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99 beetle...airbag system it just a fuse?

06-08-2004, 06:59 AM
a couple months ago a took my 99 beetle into the dealer bacause an airbag sensor light came on. I don't normally take my car into the dealer to avoid paying three times as much as you would at a "trustworthy" mechanic. I read the manual and it said to take it into the dealer ASAP, as I did. When they said they were going to charge me $78 for labor just to look at it,... I refused. They ended up taking a look at it because it is a safety liability,...they ran it through the computer and were able to get the light to turn off. They said it was a problem with the passenger side airbag. A couple weeks later the light is back on again, can anyone help here? *I have a feeling this car may have been in a previous accident (I am the second owner) because the plastic frame on the passenger side door has a crack and I know there is an airbag behind the vinyl in the door.

06-08-2004, 12:37 PM
I don't think any fuse would cause this to happen. You are pretty much tied to VW or someone familiar with them that has a VW scanner simulator that can read the air bag system. It could be a number of different things.

07-02-2005, 06:51 PM
We have had several similar problems on our 2003 New Beetle TDi. We had an airbag warning light come on after we had taken it for the 60k service - the warning light came on within 5 days of the service. Local dealer diagnosed the problem as an open passenger seat belt buckle, which they replaced for $265.20. Nine days later, airbag light came on again, and the dealer diagnosed it as a failed passenger seat igniter. They replaced it for $304.02. I sent a letter to the VW Customer Care Center asking if there were similar reports of the airbag system failing on this model, or reports of 'coincidental' problems after taking their VW to this specific dealer, or if they felt that spending $762.08 on service and repairs in the space of two weeks was simply coincidental, as the local dealer stated. After 3 weeks, I received the reply "Our records indicate this vehicle is currently unaffected by any open recall campaigns. If you experience future concern, please feel free to contact us." I wish I could give you better news, but I believe you may be heading down the same path we just followed. Good luck.

01-12-2009, 11:16 PM
I know this is a five-year-old post, but I thought I'd add this in case anyone is going nuts trying to figure out this airbag light problem as I did, and stumbles upon this site:

There is a wiring harness under the seats that connects the side airbags to the buckles on the seat belts. It's a razor-thin four-strand ribbon wire that plugs into the base of the seatbelt receiver. If you look, you can easily spot it and I guarantee it is broken. Apparently, VW made the wire too short, so that pushing the seat back and forth, or in the case of a collision, the seatbelt locks up, tugs, and the skinny wires just snap, resulting in an airbag light. Don't even think about splicing the wires. They are "voltage sensitive" and you might get an airbag exploding in your face.

Call me crazy, but that sounds like a safety recall item. However, the US government and VW don't see it that way. Likewise, they don't feel that oil sludging on a 39,000 mile car still in warranty is their problem, although they will gladly take $5000 from you to rebuild the top-end of the engine. While they are in there, make sure they replace the plastic waterpump and the belt tensioner on the timing belt, which are also designed for early failure.

Apparently, it's also normal for the door handles to snap off of a 5-year-old car, and for the headliner and most of the interior plastic parts to fall off or crack.

If you break a door handle, they'll be glad to sell you the whole door panel for $400, as long as you're willing to do the labor yourself. If you're living right, you might find a used one for about $150, although that's doubltful, but then if you do, you'll probably have to have a body shop repaint the top fiberglass panel, which is color-keyed to the exterior, unless you're really lucky and find one the same color. If not, you can pay a trim shop an extra $40 to change out the top of the panel, if it isn't already cracked. While you're there, have them replace the peeling vinyl on the door panels of the "leather" interior, along with the drooping headliner.

The other really fine feature of this car is the suspension. Mine is a Turbo GLS, which I assume has the racing suspension. That means that I can actually enter a driveway at almost one-mile per-hour with only minimal damage to the front spoiler.

My other sporty car is a 99 Miata with 250K miles on it. It burns a quart of oil every 2000 miles. Otherwise, it runs like the day it left the showroom and gets 25mpg.

But the VW Turbo, although it only gets about 19mpg, is still a much better car: It's just so damn cute.

01-12-2009, 11:59 PM
VW dealership are rip offs and I've had my experiences with them. What the techs would do is erase the code and that's why couple weeks later it goes back on

01-21-2009, 02:09 PM
I have a 2003 VW Beetle. I purchased it on Dec. 31, 2008. As of this date Jan. 21, 2009, I have had to replace the Coolant Temp. Sensor. Code P0118

I replaced the Number 1 Coil Pack. Code P0301.

Now I get to figure out how to get the airbag light to go off after I get the problem read at the Dealership at the cost of $99.00. The Code readers at the part store will not read the airbag/seatbelt codes.

I would advise that if you have this type of problem with airbag on your VW, you might want to consider filing a complaint with the NHTSA. I did and it was very easy. The Web address is:

My concern with the airbag issue is that while the airbag light is on, the airbag system on the car is disabled.

As far as the Coil Pack and the Coolant Temp. Sensor are concerned, I feel that those two issue were just regular maintenance issues. I guess you could said three issue in the first three weeks isn't what I was hoping for. I am just glad that I can do alot of these repairs myself.

03-21-2009, 09:25 AM
I have the same problem with my 2003 Bug. The dealership told me that I needed to have the air bag control module replaced for $800 dollars. Also I had the coolant code error and the dealership replaced the sensor. About 5 days later the engine light came back on with the same error. Evidently the problem wasn't fixed by replacing the sensor. I haven't been back since because it is over 100 miles away. Does anyone have any other things that I could look for or get another sensor?

12-16-2009, 12:03 PM
orangebug , i had the same problem with my 03 beetle, the code keep telling me that the coolant was not operating properly. there is a number of things that could cause this,but i finally narrow it down to the thermostat. once i replace that , my problem and the code has not come back. send me an email and i can explain how to troubleshoot the problem.
good luck, je from texas.

12-16-2009, 06:32 PM
Thanks for the reply. That is what I ended up doing also and the problem went away.

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