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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 06-02-2012, 10:00 AM
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LA County, CA, USA
Car: 99 VW Beetle
Unhappy Dashboard lights flickering & gauges going dead. Help!

Hi everyone,
I'm a new member but frequent reader. I have a problem with my 99 VW Beetle that I hope you guys can help me sort out. Early in the day as I was heading to work and noticed that none of the gauges in my dashboard were working. I pulled over, turned the car off, re-started it and began driving again. All of the gauges went to their proper places at start-up and after about a minute they suddenly went dead. I tried the windows and they were not responsive. Everything else was running and functional, even the radio. I continued driving for 20 minutes and the entire way they were going back and forth from functioning to dead. I called my mechanic and he tightened the cables on the battery. Later in the day I turned it back on and went on my way and travelled no more than 10 miles and everything was fully functional with no funny business. As I started my way back home about 7 hours later, now being nighttime, I naturally turned on the headlights. After a few minutes on the road the dashboard was flickering, as though wanting to die even though the car was running fine and the headlights and radio continued to function without any interruption.

Some things to know:
-I just replaced the battery about 3 months ago
-Just changed radiator fan
-There had been corrosion present in the past on one of the terminals, with minimal corrosion accumulated now
-Beetle has about 115k miles
-I just got new spark plugs put in

If anyone has an idea what the problem could be, I would greatly appreciate comments.
Thanks!

Last edited by bluedaisy; 06-09-2012 at 09:20 AM.. Reason: Problem Fixed!
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Old 06-02-2012, 04:02 PM
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As a quick check, make sure the battery cables are tight and corrosion free. Check the cables/fuses in the black box on top of the battery, and then check the all the fuses in the dash (under the little door on the left side of the dash, you can get to it with the drivers door open)

Sounds like a loose connection or bad ground somewhere
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Old 06-02-2012, 09:09 PM
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Check fuses above the battery box ... see if any are melting/melted and shorting, along with ensuring the battery cable is in good condition, no corrosion, etc.
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Old 06-03-2012, 01:47 AM
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Talking Solved!

Thanks for the replies. Cleaning the terminals of all corrosion fixed my problem! I'm so relieved it wasn't the instrument cluster or something costly.
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Old 06-03-2012, 05:14 AM
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Glad to hear it, and glad we were able to help!
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Old 06-03-2012, 05:02 PM
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Unhappy Nooooooo!

It looks like I spoke too soon. Cleaning the corrosion only fixed my problem temporarily. The gauges still have a mind of their own and now the check engine light decided to come on. Any ideas? Would changing the battery cables seem like something likely to fix my problem and cause the warning light to come on?
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Old 06-03-2012, 11:12 PM
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If the CEL is on, get the car scanned and then let us know what code(s) show up. Actual code numbers too, not just descriptions. Autozone and the like will scan for free.
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Old 06-04-2012, 03:40 AM
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x2!

Actually having the check engine light on is a good thing as it means there is a code (or codes) to point toward what the issue may be. As Smileybug said, get the codes scanned and we can go from there.
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:57 AM
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Ok, so I had it scanned and it gave me code P0134 Bank 1. I did a little investigating and think I need the oxygen sensor replaced. I have no idea what any of this means but I gotta fix the problem. I called the VW dealer and the part sells for $199.80. I then called an auto shop specializing in German vehicles and they can fix it parts and labor for $250. Do you guys think this is reasonable? I just need my car working properly already, it won't give me a break!
In regards to the gauges going dead and dashboard flickering, my mechanic changed one of the relays (again, have no idea what that does) and that seemed to fix the problem.
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Old 06-05-2012, 12:44 PM
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Upstream oxygen sensor is $92 from the CarQuest on Magnolia Blvd in Los Angelas: CARQUEST - Product Information:CQ/BOSCH IMPORT O2 SENSORS

How to replace: How to Change the Oxygen Sensor on a VW Beetle | eHow.com

Also read: How to Change the O2 Sensor

To reset light (if it is an EVAP/Fuel cap issue): disconnect battery for 10 minutes, reconnect and drive the vehicle for a day or two. If the light comes back on it's a bad sensor, if it does not then the issue wasn't O2 related.
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:06 PM
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Thank you!
Either way I need someone to do it for me, but that's a lot less than what VW sells the part for.

It looks like I'm back to square one with the gauges dying though :'(
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Old 06-09-2012, 09:19 AM
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Talking Finally! Success!!!

I just wanted to thank everyone who picked their brains and offered up suggestions to help me fix my gauge problem & power windows not responding.
My beetles alternator was going bad so I had it replaced and it's running great!
No more random function of gauges or windows
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Old 06-03-2013, 09:58 PM
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I'm glad I just stumbled across this- my '99 TDI Bug started doing the EXACT same thing on Saturday.

Alternator voltage tested okay even when the alternator light was on (however I was just using a multimeter in my driveway, not the actual AVR machine at work, so who knows what kind of amperage it was putting out) but I was wondering if there was an intermittent internal short in it, as it killed my battery in about 3 hours.

Anyhow... thanks for sharing your experience because you may have saved me a few hours of hair pulling. I'm a VW technician and this problem is new to me!
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:19 PM
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Replaced my alternator tonight- fixed it. It had a massive internal short.
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Old 06-06-2013, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandi View Post
Replaced my alternator tonight- fixed it. It had a massive internal short.
Glad that fixed it. The massive battery drain was certainly a good clue.
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Old 06-07-2013, 02:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff2 View Post
Glad that fixed it. The massive battery drain was certainly a good clue.
Definitely- I figured if it had that big of a draw, if it was something being fed through a smaller gauge of wire, things would be on fire.
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