Anyone else have this problem with their Volkswagen?

Ok Dopers. I need someone to tell me it’s not just me, and that this is a common problem with Volkswagens or something.

I drive a 1995 four-door VW Golf. (I think it’s a GL, if that matters.) I’ve had it for 2 years now. It has power locks, and an alarm system that’s tied into the locks.

About a year ago, I was unlocking the driver’s side door, and the little cylinder thingy that you put your key into (the actual lock mechanism) broke off and came out of the handle of the door. There’s like a little metal piece that keeps it in place that broke off, so the whole mechanism came out of the handle. Pretty annoying. So from then on, I’d unlock and lock my car from the passenger’s side.

So this morning as I was getting into my car to go to work, I went to unlock the passenger’s side door as usual. I heard a click, and when I removed the key, the cylinder came out of the driver’s side door too! The door hadn’t unlocked before it broke, so my car is now locked, with no way to get into it. If I unlock the hatchback, the alarm will go off, and I can’t start the car. I can’t turn the alarm off if it does go off because in order to do that, you have to (you got it…) turn the key in the door lock!

I’ve done a bit of looking on the web and found a few other people complaining of the same thing, but no “official word” from Volkswagen on this. I’m curious to see if anyone else here has had this same problem, and if so, how it was fixed/how much it cost. It’s Sunday, so all the VW dealerships around here are closed, and I assume they’d be the best place to go, rather than a locksmith.

In the meantime I’m stuck here at home till I can get into my car! As a side note, I adore my little Golf; it’s gotten me cross country, has over 100K miles on it, and will be going cross country again in a few weeks. I just wish I could get into it!

Can’t help you there. I’ve never owned a VW, but I’ve had a Porsche 924 and a 911SC. (Guess which one I liked better? :wink: ) I thought about getting a Jetta at a couple of points, but based on my experience with Porsches (and the 924 was chock-full of VW and Audi parts) I don’t have much confidence in their durability. (The 911 was a great fun car. Not practical, but it handled well and had lots of power. The engine and drivetrain were “bullet-proof”.)

IME, VWs handle well, they’re comfortable (I like the firm seats – not like the over-soft, over-stuffed seats in other cars) and they handle well. Good performers too. But the “little things” are annoying. My best fiend has an '86 Vanagon. Runs well and no serious problems so far except that the side-hatch moulding got hung up on something so he had to take it off. (His last vehicle, a 1970 or 1972 VW van, had a side-hatch that would come off of the tracks and fall to the ground.)

As for your immediate problem, can you get in with a Slim Jim? Or will that set off the alarm? If so, you might have to have it towed to a dealer for repair.

Yeah, Johnny, I adore my VW. Mostly because it’s the first thing of any significant value that I purchased on my own… but it gives a great ride, it’s comfy, it can hold a lot of stuff, and I drive it into the ground and it forgives me. I’ve had a few small problems, like this one–the instrument panel lights went out because of a shorted wire or something, and then a switch in the steering column shorted and the car would die randomly…

I think if I use a slim jim or called AAA to get it open, the alarm would go off. virtee just went out to get a Chilton’s manual to see if he can figure out what fuse is for the locks/alarm and disable that. Of course, the manual that came with the car is in the car (it says "leave manual with car at all times!) so it’s not doing me any good…

I have a 97 Golf GL (love you Olaf!) and while I have problems with my car, it’s not that one.

My friend is from a VW-family: they’ve only ever owned VWs. She tells me that the beauty of VWs is that they have a “personality” exhibited in the minor flaws. My Olaf’s flaws include:

  1. The low setting on the windshield wiper has never worked.
  2. Sometimes opening the trunk with a key when the car is locked trips the alarm.
  3. Hi Opal!
  4. The trimming on the front passenger door fell off about a year after I bought the car. I’ve noticed that on other VWs, always on the same door, too. Weird. Recently, I noticed that the back passenger-side door is starting to lose its trimming, too. Grr.
  5. When I first got the car, the windshield wiper for the back hatch window didn’t work. The dealer fixed that under warranty.

I love my VW!

I drive a Ford, but I had to drop by and say Hi. :slight_smile:

You may be able to stick a flat-blade screwdriver into the hole the lock cylinder came out of, and twist-and-fiddle it to unlock the door. Worth a try.

The VW “feature” I always liked was the Rabbit vent windows that fell off. The latch and hinge points were just glued to the glass (no frame on the glass), and when the glue failed, bingo, the glass fell right off the car. Quality German engineering.

Oh, and on the same car, the backup light switch failed. Eighty bucks (!), a new one cost. No way, buddy… Also, the factory shop manual didn’t seem to show that particular type of switch. Instead it showed a much simpler type that looked as if it would cost about $4.00.

Oh, and the headliner, which is just fabric with a foam backing glued to the inside of the roof, fell down. Seems that with time, the foam disintegrates, and…

I’ve been looking at different VW technical service bulletins (TSB’s, I forgot what the S was but I think it’s service) and have noticed mention of a lot of lock thingies. One other commonality I’ve noticed at different consumer review sites is that a bunch of people have had ignition switch problems–had that with my car a while back. I’d be humming along and the car would just die on me. I’d have to pull over, put it in park, turn it off and restart it. I got into the habit of throwing it in neutral and doing this on the fly–“rebooting” my car. Took forever to get fixed because it wouldn’t do it on command, and it cost an arm and a leg to fix because of all the labor involved.

Rocketeer, I’m going to try the screwdriver thing tonight; if the alarm goes off I guess I’ll just disconnect the battery. And Montfort, I’ve noted some of those “personalities” too in the VW’s… heehee!

I do so love my Vee-Dub though… it’s had it’s problems, but it’s so much fun!

Hi Many Crows!

I’ve owned VW’s since 1991. I’ve been a fan ever since they introduced the GTI in the early 80’s. I must say that some people complain about some idiosynchratic problems with these cars but it has been my experience that they are not anymore prone (particularly the 95 and later models) to habitual problems than any other manufacturer out there. Every car has it’s strengths and weaknesses.

But more to the point, go to and get onto their forums for the Golf/Jetta III models. There are some very knowledgeable and helpful folks there who will point you in the right direction on any number of VW related issues for your model and year as well as any other you care to inquire about.

Good luck.

By the way, I currently drive a '00 Jetta GLX and am looking forward to trading my 98 Volvo estate for the new, soon to be released, Passat W8. Shortly after that I’m going to trade my Jetta for the new and improved GLX model. I’m a big fan! :smiley:

Oh, you’re my hero, QuickSilver. That VW board is exactly what I was looking for. Even found a few people with the same problem, and am waiting for some replies on the best way to fix it!

Hundred million thanks!