Car problem that I cannot figure out

I have thought for some time I would need to eventually replace my distributer capand have been putting it off. My car has been slow to start and kind of chugging when turned on and sometimes it takes a couple key turns but it still started and ran fine. The car was bought used by me and is a volkswagen cabrio 2001 convertible I bought it for a good price used and care deeply for the little thing and would like to drive it till it is dead. Unfortunately the problem has gotten weirder. The cars electric remote key stopped working on just the unlock a week or so ago then, last tuesday every time unlocked with the key no matter how the car was locked by key or remote the alarm sounds. I found a way to shut it off by turning the key in the truck lock, but now no matter if open or closed the truck open light is always usually on. yesterday the interior unlock lock button and the radio and the interior light would not work.

The clock resets itself to 12 O’ clock every time the car is started and the alarm usually alothough not every time goes off now when I used the key in the lock. The radio worked again today but the interior light did’t work and a co-worker told me today my brake light is out.

Any ideas what could be going on?

I change my oil regularly and recently replaced the right wheel bearing. I change my oil, I try to take care of the car…any suggestions?

I had somewhat similar symptoms in a 1992 Mercedes (radio would stop working and the dome light would come on until I switched it off manually, also the sunroof would open on its own while I was driving). I found oxidation on a couple of fuses and their receptacles. I cleaned them off with emory cloth, replaced one fuse and sprayed WD 40 on all the contacts to kill the oxidation. The problems haven’t returned now and it’s been several years. So, my suggestion is to check your fuses for oxidation.

Also, for slow starting, check the wires running from the starter to the battery on both ends (battery and starter) for oxidation. Check the ground wire as well. Oxidation may even be underneath the rubber insulation. If it’s present, either clean the connections thoroughly or replace the wires.

After the above is finished, a third suggestion is to charge the battery up and then go to Autozone and have them test your battery and alternator. They will do this for free. Good luck.

The clock memory, trunk light, dome light, etc., all work off the same fuse. There’s your clue. Find this fuse. It may not be in the normal cabin fuse box; you may find a separate fuse box under the hood. (I’m not familiar with the Cabrio.) Check its contacts for looseness or corrosion. Or maybe it’s just a flaky fuse that needs replacement.

I would look at the block to chassis ground strap(s). In todays cars, these seem to be undersized, IMO anyway. There should be several of them, but each is so small that the loss of one could have a detrimental affect. I would replace at least one of them with a good flat braided 4 gauge copper wire. Make sure there is no corrosion under the terminals too.

You should find one of these wires from the head by the front motor mount to the top of the strut tower and another from the bottom transmission to engine bolt to the firewall nearby. There could be a couple others too.

There are also ground wires that go from the body inside the engine compartment to the ground plane of the dashboard. There should be at least two of these, but 4 is more common. Just check the connections on these.