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Discussion Starter #1
TLDR: Using cruise control randomly & suddenly makes the fuel level readout completely out of spec, sets the speedometer & tach to current setting as a baseline readout where "0" newly represents the numeric value *before* the error was induced.
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Hi all, apologies in advance if I'm repeating an old question since I searched the forum but couldn't find any threads about this topic. There were some related posts but nothing I could find with this same mix of problems.

Some other internet searching suggested the VSS, but after resetting the cluster the readouts are normal and the cluster functions normally so I'm certain it's neither of those, and some kind of error resulting from the cruise control module. The story...

My girlfriend has a 2000 2.0 GL Beetle, automatic transmission, with 84k miles on it. Cruise control speed holds steady, no bouncing around or shakiness to the needle.

Two days ago while driving at ~35 MPH with cruise control on, I tapped the brakes lightly due to a road hazard and continued on. Suddenly, the speedometer and tach (RPM) needles stuck in place. (Fuel gauge not visibly affected at this point).

Since the car was driving fine after I turned CC off, I brushed it off but she was worried about it so we pulled into a parking lot and consulted the manual to see which fuse would reset the instrument cluster. After about 10 minutes of the car being shut off and pulling & replacing every possible fuse (including all of the small ones not indicated in the manual), I turned the ignition to the On position without starting the car and the cluster went back to normal. I was able to verify that it had reset because the trip meter was back to 0.0 and it tracked subsequent distance correctly.

Yesterday while I was driving at 65 MPH, I engaged cruise control again. At some point after about 30 minutes of driving with no problems, I noticed that the fuel gauge was in the 6 o'clock position and slowing making its way clockwise. Since you're familiar with Beetles, you know right away that the fuel gauge only goes from about 10 to 2 o'clock and anything outside of that isn't in spec. We pulled over to get gas after 50 miles since we had no idea how much was actually in the tank. When I shut the engine off, the gauges all went to 0. I did the ol' fuse pulling trick again but it didn't work. (Subsequent research after getting home indicates that waiting 10-15 minutes was necessary; probably so the cluster capacitors could die down?). I filled it up with 5 gallons.

For a moment the fuel gauge read full, but it went right back to 6 o'clock. When we got on the highway again, the speedometer reported the needle position X MPH + 65 MPH, which was the speed at the time of the error. For example, it stayed at 0 until I got up to a fast speed, so if the speed limit were 65 on that section and I almost kept up with the fastest car going over 75 I could see that the speedo was reporting about 10 MPH. I verified this by timing the mile markers.

When we got home I found a couple of Youtube videos about replacing the cluster. We have had questions about it in the past, including a high-pitched squeal, so looked to it as the first problem. The video instructs to find the small fuse labeled 7.5 amps and pull the one at the bottom of that column. Another forum post suggests to wait 10 minutes. I went to the car after an hour, and immediately heard the gauge needles reset to 0 after replacing said fuse. We took it for a drive today and all is normal. No reason to believe that the VSS or cluster is faulty since the issue is 2 for 2 upon engaging the cruise control (she never uses it and it would have been 8 months since I last did).

Thanks for reading about this minor ordeal. If you've gone through a similar situation or have suggestions I would love to hear them.
 

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Well, to begin with; do you have a vw compatible scanner? Any codes from a vw scanner; could give you a clue as to what the problem is. As for the correlation; between the cruise control and the goofiness of the speedo cluster, it may or may not be the cruise control as the culprit. The combination of using both; may cause something in the speedo cluster to go into a failure mode. Finding which specific component; that is the problem, is the key to a successful repair vs. just observing the symptoms of the problem.

So far; you have said, errors are occurring in these areas of the speedo cluster:

1. odometer
2. speedometer
3. rpm's
4. fuel level
5. high pitched squeal

If you want to intelligently, diagnose the problem; a vw specific scan tool like the Ross Tech VCDS or a cheap $50 VAG 401 from amazon is required. These scan tools; can read vw specific codes, run output tests of the gauges and run internal diagnostic routines specific to the speedo cluster.

The other option is to throw parts at the problem and hope you find the culprit, which can get expensive. The speedo cluster can be rebuilt by BBA REMAN for $250 with a lifetime warranty (check eBay) and the signal lever/cruise control switch is about $60-$100 , depending if you want to go vw oem or aftermarket quality. Most of the time; even with specific trouble codes, you will need to replace or repair/rebuild parts to solve the issue but a process of elimination should help keep the repair costs as low as possible.

Based upon your anecdotal evidence and what speedo cluster problems, we have seen from other members on this site; I would say, your speedo is toast and needs rebuilt.

Let us know; what direction you want to go, fix it yourself or have a shop do it and we will go from there.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks so much for your advice, Billymade. I purchased a VAG401 and used it to investigate any fault codes. There were no fault codes from the instrument cluster. I did the needle diagnostic to test the actuation of the needles, and the needles moved but didn't return back to zero--which is in keeping with the pattern of the needles on the speedometer, tachometer, and fuel level not resetting to their proper values.

According to my tests with the VAG401, the odometer and speed sensor are working normally (even though the speedo cluster gives inaccurate readings).

I disconnected the battery and did the following:

I removed the driver side dash cover to do a visual inspection of the area containing the wiring and ECU. The area was full of lots of leaves and dirt and some decaying foam, so I vaccuumed out the area and removed any debris that might be coming into contact with the wiring. The wiring harness appears intact, and so does the ECU.

I then reconnected the battery and took the car for a test drive. The gauges behaved normally for about 4 miles, driving up to about 45mph, stopping, testing the cruise control, etc. Then I braked while on a slight downhill, and the speedometer needle started to vibrate around the 15mph mark and the tachometer started to vibrate and show an inaccurate reading. From that point in the test drive on, the speedometer and tachometer needles gave inaccurate readings, as if they had defined a higher value to be "zero." The gas gauge seemed to be reporting accurately.

I shut the car off and removed the instrument cluster, and the wiring harness connecting the cluster to the car looked to be intact. I took the cluster apart and inspected both sides of the circuit board. There were no visible signs of any damage anywhere on the board.

I reinstalled the cluster, and now none of the gauges work, and neither does the VAG-COM cluster test which specifically moves the needles. I was pretty careful to uninstall and re-install the needles, although it did take a lot of force.

Is there anything else I should test? Thanks so much.
 

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Well, it would seem now; your speedo isn't working at all. :mad: Kinda hard to test things at this point; seeing how the cluster is inoperable. Whether you reinstalled things incorrectly or the problem it was having has finally gone to a hard failure, is anyone's guess. Now, it is kinda of a moot point; you have a dead speedo cluster, that does not work and it needs repaired.

The least hassle and cost effective route; would be to ship out the cluster to someone like BBA REMAN; for a lifetime warranty rebuild/repair service.

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=ebay bba reman new beetle cluster rebuild service

The benefits of the repair; are that your odometer reading will remain intact and you will not have to spend more money to have someone, reprogram your immobilizer, transfer the odometer reading and reprogram/match the keys. The speedo clusters are failure prone to being with; so, if you got a used one, the possibility of it failing again are high (your are back to the original issue). The BBA REMAN rebuild service; comes with a lifetime warranty, so it is theoretically a one time purchase and you could send it back, if you have any problems in the future. They replace the commonly failure prone onboard components; so, it is improved after the rebuild compared to the original unit.

Ship it out to them; when you receive your repaired speedo back, install and you're done. Plug and play!

That is my opinion and we have had good feedback; from other members who shipped their speedo's out to them, as long as the cluster was repairable. Let us know; what you decide and how things go, moving forward.
 

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Let us know; what you decide, who you send it to and how the repair turns out. We need as much feedback as possible on this issue; as the speedo failures are going to just get worse, as time goes on. This type of info; hopefully, can help others in the future, who will end up like you with a dead speedo.
 
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