Engine fan issue VW Beetle

I have a 2000 Beetle. I drove home this afternoon and parked in the garage. I noticed after a few minutes that the engine fan came on then it went off then it came on then it went off every few minutes. 45 minutes later it was still doing it. The hood of the car was very very hot and my garage has a very very low ceiling in the front where the hood of the car sits. Maybe only about 16 in above the hood . So I opened up the hood to see if circulating air would make the fan go off and sure enough the fan went off and stayed off. Could that have just been the issue in and of itself that the engine was hot and was triggering the fan?

It may be normal for that somewhat unusual parking configuration. Does the same thing happen when you park outside in a parking lot? Is coolant level ok? Is there any indication of engine overheating, dash coolant temp gauge, warning light?

If you’ve been parking in the same location for some time and this just started suddenly happening, just a heads up, you may have a head gasket problem developing. If so, better to know now than later.

I’ve never hung out in the garage before but I was reading some texts on my phone and that’s why I noticed it. I don’t remember it happening ever parked outside. None of the gauges are going on and I just had the car serviced and they didn’t tell me after doing a service check that there was anything wrong other than various leaks and brittle hoses because it’s an old car.

Hopefully it is just that unusual parking configuration that is holding the heat against the hood. The reason the fan turns on and off several times after turning engine off might be that some of the engine parts get hotter than others during the drive (which is normal) , and it takes time for that heat from those parts to move into the coolant. So the fan comes on, lowers the coolant temp, fan turns off, then more heat from the hotter engine parts move into the coolant, so the coolant heats up again, and the fan turns on. etc. It may be possible for your shop to confirm that theory using a scan tool to monitor the coolant temp sensor.

Yes possibly. I had called the mechanic before I figured out that opening the hood might cure it and then by the time I did that they had left for the day. So at the time without explaining to him with the configuration of the garage is or anything the only symptom he had was at the fan kept going on so of course he was telling me all sorts of scary things like the computer was wacky or something like that. What I’m going to try to do from now on as long as it’s still summer is when I pull into the garage I’m going to pop the hood and just let the engine cool off. We’ll see if that does anything.


Granted, it could be the configuration of your garage.
You still should check your coolant level, when the engine is cold check the level in the reservoir and, if possible, in the radiator itself.
When driving, is the engine temperature in the normal range?
Have you been changing your coolant according to the time/mileage as specified by VW?

When I had my car serviced a few days ago they told me that everything was working properly except everything was old but that there was a tiny pinhole of a leak in the coolant reservoir however the level was not low at all and that I should just keep an eye on it. I don’t think the car has been running hot at least there hasn’t been any warning lights or anything like that happening. However today I took the car out for several hours just the kind of driving that cars hate - hot humud weather, stop and start, bad traffic all that sort of thing. And so when I arrived home I’m sure the engine was plenty hot. I only parked halfway into the garage so that there was a good 10 ft above the hood. Then I popped the hood and just stood there for half an hour. The fan did not come on. Also the hood of the car being open got cool quickly. The engine was still hot to the touch 45 minutes later however the fan did not come on. So if the situation does not recur with the fan coming on maybe hopefully that was the issue. Thanks for your input everyone.

The only question to the service department should be if the fans will come on with the engine off or not. If they will, the engine was just hot enough for the fans to come. If not then the cause needs to be fixed.

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I’m pretty sure the coolant reservoir is pressurized, so it’s not good that there’s a leak in it. I’d get it replaced.

Yes I did ask the mechanic that on the phone earlier yesterday when the situation was happening and before I popped the hood. He said yes the fan would come on with the engine off if it was hot and that was normal but what was not normal was that it continued to go on and off for a long time. But then I told him today that after I popped the hood the situation remedied itself and he said - good that sounds like it was the problem then.

Perhaps but this is a very old car so maybe not in this case. I think if this mechanic thought he could squeeze another couple hundred dollars out of me he would have suggested it but he said at this point it just keep an eye on it.

My '83 VW GTI had a pressurized reservoir, pretty sure your 2000 does.

Well here’s what I would do. Drain and flush coolant. New hoses and thermostat. Clean outside of radiator or replace. And check water pump and replace that leaky reservoir. Or just keep an eye on it.

Well here’s the issue. The mechanic said the car is so old and the hoses and other parts are very brittle although still working that if he starts fixing one thing other things connected to them are going to break

Tihats why you do everything, or should have done five or more years ago. Box of parts and a day or two in the shop. Then the head gasket goes.

I seems you’ve narrowed this down to at most a minor problem for now. But the cooling system won’t work correctly if it isn’t holding the designed pressure. So if you begin to ever notice the coolant temp gauge going higher than it should, good idea as a first step to correct that small pinhole leak. Or if you feel lucky, just ask the shop to show you where the leak is on the plastic bottle , and ask them if it would be a worthwhile experiment to try sticking a piece of bubble gum over the hole. The proper repair is pretty obvious, replace the bottle. (Note that some coolant overflow bottles aren’t pressurized and are supposed to have a small hole in them.)

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I’ll try that - thanks.

George I’m just sayin ya might want to revise the bubble gum recommendation. Maybe it’s gotten better in the 60 years since I chewed any but be more specific on the brand, whether chewed or not, and whether stuck on the inside or outside of the coolant container. The problem is, these posts stick around for years and are read by all types, some of which hire out light bulb changes.

Ok, thanks for the advice, done.