Code P2181

2003 vw golf, 4cyl, 2.0L.chenged the ECT sensor, the engine light came back after 2 days.Among the probable cause is listed the radiator failure( I believe there is no radiator in this vehicle) or the water pump failure. Some expert also said thay the thermostat is bad. So please help me!!!The car is running great, the temperature gauge is at 190.What is my next step? $72 I spent already for the ECT sensor.Thank you.

Sure this is the correct code?
Based on what you’ve related I’d make a wild guess at the thermostat being stuck open and yes, your car does have a radiator.

When was the last time Volkswagen made an air cooled engine for sale in this country? I know they made the Beetle for sale in countries other than the United States in their original guise through the 1990s, but I think the Beetle was the last air cooled VW sold here. Late '60s, early '70s, maybe?

Last air cooled Beetles for sale in the U.S. were the '79 models but production continued in Mexico and other countries.

The '75 through '79 models were all fuel injected.

I was off a little. I didn’t realize they sold the Beetle here that long.

What can happen if I ignore this diagnostic code for a while, in other words, I don’t replace the thermostat yet, since I’m out of work and tight on money right now, what can the damage be in the short or long run? How serious is this? My car runs greatly otherwise. I very much appreciate your feedback.

This will usually drop the fuel mileage a bit and can trigger codes or illuminate the CEL. You might price the thermostat around. The thermostat itself is generally inexpensive.

If you believe there is no radiator in this car you should not attempt unassisted car repairs.

P2181 is a manufacturer specific code of some sort. Generic OBD codes are in the range 0001-0999. The fact that it is in the 2000 series rather than the 1000 series probably means something, but I don’t have time this morning to research it.

Google tells me that P2181 is a VW specific code having to do with the cooling system not meeting the vehicle computer’s high standards – very likely that it is too slow to come up to temperature. Here’s a link to a long thread on the subject.

Other than checking for a fan that is stuck on or a stuck open thermostat, I don’t think there is any choice other than ignoring the light, letting the dealer try to fix it, or spending a few hours researching exactly how the cooling system in your vehicle works. It’s apparently a lot more complex than it probably ought to be.

How can you tell if the water pump is bad? What are the symptoms? What to look for or listen to? What the bad water pump does to the engine or the cooling system or to anything else?Thanks.

1976 I believe.

You can get a thermostat for $5.00. Find a friend or relative to install it, it’s easy.