If your Volkswagen’s fuel gauge has stopped working, it can be very frustrating. No one wants to get stuck on the side of the road because they couldn’t trust their gauge. The good news is, this problem is actually pretty typical and diagnosis isn’t too hard. Here are the most common fuel gauge problems in Volkswagens:
- Improper calibration
- Bad Fuse
- Problem with the cluster
- Bad sending unit
Here’s how to identify what the problem is and how to fix it.
Gas Gauge is Working, but Inconsistently
If you notice that you’re gauge works, but is inaccurate, something has happened to cause the calibration to be off. Sometimes, the problem actually begins with the speedometer and ends up reflecting as a fuel gauge issue. If you’ve recently changed your tires, wheels, transmission, or rear gears, your speedometer is probably off. This will cause an inaccurate reading of your fuel mileage. Even if you haven’t modified it in anyway, if your mileage is quite different than it once was, recalibrating your gauge and/or speedo will likely remedy the issue.
The Gas Gauge Isn’t Working and Neither is the Temp Gauge
If neither of these gauges work, the fuse feed is likely the culprit. Check the fuses, according to your fuse panel. If the fuse is bad, it will be obvious because the prongs will not be making a connection. Replace blown fuses.
Checking the Dash
If the fuse is good and the gauge isn’t working, turn the key to the on position and check the cluster. If the cluster is back lit and the lights work, chances are it isn’t a problem with the cluster. If you have other lights that come on (which is normal) when the key is turned to the run position, there’s no need to check the ground. You can also turn on the turn signal and check to see if the indicator shows up to be extra sure.
However, if there are no lights or activity, the cluster is likely in need of replacement/rebuilding. Due to the sensitivity of the speedometer reading and legal issues, you will most likely have to have your original unit sent out to be rebuilt to maintain odometer data.
Fuel Tank Sending Unit
This sending unit is responsible for reading the levels of fuel in your tank. If it is bad, you will not get an accurate reading. When the sending unit is failing, it will cause the gauge to act erratically before it goes out entirely. If it goes completely bad, the fuel gauge will read empty while there is gas in the tank. You will need a voltmeter to check the reading from the sending unit to know for sure if it is working or not. This is why checking the sending unit is usually the last step for most at-home mechanics.
Replacing the sending unit will involve draining the fuel tank, disconnecting the fuel lines, dropping the fuel tank, removing the old unit, and replacing everything you just took off. This is a fairly simple process, but can be time consuming since you have to remove the tank.
If you haven’t been able to identify the problem through these steps, it is time to consult a trusted Volkswagen mechanic for further diagnostic advice.