'97 VW Cabrio lights burnout

I have a '97 VW Cabrio. Since the last 3-4 years, one or the other headlight stops working. I needed to replace no bulbs, front or rear, for the first 6-7 years but have replaced headlights at least 4 times and one of more of the tail/brake/turn bulbs at least once in the past few years. Is this normal fort the age of the car or is there something else I need to look at/get checked?


I would suspect that whomever is replacing the headlight bulbs is touching the glass of the bulb during the replacement process. That will shorten the life of any headlight bulb. Apparently it causes them to get much hotter where the natural grease from the installer’s fingers stays on the bulb.

Are you replacing the SAME brake/turn bulbs many times, or is it a different bulb most of the time? The latter would be normal as the bulbs age along with the car.

It is also possible that aftermarket replacement bulbs just don’t last as long VW’s OWM bulbs.

I replaced all the bulbs myself. I’ve been careful about not touching the glass of the bulb but can’t say for sure that I didn’t touch it at all. Next time I’ll wear those disposable surgical gloves. I changed the passenger side headlight last 3months back (now I’m keeping record) and driver side headlight about 18 months back. With the other brake/turn bulbs, it is probably not the same bulb but there are so many of them that it feels I’m replacing bulbs every few months these days where I didn’t at all for years.

Check the voltage of the battery with the engine running around 2,000 RPM. Make sure it is under 15 volts. Also check the AC voltage there. It should be under .2 volts.

How do I check the voltages? I have a voltmeter and check the battery voltage on the terminals but how/where do I check the AC voltage? Same place with AC setting?

Yes, the same place, across the battery posts with the AC setting, while the engine is running at around 2k RPM. This may not be causing the trouble you are having but it needs to be checked.

You’re welcome for the help.

Try buying your bulbs at the VW dealer. They are more expensive but they generally last much longer. Make sure you do not touch the glass of the bulbs at all during unpacking and installation.