2004 Volkswagon Beetle, Stop Lights Work Erratically

This 2004 Volkswagon Beetle came in with the complaint that the stoplights are not very bright and when the park lights are on the lights they go out completely. This is a classic faulty ground condition and not a big deal to repair. Other than trying to figure out how to remove the tail light assemblies.

After opening the rear hatch, look inside for the oval cutouts that are located at either side behind the tailight area.

There are slots at the lower edge that you can slide a tool into to pry it out.

A small screwdriver works as well. I have heard that a quarter can be used also.

Once the panel is removed you will find a knob that is actually the retaining nut.

The plastic nut removed.

The stud with the plastic nut removed.

There are spring retainers at about 2:30 and 4:30 for the driver’s side (left) tail lamp assembly. The spring retainers will be at 8:30 and 10:30 on the passenger (right) side of the car.  I used the same plastic pry bar to lift the tail light assembly from the body. Note the interior stud is attached to an accordion strap.

Note the interior stud is attached to an accordion strap.

The sockets twist out of the light assemblies. The harness connector has a tab that has to be depressed to separate it from the socket.

The outside edge of the light assemblies have a hook that holds them to the body. It acts somewhat as a pivot point when removing the light assembly. It is very important to not pry on this edge to remove the light. Something will break if you do.

I marked the spring clip locations with soapstone so that I would have reference points once it was re installed. As mentioned earlier the clips are located at approximately 2:30 and 4:30 or 8:30 and 10:30 depending on which side you are working on. I used a soft plastic pry bar to lift the tail light assembly from the body.

The new socket is on the left and the old one is on the right. What fails in the sockets is the spring tension on the two lower contacts. When the spring tension goes away the bulb base will not make proper contact with the ground contact in the socket. A temporary repair would be to pull the two lower contact arms up and restore the spring tension. Depending on the overall condition this will either not work at all or it will work and last several months. It may give you enough time to acquire new sockets.

I want to mention also to get the correct bulbs. They look like ordinary 1157 bulbs but they are not. The correct bulb number is 17635.

Share Your Experience: