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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, our '03 1.8T GLS, passed down from my wife, to daughter 1, to daughter 2, and now my beater, is having a strange problem.

After spending 4 hours cleaning out the car (I have absolutely FAILED as a parent in teaching our girls how to properly care for a vehicle), I jumped in it this morning to drive to the airport for a business trip.

Turning the headlights on (because it was dark out!) I noticed the high beam indicator was on. Funny, because the multi-function stalk was not in the normal position. Pushing the stalk forward or pulling it back had no effect.

Switching the lights off, and both DRLs were working fine, so low beams are OK as well. Just no high beams, but the blaring blue high beam indicator on the instrument panel was blazing away full-time.

Anyone seen something like this? Searching through the interweb has come up with a couple of possibilities:

1) blown high beam bulbs (but why would the indicator lamp be lit? to indicate the bulbs(s) are bad?);

2) bad multi-function switch/stalk (only $72 on Rock Auto...)

I'm leaning towards #2....but any insight would be appreciated.

FWIW, 12 years going, NEVER had to change ONE exterior bulb on the car!!

Many thanks!
Gil
 

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I have seen the high beams burn out; it is common. You could test the bulbs and if they are ok; then see if the plug is getting power in the high beam mode with a circuit tester. I would also; make sure you have the correct bulbs installed, goofier things have happened. As you noted; the stalks fail but I would test/check the bulbs first.

Headlight Bulb High Beam: part # H1

The wiring have been known to fail and bad connections, can burn out bulbs faster too.

Cleaning them with some contact cleaner and using dielectric grease is supposed to help. Both of these are available at most auto parts stores:

CRC 5103 Quick Dry Electronic Cleaner - 11 Wt Oz.

https://www.google.com/search?q=CRC...rome..69i57&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=91&ie=UTF-8

Permatex 22058 Dielectric Tune-Up Grease, 3 oz. Tube

https://www.google.com/search?q=Per...rome..69i57&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=91&ie=UTF-8

The headlight harnesses; have also, been known to crack and melt. These guys sell the stock and upgraded harnesses; the upgraded version is cheaper than the stock, failure prone version.

http://www.fixmyvw.com/upgraded-wiring-vw-beetle-headlight-harness/
 

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Yeah, that is odd; until you test the bulbs and check for power with a circuit tester, you won't know what going on. If the bulbs are good; there is no power at the plug and fuses are good, it would seem to point to the stalk. I have had the high beams not work before; in those cases, it was the bulbs were bad. Hopefully, that is the situation with your car; cleaning the plugs and using dielectric grease, hopefully will help them last longer.
 

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Pretty simple, replace both headlight bulbs. The low beam filaments are burned out and when this happens the high beams default to on if they are ever used, which they will be when there are no lights. The way the circuit is designed the Hi/Lo relay will stick/hang when the low beam filaments are burned out and the high beams are enabled.

BTW, the low beam filaments burn out in about 18-24 months in these cars because the DRL brightness is too high and close to normal bulb intensity. Quite common on these cars that one low beam filament burns out, driver never notices and drives around until the other bulb burns out. Then the next action it to hit the high beams when someone realizes there are no lights, once this is done, the high beams latch on.

Just replace both bulbs and you should be fine.

ALWAYS replace headlight bulbs in PAIRS! I have no idea why they sell them individually. When one burns out, the other will not be far behind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Pretty simple, replace both headlight bulbs. The low beam filaments are burned out and when this happens the high beams default to on if they are ever used, which they will be when there are no lights. The way the circuit is designed the Hi/Lo relay will stick/hang when the low beam filaments are burned out and the high beams are enabled.

BTW, the low beam filaments burn out in about 18-24 months in these cars because the DRL brightness is too high and close to normal bulb intensity. Quite common on these cars that one low beam filament burns out, driver never notices and drives around until the other bulb burns out. Then the next action it to hit the high beams when someone realizes there are no lights, once this is done, the high beams latch on.

Just replace both bulbs and you should be fine.

ALWAYS replace headlight bulbs in PAIRS! I have no idea why they sell them individually. When one burns out, the other will not be far behind.
Got back in the car this evening, and checked a few things out. as I mentioned initially, the DRLs and low beams are working fine. Turn the headlight switch to ON, and the low beams increase in brightness like normal, but the high beam indicator comes on, and stays on, with no ability to control them with the stalk.

What I also noticed, is that the fog lights are not working either.

I'm wondering if it's the switch.

Will play with it some more this weekend....
 

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Fog lights turn off on high beam.

Have you pulled at least one headlight and inspected the bulb and wiring.

You may also have wiring problems inside the headlight assembly, the wiring insulation would get hard and crack and could short.

Best to perform a simple visual inspection.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It was the driver's side high beam bulb that was doing bad. Replaced all four bulbs, problem solved!

Cans were pretty clean, but sprayed the connectors with WD-40 and applied dielectric grease before reassembling.

Many thanks to all for the help!
 

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Dielectric grease is actually an insulator. Not a wise idea to use unless you have an issue where moisture may end up getting into the bulb socket.

So I do not recommend dielectric grease or any form of grease unless there is a moisture concern.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Dielectric grease only on the three-conductor connector attached to the outside of the headlight ass'y, which is subject to moisture. I would NEVER put anything on the bulb connectors themselves - they get too hot for that.

As I said, the interior of the headlight housings were surprisingly clean for a 13 year old car from Pittsburgh. Only 70k miles on it, though.

Next task, airbag warning....I'll start a new thread....

Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have the RossTech VAG tool. I need to scan and get the codes again. Passenger side airbag igniter, and driver seat belt latch, if I remember.

recently pulled the seats out to check the connectors and wiring, and all looked good. I heard that the connectors corrode, or wires get pinched, I saw none of that.

More investigation to come...Inspection in November, so I have a little time...car is barely driven at the moment...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hopped in the car last night, not having driven it since the last post on this subject, and the problem re-occurred. I'm like, WTF?

Pulled the lamp assy's out again, and found that both ground wires where they attach to the high beam cup were burned pretty badly.

A few terminal connectors, some new wire, and ALL BETTER now.

I'll be replacing the headlamp assy's soon. I guess it's time, even though the repair is fine, I've always hated the piss=poor quality of the lights on this car.
 
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