2000 Vw beetle headache

redpennyMay 5, 2007

This is going to sound crazy but I have a 2000 VW beetle and have continous problems with it! I just replaced the air sensor again x2 this past year we just replaced it today and now we have a code# above the milage numbers on the dash inside the car no one knows what it is VW dont know I didn't have it till I changed the new air sensor and yes the check engine light is off and when they checked it was cleared. any ideas..............really frustrated....................


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Which engine do you have on your Beetle? Who replaced the air sensor -- the dealer, another mechanic, or someone you know? What is the code number? Without knowing details, it almost sounds like the MAF (the air sensor) is the wrong one. But we'll need more info before we can determine that for sure.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 10:07PM
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The information above my mileage I found out with no help from VW but from my book and lecture is for showing your automatic transmission like when you are in Park drive etc..I have had this car for 4 rs and NEVER HAD IT SHOW UP ON MY DASH OR KNEW I HAD IT..........

I am still having problems with this car today it started to die out over a bridge. I had to shut the car off and restart it I have also noticed it hestitates when changing gear ............I have spent so much money taking this car back and forth to VW and not having the problem corrected........

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 1:05AM
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"The" problem ? You have spent a lot of money, and time trying to fix "one" problem?

Sorry I don't think so. It sounds like at the very least you have had a MAF problem in the past, which is common and easily repaired by a good technician with the correct (in this case O.E.) parts. From there I suspect the symptom feels similar, but that does not mean it's the same problem. Just because you get a code for a MAF sensor, especially if the code is MAF sensor performance it does not mean the sensor is bad! All too many times we see the tendency for people to jump to conclusions instead of properlly testing to see what is actually going on. By jumping to a conclusion and throwing parts at the car, you are wasting money and time.

Sorry to get a laugh, but if the cluster did suddenly decide to display the PRND321, and it actually had not before that I can see how it could be interpreted as some kind of a message to the driver. But if I told you how many times I have had a customer show up with a car over something like that saying "ever since you did (whatever) now I have (alledged problem). Then find out it was in fact something that was there and maybe even should have always been there, it just simply escaped the drivers observation. There is a lot of truth in the statment "I never noticed it before", but no where does that mean it wasn't actually occuring, it simply was overlooked/ignored.

People really do tend to pay more attention to their cars after they have spent some money on them, and that really does cause them to notice things that went unobserved before.

So back to your car. If your looking for help, we need.

Make, Model, Year, Engine size, Transmission (I'll assume it's an automatic OD at this point), Description of the symptom, in such a way that if was to take this for a ride, what I would expect to feel. In this case, you have to tell me in such a way that I can "feel" the problem from what you write. What trouble codes are setting NOW, if any. (What happened before is irrelevant, approach this as if it's a different car).

Start with this, I'll ask more later.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 8:45AM
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Well John you are wrong I have spent a lot of money trying to fix this lemon.............

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 11:27PM
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So I'm wrong, again. (Yawning TIC)

redpenny, you have not given anyone here enough information for us to even begin to understand what is going on with your Beetle. From there, thinking that having to change as you state the "air sensor" three times(?) and blaming the car for that dosen't cut it with people that do understand exactly how cars work, and in particular, your VW.

It is normal for any vehicle owner to have to spend money maintaining the machine. It is not normal for someone to replace the same component three times in a year, and when it appears that is happening, someone should be looking much closer and finding out why. The actual problem could be as simple as the "wrong" air filter in the car allowing contaminents to collect on the surface of the sensor elements. There are other situations that can occur as well, but seeing you are not willing to invest the time to objectively provide details as requested, there is nothing else we can do.

BTW, you just lost a chance for help from someone that really could make lemonade out of your lemon.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 7:10AM
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Well John you jumped again in conclusions I was trying to find out the type of engine in this car before I posted!

Make,VW Beetle year 2000 Engine 150 hp Engine Automatic Transmission

The problem is after driving for a while the car will begin to hestitate and then I have no power the car just CREEPS along till I shut it off and restart it sometimes this work right away sometimes I have to sit to restart it.
I understand it is normal for any vehicle owner to have to spend money maintaining the machine but what I have spent on this beetle is not normal like replacing tire rods at 35,000 miles , taking the car to the shop for weeks for emission problems I could go on and on....... .
And yes John it is not normal for someone to replace the same component twice in a year, and when it appears that is happening, someone should be looking much closer and finding out why which VW is not doing..............and John you stated " also blaming the car for that dosen't cut it with people that do understand exactly how cars work"
I thought VW would know how their cars work I mean when I take it to their service center and these people working on them should have "some kind of knowledge about the car they are reparing correct?"All I have been getting is the run around about how many sensors are in this car and this and that I mean I am paying for diagnostic test, labor cost repair cost, part cost and they don't know????????????????
I mean this is dangerous and driving this car like this could lead to a accident.............even to drive it to the shop..........I came on this forum for ideas hoping maybe someone else might have had same problem with a VW beetle and could help I did not come on this forum for lip service I am getting enough of that from VW...........

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 10:57AM
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Lip service? If I'm going to be accused, I could go right ahead and be guilty. But no, that's not what I am about.

The symptom you just described as far as the car not accelerating, and just creeping along is a typical description of a throttle actuator problem. The 1.8l engine, which I suspect you have in your car does not have a throttle cable, it has an electric throttle actuator. In the event a problem is detected by the system, the failsafe position is basically idle speed, or very close to it.

Random problems, problems that do not happen all of the time, are very difficult to repair because the diagnostics can truly only be performed while the problem is occuring. Most likely every time you have left this at the shop, it has not occured, and only a trouble code remained in the computers history, and some limited freeze frame data. Trouble codes, do not allow a tech to make a diagnosis, they are only a starting point.

From there, tie rod ends, emission problems, whatever, each have to be treated seperately. It doesn't matter how many miles are on the car. Or whatever reason you may want to use to justify your perspective. The car creeping during a failure of the TAC (Throttle Actuator Contrrol system) is a single entity, and has to be treated as such. In the shop I would explain we treat this problem as if this is a completely different car. That prevents mistakes that can be caused by taking something for granted.

Lastly, you came onto this forum hoping someone could give you a silver bullet so you could get a solution for your cars behavior. There are no silver bullets in auto repair. It takes knowledge, skill, patience, and hard work to fix cars, especially with one that is acting up like yours is right now. No one walks right up and just knows what part to change based on a reported symptom. Oh sure, there are pattern failures, and there are also failures that have nothing to do with, but mimic the known patterns. It's quite possible a portion of the work you described had to do with a pattern failure, which you may or may not of had. By now it's clear whatever is going on actually is falling outside of the known pattern.

Next step, if you choose to proceed

What trouble is setting when the symptom occurs. How frequently is this occuring. Does it happen in the first three minutes after you start your car? Or does it happen in the next five after that? Or, does it happen some ten minutes or more of driving your car, or some combination of the above?

Does it make a difference depending on what the ambient weather conditions are like during the failure? (Hot, cold, rainy, dry, ????)

Does shutting nthe engine off and restarting always result in the vehicle being driveable again?

How likely would it be for the problem to occur when driving in town, on the highway, combined, ?

Does anything else happen when the problem occurs? Examples might include a warning chime, lamp, or something inoperative like power windows (if you have them) mirrors, heater blower motor, etc.???

Now, give exact details of the work that has been done in an attempt to repair this complaint, and this complaint ONLY. Include parts, or services such as computer reprograming/replacement.

Would the dealership be willing to have a tech ready to go the next time the car acts up and if you are close enough, send the tech right away to you out on the road, without you shutting off the car?

Would you be willing to drive the car for an extended period of time, within a specified route to try and get the symptom to occur? Thereby allowing the dealer again to send a tech to you before you shut the car off when the problem ocurs?

Both of those are routines that I occasionally use when necessary for difficult diagnostics. There are more, but these are some ideas.

No one on the internet can diagnose your car, as easily as a real tech can when it is acting up right in front of him/her. The best you can get is a guess at pattern failures, which would result in parts replacements, and completely random results between success and failure to repair the problem. I can help you prepare to lead the tech into a situation that would allow him/her to reproduce the symtpom. That will lead to a diagnosis.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 3:00PM
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Thanks John with that electric throttle actuator is their away I can have that checked.....the dealership is not very cooperative as far as sending their techs out I tried that once.What happens is when I drive the car sometimes it wont do it for a day other times it does it perhaps after 15 minutes of driving this is why it is so hard to detect this but it is happening more now I can dive about 4 miles then it starts to act up it looses power then start creeping you can also hear it I am not good at explaing the sound....... but it sound like yen,yen ,yen I will try to look at the engine and see if it has what it is marked on it I checked my maual.When this happens everything in the car still works......

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 12:44AM
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John, is this the kind of thing that would show up on VW's VAGCOM diagnostics?

Redpenny, I've been driving VWs for the last 23 years and 300,000+ miles -- not all on the same one, though :-) I have to say that VW's dealer network is one of the weakest I've experienced and it's only the sheer goodness of the car (safety, features, driving fun) that keep me coming back. It's unfortunate and it's going to bite VW in the backside someday (if it hasn't already). And it probably doesn't make you feel better to know you're not alone, but you're not.

John is an excellent technician and has been answering questions here for quite some time. But it's likely that a VW mechanic will have to look at this. If you can keep track of events when this happens (as John suggests) and if you would feel comfortable emailing me privately and telling me where in PA you are, I know people who "know people" and we could either find you a better dealership or an independent mechanic who knows VWs very well. They likely will be of more help to you. Please let me know.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 11:12PM
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Steve I sent you email.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 2:20AM
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VW's "VagCom" is just their own version of a scan tool. I've never had one in my hands so I don't know exactly how much it really does. FWIW, I'll never own one either. I do have a VeDis scan tool which is one of the strongest aftermarket European scan tools available but it is still an aftermarket tool, and I just don't expect it to be 100% complete. But it's the best I can afford. (5K+ there are others that are over a $20K investment, they do more than my VeDis, but imagine spending that kind of money and in a years time not expect to even get $1000 in diagnostic labor money back while using it)

It's really tough fixing cars these days when it comes to tooling and equipment. I can justify (to a degree) owning O.E. tools for some 90% of the market. (GM, Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, current model years and Honda through 2004) But even with Honda I cannot justify staying current with the O.E. tool, because at $9,000 for just Honda's since 2005 I don't see enough of them to justify any greater expense in supporting them than whatever I can get through my VeDis Asian, or Snap-On scanners.

But back to doing the diagnostics on this TAC problem. Even the VagCom does not actually tell the tech what is wrong. The cars are not sophisticated enough to do that. When a problem is determined by the system, say an open in one of the circuits. The system is good enough to flag the circuit affected, and in some cases might have a code that is accurate enough to say that the circuit was "open", although most of the time it will be more like circuit open/short. The problem with intermittents is the circuit is going open/short at any point through that entire single circuit, but the diagnostic system is not capable of saying where it occured. Likewise a scan tool, displaying serial data will show what the microprocessor shows that a particular sensor circuit is reporting, but it's up to a technician to figure out exactly why a given sensor is reporting incorrectly when/if it is. Many events we deal with have a circuit that has a problem, the computer stores a code, but the circuit then just happens to operate correctly when the vehicle comes in, and we end up in a no-problem found situation.

redpennies car at this point appears to provide a challenge to any technician because it is not broken all of the time. Combine that with her frustration from the expense of both related (potentially) and unrelated repairs and the fact that in a flat rate shop the techs quite often don't get paid correctly to take whatever time is required to get it to act up and diagnose it and you have a perfect example of just what fixing cars can be like for a technician as well as the public.

In every real sense, my getting involved with any of these threads is time spent at work, that I don't get paid for. The techs at the VW dealership when they work on her car now in all likelyhood don't get paid for their time either unless they can justify replacing some part, that redpenny pays to have replaced. It looks like such great customer service to not pay anything to a customer when they have a complaint, but it's actually decades of a robbing Peter to pay Paul situation. The price of which is starting to finally become obvious.

Could I diagnose and fix red's car. Yep, no doubt. Would she really be happy if I did? Hard to say......

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 6:24AM
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were are you in Western Pa?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 8:59AM
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Beaver County.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 11:10AM
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Beaver County to far for me to travel I am in Allegheny County just my luck!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 10:17PM
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How do I respond to that? At the most you can only be about 30 miles from me. But that's allright. I wasn't trying to get you to bring the car to me anyway. If you did bring it here, I would deal with it just like any other repair. The problem really though is if you would bring it here, and I worked through and fixed the nightmare. You would then go right back to where ever it is you have been taking your car for everything else, and I would not actually benefit from the investment that I have made in the form of tools, equimpent, training, etc. that made it possible for me to solve your car's problem.

Auto repair in general lags way behind where it should be in pricing, and it's definately underpriced when dealing with random electrical issues like yours. What's worse is being able to solve problems like this often does not result in a long term business relationship. Putting it another way, the difficult diagnostics are actually subsidized by the brake jobs, the timing belts, state inspections etc. Fixing your car's problem essentially drives up my business costs, that you don't continue to support, so they get passed onto my long term best customers. That's the way business works, auto repair is a business. My regular customers don't deserve to have some costs passed onto them, this would be one of those.

Now if doing this would help me gain another customer or more, then it's justified.

Do you really want to know more about me? Tell you what.

FM 93.7 Saturday morning. 8 AM. (That's ten minutes from me hitting the post button right now.)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 7:53AM
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Hmmmmm....well John a good mechanic is hard to come by and someone you can trust ! I had a good mechanic awhile back ago for almost 15 yrs but due to serve heart problems he sold his business..and the new owners lost a lot of customers yes, we all gave them a chance but their practices were not treating loyal customers as they should be treated....sorry I missed your radio show if I was able to drive this car more then 4 miles before I break down I might of considered your shop and have put your skills and knowledge to the test!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 12:39PM
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I can justify (to a degree) owning O.E. tools for some 90% of the market. (GM, Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, current model years and Honda through 2004) But even with Honda I cannot justify staying current with the O.E. tool, because at $9,000 for just Honda's since 2005 I don't see enough of them to justify any greater expense in supporting them than whatever I can get through my VeDis Asian, or Snap-On scanners.

You would think (well, I would think, as a non-engineer or -marketer of cars) that there would be value to manufacturers in choosing a single standard, like CANbus, or almost like businesses have chosen Windows for computer use. But I remember you saying in earlier posts that not even all the manufacturers in one stable (e.g., Ford/Mazda/Volvo) use the same system. :-p It's hard to believe they make enough money by perpetuating multiple systems to justify their expense.

Auto repair in general lags way behind where it should be in pricing, and it's definately underpriced when dealing with random electrical issues like yours.

At the risk of sounding like I'm kissing up :-o , I would agree that the scope of what you do is much like a medical practice. I have to admit, though, that some places do what they can to abuse the techs. The local VW dealers here charge around $105 for labor. I know the tech is seeing only a fraction of that, but at that price (much more than what most of us make per hour), the expectations are high. Someone is making out on this deal, and it isn't the customer or the technician. Unfortunately, the tech, as the only person who actually touches the car, receives the brunt of these expectations.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 6:25AM
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Hi Steve.

Since the phase-in started in ernest in 2004, (SAE mandate) almost all of the new cars on the road are CAN. By 2008 they are all CAN. The problem is proprietary software, software licensing (which in some cases expires shutting the tool down) and total designs that only allow the software for a given manufacturer to run on a dedicated machine. There are some 30 different O.E. scan tools today, some of which are now in excess of $20,000 ea. That's a pretty healthy expense for a dealer to have the tool for their own nameplate, and no-one elses. For an independent like me, it comes down to choices and cars that I have to choose to no longer service.

Friday, I did have to purchase the new update for my VeDis scan tool for European vehicles. $1400.

The 99 Passat I had to service was losing communication between the ABS module and the instrument panel. The ABS module would also stop communicating to the scan tool, which meant I then had to test and determine if the module was shutting down because of an extrnal issue (loss of power/ground/electrical loading) or internal. The ABS module itself was failing and an estimate provided to fix the car. They chose not to, they are trading it in.

There are aftermarket companies scrambling to do everything they can to build equipment for techs like me. But the engineering costs go so high that they have to make rational choices. In their own words. "We could build a tool that does everything that the O.E. tool does, and even every manufacturer. But if we do, you would not buy it because you would not be able to afford it."

Consider of course they are not talking about me as a single self employe'd tech but all shops and techs as an industry. I'd have to agree with them. A few of us would buy equipment at that level. But it would be so few that the cost would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and updates would probably come monthly to the tune of a few thousand a month.

Costs like that would exclude me from the group that would buy a single do everything tool. As it is, I lost $1250 to be able to try and fix the VW. Oh, and that's if I don't consider I still needed to be paid for the time that I spent.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 7:37AM
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I just wanted to say that I choose a dealership that was highly rated at 1.8t.org and they've been great. I think it's a good resource for vw/audi owners.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 6:43AM
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Just update took car today to a shop so hopefully they will find the problem.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 2:52PM
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