Question about 2003 Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible

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P2181 Coolant Temp Sensor

2003 VW Beetle 2.0 AVH engine

Had a P2181 code check eng. lt. on. Replaced Coolant temp. Sensor and ECL light went out. 1 month later ECL came back on with same P2181 code. Tried another Coolant temp Sensor but did not fix it. Replaced the water pump, replaced the thermostat twice, replace the temp sensor total of 4 times, Radiator fans working ok, coolant level is correct. Everything seems to be ok but ECL still on. Checked all the fuses that I could find so unless one is hidden they are ok. Checked the electrical connector to the temp sensor but found no broke wires and pin 4 reads 5 volts and pin 2 checks to ground.

What else is there to check?

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  • srutherford
    srutherford Feb 10, 2009

    Tried replacing the Rad. Thermal Switch today and it did not help either, ECL still on. Reset the ECL and will see what happens but bet it will be back on in less than 30 miles. Will read code again when it comes back on to verify it is still the P2181.



    Come on all you experts...could use a little help!

  • srutherford
    srutherford Mar 07, 2009

    Fixed!!!! Been over a month now and no ECL and no help here....



    Since no feedback from anyone I guess there are no experts on this problem here, so does that make me the expert now...



    Don't pay the Premium Assistance plan as I'll tell you for nothing.

  • firefightnch Mar 09, 2009

    I have had the same problem with the same code on my 2003 beetle. Is your light still off? If so, how did you fix it?

  • srutherford
    srutherford Mar 13, 2009

    I've been chasing this P2181 for almost a year now off and on depending on how fustrated I would get, so decided it was time to try again last weekend.

    First time the CEL came on code P2181 I replaced the fix all temperature sensor with the new green one. After installing it I started the engine and the CEL flickered a couple of times and then went out. Problem solved ... almost... 1 month later the CEL came back on again code P2181. So replaced the temp sensor again...did not work. Ok so maybe the second one was bad so tried a third and then a fourth, did not work. So decided it was something else maybe the harness connector. Nope wasn't that either. Replaced the thermostat twice, water pump, resovoir cap, and drained and flushed all coolant and replaced with new and checked every fuse I could find. Did my best to insure no air in the system. Well as you can guess none of that killed the CEL.

    Ok whats left....Fans. Well did the AC trick and both fans came on. Now heres something you need to check. My car has two fans with two speeds, a high and lo. I removed the thermal switch connector and jumpered the connector to check both speeds and they worked. So since I had tried everything else I decided to put a new thermal switch on anyway. Well after installing it I started the car thinking the CEL would go out like it did the first time but it did not so I reset it myself and have gone 80 miles and the CEL is still off!! Problem fixed! So if you check your fans with the AC trick don't assume thats not the problem if they come on, check both speeds. Also don't assume there is only one problem since I had two, a bad temp sensor and a bad thermal switch!

    Not certain how to check both fan speeds with car running except to drive it really hard and get out and open hood and check, so others may know an easier way. You could check continuity on the switch terminls for an open circuit but that would require heating the switch to the proper temp for each speed.

    One last note that may be a factor but not certain...when I replaced the water pump I failed to get the timing belt properly tighten so fixed that while I was working on the thermal switch. Since the water pump is driven by the timing belt, could a loose timing belt cause the water pump to not work like it should and cause a CEL..?

    Sorry so long but I have chased this problem for a long time and hope my efforts help somebody else.

    I did not go into detail on how to do all of this but there are many DIY's that you can find that are really good, so do a search or Google it.



    Still CEL free............

  • srutherford
    srutherford Mar 13, 2009

    Fixed, see above

  • srutherford
    srutherford Mar 13, 2009

    See above note.

  • cbrady9948 May 15, 2009

    I had my timing belt water pump replaced at the dealer; about three weeks later I had the temp light come on; check engine light they said it was the *p0118 had it replaced; now the temp light is back on; this only happens when I first start my car which is a 2004 VW TDI. Temp stay at 90, I paid 350.00 to have the P0118 replaced now they are telling me it could be some PINS ? I feel like I'm being ripped off at this point. What do I need to do next

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6 Suggested Answers

  • 257 Answers

SOURCE: P2181 code pulled. Driver side A/C fan not

The fan assy does come out of there. It's definitely a DIY job. I believe it's just 3/4 screws and the wiring harness. I had to replace a fan about a year ago and it was pretty simple, aside from there not being enough room in there for my hands. I believe the screws are T25 or T20 torx screws. Failure of a fan is pretty common on the MKIV VW's...

Posted on Jul 16, 2009

  • 14036 Answers

SOURCE: 2181 code ecl on radiator fans dead

CODE P2181 COOLING SYSTEM PERFORMANCE MALFUNCTION CONDITIONS - ECT SENSOR HAS FAILED. 2.0L ENGINE ECT LOCATION IS ON THE UPPER RADIATOR HOSE CONNECTION AT THE REAR OF THE CYLINDER HEAD. 2.5L ENGINE ECT IS ON THE UPPER RADIATOR HOSE CONNECTION ON THE CYLINDER HEAD ALSO.CHECK COOLING FAN FUSE AND RELAYS

Posted on Jul 26, 2009

  • 111 Answers

SOURCE: getting ETC p2181 code for vw gti 1.8 t 02

punch one code at a time into google search check related symptoms

Posted on Sep 13, 2009

BRADLEYFRANC
  • 104 Answers

SOURCE: EPC light on while enging is started. 2001 VW New

check if the brake lights are working,sometimes this puts on the epc light[replace brake light switch if this is so].if not have the fault codes read with a diagnostic machine

Posted on Oct 09, 2009

  • 11 Answers

SOURCE: Hi, 2003 Beetle / reset - clear faults

Im actually going through the process of fixing this problem with my car. the P2181 is a performance cooling error, usually brought up by thermostat, radiator issues, or ECT sensor. You should narrow it down and check both radiator and thermostat to prevent later issues. If all is well go to your local autozone, pep boys, checkers..etc. and have them erase the DTC error. If you are looking for a more long term solution you can purchase many different software such as VAG-COM or any other software used to run test on vehicals. Be sure you know what you are doing though because messing with your cars computer can have long term effects that can be pricey.

Posted on May 16, 2009

  • 36 Answers

SOURCE: I have a 2004 VW Beetle. I keep getting the engine

Check to make sure you have the green CTS (coolant temp switch). alot of cars had a faulty black ones. even the green ones are know to go bad. usually get horrible gas mileage and stuff like that!

Posted on Nov 30, 2009

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My check engine light is on, and today my temperature gauge stopped working and we have replaced the engine coolant sensor and the connector and temperature gauge still not working. PLEASE HELP


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Cooling System Performance Malfunction
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ECT sensor has failed ECT Sensor (on Radiator) has failed ECT sensor signal circuit is open (inspect wiring & connector) ECT sensor signal circuit is shorted Cooling system malfunction, or the thermostat is stuck Engine not operating at normal operating temperature EOT sensor is damaged or it has failed

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Hi, 2003 Beetle / reset - clear faults


Im actually going through the process of fixing this problem with my car. the P2181 is a performance cooling error, usually brought up by thermostat, radiator issues, or ECT sensor. You should narrow it down and check both radiator and thermostat to prevent later issues. If all is well go to your local autozone, pep boys, checkers..etc. and have them erase the DTC error. If you are looking for a more long term solution you can purchase many different software such as VAG-COM or any other software used to run test on vehicals. Be sure you know what you are doing though because messing with your cars computer can have long term effects that can be pricey.

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