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Old December 9th, 2005, 13:36   #1
gmiller
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Default My instrument panel lights flicker when it's cold

When it's about 40 degrees F or colder, my instrument panel lights flicker. The VW dealer says it's because power is going to so many different systems--seat heaters, head lights, etc.--and the flickering is happening when the glow plugs kick in, as part of normal "electrical draw". This answer seems stupid to me--flickering lights aren't normal! Does anyone else out there have a TDI that does this? What can I do?
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Old December 9th, 2005, 14:43   #2
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I think he's partially correct, but I'd clean the contacts of all of the grounds you can find - and you'll find a few under the battery. Corroded grounds cause issues when the power available is overcoming various pieces of electrical equipment AND being interferred from completing the circuit by some corrosion. You may not notice it in warmer weather, but with increased draw on the battery, it rears its ugly head. Only to get uglier as the corrosion increases, causing such problems as loosing your trip meter and clock when you turn the key.

That's my guess.
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Old December 9th, 2005, 15:41   #3
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My 2003 Jetta wagon had a bad ground under the dash board repaired under warranty for this problem. When I would make a turn, the dashboard lights would go out, and then come back on. Additionally, if I was going down the highway with the cruise control engaged, and I put the wipers on intermittent setting, the cruise control would occasionally disengage when the wipers kicked on. This problem also went away after the repair.

Lights may dim slightly when a large load kicks on, but they shouldn't *flicker*.....
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Old December 9th, 2005, 17:19   #4
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My 05 golf does the same, when it's about 5*C and below (roughly the same temps as you). Except on mine, all the lights in the door go out for a second or so, the dash lights will go right out for a split second, etc. You can sit and watch the radio light flicker. Bringing the revs up to 2000RPM or so doesn't make it go away, so I doubt it's the excessive electrical load, unless these things are built to draw more than the alternator can put out when they're cold (which would be a bad idea). If I turn my heated seats, rear defrost, etc. off it makes no difference.
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Old December 9th, 2005, 18:50   #5
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Metal shrinks when cold, so it could be a plug, poorly soldered wire, or a broken wire that connects in higher temps. I'd bet on a 2005 as having a plug that's not really tight. Very small bet, however.
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Old December 9th, 2005, 19:07   #6
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Let me guess, the lights filckered around 2400 RPM?

The glow plugs run after the engine is started, until the temp gague begins to move, when the engine is below 2400 RPM. When you go above that rpm, they click off, and when you come back below it, they click back on, and the inrush draw makes the lights dim.

Now, if it is flickering all the time, then you are having an eletrical problem...

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Old December 10th, 2005, 03:30   #7
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The panel lights in the '04 flicker slightly after I start it and for a couple (few) minutes afterwards. I'm curious too. It appears to happen only when its real cold out, so I would guess the flickering is caused by either the engine and/or coolant glow plugs being modulated by their controller. That's my guess.

--Nate
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Old December 10th, 2005, 10:09   #8
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In my case, it happens at idle, at 1000rpm, at whatever rpm, it's constant, and independant of engine speed. I talked to the dealership, and they pretty much told me 'tough luck', if I leave it there for a whole day they can try and find it, otherwise I have to live with it. I don't trust them with my car, they have proved to me many times why I should not... I don't know what to do, but I would like to fix it myself.
Although I cannot speak for the original poster, and I hope I haven't hijacked this too much.
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Old December 20th, 2005, 06:13   #9
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I used to have some flickering/dimming like this, but never thought much of it. Then one day my brake/ABS lights started flashing and beeping at me. After searching here, I figured it was the ground under the battery, so I cleaned that up- not only did it solve the brake/ABS issues, but the flickering was gone too.
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Old December 20th, 2005, 19:06   #10
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If you rule out a loose ground replace the headlight switch. If you have outside lights and no dash lights intermitently it's a bad switch. Fixed another tonight.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 04:55   #11
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My '04 does the same--not only that, but I'm getting RFI on a UHF frequency. The other day, turning the lights off and on fixed the RFI, the following day it was turning the heated mirrors off and on, and then today nothing worked to fix the RFI. Didn't look to see if the dash lights were flickering, but I have seen it in the past month, so I know it's there.

Under the battery, you say? Any other problem areas to be checked too?
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Old December 21st, 2005, 05:37   #12
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I swear, its gotta be the glow plugs (coolant and/or engine GPs) cycling, drawing power, causing the flicker. I do not notice the flicker when the engine is warm. Only for a few minutes when its cold.

--Nate
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Old December 21st, 2005, 05:51   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PDJetta
I swear, its gotta be the glow plugs (coolant and/or engine GPs) cycling, drawing power, causing the flicker. I do not notice the flicker when the engine is warm. Only for a few minutes when its cold.

--Nate
Flicker is one thing. Lights going out it another. Your flicker is the sign of a battery needing charging. Your GP's draw some SERIOUS Amps.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 15:19   #14
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The glow plugs cycling shouldn't cause the lights to flicker at between 1-30Hz, mine flicker pretty much randomly, sometimes very quickly (fast enough to be really distracting), sometimes very slowly, or not at all.
Turning on/off electrical devices doesn't change it, same with revving the engine. I think it might be the light switch. I tried turning them off and back on and that didn't cure it, but maybe the switch is dirty inside, or there is some frost inside it or something.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 19:49   #15
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My radio display flickers every so slightly, almost not noticeable, when there the car is cold and I have the headlights and heated seats on. The rest of the dash lights and gauges do not flicker. It goes away once the car is warmed up.

Unless yours is really really noticeable it's probably normal.
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