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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all and thanks in advance for any help! I am looking to purchase a manual transmission Beetle for my daughter's first car. TDI isn't a consideration because of Colorado emissions issues. I'll be looking at the 2000 to 2004 Model Years with 80,000 to 120,000 miles range due to budget constraints. I'm OK with the gas NA or Turbo engines. I've owned a few 80's VW's over the years (a GTI and a couple of Sciroccos) , but never one of these. Are there any specific things I should be on the lookout for? Electrical stuff, rust areas, known engine/transmission deficiencies, etc.
 

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With the mileage range you're shopping in, you want to know the age of the timing belt and water pump, critical! I believe they should be replaced every 80k. Check the HVAC controls to make certain the blend door isn't already toast. You should get all heat or all AC when the temp knob turned and check blower positions. I really wish I had know this one because the blend door fix is extensive!

Those two things probably require the biggest jobs, aside from engine/trans problems.

Also don't overlook taking it to a repair shop that specializes in VW's. They'll surely have VCDS and be able to scan the car and check for all module codes not just generic OBD-II. Happy shopping!
 

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The biggest thing to look for in those particular years is a 5 spd manual transmission, the 99-03 model years have the automatic 01m which is a very weak piece of junk. The 04-05’s have the 09a I think it’s called, somewhat better but if you check Craigslist you’ll see vw’s for sale real cheap with descriptions that say, “needs solenoids, needs transmission work, hard shifting,etc.

Teach your daughter to drive a stick and her friends won’t be able to borrow her car to wreck or otherwise get in trouble with it. The 5spd is more or less bullet proof.
 

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Are the rumors of the melted fuse-boxes greatly exaggerated?
No they are not. HV fuse boxes do cause issues. They are more or less easy and cheap to fix comparatively.

And as Jarhead stated, go with the 5spd manual. I think you mentioned that in the op.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The biggest thing to look for in those particular years is a 5 spd manual transmission, the 99-03 model years have the automatic 01m which is a very weak piece of junk. The 04-05’s have the 09a I think it’s called, somewhat better but if you check Craigslist you’ll see vw’s for sale real cheap with descriptions that say, “needs solenoids, needs transmission work, hard shifting,etc.

Teach your daughter to drive a stick and her friends won’t be able to borrow her car to wreck or otherwise get in trouble with it. The 5spd is more or less bullet proof.
A manual transmission is the only requirement I've had for our kids cars. We don't own automatics, which is a rule that is getting trickier to live by. The wife wants them to have some electronic safety features, like airbags and ABS. I'm less concerned about those things...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
No they are not. HV fuse boxes do cause issues. They are more or less easy and cheap to fix comparatively.

And as Jarhead stated, go with the 5spd manual. I think you mentioned that in the op.
The melting fuse box issue has me a little worried. As I am digging through the forums and history of these cars i keep seeing it pop up. Is it easy to see if this issue has happened to a car already? What would I look for? Is Bassman12's fix the accepted way of ending this issue?

https://www.newbeetle.org/forums/1-8-liter-turbo/136562-melted-fusebox-findings-fix.html
 

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If it's replaced properly you probably won't know by visual inspection. If if needs it and it hasn't been done you'll have AC, cooling fan and other intermittent issues...sometimes. If you're familiar with how to use a multimeter there are some good youtube vids on checking voltage drop from alternator to fuse box. That's a great indicator that corrosion is getting too much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Looking at a 2 owner 05 GLS 2.0 manual convertible w/ 80k at a dealership. Got to see it the day it was was traded in, so no detailers had a chance to hide the flaws (of course there are plenty of minor ones)! They have the Carfax and blah, (I don't weight that very heavily), but at least "shows' no accidents. There is a long list of things being done to it which I will need to verify with an independent mechanic. I checked the engine area for leaks and CVs. All the electric gizmos work. Undercarriage is in good shape with no road rash or obvious hits (looked at one on Wed. that may have been used on Dukes of Hazzard!). Took it for a long ride and it drives and stops solid with no weird noises. Once I check their work I'll probably buy it.

I'm a little worried about maintaining a convertible top. All the cables look good as does the interior headliner and "loops". There is a broken plastic "guide" on the driver side above the rear window that doesn't look critical, but..? The exterior is faded and has two small tears which I'll need to figure out how to patch. Goes up and down smoothly and the handle works well. It looks to me from the fade patterns and wear that it was in the down position a lot. Advice please? Am I stupid for thinking about a drop top?
 

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Drive line wise, could be awesome. My 2.0 MT is rock solid. As far as NBCs I know very little. You can search for convertible threads and see what problems others have had.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Got the car (manual 2005 2.0 liter with a drop top) and have had it for just about a month. It runs great. Engine pulls strong and we had the kid buy her own car cover for it to protect the somewhat worn convertible top. The only issue I've uncovered is an intermittent tail light/signal lamp. It occasionally goes out and comes back on as it sees fit. Any ideas would be appreciated. I already tried swapping bulbs. Thanks for all the advice during the search!
 

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You might replace the bulb sockets; the bulbs get hot, the plastic sockets get loose and the connections become intermittant. I had to replace a number of different sockets over the years (especially the rear tail lights); as the sockets got warped from heat, show heat damage and the bulbs stopped working as they should, the connection was on/off intermittantly, the contact points on the bulbs were deformed from heat as well but would come back on if i rapped the lamp lens with my knuckle or slapped it with my hand. I went with genuine vw parts and found good prices on ebay; suppliers being vw dealers the sell parts online like "quirk parts", amoung many others. Stick with new parts and not used; as the used ones are probably deteriorated by heat as well. Dorman makes aftermarket versions but reviews online; indicate the quality is low and they are failure prone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I read on the forum that it could be dirty, deformed contacts, so i cleaned them and straightened out the contact points. All seemed OK for about a week and a half. Now they are back to their silly games. I'll give the bulb sockets a go next. Thanks! Also read that the signal relay can have an effect?
 

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These are both great ideas! I’ve done both on my Beetle. With me I’ve had the most trouble with the front turn signal/parking lights.
 

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I just replaced another bulb and socket today; the contact and bulb had black carbon tracks from arcing, bad/loose connection. New bulb and socket fixed it; i used a new genuine vw socket as a replacement and a new phillips bulb.
 

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I just replaced another bulb and socket today; the contact and bulb had black carbon tracks from arcing, bad/loose connection. New bulb and socket fixed it; i used a new genuine vw socket as a replacement and a new phillips bulb.
This is the key here! Surprisingly they aren’t too expensive from VW. I got mine for like $25!

http://https://parts.vw.com/a/Volkswagen_2005_Beetle-Convertible-GLS-20L-MT/_56655_6015003/REAR-LAMPS-TAIL-LAMPS-2003-05-Convertible/9211480.html
 
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