Peace, Love and a Dying Beetle. Help!

Hi guys!

Help me save my 2002 VW Beetle, you’re my only hope! It only has 68,000 miles on it and if I can’t find the cause of my troubles, I have no choice but to buy a new car.

Here’s the scoop:

When I use the brakes to slow my car down or stop, the air conditioning/heat starts to flicker, the electrical on the dashboard goes and my car stalls. It doesn’t make any sounds; just dies.

On a related note; when I try and turn my engine on, it doesn’t seem to turn over right away. It takes about 4 or 5 tries (and a lot of praying) to get the car started. Both issues worsen when it is rainy outside, but it still happens on sunny days.

Now, both problems don’t seem to happen all the time, some days my car runs normally with no problems, other times it’s a complete nightmare! A very unreliable daisy-mobile.

When the problem first started, I took my car to a licensed VW mechanic and he fixed the coiler and ignition wire: No good.

Next trek, he fixed the coolant sensor: Not the problem either.

Frustrated, I took it to a VW dealership mechanic who ran diagnostics. I thought they were going to be my salvation! But sadly, besides some worn down brakes and an overdue timing belt, they told me there was nothing wrong with the car and get it outta there.

As the problem worsened, I took it back to the dealer two more times. They inspected it and charged me a fortune just to say that there is nothing wrong with it.

Can you fellahs solve the mystery of the Dud Bug, or am I going to have to call the exterminator?


I would start by checking the grounding of the dash board as well as both ends of all the battery cables. Make sure everything is clean and tight.

It would be nice to know if it is a manual or automatic. Diesel or gas?

Has the CEL (Check Engine Light) come on? Does it come on when you try to start the car?

I really get bummed out when I see a post about a Beetle and it’s not…well,not about a Beetle.

The car is a gas automatic and I have never seen the check engine light on before. When this problem started happening, I though it had to do with my battery too, but when I checked, everything was fine. I just got a new battery 2 years ago.

As for the dashboard grounding, I’ll give that a look. Would that cause the car to stall, though?

Thanks so much for your help!

Is there a multi-function stalk switch sticking out of your steering column that controls a lot of things?? Those are always suspect…But having the heater turn on when you brake, that is troubling…That, to me, points to a MAJOR wiring problem. Faulty or damaged (rodents) wiring harnesses are not common but they do happen…

If your fuse block can be removed from it’s mount and turned over, take a look at the back side…Look for any melted plastic circuit dividers that have formed short circuits…On the firewall there are usually one or two main feed-through connectors. Examine them closely for damage.

If you can’t find it, then yes, it’s time to move on…Major wiring repair or replacement is just not practical in modern cars…