High beams ok, but not low beam - one side only

ruelvis

Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Location
PA
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS TDI Wagon
Newbie here with a headlight issue that I'm hoping someone could help me with. This looks like a great resource chock full o' knowledgeable folks so I'm excited to get your feedback.

I noticed yesterday that my passenger side lowbeam headlights were not working. However, upon further investigation I noticed that the high beams were working although the low beams on that same side aren't.

My driver's side lights are working fine - high and low beams. And when i say that, it looks like I'm getting light from the same lamp, but with different intensities.

So I spent a couple hours looking around here last night, and it seems that my model (2003 Jetta GLS TDI Wagon) headlamp has a dual filament bulb which could explain this. I think. Not knowing how a dual filament works, I'm wondering if it's possible that the high beams could work while the low beams do not. In that case, replacing the dual filament lamp//bulb should do the trick, right?

If the dual filament lamp doesn't work that way, then my fear is that it's some kind of switching or relay affecting that one side only. Does that make sense?

This thread appears to be for models where separate lamps (a separate low beam lamp + a separate high beam lamp) where both should be on when the high beams are on, but I'm not sure that's the source of my problem if the driver's side is working. I'd feel comfortable changing the headlamps even if i had to take the bumper off, but doing this in the steering wheel is probably a bit over my head. I'd hate to go to all of the trouble to replace the lamp on the one side and learn that it's some kind of switch or relay in the steering column messing things up.

As an aside,I have a slightly embarassing question. While playing with which lamps were on/off during high and low beams & comparing the two sides I realized that don't know what the little round light under the orange light is for and when those lights should come on. I'm not sure it's relevant now (PLEASE feel free to give me the low down on that light though) but for whatever reason I always thought those little lights *were* the supplemental light that created my high beams. But it definitely looks like the big lamp on the driver's side gets brighter when the high beams are on & those little lights (on both sides) don't come on when I have the high beams on. I digress...

Another question: If it seems that the solution is replacing the one lamp (bulb), would you advise replacing the lamp on both sides while I have the bumper off?

THANK YOU SO MUCH!
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2010
Location
Columbus, OH
TDI
2003
It is likely either the bulb or the fuse. You can see fuses 18-20 are for low and high and left and right. Check those first as they are easy. Also, yes, it is a dual filament, so the low and or the high can go out on a single bulb but still leave the other intact and working. Check the fuse and then check the bulb.

http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/t...31_New_Beetle_Fuse_Card_small_10April2009.jpg

The little round light under the orange turn signal is a fog light. Try pulling your headlight switch toward you in the car.

You don't need to take the bumper off to replace a turn signal bulb. There is a back cover that comes off to give access. At worst you might have to take the battery out, but it is much less work than taking the bumper off.
 

BobnOH

not-a-mechanic
Joined
May 29, 2004
Location
central Ohio
TDI
New Beetle 2003 manual
Replace both headlight bulbs, do the passenger side first (it's easier). If you can park it in a nice warm garage, it will really
 

ruelvis

Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Location
PA
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS TDI Wagon
FANTASTIC! Thanks for your input, freakwithracket!

That would be such a relief it's just the fuse!

If it's the bulb, your post mentioned that I wouldn't have to remove the bumper for the turn signal light. Do you feel I should have to remove the bumper to replace the dual filament bulb?

Thanks again. Much appreciated.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2010
Location
Columbus, OH
TDI
2003
No. Just go pop the hood and look at the back of the passengers side headlight. There are two covers back there. One has two metal clips holding it on, the other is held on by a plastic tab. Take a flat head screw driver or something (you can do it by hand to) and push back the metal clips (about 4 inches long each). The back cover is then off and the main bulb will be right there. Being your first time you may have to peek in a bit, but it is as straight forward as can be. No bumper removal necessary.
 

Das

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2013
Location
Merrimack NH
TDI
Silver 2002 Jetta GLS TDI
Do not touch bulbs with bear hands ever. The oils on your hands will effect the life span of the bulb. If you want both sides to be the same in intensity replace both bulbs at the same time.
Not all cars have the fog light option but if you do it is controlled by pulling out your light switch
It is pretty easy to change the bulbs drivers side a little harder but there is a piece of plastic held by 2 screws in front of battery if you remove the screws and lift this piece up you have a better access to the drivers side light housing.
 

ruelvis

Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Location
PA
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS TDI Wagon
So it looks like the fuses are ok since I swapped the right & left low beam fuses and things are now flip-flopped (the passenger side side works but the driver's side doesn't). It looks like I need to replace the bulb. It looks like the replacement bulbs will be brighter than the factory installed ones so I'm thinking I should replace both just so the light intensity isn't so different from one side to the other.
With the low temps if I can't get it out relatively quickly, I think I'll be doing it over the weekend in a friend's garage w/ heater on (as suggested by bobnOH).

fyi - the fuse chart for my car is slightly different from the one freakwithracket posted in that my low beam fuses are both 15A (not 10A), but they are in the same location.

thx guys
 

ruelvis

Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Location
PA
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS TDI Wagon
Thanks, DAS. You just confirmed what I was thinking about the different light intensities. I must have been typing my reply when you posted. And Thanks for the tip re: the driver's side and bare hands warning!
 

hskrdu

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2003
Location
Maryland and New England
TDI
2003 Golf GLS 4D 5M, 2015 GSW SE 6M
ru- here's a decent how-to from youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DBqYfEQGCs

We used to have our own on this site, but I can't find it. On the Jetta HL, the low beam usually burns out first, since your have DRLs (daytime running lights, where the low beam comes on at reduced power when the key is on and handbrake off), and you have to replace the bulb to get the low beam back, despite the high beam filament being fine. Some people defeat the DRL function for this (or another) reason. Once you have a replacement bulb, hold it (by the base) up to a light, and you'll see the twin filaments for high and low beams.

It is not necessary (as fwr said) to remove the bumper to change the bulbs. That being said, once you know how to do it, removal of the bumper cover is a 15 minute exercise, although putting it back on quickly may require an extra set of hands. If you remove the bumper cover, you would then loosen and pull the headlights forward to gain more room and easier access to the rear of the headlight (or remove and take the whole HL assembly inside and work at your leisure- and be able to see what you are doing).

fwr is the headlamp guru, so I'll only add this: If you haven't replaced the bulbs before, if can be a PITA trying to figure out exactly what is going on. The Golf bulbs are held in by little spring wires, while the Jetta 9007 is held in by twin retaining rings. If you can't see what you are doing, it may take some patience, especially if you don't have much room to work with (driver side, without removing the battery). Also, obviously, if you have a new bulb on one side, and an old bulb on the other, you'll have a slightly different intensity of light. Despite this, I routinely only change the bulb that is bad, since I can't stand trashing a perfectly good bulb, and have often found one will last many miles longer than another. If you are not removing the bumper cover, there is no loss of time, since all you have done is pop the hood and gather your tools.

Also (someone correct me if I'm wrong), but if you do have ecodes, you may need a different bulb than will be listed at the auto store/online vendor- an h4 or 9003? If you want to read more about bulbs, check out DS's site:
http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/bulbs/bulbs.html

In the video how-to, (for a Jetta sedan, but similar to JW) you do not need to separate the grill from the hood release pull, just wire it up and out of the way. Getting the hood release pull back on may result in angry tantrums. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4ZsoSJK8hU

IIRC, the 2003 JW (made in Germany vice Mexico) did not have a fog light, but it's possible that other various headlmaps (that will have a fog under the turn signal) were installed. If so, it's usually an H3 bulb, wired to a "euro switch." Does your headlight switch have a little icon for foglights, other than the low beam and high beam icon? With your car close to a wall, can you pull the HL switch towards you and see additional light, bright and low? The "filler" chrome plastic in a Jetta housing for headlamps with no fog light can sometimes look light a lamp.

If you have european code style Jetta headlamps, you may also have "city" bulbs, little W5W/194 wedge bulbs that illuminate like front parking lights.

Here's a great page for your future reference, if you haven't saved it yet:
http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=60705

And a general Mark IV DIY from the vortex:
http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?5187132-MK4Forum-Essentials-DIY-FAQ-amp-Resources-Guide

G/L!
 
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ruelvis

Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Location
PA
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS TDI Wagon
thx for the info & links, hskrdu! Everyone's help has significantly reduced my anxiety level about this.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2010
Location
Columbus, OH
TDI
2003
So it looks like the fuses are ok since I swapped the right & left low beam fuses and things are now flip-flopped (the passenger side side works but the driver's side doesn't). It looks like I need to replace the bulb. It looks like the replacement bulbs will be brighter than the factory installed ones so I'm thinking I should replace both just so the light intensity isn't so different from one side to the other.
With the low temps if I can't get it out relatively quickly, I think I'll be doing it over the weekend in a friend's garage w/ heater on (as suggested by bobnOH).

fyi - the fuse chart for my car is slightly different from the one freakwithracket posted in that my low beam fuses are both 15A (not 10A), but they are in the same location.

thx guys

Wait what? If the problem was on the passengers side, then you took the the L-R low beam fuses and swapped them and now the issue is on the drivers side, it means the fuse is bad...or am I misreading what you are saying?
 

ruelvis

Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Location
PA
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS TDI Wagon
Wait what? If the problem was on the passengers side, then you took the the L-R low beam fuses and swapped them and now the issue is on the drivers side, it means the fuse is bad...or am I misreading what you are saying?
Oh my! That was a typo or autocorrect + my lack of review before submitting :confused: It should be 'not' instead of 'now', like this

So it looks like the fuses are ok since I swapped the right & left low beam fuses and things are NOT flip-flopped (the passenger side side works but the driver's side doesn't). It looks like I need to replace the bulb.

To be sure, I just swapped the fuses and the condition remains unchanged.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2010
Location
Columbus, OH
TDI
2003
Got it. Yep, go change those bulbs out. You may want to look into bulb types as well. The North American headlights used a 9007 bulb, however the european e-code headlights use an H4 bulb. There are a lot of people who upgraded to e-code headlights (they have a better beam pattern) over the years.

You can easily tell by looking at the bulb opening in the reflector. The e-codes have a bigger whole and the hole itself is more or less flush with the rest of the reflector. Like this (click on the image):


The NA spec headlights have a smaller opening, and there is a sizable lip that protrudes out from the reflector, maybe about a cm or so. Like this:

 
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thecrusher773

Veteran Member
Joined
May 12, 2013
Location
Coweta, OK
TDI
2002 5 Speed Beetle-sold, 2010 Jetta-sold currently out of the game
If you switched the fuses and it switched your issue then you found the problem.
 

ruelvis

Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Location
PA
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS TDI Wagon
I never woulda thunk that the headlamps could be different in that way. Looks like they're NA headlights and I'll just go with the 9007 bulbs. I can't describe how grateful for the help I've received here.
 
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