Archive for the 'VW' Category

2000 New Beetle had the key broken off in the ignition

William’s question:

My 2000 New Beetle had the key broken off in the ignition. So I took it to a locksmith and they installed a new tumbler and keys. But, it won’t start now. It turns, but won’t start.”


Well, you’re dealing with a modern VW with an immobilizer system. They key has to match the immobilizer system, which was the case with your old broken key. But, the new key won’t work. You’ll need to find a mechanic with the ability to reprogram the system. BUT, in the time being, if you still have the old broken key, you can try using the new key to turn the ignition, and hold the old key next to the ignition switch by the side. This often will send enough signal to let the car start while you’re waiting to have the immobilizer system reprogrammed. Then you don’t have to tow it anywhere.

2001 Beetle check engine light (P0171 Running Too Lean)

Cheryl’s question:

My poor little 2001 Beetle has the check engine light on. I went to Auto Zone like you suggested to others, and they gave me the code for free. It’s P0171. they said the engine was running too lean. It does hesitate when accelerating at times. Can you help me?”


well, running lean means the engine either has too much air or not enough gasoline being injected into the engine. Sometimes something as simple as a REALLY dirty air filter can do that, as can a vacuum leak on the engine sucking too much air in. BUT, those VWs are notorious for having problems with their mass air flow sensors (or MAFs.) Have a mechanic check your MAF out by pulling the data from your computer and watching the figures coming out of the MAF sensor section. I see many VWs have MAF sensor failures causing a too lean running condition. Replacing this MAF is a pretty easy job, it’s on the top of the engine and can be changed out in less than fifteen minutes.

2002 VW Beetle is pinging and has poor acceleration. Code 17536 for long term fuel trim lean

Jeremie’s question:

” My 2002 New Beetle is pinging and has poor acceleration. It has code 17536 for long term fuel trim lean. People are trying to sell me all kinds of stuff for hundreds and hundreds of dollars. What do you think I should do?”


Well, before you spend a bunch of dough, I’d advise changing out the main fuel filter and cleaning the Mass Airflow Sensor (or MAF.) VWs are notorious for getting crud on the MAF sensor and then running lean. And fuel filters do clog up over time and when they do, not enough gas can make it to the injectors, so the engine can run lean. I’ve cleaned lots of VW maf sensors to get them running normal again, it’s a pretty common problem. so try that before spending a bunch on parts you may not need. And if you do need a new MAF sensor because the old one is just plain worn out electronically, you can purchase a quality remanufactured unit instead of the VERY expensive VW OEM new sensor.

Is VW Jetta Worth Buying?

John’s question:

“Hey. What is your insight on VW (Jetta) vehicles? Whats the good and the bad on these things?”


Well, they are German engineered vehicles with VERY high repair costs and relatively high breakdown frequency. The good news is I don’t own one. They go fast, and handle well, but their AC systems don’t hold up very well if you live in a hot climate. Every single one of my customers in the last 25 years who purchased a VW never bought another one, so that certainly says something. The days of the trusty VW Beetle with air cooled engines are Long Gone.

2001 VW Beetle Transmission Poor Shifting

Jacob’s Question: The transmission in my 01 VW Beetle is shifting poorly. I took it in, and was told I needed a remanufactured transmission installed. 5300 dollars was their quote on the job. I’m floored. What options do I have?



Answer: Of course, get a second opinion from a transmission expert, you never know what someone else will say. BUT, they’ve had a lot of problems with the automatic transmissions breaking down in VWs (and I assume you have an automatic, since a standard tranny is much cheaper and they rarely break down anyway.) A factory rebuilt (not even new) unit costs big money on those Beetles–that’s just how most German cars are. If you don’t like the cost, my advice for others is basically don’t purchase a German car.

You already have the vehicle, so now you’re pretty much stuck. You could gamble with a used automatic transmission (realizing that they do break down a lot so a used one may not work too well either) but that’s taking a relatively big chance if you plan on keeping the car for years. You could find a mechanic who charges less labor cost for replacing the VW rebuilt transmission, BUT you’d still have to pony up for the expensive factory rebuilt transmission. Or, you could look for a good transmission man who could rebuild the transmission for you.

Just realize that those VW trannies are really complicated and only a person with a LOT of experience rebuilding them is going to do a really good job repairing it. I personally wouldn’t trust some national chain of transmission repair shops to do this job. I’ve seen too many horror stories of people who’ve tried that route and then had nothing BUT problems after the “rebuild” was done. I’ll give you an example of what I did with one a few months ago. I took a gamble and got my customer a used transmission. It worked OK, and I convinced the customer to then sell the car before something else went wrong. They got enough money out of the car to buy a nice used Ford instead. And if the Ford transmission ever goes out, it would cost him one thousand something dollars to repair it instead of five thousand something dollars.



VW Beetle Idle Problems

Dave’s Guestion: My 2002 VW New Beetle is idling up and down. Sometimes it stalls if I stop quickly. But then it starts right back up. I thought I needed a tune up, but new spark plugs and wires and filters didn’t change anything. HELP.



Answer: Remove the air duct going from the air filter to the intake manifold on the engine. Then get a can of spray throttle cleaner and clean the throttle plate inside the manifold until it shines. A lot of black residue will probably come out. This makes the throttle stick and stop in the wrong position at times, causing idling and stalling problems. I see this a lot in VWs, and to keep it from happenning again, just do this a couple times a year to ensure smooth idling.