Question about 2003 Volkswagen Passat

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Hi, my 03 passat 4 cyl 1.8T has an engine light on and the code is: P2181 engine cooling system performance. What should I do to fix it?

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Have the cooling system checked,see if the coolant level is low,also,if it is have it pressure tested to see if there is a leak,water pump,coolant sensor and radiator along with the thermostat ,have a lot to do with the cooling system performing correctly ,along with the cooling fans.All these have to be working correctly to achieve a 1 performance from the cooling system.Air in the cooling system will cause this situation also,and is associated with coolant loss.Look for leaks,and see if the cooling fans come on,at idle on there own,and go off by them selves,just make sure the ac is off,because the ac turns the cooling fans on automatically.First thing for you to do,is fill the reservoir to full,and start and let it get to normal operation temp,and the cooling fans come on,then they will go off,see if it does this.

Posted on May 25, 2010

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Error code p2181


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CODE P2181 COOLING SYSTEM PERFORMANCE MALFUNCTION CONDITIONS. POSSIBLE CAUSE FAULTY ENGINE COOLANT TEMPERATURE SENSOR.FAULTY THERMOSTAT.

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How do you translate what the hand held computer diagnoses to the issue. Hand held said cooling system P2181?


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I have a 2004 VW Beetle. I keep getting the engine diagnostic code P2181. This code is not in my manual. What is it?


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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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1 Answer

Jetta 2003 2l fault code p2182


P2181 Cooling system performance

Check Thermostat operation & Temp sensor for ECU. CHECK ENGINE CCOLANT TEMP SENSOR IN WATERHOSE, NORMALY A 4 PIN PLUG. ON SENSOR SELF PIN 1&3 OR C&D AT 0 degrees
5000-6500 ohms,60 degrees 530-675 ohms,90 degrees
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Could also be the cooling fans - I've heard of fixing it by replacing the fan motor and clearing the code as well. The easy fix seems to be the coolant sensor though - I've seen several online threads where owners cleared this code by changing that sensor.

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