Randomly blinking oil light on bug

I have a 2000 VW Beetle. The check engine light came on in June and I immediately took it for repair. The shop ran diagnostics and could find nothing wrong. But I did pay them for an oil change, so they were gracious and didn’t charge me the $75 diagnostic fee.

About a month ago the oil light began blinking randomly. At the same time the blue temp light would come on and stay on even if it was 90 degrees outside. My bug only has a blue light for cold and a red light for hot. I know the red light works because my bug overheated last summer and it required a new water pump.

At first the oil light would only blink 3-5 times anywhere from 1-3 days apart. Like I said, very random…did not seem to matter whether the car had been running long or not. And always the blue temp light would come on at the same time. Even though I had just had an oil change in June, I got another oil change over Labor Day weekend. After the oil change the light did not blink at all for 6 days. Then it started blinking again, but only when completely stopped. As before, the blue temp light joins in. And, as before, it seems random…it does not do this every time I drive the car but it is becoming more frequent. This morning I noticed the blue temp light started blinking while I was driving and the oil light had stopped blinking (only blinks when at a complete stop).

Question: Do I need to surrender and take it to the VW dealership? Could it possibly be an electrical glitch? I have not noticed any unusual sounds or smells. It seems to be just the lights acting wacky.

I appreciate any advice any of you can offer!

Rats, I saw the title and was going to come in to tell you that a flickering oil light is totally normal, but that was with the old air-cooled ones.

The answer to your question is maybe. If you can find a good independent mechanic, preferably a VW specialist, there’s no reason to go the dealer. Get this checked out quick, though, since if the oil light isn’t an electrical glitch, it’s causing serious damage to your engine driving it like that.

How long did you drive it overheated?

Thanks Greasy Jack! I did not drive it long overheated…just to the next exit and then after it had cooled down completely I drove it to a shop that was less than 5 miles down the road… I asked the guys at the shop if they thought I had done any damage driving it those few miles and they didn’t think so. Plus I haven’t had any problems after they replaced the water pump. I did have to take it back to that shop because I was leaking anti-freeze from near the water pump. So the put in another whole new water pump to fix the leak. It does not seem to be leaking anti-freeze anymore.

I will surrender and take it in to a shop tonight or tomorrow. I only hesitated this long because it seems so random and there are no other indications of trouble. I was just hoping somebody might be able to give me some clue what it might be so I’ll know if the mechanic is jerking me around. Like I don’t want to pay for a complete engine overhaul if it’s just a matter of changing a filter or gasket or guage or something.

The car is 10 years old and I just don’t know how much more money I should put into fixing it or if I should give in and replace it. I love my car.

I Would Be Very Concerned With A Blinking Oil Pressure Light.

Do you check the oil level frequently and find the level OK? The over-heating incident is a bit disconcerting. Sometimes engine damage can result, depending on the conditions and circumstances involved.

However, you may have diagnosed the problem fairly accurately . . . wacky lights and electrical glitches. Volkswagen issued a Technical Service Bulletin pertaining to 1998-2001 Bugs, regarding Malfunctioning Instrument Clusters.

The bulletin that I saw doesn’t elaborate on what the malfunctions are exactly, but electrical terminals that connect the car’s wiring harness and cluster are the culprits. Some improper crimping has caused loose connections. The connections need to be checked and corrected.

I presume these lights are contained within the cluster. Loose connections can certaily cause intermittent glitches and wacky warnings, in my opinion.

Most repair facilities can access the TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins). I’d ask a VW mechanic, either dealer or not, about this issue. Oil pressure is critical and can be checked/tested by a technician, also.

I think you were right. Try your theory and the TSB out on your mechanic.


Try This At Home. Give The Bug A Love Pat.

You can try hitting the top of the dashboard with the palm of your hand when the lights go wacky and see if they behave . . . or hit it when they are behaving and see if they misbehave. Don’t hit it too hard or you may create a different problem.

If it is influenced by tapping above the cluster then it’s probably the terminals.


P.S. A dealer who has performed the Bulletin on VWs before may be able to tell you what the loose terminals symptoms act like.

Thanks CSA! Hopefully the love pat will help me figure it all out.

Gee Rats, I put about 180,000 miles on my 1970 Bug and I don’t recall the light ever coming on while the engine was running. :slight_smile:

Aha! That’s Because The Fuse Box And Fuses Were All Corroded. That Was A Bug Specialty.


“try hitting the top of the dashboard with the palm of your hand when the lights go wacky and see if they behave”

That is actually very good advice. I know a woman who drives an Audi TT, and the only way that she can get her windshield wipers to work is to bang on a specific place on the top of the dashboard. The mechanics at the Audi dealership taught her this trick.

German cars. You gotta love them.

I never had an electrical problem. However I did have some excitement when the brake line rusted through and the dual system on the brake cylinder failed leaving me no brakes. I am glad I knew how to downshift and use the parking brake.

Oops, I do remember an electrical problem. That brake light came on in the mountains of PA one dark and stormy night. I found a motel and in the morning found a dealer. Turns out the rain shorted out the warning light on the dual brake cylinder and was indicating a failure. This was more than a few years before the brake line went.

Joseph, When I Worked For Volkswagen The First Time, Around 1970-1971, I Saw Many Bugs With That Brake Switch Problem.

It got to be just about standard procedure for technicians to pull the rubber boots covering the connectors away from the switches, blow the moisture out, pack them with grease to keep it out, and reinstall them.

That was done to my 71 Super Beetle.


So, I took my little green Beatrice Bug (MC Bea Bug) into the shop this morning to address the randomly blinking oil light and the cool temp light issue.

Well, the good news is that it looks like the immediate problem of the lights blinking can be fixed for under $200. Woo hoo!

The bad news is, he did a full evaluation of Miss Bea Bug… a full physical, if you will… and she has some ailments that will need to be addressed within the next 6 - 18 months that could cost as much as $3000 total. The first thing that needs to be addressed in the very near future is a new clutch (which even I had noticed was slipping but was in denial about… cue the “la la la, I’m not listening to clutch slipping” routine)…and since it is a turbo it will cost me the full $1400 for a brand new clutch from the VW dealer. Which is STILL cheaper than taking it directly to the dealer because the labor is cheaper with my new mechanic friend. AT the dealer the new clutch would cost at least $2k!!!

SO, now I need to start thinking about whether it’s time to trade in MC Bea Bug for a newer cousin or sister. I’m already sad about that prospect and will be praying fiercely about this!!!

I appreciate any advice or feedback I can get on this issue. Thanks in advance!

I’m Curious. Do You Know What They Are Going To Do To Stop The Lights From Blinking?
Could they see it in action?

Were they concerned about oil pressure actually being low? Did they check the pressure?

Thanks for getting back to us.


Well, they did the diagnostic which did not show any issue with the oil pressure, but did show an issue with the temp sensor. On Bugs, it seems, that if a faulty sensor is causing one light to come on or blink in the cluster, sometimes others will join in for no good reason. He did offer to check the oil pressure anyway, but warned it would cost an additional $150 because he’d have to open up the engine to check it. AND, if the oil pressure just happened to not be low when he checks it the $150 effort would be inconclusive. Since the diagnostic is showing all signs pointing to the temp sensor, he recommended they start with that and see what happens in the test drive after that is replaced.

eakabug - So, what turned out to be the fix for the blinking oil light on your 2000 VW Beetle?

Even $1400 for a VW clutch seems high to me. Shop around some more. I think $500 to $700 is more in line, but I don’t know where you live. Could be big city prices.

Thanks for following up with me! The blinking oil light was just the temp sensor and I was able to get my clutch replaced at a VW dealership for about $700. As it turns out, a friend I hadn’t seen since high school is the service director at a dealership about 30 mins from where I live. He was able to give me a loaner at no cost (which made the distance more bearable) and he gave me the “family discount” which saved me $600 from the non-dealership quote. Also, I trust him…so when he told me my flywheel was in pristine condition I believe him!