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Ignition Switch replacement DIY

63093 Views 26 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  countypays
Hi guys, I'm a long-time poster on these forums but my last how-to on installing an iPod dock was archived so I'm showing up in the forums as a new user. Anyway, my beetle is now long in the tooth and has run into the dreaded ignition switch short.

Symptoms are as follows.
Unresponsive non-essential column stalk controls such as signals, cruise control, and washer. Though high beam still works.
AC, Fan out but Hazard, radio, and ASR switch work fine (didn't check heated seats). Everything else works fine.

In my case, the battery top fuses and wiring were in perfect order so I'm now going to need to check under the dash. As this is a bit of a do, I'm thinking of posting my process as this seems to be a regular issue with new beetles of this generation. I've poured through the forums and found a Jetta/Golf-based tutorial but not beetle specific found here.

p.s. Mod, if I've placed this tutorial in the wrong category, please move me, but since I have a 1.8t this is where I posted.
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Ignition Switch wire inspection

All fuses looked fine (input on this found here)

Now check for telltale signs of insulation melting near the ignition switch harness.

First of all. Note a couple of things...
1. Prolonged battery detachment will result in some electronic fuel system data loss requiring recalibration via VAG-COM computer by your local VW mechanic.
2. Although you will need power/engine to turn the steering wheel for some disassembling, please detach the battery before touching any wiring. Afterward, do not reconnect the battery with someone at the wheel just in case. No liability shall be assumed by myself nor newbeetle.org or associated blah blah blah.
3. Note your radio's security pin/code in case this takes longer than expected.
I'd like to thank Bentley Publishing's products for giving me a better sense of what I was getting into as well as many blog postings.

So here goes.
You'll need to remove the lower column trim to get access to the ignition switch just to inspect the wiring. This is how I went forward.

You will need:
Torx T20 screwdriver
4-5 inches narrow shaft Philips screwdriver
1/8" wide slotted (straight) screwdriver
Normal-sized slotted screwdriver

You will be removing most of the screws in this Bentley manual illustration starting with the height/length adjustment handle's two T20 screws labeled 1.

Then remove two deeply recessed Philips screws at the bottom on either side of the steering column trim. This will detach the upper column trim labeled 3, as well as a large T20 stubby screw, labelled 2.

A shot of my Beetle with screws removed and column adjuster released. Note the "L" shaped hole, this allows the column adjuster lever to slide out once the rubber handle has been detached. #1

Turn on your Beetle and turn your steering wheel right to access the left deeply recessed screw-arrows. Then turn the wheel left to access the right deeply recessed screw.
Note: You will need to try to pull the screws out enough then just unscrewing as they protrude enough to hang the lower trim in place. The right side screw is particularly pesky.

You won't be needing power for the remainder of the inspection, so go ahead and detach your battery before proceeding to tinker.
Open your hood (hood release is driver's side footwell's left side wall) and unclip the fuse holder from the battery to expose your terminals by unlocking the plastic clips - arrow.

Detach the positive terminal from your battery. Most terminal clamps have an accessory nut and terminal nut, choose the terminal nut. It is the side without dongles attached and is usually unpainted.

Honestly, this is an optional step as I was careful and wore gloves, and had no issues. But if you're not patient or dexterous. Yes, please detach your battery.

Now, I haven't removed the lower trim just yet because I didn't want to accidentally jostle any wires with the battery providing power to airbags. Hopefully, you didn't get ambitious and yank the lower trim yet. God (or spaghetti monster) be with you if so.

Being relatively safe from explosions (if you detached the battery), guide the column lower trim's "L" shaped hole past the unsheathed column adjustment lever. The piece should slide right out now.

...and there it is. A fried wire cover. Go on, take a whiff. If your controls died recently, it should still smell of melted plastic, more specifically, cheap 2nd rate VW cost-cutting insulation. Grrr! @#@!#$

Here is the ignition switch socket detached. You can see the Red positive (30) line has completely melted its retaining shroud. I'll have to get more parts later. But for this DIY write-up. Lets put it back together and test the new switch.

To remove the Ignition Switch, you'll first need to scrape off the resin cover (orange goo) over the retaining screws (circles). Underneath you'll find relatively small straight-edge head screws, rotate them out until the switch can be pulled out without manly force. It is advised to not completely unscrew because they may be really hard to put back, or get lost, and it is just unnecessary as these just pinch the switch's holding tabs in place.

Before inserting your brand new VW OEM ignition switch (Approx $60 USD shipped from Auburn VW, try to ignore the stupid talking head) you need to note the position of the original burned-out one and turn your new switch with a larger flat head screwdriver to the same. Like below (the image is the old unit).

Pop her in, screw it all back together and you're done! Everything is back to proper function, no more melting wires (cross-fingers).

On a side note, the wire that is melting is to the headlamps. I've read in another post that the wire melting and switch failure may be due to a long-term smoldering of the line rather than a sudden thing. I'm of the opinion it was a sudden burning smell then the next day failure seemed to suggest otherwise. But, maybe the Day-Time Running kill-mod could help our switches last longer? Well, we'll leave that for another day.

Hope this helps!
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Sorry to hear.

Sorry to hear you guys are still having trouble with this switch. My guess is that this part is an unintentional canary in the coal mine for failing wire looms. Maybe since my plastics are literally starting to disintegrate, the wire insulation throughout the car is also in poor shape causing random shorts. Rewiring the bug seems impossibly expensive either DIY and most definitely by mechanic. My fix is going on 11 months now so it seems the fix is YMMV. :(
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