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Door Malfunction

We have a 2001 VW Beetle with41,000 miles on it.

Two days ago, we were turning left onto a freeway when the passenger door flew open! We closed it and drove it home. Today we got into the car to do an errand and can not keep the passenger door closed! No amount of slamming, pushing or locking will keep it shut.

Furthermore, the small light at the bottom inside of the door stays on and will eventually drain the battery, right? What two pieces must come together for that light to stay off?

There’s Either A Switch On The Car Body’s Door Opening Frame (Door Opening Perimeter) Or If It’s Like My Bonneville, It’s In The Door’s Latch Mechanism (The Part That’s “Frozen” / Broken On Your Volkswagen.)

If you don’t see a switch, try moving the latch (door end) with a screw driver. You may have to temporarily tie the door closed from inside, using a seatbelt or rope through a door handle / arm rest, etcetera.

You could use your Owner’s Manual and see which fuse controls the interior lights. If it wouldn’t disable critical lights or accesories then you could temporarily remove that fuse. Then your light will be out and the battery will keep its charge.


If it is still very cold wherever you are, try running the car with the heat full on for an hour or so in your driveway, using the lower vents. When the car’s interior is very warm, open the doors and spray some WD-40 onto the latches in the doors’ frames and the on the striker (which is just a steel knob on the door frame). Work the lubricant in by closing and opening each door a few times. Slam the door closed if you have to.
If either door is not latching properly, the lighting issue is secondary to the obvious safety problems.

I am going to put my vote in for a replacement of this door latch mechanisim. This latch has failed on you several time so now when someone falls out of the car you cannot say you did not know it was giving trouble. If it was my car I could make adjustment and an apprasial if these adjusments were sufficient for me to conclude that the lacth is performing as intended, you can not.

sounds like a job for a mechanic. Either it needs a quick shot of loosener lube or a new latch or latch spring. Maybe one from a recycle yard.

Thank you for your prompt reply. By comparing the switch in the passenger’s door to the driver’s side, I can feel it is not working the same. The switch on the driver’s side is much “tighter” and I can not easily move it. I was able to determine that the switch does regulate the light in the door, so put something in to hold it “off” for now.
One puzzling thing: this care has essentially been a “one person” car most of its 10 years. My husband teaches at a college and drives there several times a week, which in itself has subjected the poor thing to much body damage, but I don’t see any damage to the outside of the door which might have set the door alignment off a bit. It has had very few passengers.

Thank you for your reply. The car is parked in an attached garage which is usually at 50 degrees. However, for the 6 days before this happened, it was at a repair garage for a week to have a new front bumper put on and probably sat outside in the cold that whole time.
I did put WD40 in but will try again, now that the car has been warm for a few days.

Thank you for your reply. Replacement was my first thought but since it is the weekend, I decided to ask a few questions.
Interestingly, the first time the door flew open, my husband was driving it away from a dealer where it had spent a week getting a new front bumper and running lights. Apparently those lower items are set a bit too low for the recent ice and snow in the Chicago area, because I saw three Beetles with the same problem. But I digress.
I will call the service manager on Monday morning and tell him they created a problem, and see where I get. He gets big kick out of dealing with a 65 year old woman, but knows better than to give me a hard time. My daddy taught me right!

Thank you for replying.
My first thought was to take it back to the dealer where it was last week for a bumper issue. Since it is the weekend, I thought I would see what I could fine out this way.

Perhaps the details are lost somewhere in the post so I will ask,why would you call the Dealer and tell them they are the reason you are having trouble with your door latch?

Because, the first time the door malfunctioned was as we were leaving the service department where the car had been for a week. My husband turned out onto a freeway entrance and the door flew open. Fortunately, I was right behind him in another car.
We pulled over and he shut the door without gettng out. And when we got home we thought nothing of it. We did not use the car again until two days later and found we could not shut the door. Ergo…! I wondered whether the door was not fitting in the jamb right,
and a few other ideas.

Did they do some work with the door,perhaps a bit of information that I have missed? I do see you mention that they did some work on the bumper.

We took it in because of the bumper.
I don’t know if they did something with the door.
I wondered whether the door is sprung a bit from being handled during the bumper work.
Seems very odd.