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There are so many articles about how to disable the daytime running lights on here, but I can't find any comprehensive article on how to fix them when they go bad. So, here one is :)

SPECS:
2000 New Beetle GLS (manufactured July 1999)
2.0l
5 speed manual

SYMPTOMS:
Daytime running lights do not activate when the hand brake is released. Regular low beams, high beams, side markers, and tail lights all work.

When the hand brake is set, the hand brake warning light activates on the dashboard. When the handbrake is released, the warning light goes away. When setting / releasing the hand brake, an audible "click" is heard from inside the dash / under the headlight activation knob (approximate location of relay 173).

One headlamp bulb is of indeterminate age, the other is only a couple of months old. Both DRLs stopped working at the same time, and without warning.

NOTES:
A lot of articles I've read report that pulling fuse 27 is a way to disable the DRLs - this is false (at least on early model year NBs). On every owner's New Beetle who was told in a forum (that I read) to pull fuse 27 to disable their DRLs, the owner reports that fuse slot 27 is already empty (as is mine). As another owner reported in one of the forums who was trying to FIX their DRLs, I placed a 10amp fuse in slot 27 just for testing purposes, and there was no change to the status of the DRL.

So, where do I start poking?
 

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It could be either the relay (the one marked 173 like you indicated) or the headlight switch. The power for the DRL comes through a set of contacts in the headlight switch. I'd lean toward the problem being the switch since they have a history of being unreliable and you say you hear the relay switching.

You could confirm this by checking for voltage at the contact for pin 2 of the relay. If the switch is good you will see 12 volts there when the ignition is switched on.
 
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