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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings.
I go back with Volkswagen to the sixties. I looked around at what people I knew were driving and I liked the VW because of its simplicity and apparent reliability.
Everyone with domestic cars were always complaining. Those who drove a Bug were joyous.
We were becoming a Volkswagen family; my brother, sister, aunts, uncle, cousin, as well as our next-door neighbor.
There was a family down the street who had a yard full of them, always tinkering. The few times I talked with them, they seemed really happy to own and work on them.

I spent nearly forty years as a VW tech, owning several shops, getting involved in Porsche cars, as well. I now work at a high dollar 356/early 911/904/906 restoration shop.

I've been driving a 1992 Jetta five-speed for the past eight years: worst car I've ever owned, except for that horrible '55 Buick.:mad:
I'm surprised I've held onto it for so long. Stubborn, I guess.
It's a shame, because it came after the best car I ever owned; a 1987 Jetta five-speed. I'd still be driving it if I hadn't been run off the road and totaled it. As well as the many Bugs and Buses served me, that Jetta was outstanding. 283,000 miles, driven for 8 1/2 years by the wife, another 8 by me, it never let us down. The one time it suffered a flat was while it was sitting in front of the house.
It was still nearly all original and utterly reliable.

So, I've become fed up with having to constantly fix things on the '92. It's lived its life and it's time for it to go away. The bottom is rusted too badly to consider fixing it.
It's been a quirky, temperamental, loud pain in the butt. I'll celebrate the day it leaves, after I've pulled some of the parts to save for a '91 that I'm restoring/customizing.

I started looking through Cragslist and eBay, hoping to find an affordable MkII Jetta to replace the '92. All I found were project cars and expensive hopped-up examples.
Then I started to think about something newer, but I don't care for the MarkIII and newer Jettas. The wife had a '98 that was not a very pleasant experience. It's sitting in the driveway, waiting to be sold. Long story.

So, I found a 2000 NB, supposedly only needing a grille, power steering hose and new brakes. Asking price was $1850.
I got it for $1300. Great, right?
Well, as it turns out, the seller lied to me. It's not the power steering hose, but the rack. It also needs front rotors, the rear muffler, control arm bushings, fuel door tray and cable, third brake light, right side window reg., right side tail light and the airbag light is on.
Then there are the little things, like cleaning the interior and discovering a sticky coating on the plastic dash parts that seems to be the plastic itself deteriorating. I removed the hood over the gauge cluster and washed it in the sink with numerous products, only to find it impossible to get clean. A Scotchbrite pad only clogs and leaves areas of differing textures. Drying it off and attacking it with numerous abrasives gives mixed results. Lacquer thinner helps to remove the disgusting sticky film, but it still looks like crap.
I'm thinking of shooting it with Fusion black spray paint, but there is still the rest of the dash...
I need to get an owners' manual, just so I can find out simple things, like how the front interior light is supposed to work with the doors. It's not very intuitive.
I'm finding things that are engineered to break if you attempt to remove them. What's up with that goofy third brake (break?) light arrangement??? A used light is what's in there now, after repairing it with epoxy. Five out of five broke in the same spots from donor cars. Downright stupid design.

I bought a Haynes manual online. It only gives you so much info, but it's better than nothing. I downloaded the VW-US pdf file a couple of days ago. I've been perusing it in my spare time.
I was actually getting excited about having something fun to drive; something more modern and reliable, but after spending a fair amount of time reading this forum, I'm having serious doubts.
It seems to be just another overly sophisticated jumble of electronics that has shown to be problematic.
Power windows, anyone?
Alarm system?
Rear hatch?
Warning lights?

My present intention is to fix what's wrong with it, drive it for a month and see how it behaves. If it turns into another problem child, I'll flip it. I still have the '92 to use if I have to. At least those Blizzaks will get me through the winter.
I really want to like this car, but so far, I'm not favorably impressed. The repairs I've made thus far have not made me feel good.
I hope to get the rack done this week, possibly today, as well as the brakes and rotors. If I find the correct spring for the fuel door cable, that will be done, as well.
Here's hoping that all goes well from here on out, and that I find the car to be a positive experience.
Although it will never be a '67 Beetle...
 

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I have a love/ hate relationship going on myself. Sorry to hear of your bad '55. My Chevy in the pic had 15K on it when I swapped my last 2000 Beetle for it...best deal I ever made! I spent the last Christmas I had with that beetle under it patching a oil pan with Marinetex. They shatter like glass. This 2004 is quite the challenge since I brought it home a couple months ago, I cuss it yet I would really like to love it.
 

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I feel happy that you adopted this poor, neglected New Beetle.

They are like "family" members, as you probably already know. They are quirky, yes, but nothing is more fun to drive.

I hope you can take good care of this. It deserves a good family.

Please keep us up to date. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think I've had it with this thing.
Too much stupid.

I worked my butt off on this car until half past midnight, today I took it in and got it inspected. I pulled into the garage to change the oil and found the left side brake light out. Changed the bulb.

Changed the oil. Came home and took a well-needed nap.
Got up to get groceries and found the heater blower not working. It worked fine before. Checked the fuse, banged on the dash and found the dash lights to come on around the knobs, but no blower.
I was really looking forward to driving it to work tomorrow.
I'm not looking forward to owning another collection of challenges that result in working on it more than driving it.

I'm ready to buy a Honda.
 

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Truth is $1,300 simply doesn't buy much much in the way of reliable transportation. Most pay almost that much for a simple regular service for VW's these days. Seems like you may not have seen the car prior to buying it either to see all that was wrong with it since you are a mechanic. A 15 year old Honda may be better, but not without problems at that price point. Luckily you are able to do so much, having the knowledge and tools. Good luck and I hope things get better with it.
 

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I think your poor beetle was neglected and you are having to do lots of things at one time. These little cars can be flustrating and have a pretty steep learning curve, but once you get it sorted they are reliable if maintaned.

Work though the safety issues first: Steering rack, brakes. Control arm bushing will cause tire wear and some bumping noises but for an around town daily driver can wait for awhile. The sticky dash pieces welcome to vw's "softtouch" We all have the same problem, there are a buch of threads on how to get rid of the stuff, most of us work on it when we have the car apart for someting else.
Does the blower motor work on speed 3 or 4? There is a thread about fixing a switch problem here too. When you find a problem and get stuck post it up. Most of the issues you are having somebody else has also had and may know the answer.
 

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Imbugd - 99 1.8t
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I find this story a little odd. It starts out by painting a picture of someone that really knows what their doing. You seem to know 2 generations of VW inside and out. OP has clearly have spent a significant amount of time under these cars.

Then we go to buying a car for a known cheap price and are surprised by bad brakes? You're buying a mostly electric accessory car and dont check the filler door opening? You don't notice it has a bad muffler or an idiot light on for the airbag? With VWs in my family I've known they have bushings that need love, yet you don't see bad LCA bushings? Those can generally be seen to fail by visual inspection alone.

That isn't so much an unreliable car, but someone who jumped at a 'great deal' without doing due diligence. ..especially for someone that should know better.

To be fair as well The LCA bushings are a $100 fix that takes me about 3 hours to do. ..and Im very cautious and not nearly as experienced as you, and dont have an entire shop of tools at my disposal. As far as problems go, its not a big one.

The blower thing is another known failure point and a $10 fix. Add some additional work with lubing the motor, or replace the motor and you wont have to mess with it again. This is likely another symptom of it being a $1300 car, and thusly not very well taken care of. I say that because the motor seems to fail (and then blow the controller) when it sits unused for a long period of time.

Oh and you got a 2000, which is about the sweet spot for avoiding many of the alarm (read immobilizer) problems. I have a 99 and a 2001, the 2001 has an immobilizer. The only one its ever immobilized of course is me, as I worked to replace keys over time. I have had 1 working key with its RFID chip for 8 years now. Still need to get the software/hardware rounded up to code new ones. :\ Meanwhile the 99 has basically the same alarm minus the immobilizer, and Im quite happy with it. So be happy if you miss out on that whole genre of problem.

Not sure how you manage to restore cars to classic condition if some basic fixes drive you to this level of frustration.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
mystix-

Nothing "odd" at all. I bought a car that I've so far regretted buying.
I was told it needed front brakes. I picked up pads and rotors and found that there's nothing wrong with the front brakes.
The rotors measured at 21mm. The wear limit is 18.
The pads are almost new.

The leak at the muffler, I was told, was a separated joint ahead of the rear muffler. There is no joint there, but I didn't know that.
I welded the broken pipe.

I was told that the power steering pump was groaning because it was out of fluid, but the noise vanished when filled. He fetched some fluid dumped it in and he was right.
He explained that a buddy helped him replace the pump and pointed out a small leak in the return line. Everything was soaked in the area and I had no reason to suspect a leaking rack.

Since buying it and working on it, I've found it to need far more than I'd bargained for. I can accept that, that's not a problem.
I can also accept the fact that the seller lied to me.

What I'm having trouble with is the apparent lack of quality in what I'm seeing with the car.
In the two weeks of ownership, I've found the things that I've repaired, have all given me a hard time. From a remote entry/alarm system that seems to have a mind of its own, to the fuel door that is a poorly designed arrangement, to the glove box door that is known to break just by looking at it funny.
No repair has been easy. If I were paying regular coin for parts, I'd be livid.

In the past two days of driving it (which are the first two days, actually) the airbag light is on again, accompanied by the cel, the brake warning light intermittently flashes, the left window did wacky things, the heater blower decided not to work after I parked it for a few hours and a brake light bulb burned out.
Today, the brake pedal started dropping halfway to the floor whilst sitting at a stoplight.

I tore the dash halfway apart last night in an attempt to fix the blower switch. What I saw was a flimsy area of plastic that failed and allowed a flimsy contact to fall out. Bad design.
I ran out of time and elected not to use the parts in the switch.
I stuck a ten amp fuse into the contacts and rendered it stuck on 3 and pushed the knob/shaft back into the temp control, leaving the dash half disassembled. It enabled me to drive it. I'll deal with the blower switch later.

My wife bought a 2000 Honda a year and a half ago.
She's been driving it every day since, without complaining to me that something quit working or her check engine light is on.

Two summers ago, I bought a motorcycle that had been sitting for 28 years. It just happens to be a Honda. I had it running (quite well) in four hours and rode it around the parking lot.
I spent that summer enjoying myself by fixing it up and it was one of the most joyous occasions I've had with a road machine.
Everything cooperated. Repairs were forthright and predictable.
I've since logged a little over 12,000 miles of trouble-free local trips on that bike, in weather from 42 to 90 degrees. It starts right up and never misbehaves. I have yet to stall it or almost drop it.
It's represented a series of reliable, fun, carefree riding experiences.
And, it's still mostly original. Including the brakes.

Things don't bode well for the VW. It's not giving me any warm and fuzzy.
It's a shame, because I still want to like the car, but if this is the way it's gonna be, I'll fix it enough to sell it and move on.
I was looking at wheels and thinking all sorts of customizing possibilities and what shade of blue.


So far, it's been frustrating.
My allegiance to VW is becoming tenuous.
 

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I don't care.....
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Buy a Honda if you want boring reliable daily transport. It's a 14 year old car and if it's not been looked after then expect to find problems.

I had the same with mine when I bought it 5 years ago. Supposedly looked after etc only to find that I had to replace and repair numerous times over the first twelve months.

Now I know my car inside out and exactly what has been done and where which makes it utterly reliable at 173000 miles strong. I keep thinking of selling it but then I think what would replace it? I come back to the same answer, nothing quite as fun as this little quirky car.

Persevere, they get better.
 

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I feel your love/hate/pain...I am going through many issues with mine. Right now, The check engine light is/may be off... I don't know. I haven't drivn it yet today.
 

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Imbugd - 99 1.8t
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I actually came back to this thread to temper my odd comment a little bit. ..but there we go, I sense odd once again.

A low price on a beetle seems to be about $3k, this one was $1300. Right there that says some things are going to be wrong. That doesnt mean a seller lies about these things unless their a mechanic or paid one to diagnose the problems before selling, both rather unlikely. They are best guesses, and got you to the general area of the problems that were there.

You've taken a sellers description, not done your own inspection, and overlooked a clearance pricetag. It would be surprising if significant problems werent there. This is just the other side of that 'bargain'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, I find your responses to be odd.
I think you need to re-read my original and subsequent posts.
I'm not surprised that the car needs work; I'm disappointed in the lack of quality in the car, thus far.

I don't know why you seem to be taking this personally, as though I've insulted you or your car.
 

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Joemac356, I feel your pain and mental torque. Mine has been down for 2 months all over a missing fuse 37, I just found today, The good thing about tossing parts at it is preventative maintenance, as everything I replaced was original and soon to give out. Not to mention a good supply of extra parts that all tested fine. Good luck in the new year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'm still trying to like this car.

It's difficult, because I'm tired of working on it and spending an inordinate amount of time researching problems.
Virtually nothing has been easy, except setting the air pressure in the tires.

So far, I've fixed the drivers' side door latch assembly, replaced the steering rack, passengers' side window motor and switch, climate control unit, after replacing the heater blower control contact, wiper blades (which turned into a major ordeal) third brake light, changed the oil and brake fluid, replaced the hood cable (a major pain in the butt) and attempted to replace the fuel door cable. I say attempted because it's still not fixed, yet.
I removed the drivers' seat and repaired four broken wires to turn off the airbag light and installed a used ambient air temp sensor, only to find that it still doesn't work.
The clock changes from 24 hr time to regular time at will. The interior lights now work sometimes, rather than not at all.

In servicing inoperative rear brakes, I managed to break the upper slider pin on the drivers' side and had to spend far too much time repairing that. The pin came half way out and then broke.
I've been doing this a long time and I don't normally break things.

I tried to install a CD player after spending $44 on adapters, only to find that the antenna plug won't fit into the head unit.
Proprietary Volkswagen part, instead of being universal, like the rest of the cars in the world.
In trying to adapt the original antenna plug to fit, I found the center lead to be so thin that it's nearly impossible to deal with.
I tired of working on it and gave up, after having to deal with speakers that were riveted(???) to the doors that had suspensions that had deteriorated to the point of being non-existent.
The backing plate for the headlight switch that was falling out has been repaired. I still need to replace the mirror switch, hatch switch and left side passengers' window switch, all haven fallen apart.
The dash is half disassembled; in the process of dealing with 'soft touch' and broken dash vents. I'm going to be adding a three gauge cluster to the top a soon as I can. I have the parts, it's just not at the top of the priority list.

I still have to replace the radiator support, grille pieces, broken evap. canister, wheel speed sensor and control arm bushings. I should really replace the muffler that I welded.

My plan is to fix what's broken/missing and give it a month.
If it behaves and doesn't keep throwing warning lights and things don't continue to break, I'll probably hold onto it and do a little light customizing.
If it continues to act like the bad stepchild, it will become someone else's problem.

I didn't buy this because I wanted another project. With three other cars and a motorcycle, I've already got enough to keep me busy.
 

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Your hands must be cut to ribbons, I do believe all the plastic parts are honed to replicate razor blades. The fuel door is a easy one and takes no tools to do. Remove the tail light by reaching in and unscrewing the black handle attached to it. Then you can easily reach the cable, and I unhooked mine and left it that way, the door closes and lays pretty flush with the fender.
 

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Momentai!!!
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If you found a 2000 Beetle for only $1,300 that only needed a grill that would have been red flag number one. It might have just come from not knowing New Beetles, but you can hardly ever buy one that just needs one little thing. From reading your post I would say this this thing has had a really rough life. People buy them thinking they are gonna be cheap to work on, like a 1974 Super, but they aren't. So people just let them slowly rot away with the problems they are having and not doing anything to them. I know the design is also to blame. It's not that great. The electrics are crap half the time, (not all the time. So no one take my head off) the plastic fades, places are hard to get to and stuff is expensive. But I would say hate the seller and not the little car. At one time it was a beautiful little bug that would be clean and shiny and zip around towns or cities. It didn't ask to be run into the ground, but it has.

I'm really sorry it is giving you such a hard time. I hope that you'll be able to fix it. Or, if you can't, don't let one ruin your New Beetle fun! We have all had our up and downs with them but they still somehow hold a special place for us.
 

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Don't confuse your unfamiliarity with VW and its differences and complexities with it being poor design or bad. VW is the #2 auto mfg in the world and a LOT of people can and do work on them. Unfortunately here in the US it has a smaller market share leading to many people not having grown up with their nuances. They are great cars, but I admit, one must care and maintain then much differently than American or Japanese cars. If you can work on VW's you will see similarities with all European cars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Oh, I see now, I'm wrong.
The car is full of well-engineered components and I was just unfortunate to buy one that has led a hard life and all of the switches and plastic bits have suffered from abuse and neglect.
 

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I'm an aircooled guy from way back, I drove several models but loved the Bugs the most, I still have my 66 and a few dune buggies. I gravitated to the New Beetle when the Concept One was revealed I believe in 92 or 94. I bought my first one brand new in 2000 and it was a tight and trouble free car,only issue was a two hour headlight bulb replacement at the dealer under warrantee - they claimed a nut had rusted and they had to replace the mechanism - I know that's ridiculous on a car that was six months old at the time but that's Mama VW.
I don't belive that any car these days is built to last more than X amount of years and there are limits, unlike the old Beetle where you could take the fuel pump apart and clean it along the side of the road, the New Beetle you just replace it - at a cost of course. In VW'S defense the NB pump swap is an easy one compared to other cars where the tank would have to be dropped.
The days you and I wish to relive have been replaced with engineered obsolescence. We are forced to ''buy a new one''
I like my New Beetles. I have an 01 and had a 99 up to a month or so ago when my stepson cartwheeled it into a farmers field and obliterated it, he had his seatbelt on and walked away from this with a broken wrist. The safety features are A1 on these cars.
You are having trouble deciding if you like it and I am having the same issue currently with a PT Cruiser. When I get the nose back on my 01 bug, I will be back in my New Beetle where I feel comfortable.
It's a personal thing really. As a NB owner I can tell you that the newbeetle org is unquestionably your best source for working out any issues, in my opinion even better than the Bentley manual itself.
I do agree with you that VW gets a FAIL on these with their mexiplastic that breaks easily (a heat gun will aid by warming things first ) The automatic transmissions are to be avoided and the troublesome power window guides (mexiplastic)The dumb timing belt water pump setup destined to send a percentage of Beetles straight to the junkyard, I could go on.
I love my New Beetles , just as I did the quirky older ones. I haven't found anything on these cars I can't fix so if you are good with the tools you will get used to the beast and before you know it you will be driving along and saying, guess the MAF needs a cleaning again
 

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