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Okay so I just bought this awesome used '03 Bug and 3 days later the CEL light illuminates as I pull in the driveway. I sure hope that the PO didn't just clear the code and sell me a messed up car with 137k miles. I have no maintenance history on the vehicle so I am sort of blind right now.

Still no doubt it seems like it is going to be a fun car. The local auto parts store pulled up the dreaded P0420 code as I have researched here on the forum and it seems to be a problematic code for most all VWs. Not panicking just yet but I did purchase the vag405 last night and now think I should have bought the Launch CReaderVI instead to read real time data for deeper info like the soft thermostat and such other items. Any thoughts on the two readers? I did purchase the Beetle with the an airbag light on as well and want to be able to clear that code when the problem is found so I am unsure if the Launch CReaderVI will do so as the vag405 states that it does.

As far as the CEL, I washed and cleaned off the motor and added about 16 ozs of water to the over flow tank because I didn't have the proper G12 fluid available and also did not want to mix with other antifreeze fluids that I had. The oil level is in between the markers on the dipstick, but needs to be changed this weekend with the 5/40 Castrol I already purchased. I topped of the tank with 87 octane (maybe a mistake?) and added 3 oz of Lucas fuel treatment to it. I drove it about 42 miles after and the light came on. Does it need higher octane with the turbo?

Also, is it normal for the blue temp light to illuminate at startup even with the high temps here in Texas right now? I understand the light and warm the motor up before driving regular. I let the motor idle for about 3 minutes and drive easy for the first mile for the blue temp light to go off. Is this normal? This is also why I wonder about a possible soft thermostat causing the CEL.

The VIN on VW has no recalls so I "guess" the ECM was updated at some time prior to my ownership?

Also with that many miles it has been suggested to the the tb and wp but also now plugs, wires, O2 sensors, etc... Although these are all needed I want to do them as importance so I am not breaking the bank at once. I do want to purchase the right OBD reader to help diag the problems.

Thanks for your help!

Jason
 

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My car

It almost sounds like you're discribing my car.........oops no wait I haven't put mine up for sale yet..LOL :p Mine had those exact same two cel lights codes at one time or another in the past 3-4 years.
Yes, the blue light is normal at startup.
The airbag light? mine wind up being the driver seatbelt latch.there is a thread around here on how to troubleshoot both seatbelts with a digital meter. do a search.
The P0420 code?............Good luck and welcome to the P0420-club..LOL :D It could be a number of things in the emissions system causing that. check all components related to the emissions system, check your spark plugs for oil,check your sai pump or cambi valve for leaks, change to 93 octane gas, could be your thermostat too. Good luck to ya fella and hope you like working on cars and doing your own repairs, buy lots of tools cause you gonna need them...LOL :D

Don't put normal tap water in your coolant system, only distilled water
Do change the timing belt and water pump if you plan on keeping this car.
 

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When you get the code reader; post the trouble codes and then we can help. Meanwhile, you can check out the ross tech wiki; good info and trouble code info:

Ross-Tech Wiki

If you get into repairing your VW in a in depth way (coding, live data, testing modules etc.); you might considor buying VCDS, pretty much the industry standard for diagnostics on modern VW's. It is essentially a copy of the VW factory scan tool. It includes the software (download) and cable to plug into the obd II port; it requires the use of a pc to run the product.

Ross-Tech: Home
 

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Jason,

Do not worry about the purchase of the VAG405, this is the best tool to start with, just no real time data, but will read and clear airbag, ABS and other specific modules.

Airbag light could be a bad front crash sensor, there was a recall on this for some of the 2003 cars. Also likely the drivers seat belt bucket assembly, this is a COMMON problem.

As for your temp light, will come on solid blue even with warm temps, should stay on for about 1 mile then go off.

I assume you have read a number of my threads here already based upon your comments on the CReaderVI? FYI, the CReaderVI will not read or clear airbag codes, but will will read Emission Readiness Monitor statues, real time engine data, transmission codes and can graph on the tool.

If you have an Android phone Torque Pro for $5 and a $15 OBD to bluetooth adapter will also work well for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It almost sounds like you're discribing my car.........oops no wait I haven't put mine up for sale yet..LOL :p Mine had those exact same two cel lights codes at one time or another in the past 3-4 years.
Yes, the blue light is normal at startup.
The airbag light? mine wind up being the driver seatbelt latch.there is a thread around here on how to troubleshoot both seatbelts with a digital meter. do a search.
The P0420 code?............Good luck and welcome to the P0420-club..LOL :D It could be a number of things in the emissions system causing that. check all components related to the emissions system, check your spark plugs for oil,check your sai pump or cambi valve for leaks, change to 93 octane gas, could be your thermostat too. Good luck to ya fella and hope you like working on cars and doing your own repairs, buy lots of tools cause you gonna need them...LOL :D


Don't put normal tap water in your coolant system, only distilled water
Do change the timing belt and water pump if you plan on keeping this car.

HaHa! Yes I have lurked long enough in the past few days to see the same problems with 'ol Blue up in the corner. I only added regular water as it was a small quantity and I ordered new hoses and the correct G12 fluid to have fresh coolant in her soon.
I will run this tank of beetle juice out and opt for the 93 octane next. I know I need the manual but where is the sai pump located, I have read about this splitting at the seams and what is a cambi valve?

Any recommendations on a good code reader that doesn't cost the same as my monthly house payment?
 

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For your '03, you can get the $249 VCDS program. We have the $349 one, but it just works for newer cars. We used the other version before. I wouldn't own a VW (well, one with OBDII at least), without having one at least at my disposal, if not own one myself.
 

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VCDS is about $250 for a compatible setup for your beetle (VCDS License with KII-USB Interface) or $350 for a CAN bus cable that can work with your beetle (plus), the later VW's (VCDS License with HEX-USB+CAN Interface); if you see yourself scanning other more modern VW cars. Most of the live data based scanners are going to be close to the $250 range; that the VCDS License with KII-USB Interface costs and they won't be able to do everything that VCDS can do. It may sound expensive at first but it will pay for itself the first time you use it (do your own repairs); one service visit at a dealer or even independent import shop can be very expensive.

Ross-Tech Store: VCDS
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Jason,

Do not worry about the purchase of the VAG405, this is the best tool to start with, just no real time data, but will read and clear airbag, ABS and other specific modules.

Airbag light could be a bad front crash sensor, there was a recall on this for some of the 2003 cars. Also likely the drivers seat belt bucket assembly, this is a COMMON problem.

As for your temp light, will come on solid blue even with warm temps, should stay on for about 1 mile then go off.

I assume you have read a number of my threads here already based upon your comments on the CReaderVI? FYI, the CReaderVI will not read or clear airbag codes, but will will read Emission Readiness Monitor statues, real time engine data, transmission codes and can graph on the tool.

If you have an Android phone Torque Pro for $5 and a $15 OBD to bluetooth adapter will also work well for you.
Yes and I want to thank you for that thread of info! I was just hoping for one stand alone type reader without breaking the bank. With the blue temp light I was putting that together with the soft thermostat that was mentioned but now I see it is normal. I do realize I bought used and I am not afraid to work on it but this car is for my daughter and I just want it to be dependable. Kind of a slap in the face when the CEL popped up 3 days later, I want to fix it right without wasting resources. It very well could just be the low octane fuel and Lucas treatment but it just makes one wonder about the truth behind the sell :( It will be fixed no matter what and we will move on, still happy Bug owners :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
VCDS is about $250 for a compatible setup for your beetle (VCDS License with KII-USB Interface) or $350 for a CAN bus cable that can work with your beetle (plus), the later VW's (VCDS License with HEX-USB+CAN Interface); if you see yourself scanning other more modern VW cars. Most of the live data based scanners are going to be close to the $250 range; that the VCDS License with KII-USB Interface costs and they won't be able to do everything that VCDS can do. It may sound expensive at first but it will pay for itself the first time you use it (do your own repairs); one service visit at a dealer or even independent import shop can be very expensive.

Ross-Tech Store: VCDS
I will look deeper into this. I seen one that was $1200 and thought no way. I have always done my own repairs on vehicles and this one will just be a learning curve. Gotta order the manual and look at this $250 VCDS you speak of.
Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
For your '03, you can get the $249 VCDS program. We have the $349 one, but it just works for newer cars. We used the other version before. I wouldn't own a VW (well, one with OBDII at least), without having one at least at my disposal, if not own one myself.
$249 is reasonable, I think I will order one in the near future. Thanks for the info.
 
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