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Replaced my 2007 VW Rabbit’s battery and what a mess!

Posted by is9582 on December 1, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , ,

I know I try to keep the majority of blog posts to either woodworking or a music heading, but this is one I really wanted to share with everyone, as it seemed I would need to drop over $1K to make her right again. I don’t want to see any of you dropping any cash for something that is unnecessary.

Ok, so for the briefest of background on myself, I worked on/hot-rodded cars as a teen, so I have a decent understanding of cars. I came out to my car yesterday and it was completely dead. Not even the faintest indication of power. And dang it, yep, I’d accidentally left my lights on last Tuesday afternoon! Yep, and now it was Monday morning. I’m sure you can now appreciate just how dead!

Even with all of my previous experience, I couldn’t coax it to even take a jump from another vehicle. Off I go to pick up a new battery. After I return, the old battery is out in just a few minutes, and the new is back in place. So far its exactly as I expected, but I’ve forgotten a brief little something that may, or may not, have played a hand in what was about to take place.

While I was waiting for the other party to arrive, in order to jump the battery, I decided I’d pull out my jumper cables from the trunk. Oh, the switch on the door, for the trunk, is electronic! I go to the trunk, and no, there is no actual key hole with which to open it manually. Ok, I’ll go in through the rear seat, but they are both locked. Hmmm, I decided to reach around and open the door from the inside, using the manual handle. Oh, and no, this door doesn’t have a physical lock that you can use to control the door’s state. Wow, why didn’t I realize all of this stuff before?? After laying the rear seats down, it turned out the cables where down in the well for the spare tire, and I decided to abort the hunt, and just use the other party’s cables. Jeez!

While I’m still waiting, I get another brilliant idea. I’ll move the car back slightly, so we’ll have much easier time reaching the battery. I start looking around inside the car, and after finding no over-ride or such thing, I grabbed the manual from the glove compartment. After reading what felt like thousands of sections, I come across a phrase similar to this: “If your battery is dead, you are totally !@*&#*@!!” Ok, it actually said: “If your battery is dead, there is no way to move the automatic transmission shifter out of Park!” I had heard a rumor that this was the case, but I wasn’t completely sure I believed their source. Now I did. OMG!

Ok, so back to the continuation of the original time-line. After both cables were re-attached to the new battery’s terminals, the alarm started blasting in my ears. I pressed the alarm button on the side of my remote, to disengage the alarm, but nothing happened. I finally put my key into the door’s lock and unlocked it, which turned the alarm off. I get into the car and start it up, just to make certain all was good. It started just fine, but there were some indicators lit on my dash that are only ever on when the car is first started. These guys weren’t going away. I turned the car off and started towards my front door, thinking I’d go do a quick search on Google, but noticed the car didn’t announce that I’d locked it with the key fob. I went back to the car, grabbed the door handle, and sure enough it opened. What the heck?? Ok, so I’ll just have to reset the fob, which shouldn’t be hard. I manually locked the driver’s door, and just on a whim, I tested the rear door I’d earlier opened. Oops, that one was still unlocked, even though I’d used the key to lock the driver’s door. I got into the car and with the door closed, tried the lock on driver’s door, and nothing. I then tried one of the electric windows. Nope, ain’t happening! Ok, now I was getting worried, since I’d not be able to secure the vehicle, no matter what I did.

I grabbed my laptop and sat outside on the porch, while beginning my search for the resolution of resolutions, so I could make sure no one messed with my unlocked car. (not that I really thought that would happen, but hey, the security nature of old kicked in. I found link after link about people that needed to get their fob re-connected to their vehicle, and there were a number of different techniques that work for some of the group. I tried everyone I could find, but absolutely nothing changed. One person said to just wait about 24 hours and it should reset itself. Yeah, like I’m going to just sit on my hands and expect everything to be fine in the morning. Nope!

Luckily, I saw one trick that I hadn’t even thought to try, and there were a fairly large number of VW owners that professed that it completely resolved their similar situation. Oh, and one person took his car to the dealer and they told him it would cost $1200 to repair what had broken. Ok, I could just see the same thing coming down the pike towards me, and I’d have absolutely nothing to show for the extra money out of pocket.

Ok, so here is the actual trick that worked. Remove the negative cable from the battery, and leave it off for 30 minutes (I decided to leave it off for an hour, just to give it a better chance??), and then re-attach the cable. After I had the cable back on, I was sort of hesitant to actually try my key fob, for fear that it really didn’t do anything. Well, I hit the lock button on my fob and everything locked down tight, and it chirped like it always did, letting me know it was golden. I was happy beyond words!!

With all of the different work/upgrades I’ve done on my cars, from standing inside the engine bay to install headers on my 1969 Mustang Grande with a sweet little 302 V8, to installing starters, I’d never have guessed that this car’s computer had just gotten a little confused and needed a reboot. Oh well, live and learn.

I truly hope none of my readers will have something like this happen to them, but if it does, remember to install the positive cable first and then the negative. If you still have the multi-system malfunctions, disconnect the negative cable and leave it off for around an hour. This is likely giving the car time to drain any power stored in capacitors, so it starts fresh when the negative is restored.

Good luck with your vehicles, as we are seeing more and more computer type attributes making their way inside, and a great chance of needing to “Say it with me”, Reboot the friggin’ computer!

Stay safe everyone, and as always, let me know if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for stopping by.


Lee Laird