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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
INSTRUMENT GAUGE ILLUMINATION PROBLEM

Hello all,
In the past few days, I've noticed that when my headlights are on the white backlighting of the speedometer, tachometer, and other gauges in the instrument cluster fail to illuminate, however the red needles within each guage do illuminate properly. Furthermore, the rheostat adjustment does successfully brighten and dim the red needles, but the faces of the gauges remain dark. I checked fuses 23 and 27 and both are fine. Any ideas?

Thanks,
Ron
 

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Re: INSTRUMENT GAUGE ILLUMINATION PROBLEM (remrem)

Hi Ron:
Unless there is another fuse that provides power to the wash lighting inside the instrument cluster (there may be), I suspect that there has been a failure of the wash lighting circuit.
Michael
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: INSTRUMENT GAUGE ILLUMINATION PROBLEM (PanEuropean)

Hi Michael,
You were correct in that the wash lighting circuit had failed, and unfortunately it was internal and not fuse related. So, they had to replace the entire cluster. The good news is that my Real Driver extended warranty covered the replacement, which would have cost about $1,000.
It's a shame that such a minor failure requires the replacement of the entire cluster. I would love to see if a few minutes of disassembly and a wire splice could have solved the problem
 

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Is there a way to switch on the gauge illumination permanently without also turning on the external lights? Perhaps using VAG-COM?
I've noticed that in some ambient lighting conditions (eg gloomy daylight, dazzling sun) the dials can become practically unreadable. I have automatic lighting and am referring to lighting conditions that don't trigger the driving lights - and hence the gauge illumination.
 

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Re: (Aristoteles)

Quote, originally posted by Aristoteles »
Is there a way to switch on the gauge illumination permanently without also turning on the external lights? Perhaps using VAG-COM?

No. There is an almost universal safety standard that requires that the exterior lights be on if the instrument cluster is illuminated - I think this is to ensure that people do not drive around "thinking" that their exterior lights are on when in fact they are not.
Michael
 

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Re: (PanEuropean)

Almost universal indeed.
I own a Citroën XM where the instrument cluster is so recessed that by default, it is always illuminated. It is done in such a way that in daytime, it doesn't look like it is illuminated. It just has a "normal" look, but when you drive into a tunnel without switching your lights, you just realize that the thing is always illuminated.
And as you said, it happened to me a couple of times to drive the car in the evening in a highly lit area, and got people flashing at me because my lights weren't on, even though my dashboard was illuminated.
Anyway, I don't think there is a hard and fast rule on this, otherwise Citroën would not have gotten away with it.
So maybe it is doable on the Phaeton...
 

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Re: (Zaphh)

My former 1997 Audi S8 used to illuminate the instruments in low light conditions. I only drove it without the lights on at night in a well lit area a couple of times (why are those cars flashing me?)
Adam
 

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Re: (Zaphh)

Not so universal: our Acura RL has an instrument cluster that is always backlit, and so, I have noticed, are many Lexus and Toyota products. This may be why I'm beginning to see more and more cars without exteriro lights at night..
Stefano
 

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As mentioned I have automatic initiation of my external driving lights when ambient light falls below a preset level. So I don't drive around with my lights off when they should be on.
Maybe the downside of my notion is accelerated failure of instrument illumination? In any event, I'm not surprised some cars with deeply buried instruments require permanent illumination. And of course, there are cars with pure light displays and few or no conventionally lit instrumentation.
 

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Re: (Aristoteles)

My wife's '06 Subaru Outback's main instrument cluster stays lighted with the head lights off but all other dash and console lights only illuminate when the light switch is in the on position. It would not be hard to understand that because the DRL's and main cluster lighting stays illuminated all the time a driver might think their lights were on. Poor safety engineering in my book
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I've noticed (very intermittently) that my tach, speedometer, fuel, and temperature gauge lighting ('04 V8) sometimes "flickers". By flickers I mean not an actual on/off blinking but more like a slight visible pulsation. As stated, it's very intermittent and only seems to happen once or twice every few months. Driver side battery load tests within spec. Any ideas and has anyone else experienced this?
Ron
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Re: INSTRUMENT GAUGE ILLUMINATION PROBLEM (remrem)

Well, it's been about a month since they replaced my entire instrument cluster because of the failed "wash" lighting circuit. In the past few days an even more minor problem has arisen.
When I engage my turn signal or my hazard lights, the audible "click, click, click" has gone silent. The turn signals are operating properly, just no "click, click". If I want to get this fixed, I suspect they will have to replace the entire instrument cluster again. What a waste!
My inclination is to just leave it alone, but what I find surprising is how I miss the feedback that little noise maker provides. I keep looking down at my display or over at my side view mirror indicator to make sure the signals are indeed operating. Strange how I'm missing something I used to think of as unnecessary and even a little annoying
 

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Re: (Rowayton)

Ronald, I believe the RHS battery is only for starting. If so, the LHS battery might be involved in voltage problems with the instrument cluster, but I would doubt it. Have you noticed if your voltmeter flickers or pulses at the same time as the other gauges? It should stay steady at 14v if the charging circuit is sound.
I haven't looked at a wiring diagram of that circuit but dirty plugin connections as well as a failing relay(if there is one) could be suspect. However, it could be one of those Phaeton electrical gremlins that never cause a problem but worry you to death. The good news is that if there is a problem that eventually results in constant fault, I assume you'd only lose your instrument cluster and would not get stranded. If it gets worse, I would think VagCom would pick it up.
 

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Re: INSTRUMENT GAUGE ILLUMINATION PROBLEM (remrem)

Have you spoken to the dealership about the absence of the turn indicator click? It is a safety feature and should be attended to - in my experience it is sometimes the only way you discover your indicators have not self-cancelled.
Nasty accidents can occur when a car mistakenly indicates it is turning into a minor road, but instead drives straight by without slowing and whacks into a car mislead by the turn indication into emerging from the side road in front of it (in the UK such an accident is usually a 50/50 liability).
The garage should have picked up the problem when they ran through their final inspection and already know of the malfunction. If they cavil you could ask to see a copy of the mechanic's checklist to see whether the audio function was passed or not. Either way, it's their mistake! http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif
 

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Re: INSTRUMENT GAUGE ILLUMINATION PROBLEM (remrem)

Quote, originally posted by remrem »
When I engage my turn signal or my hazard lights, the audible "click, click, click" has gone silent.

The "clicking" sound that indicates that the turn signals are active is an artificially generated sound. On older vehicles (pre 2000), the sound came from the mechanical operation of a relay. In the Phaeton, the power to the turn signals is controlled by the central electrical controller, and operation is absolutely silent. So - to provide the clicking sound, the instrument cluster controller has a small sound generator and a speaker in it.
If the sound has disappeared, the only alternative is to (again) replace the instrument cluster.
Michael
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Re: INSTRUMENT GAUGE ILLUMINATION PROBLEM (PanEuropean)

Thanks Jim,
There has been no flickering and the ammeter stays pegged at 14v. Also, I replaced the left battery 3 months ago, so unfortunately I think I just got a defective cluster. However, now you've got me thinking that maybe it's not a coincidence and that something else is going on

Thanks Andrew,
Your point about the safety aspects of this feature is well taken, and I had not really grasped the importance of this little noise maker until you described a potentially dangerous scenario that could easily occur. As for my service department, I can't blame them for any of this, since the new instrument cluster was working perfectly after they installed it last month. This problem only surfaced in the past week or so. The repair was covered under my Real Driver warranty, and I have no doubt that VW will cover this new part failure.
Thanks Michael,
That's very interesting that they now generate the clicking noise artificially, I didn't know that. Jim's got me thinking that maybe it's not a coincidence that I've had 2 problems with my instrument cluster. Any ideas, or do you think I just got unlucky?
Regards,
Ron


Modified by remrem at 9:11 AM 11-8-2009
 

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Re: INSTRUMENT GAUGE ILLUMINATION PROBLEM (remrem)

Quote, originally posted by remrem »
...maybe it's not a coincidence that I've had 2 problems with my instrument cluster. Any ideas, or do you think I just got unlucky?

Hi Ron:
Based on everything I have read above, I think you have just been unlucky. So, get the cluster replaced (again), and hopefully that will solve the problem. Ask the tech to take a very close look at the diagnostic scan report to see if there have been any over-voltage problems reported.
Michael
 

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I have the same problem, and I believe cluster needs to be replaced. I bought instruments cluster, but I have a question - does cluster needs to be "assigned" to car after installing it?
I have talked to one tech guy, and he told me he had terrible experience with Phaeton instruments cluster. He installed new cluster (the same problem with lights), and... nothing worked. Car did NOT start, ignition did NOT turn on, even gearbox got blocked.
So I'm afraid to install new cluster.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Re: (eveposk)

Hello Eve,
I'm no expert, but I know this is a job I wouldn't want anyone other than an authorized VW service facility to touch. One thing I know for sure, is that they need to transfer over the correct mileage from the old odometer to the new odometer. Here in North America, it is my understanding that the process requires some sort of interface and authorization from VW headquarters, to prevent unauthorized tampering. Therefore, at least in this one way, but perhaps in others as well, the cluster DOES need to be "assigned" to the car. I would expect the same would hold true in Europe.
Regards,
Ron
 

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Re: (remrem)

I don't know what is going on here... If I drive the car for longer than 10 minutes, voltmeter starts producing a bit of light (the right corner of voltmeter becomes bright), while other parts of instruments cluster remain dark (except red arrows)
 
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