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Burned out hvac light to new hvav unit?

The backlight for the hvac controls on my '02 volkswagon beetle was out. When I brought my car in to the VW dealership/service center for some recall work related to to the brake switch light, I asked for the backlight issue to be reviewed.



The service consultant told me the light was out due to a problem with with the ac fan unit. That seemed odd cuz I hadn’t had any problems with the ac. The fan unit needs to be replaced for $399. Fixing a back light for $399 seemed silly, so I said not to repair anything.



Next day, pick the car up and the heat and fan are not working at all. When I brought the car in the heat/fan was working fine.



The dealership says well the ‘boards’ for the fan unit were faulty and it likely went out while it was there. I could bring the car back in for them to check out if any wires are loose.



This sounds like a big con to me. I had no problems with the heat prior to the car going in and now - nothing. Oh and there is a snow storm today.



I know nothing about cars so am I being taken advantage of? How should I deal with this? Could an out backlight lead to a $399 hvac fix?



I’ve been doing some research on the web and can’t find anything to support what they are claiming.



Thanks for advice.

I would suggest finding an independent shop that specializes in electrical problems. A dealership may not have a technician on its staff that has expertise in electrical work. If it is a circuit board, the independent may be willing to go to a salvage yard and put in a used circuit board. A circuit board doesn’t wear out–it either works or it doesn’t.

How in-depth was the diagnosis,did they remove the head and examine it? What I am getting at is may be they broke the head while they had it out to examine.

Or maybe the Advisor just “shot from the hip” and made a diagnosis just from having the description described.

I have an inherent distrust of dealers so I, of course, think you are getting scammed.

Before you do anything else, get your owner’s manual out and look at the fuse block. While it probably isn’t the problem, it’s always good to make sure that a blown fuse (about $.39) isn’t your problem. If the fuse is blown, you will see a gap in the metal between the two ends of the plug.

Now to dealers and auto shops. Most don’t even have mechanics anymore. They are technicians. They know how to plug your bug into a computer and unplug and replace. No real diagnosis there.

My mom got hosed about the same way. She took her car into a dealer when her heater stopped working, charged her $300 for a new blower. She insisted they give her the old part. I hooked up the old blower to a transformer and it worked fine.

I agree with Triedag, it doesn’t wear out. I would even question if the dealer broke it when you brought it to him. In fact, I heard a “mechanic” call a woman on a phone once for a simple oil leak and convinced her to replace the timing chain, water pump, alternator, belts, rear seal, etc., on a car that was almost new.

Try ebay for your parts too. Sometimes, you can get OEM parts still in their original packaging at a healthy discount.

As far as your question… a lamp that costs a few dollars can balloon to several hundred dollars with generous amounts of vaseline and sand.

Also, you may want to find out if there are any recalls for this problem. Who knows, maybe VW will do it for free.

Do you really think the light for the HVAC control has its own seperate fuse? On a lighting circuit you will have many lights on one fuse not just the illumination for the HVAC control,if a fuse is blown you would see other indications.

Recalls are almost always related to safety issues,a recall would not be issued over a burned bulb,maybe what you are refering to is a TSB. TSB’s are just instructions on how to deal with a problem,they don’t include free work.

For the OP the term “fan unit” is not so clear can you elaborate? a actual fan,or some type of control,we are not talking about the part with the light out are we? I am trying to make a connection between a “fan unit” a "HVAC control and a burned bulb (or some type of illumination device)

As far as I can tell - the recall is not related to my current issue. I’d brought the car in to get the recall issue fixed but then ran this debacle when I asked them to something more.

Oldschool - before the car went to the dealer - only the light that illuminates the 3 temperature controls on the dashboard was out. The heater/ac worked fine without problems. After the car back from the dealer - the heat, fan, defroster, everything dealing with heat or ac was dead, offline, kaput.

The first call from the consultant - I was told the electrical system for the light was connected to the ac fan unit (exact words). Since the ac fan unit was not working the light was out.

Speaking to the manager after that - he said the ‘boards’ for the unit shorted out.

Today after I brought my car back in for them to check for something that may be “loose” (manager’s words) - the service guy now says the switch blew out. When I asked why they didn’t just pop out the temp control knob and replace the bulb, he said oh no that would be bad and his guy had to take off the switch to get to the bulb.

Needless to say I had words with the manager and my car is not fixed. Once I really listened to the manager, I could tell he didn’t know what the heck he was talking about.

From doing research and getting feedback from here, I know they just botched this job and don’t want to take responsibility.

Like oldschool said, they broke something when examining. And like Rex Racer said, dealers are tricky. Like Triedag suggested, I’m taking the car to a VW mechanic that’s recommended by the car talk community.

Thanks all for your feedback.