My Fuel Gauge, Engine Temp Gauge and external air temp gauge all stopped working in the same instant. I took the car to a VW Dealer. I paid the 1 hour basic diagnostic fee only for them to tell me they have no clue what’s wrong. They want me to authorize them to give them the go-ahead at $95/hr to start disassembling my dashboard. I don’t mind paying for repairs, but I can’t afford to have them “go to town” on my car when they have no clue
I would suspect a bad ground connection for the simultaneous failure of those instruments, and I would also suspect that the bad ground is located somewhere behind the instrument panel. As a result, there may be no alternative to disassembling the dashboard.
However, if you take the car to an “auto electric specialist” or to a specialized foreign car mechanic who is experienced with the unique electrical quirks of VWs, you could probably have the problem resolved at a lower cost.
Try looking around at
They have had some discussions on this problem .
More info. The dealer hooked up their computer and cleared out error codes. When they did that and turned the key to the start position without starting the car, the gaueges worked. As soon as the car started, they stopped working again.
And the dealer did not know what to do after that???
No, they said they basically wanted to take the car apart piece by piece until they figured it out. The suggested the possibility of a new instrument cluster which is $400 just for the part.
There are places that can fix these dashboards. One of them, BBA Reman: http://bba-reman.com/content.aspx?content=VW_Passat_dashboard, can rebuilt your dashboard unit, retaining the immobilizer settings. It will take a week of mail delivery and work time to fix it, but is far cheaper than $400 plus labor for the dealer to do it. All you need to do is remove the dashboard unit and mail it to them.
Apparently, the problems your complaining about are common for this car.
I did a couple of searches on that web site - but came up empty. Thanks for the suggestion anyway.
Hmmm. I might give that a try.
This car has plenty of other quirks as well. Like - the moon roof likes to randomly open by itself.
A very common problem on these cars is the ABS computer going bad. When that happens all sorts of whacky things happen to the instruments (including some of the symptoms you describe). It’s easy to check. Unplug the wire harness from the ABS computer (it’s under the hood next to the washer fluid tank. It’s aluminum and has a bunch of steel brake lines running to it). If the gauges return to normal (with the exception of the ABS and brake lights remaining on) then you can be sure the computer is to blame. BBS reman (mentioned above) is a good place for rebuilds of electronics like this. I’ve used them myself.