need help with electrical gremlins


Well-known member
Jan 22, 2005
Toledo area, Ohio
2003 Jetta TDI Wagon
My '03 Jetta currently has a bad infestation of electrical gremlins that showed up last night. Here's what it has been doing (in chronological order):

Last night-
Battery light goes on
Lose all dashboard instruments (spedometer, tachometer, odometer, fuel gauge)
Regain all instrument gauges
battery light no longer on, but airbag error light goes on

This morning (it's dark so my lights are on)-
airbag error light still on
lose instrument panel backlighting (but backlighting on doors, heat/AC, seat heating stay on)
lose radio
ABS error light goes on
headlights dim (but still on)
cruise control erratic
instrument panel stuck (and doesn't change when key removed from ignition)- no change in odometer as I'm moving, spedometer stuck at 70, tachometer stuck (oddly enough... the clock works)
lose turn signals (both the indicator inside and the actual lights)

Any ideas on what has caused this gremlin infestation and how to exterminate them???

Here is work that's been done last week by our very own Jetaah:
brake fluid change
replace cruddy turbo actuator
install Panzer plate
general looksie with vag-com to see what else the car has to say for itself

Other work performed this fall/winter includes:
replace alternator
replace fuel filter
normal oil changes

Thanks for your help with this!


Veteran Member
Apr 23, 2004
Easton, PA
'00 Jetta 5M-'04 JW A5
I immediatley thought coolant migration but I am hopping for your sake that I am wrong.

Considering your alternator was replaced I would double check all your connections for that and all the grounds in the engine bay.


Veteran Member
Nov 24, 2003
Wisconsin, USA
New Beetle, 98, Blue
Thermo1223 said:
I immediatley thought coolant migration but I am hopping for your sake that I am wrong.
I was thinking the same thing.

Pull the plug on the coolant bottle if the alt plug is fine. See if there is any sign of coolant coming out of the bottle through the plug/connector area and possibly contaminating the plug going to the harness?

Let us know what you find out.