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Should I replace door latches

I have a 2002 Volkswagen Beetle and the dome lights have started flashing on and off when I’m driving. Took it in to dealer to get diagnosed and they are telling me the door latches are bad and will have to be replaced for about $1000.00. Since the car is only worth about $2000.00, can I either A) clean the contacts on the existing door latches or B) just disconnect the dome lights so they don’t draw on the battery?

Do the doors close, or do they flap open as you drive? If they close then the latches are fine. You might need to adjust them (there will be 2-3 bolts holding the door side of the latch into the door. Loosen them to adjust) so that the door closes tighter and trips the sensor, but you should not need to replace them.

They probably have combined what used to be the shut off switch button, with the door latch now. So the door can latch just fine but the switch in the latch is not making good contact with ground. This kind of stuff is one reason why VW is near the bottom of the sales reports here. You can try cleaning the latch or maybe taking the door panel off to get to the wire going latch to see where the switch actually is and make sure there is good contact. Otherwise sure, pull the bulbs. Too bad a $5 door jamb switch has been replaced by $500 latches.

@shadowfax is right. Stop going to a dealer and find a local mechanic. A skilled mechanic can take care of this or you for a whole lot less money, if you don’t want to try it yourself.

This car doesn’t have a plain old Off switch for the dome light(s)?
All of mine do.

VW is crazy!

Door contact switch, removing and installing

The door contact switch is integrated into the door lock and cannot be replaced individually.

The complete door lock must be replaced if the door contact switch is faulty.

My wife’s 98 Windstar had the same problem. I would spray CRC Electrical Contact Cleaner into the door latches while working the door handle to clean the contacts.

Ed B.

I’m with @edb1961

That is the fix for a lot of Fords that have the light switch in the door latches. The only thing I do differently is put a screw driver into the latch mechanism and work it from open to closed a few (dozen) times while I hold the door handle in the open position. Of course I’m assuming that VW’s switches are similar to Ford’s.

Quoting @autoowner

“This car doesn’t have a plain old Off switch for the dome light(s)?
All of mine do.”

No it doesn’t. Your cars have a better design that has worked just fine for decades.

The above comments are the more likely solutions, but just fyi, sometimes a problem like this can be caused by a circuit breaker turning on and off, due to it either malfunctioning, or an over-current condition. For example if the wiring insulation was chaffing somewhere in the circuit, the overcurrent would turn off the circuit breaker, and after the breaker cooled down it would turn the circuit back on again, etc, etc.