(Help) 1987 VW Cabriolet Light issues

I just ran into this issue on our 1987 Cabriolet, when i turn on the headlights my back lights stop working as well side marker lights. if i move the light switch around i can get back lights & side marker lights trunk lights and interior dash ligths to work except for the headlights. this just started happening yesterday after the car lights where functioning correctly.

1 - Checked the Fuses and they are good
2 - when headlights are switched on turn signals lights work as well, all other are off (Side marker lights, back lights, trunk light, dash lights)
3 - when Light switch is moved around the Side marker lights, back lights, trunk light, dash lights work and the Headlights i cannot get to turn on.

any ideas what could be causing this?

Might be the light switch, you’re saying things change if you move it around? Next thing I’d do with a VW this old is check all the grounds you can, and add one from the engine block to the battery negative. My '83 GTI needed that.


i appreciate the advice, i could really use it.

yes, as i wiggle it i can get all running lights to work, when switched to headlight the running lights shut off. i will check the ground you mention and run a new or extra one.

as well order a new switch.

If you plan to keep this car for a while, the Bentley service manual is worth the money. You might find a used one cheaper on ebay.
VW - Volkswagen Repair Manual: GTI, Golf, Jetta: 1985-1992 - Bentley Publishers - Repair Manuals and Automotive Books

Thank you for that. Yes we plan to keep the car. If needed to rewire the whole thing we will.

Received the car manual and the light switch. After installing our lights were back up and running.

Any advice as to why the speedometer would have stopped working? What you recommend I test first as it worked when I drove the car home.

the Speedometer cable could be broken. I believe its pretty cheap.

Yes. Just ordered. Hopefully that does the job

On the cabriolet the electrical plug connects to the switch is so short it’s almost impossible to put back on. Anyone else run into this on your car??

Got it to work but not 100% sure it mounted flush.

Easy job turned hectic to replace

There’s probably a special tool or repair-trick needed to make replacing the switch easy. Sigh … Such is the life of a diy’er. Have you owned this car since new? Repair costs being what they are, it is pretty rare to see VW’s of this vintage still on the road. In this area at least.

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My 19 year oldson just bought the car from a gentleman in sacramento. Since we got it we’ve been repairing minor issues. Previous owner put work into it and my son and I want to restore it.

The car smog paper was from San Jose Ca, maybe it was once in that area.