconnect the battery.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
alright, so i ordered a new fuse box, and i ordered a new black cable (which runs to the alternator). the parts came in, and finally yesterday i installed them. car was still dead, so i jumped it and it started fine. drove around the block a few times, seemed to be running okay so i came back home and parked it. when i went to leave about a half hour later it was dead.
so i thought maybe i didn't drive it around enough, give the battery a chance to properly charge up. so today i jumped it again, took it out on the highway, drove at about 60 mph for 20 miles or so. should have been enough time to charge somewhat. pulled back into the apartment and killed the engine. tried it again. nothing. windows still work. radio still works. alarm seems to work. but the trip odometer and clock immediately reset themselves to zero once i tried to start the car, and it's acting just as dead as it did earlier....

is there anything i'm missing? is there any sort of "safety" features or anything that would disable the car from getting a jump start?
i wouldn't think it would be the alternator, because i don't think the car would have run that far on an already (almost)dead battery.
help!!
 

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Bug me again!
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alternator?
 

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I've seen a thread on this very problem somewhere else. Problem is I don't remember where. It was either here or on TDIClub or VWVortex.

Looking through my bookmarks I found this thread on TDIClub. It's not the one I'm thinking of but it'll get you started. I'll keep looking.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
i was worried about the red wire too, but once i pulled it off and examined it, it looked fine. but the black wire was a real mess.

so, i called VW and they assured me there was no sort of safety feature, or anything else that should be keeping the car from starting.
so i figure it must be the battery. i called the VW dealership here again, and asked if they could test the battery. they said to bring the whole car in though, so they can charge me for a full diagnostic to look at it.
so i took it a sears automotive department, and they tested the battery and said it was low, but it wasn't necessarily bad. so they want me to bring the car in so they can test the system (at least they offered to test it for free, though)

i told him i didn't think it was the alternator, because the car ran fine for 20+ miles. and once the car is started it basically just runs off the alternator. he said that's true, but it's possible that the alternator is producing some current, just not enough...like enough to run the car but not enough to recharge the battery.

so i don't know. i'm about to take the car down there and have them test it. i hope it's not the alternator, because it looks like a real pain in the ass to get that thing out.
 

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if the car wouldn't start do to a dead battery before you replaced the fuse box, it is still not going to start because of a dead battery. You need to either charge the battery with a battery charger for awhile or run the car for longer than 20 miles, remember you are not recharging a battery that is at 12 volts, it is probably quite a bit less than that, so it is going to take awhile to get it back up to full charge.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
yeah, i guess the battery was the problem...or the final problem. as expected, the alternator tested fine and the battery was dead. i went ahead and replaced the battery...so far, so good.
 

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bummer

It sounds like you found your solution. I had an 04 that had a dead battery and the dealer told me (I had a guy at VW I actually trusted) that VW was trying to cut costs when they built that model and all 04s ended up with dead batteries at some point.
That car had 500 miles left on it's warranty when I traded it in for my fabulous 07 NB. I swear, smarter people made this car. I have 20k so far and the only problem I've had is the heater on the driver seat went out. LOVE heated seats! And my 17 inch wheels!!
 

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Fuse Box

When replacing the fuse box, can you just remove the red connection at the battery then swap out the cables or should you remove the negative and the positive cable before removing the fuse box ?
 

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VW's OEM batteries are crapola--I have seen and heard of some weird things happening because of those batteries. Sometimes they crap out overnight, sometimes they hang on and do some wacky stuff. I dunno why. Had I seen this thread earlier I would've recommended replacing the battery right along with the fusebox.
 

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When replacing the fuse box, can you just remove the red connection at the battery then swap out the cables or should you remove the negative and the positive cable before removing the fuse box ?
I believe we removed both (negative & positive) before replacing the fuse box on my '98. But it was in '04, so I'm not positive, my theory is better to be safe than sorry.
 

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Similiar issue with a question....

I am also ahving problems with the fuse box, does anyone know if the black wire in the picture in the main fuse block is suppose to be "+"? I tested with a test light and they are all "+" on my 99 Beetle.
 

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red wire next to the black one is shorting out

somewhat same problem, the red wire next to the black one on my bug blew the fuse, so i replaced it and now after about 3 months something is drawing the battery down (this is where i narrowed down what was draining the battery)do you know where the red wire goes or what i can do next to find the short.
 

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somewhat same problem, the red wire next to the black one on my bug blew the fuse, so i replaced it and now after about 3 months something is drawing the battery down (this is where i narrowed down what was draining the battery)do you know where the red wire goes or what i can do next to find the short.
I believe the Black wire goes to the alternator and it has been known to be a weak link. But you said you replaced the wire? Right? Or did you just replace the fuse?? That really doesn't solve your problem. You will need to change the entire wire with some better gauge wire or it will just keep on happening. Your battery draw could come from the bad cable as well.
 

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Ali's Dad
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Power distro panel melting

When i bought my 04 GLS a few weeks ago the power distribution panel was melted where the large red wire and the black wire connect. The PO had just bolted the two together and skipped the fuse. I bought a new panel and after just one day the whole thing was melted again. Earlier in this thread another 04 owner had the same issue and replaced the black wire which I believe he said was to the alternator. I have been searching online parts dealers and haven't found that wire. Is it a dealer only wire? And more importantly did it fix the real issue?
 

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Ali's Dad
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I ended up replacing the alternator wiring harness (52.00) at the dealer. And that did fix the problem - although from reading many threads I am sure it was only temporary. The real issue is the poor quality cable used. The solution is to replace the stock VW cable with a much better quality non-braided heavier gauge cable.
 
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