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    Thread: Fault Code: P2181-35-00

    1. 02-06-2006 11:10 PM #1
      I have a 2002 Jetta 1.8T. I ran Vag-Com and got a fault code Malfunction Cooling System P2181-35-00. Is there any other information that would be needed to find out what would be the specific problem? Hopefully, someone can shed some light on the subject.........


    2. Member Theresias's Avatar
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      02-06-2006 11:24 PM #2
      Did you check the cooling temp sensor?

    3. 02-06-2006 11:57 PM #3
      I was reading another thread that started with the same 4 numbers, but it wasn't proof positive that the cooling temp sensor was responsible. What tests can be done to check the CTS? Other things that have happened lately are that I've noticed a bit worse gas mileage and roughness in over all driveability. I thought it might be from an overdue service, but now I got the CEL. I was also told it might be the water pump, but I could check that by disconnecting the coolant return line at the reservoir.


    4. Forum Sponsor Uwe's Avatar
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      02-07-2006 08:43 AM #4
      I described some tests in this thread:

      http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=2428598

      -Uwe-

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    5. 02-07-2006 08:54 AM #5
      Thanks.

      Another bit of information: when the CEL came on, the car was already warmed up. I was on my way to work in the morning and the car already was at normal operating temp. I was on the highway doing about 65-70ish. There seemed to be the slightest bit of a hestation when the CEL turned on. When we ran the car for codes, I erased the code and it has not turned on yet, but that was last night, so I'm not sure if I have cycled to full readiness again yet.


    6. Member mrk130's Avatar
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      02-08-2006 11:41 AM #6
      ***hint hint*** replace your ect sensor todd.

    7. 02-12-2006 05:40 PM #7
      I replaced the ETC sensor and put some BG C5F fuel, intake cleaner in the car. Car runs MUCH better!!! So far the seems to have better fuel economy, easier all-around drivability, more power, and doesn't surge in the lower rpm's while starting off. I haven't run the car for fault codes, but I doubt they will show up anyway.

      Thanks for the help guys!!


    8. 10-26-2006 12:39 AM #8
      what is an etc sensor anyone? i have same problem w/ the code p2181.

    9. Forum Sponsor Uwe's Avatar
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      10-26-2006 09:30 AM #9
      Quote »
      what is an etc sensor

      It's a typo. I'm sure "ECT" was intended. Engine Coolant Temperature.

      -Uwe-

      VCDS® -- Satisfaction guaranteed or double your fault codes back!
      I reserve the right to be a prick if people make unreasonable demands.

    10. 12-05-2006 09:38 AM #10
      Is the Engine Coolant Temperature the replacement for p2181? What exactly is it?

      I too have p2181 going off, and they say I need to replace the temperature sensor, which will cost me 450. Thoughts?

      Also, I have had problems with p0118, which I believe is the coolant sensor. The guy told me these two things were not related. I told him no on the p2181 work. I had already had p0118 fixed, and they are fixing it again under their parts warranty.


    11. Member 3G3T7I's Avatar
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      12-08-2006 11:40 PM #11
      I've been unsuccessful resolving this code since August. When it initially occurred I changed the ECT sensor, reset the code and eventually the car established readiness. The night before it was due for inspection in October I decided to check for dtc's and although the CEL wasn't lit the code was stored. I cleared the code but couldn't get readiness so I cancelled the inspection, replaced the sensor again, waited for readiness and passed inspection. Just recently the code has reappeared. I have been logging trips back and forth to work and haven't seen any significant temp behavior. Last weekend I checked the continuity between the ECU and sensor connectors. I applied Stabilant to the connectors and so far the CEL isn't lit, but I haven't checked for a code. I'm going to wait until it out for now.

    12. 12-09-2006 12:09 PM #12
      Interesting. In my scenario, I had taken it to another dealer because of the location. They, upon their diagnostic test, told me that 1) the coolant temp sensor needed to be replaced, and 2) that the connectors to the ECU were weak and that I needed a stabilitant.

      Of course, they screwed me over, because they didn't inform me that they also had to replace my CTS for free because they were a VW dealer, but they knew my history and didn't say anything about a thermostat replacement.

      How much is it to get the stablitant installed?

      Please update me about your car. I'd like to see if your method works, especially because I have had problems for two months with the MIL, but no problems with the temperature of the car or driving.


    13. Forum Sponsor Uwe's Avatar
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      12-09-2006 01:43 PM #13
      VCDS® -- Satisfaction guaranteed or double your fault codes back!
      I reserve the right to be a prick if people make unreasonable demands.

    14. 12-12-2006 11:24 PM #14
      i got the code p2181 also, changed the ECT sensor and the code came back. ANy i deas of what else it could be??

    15. Member Theresias's Avatar
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      12-13-2006 06:56 AM #15

    16. Member 3G3T7I's Avatar
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      12-14-2006 10:47 PM #16
      The CEL returned after being gone for almost a week, I'm going to focus on the harness if I have time this weekend. I'm starting to think it'a harness or connector issue. Fortunately the car drives as well as can be expected.

    17. 01-02-2007 10:27 AM #17
      My MIL went off again. Any luck with replacing the harness or connectors? Are you trying to prevent a thermostat replacement as it would be costly and unnecessary because the car and temp is fine?

      Thanks.


    18. Member 3G3T7I's Avatar
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      01-02-2007 05:53 PM #18
      No I haven't had time for this with the holidays and other work, brakes and rotors on the 91 and an ignition switch on the 97 etc....

    19. Member blkmgc20's Avatar
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      01-04-2007 01:25 PM #19
      I had this p2181 fault code a while back. After clearing it, within a week it would come back on the morning commute to work. I had replaced the coolant temp sensor three times, which never fixed anything.
      Finally, I replaced the thermostat and....VUALLA! Haven't seen it since. Thermostat costs 20 bucks and is not too much a pain to replace.
      So, if replacing the temp sensor doesn't work, then try the next inexpensive part: the thermostat. Hope this helps

    20. Member 1pt8t's Avatar
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      06-04-2007 01:06 PM #20
      Interesting scenario....
      '03 1.8T Jetta
      Water pump has been crusting out coolant for a couple months, i keep adding distilled to it, NBD.

      Driving down the highway thursday, slammed on the brakes from 75-0 mph, car is shaking violently w/ the ABS.

      CEL MIL comes on, heading home from work. Dealership next morning, says, waterpump (i told them it was leaking) has a broken impeller and seal. Thermostat is not working (temp goes up fine, pegs at 190). Estimate for thermo and pump is like $700. I had to PRY the DTC out of those AH, which is vw18613/P2181. Car is at 59,500 miles (power train lasts till 60K and transfers free of charge if bought used), they won't honor the warantee b/c i don't have every service record b/f i bought the car, anybody else experienced this?

      So i'm like wtf mate? Tracked down a waterpump ($70 new) thermostat ($6 new) from autozone. Buddy came over to do the work with me...

      You all know where this is going. We started taking stuff off, P-Steering reservoir, hoses etc, fender skirt trying to get to the water pump on the timing belt (why is this on timing belt???) I had the camera, taking pictures for a DIY post (saw the one for VR6, very naice). We figured out after 5 hours you can't get to the water pump w/out jacking up the engine/trans on the 1.8T either. What is this about? The thermostat is buried just as far in the engine, blocked off by the engine mount.

      Has anybody here ever torn out the 1.8T water pump on their own? I'm trying to track down a factory repair manual, haynes is a huge POS (just take out the water pump and installation is the reverse of removal...). What do you guys suggest on this one? I'm a hardcore DIY'er and don't like this dealership (they also didn't re-attach my skidplate?).

      Any advice welcome (sorry for all the parenthesis )...

      Need VAG-COM / VCDS near So-Cal / Redondo Beach? Hit me up!
      Also have boost leak tester with PRV for 2.75-3" TIP!

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      05-29-2008 07:23 PM #21
      18613/P2181/008577 - Performance Malfunction in Cooling System
      Possible Solutions

      * Check Engine Coolant Temperature Sender (G62)
      * Check Coolant Thermostat
      * Check Engine Cooling System
      o Put the key on, fan speed on 1, and push the a/c switch. Are both fans kicking on? If not, you found the problem.
      o Put the key on and fan speed on 1. Does heat come out readily from the vents?
      + No. Probably the water pump is gone.
      + Yes. Probably the thermostat is gone.

      __________________________________________________ ___________________________

      I am lost. I flip on the a/c and almost always only one fan turns on (smaller one)?
      if i turn on the heat, i get plenty of it...


      Modified by kbs3 at 12:24 AM 5-30-2008


    22. Member
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      05-30-2008 02:54 PM #22
      so from process of elimination I have decided I have a bad thermal switch. My question is, will a bad thermal switch throw the ever condemning P2181 code?

      events...

      fans run when turning on a/c
      jumping the red to the red/white wire fans run
      jumping the red to the red/yellow wire fans run
      both upper and lower hoses into the radiator are hot
      i have the green top sensor


    23. 07-01-2008 10:15 AM #23
      I'm back: I've taken my 2003 VW Jetta Wagon 1.8T in on account of the MIL/CEL which is on. My car cannot pass inspection with it on. My CEL has been on perpetually for the last 12K miles (I've got 68K right now).

      History with this code:
      23K, ECT Sensor replaced (paid for it)
      51K ECT Sensor replaced (paid for it)
      52K, p2181 code, but they ran a block test, and everything operating fine
      56K, ECT Sensor replaced (under warranty; the 56K is not accurate, I waited to take it in, because I was sick of doing it)
      65K, after have the CEL on for awhile, I finally take it in: timing belt needs to be replaced. I talk to my mechanic, who gives a much better price and adds the water pump to the work (he believes VW would throw that in once they got under the hood, and that it's necessary anyways)
      68K, take it in for inspection, failed: p2181 code is thrown.
      Took it into the dealer, awaiting word, and the words: "this is on us; we've really fixed this time." They try to charge me a dime and I'm out of there.



    24. Semi-n00b brian213's Avatar
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      07-01-2008 12:24 PM #24
      Abbruzzesse, you've had a pretty rough time. Best of luck to you.

      -Brian


    25. 07-02-2008 02:32 PM #25
      2004 NBC, just over 51K miles

      My CEL came on last week and I was given the code P2181 by the dealer. Took it to a local VW mechanic as the dealership wanted $635 to replace the Coolant Sensor and Thermostat (ended up paying $145 @ the mechanic).

      Car was fine over the weekend, then on my way to work the other day the CEL came back on. Drove the freeway over the weekend, so it wasn't the first time I was acelerating to 70 mph.

      I have it back at the mechanic today, but any thoughts? I've never had an issue with the car before and even though the light is on, I haven't noticed any changes in performance.


    26. 07-10-2008 12:14 PM #26
      So, the dealer confirms that the p2181 code goes off, which the dealer tells me means the ECT, Thermostat, Timing Belt and Water Pump are bad. I tell him those have been replaced, and that the ECT has been replaced a couple times. He's says they'll clear the code. HOWEVER, they say that p0231 is going off, the Speed Sensor -- $450.

      I tell them, thanks, but no thanks. Clear the code, please, and I'll look into p0231. Again, my main concern: pass inspection. I take it to my mechanic, and SHOCKER: p2181 is coming up! No p0231. He wants me to fight them, and I want to just pass inspection. BUT, my car can't pass inspection until it goes through a drive cycle, or readiness, without throwing the code. THAT STINKS!

      So, essentially, I need to make sure the code is absolutely clear to pass inspection.

      My mechanic's idea is that it may be a computer error. I don't see anyone, especially those dealing with these repeated MIL problems, discussing this idea. Why not?

      Advice? I'm in quite the quandary.


    27. 07-10-2008 12:42 PM #27
      What is the warranty on an ECM, by the way? I read on another post elsewhere that the dealer should also test the ECM when p2181 goes off.

    28. 08-25-2008 02:12 AM #28
      I have a 02 1.8t jetta with 86k miles. The CEL came on, vag-com code p2181 changed coolant temp sensor. One week later CEL came on again with the same code, changed the timing belt, water pump, coolant change, and t stat. All of the parts were ordered from ECS. The code was thrown again this morning on the way to work. At this time I'm all out of ideas and recommendations. thanks.
      Brian

    29. 08-28-2008 11:20 PM #29
      I've got a 02 1.8t Jetta and it's reading the same code P2181 and will not pass inspection. After reading this Im a little concerned that Im looking at a costly repair that will not cure the code.

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      08-29-2008 09:30 AM #30
      I would be a little Leary about doing allot of work before verifying that your fans are spinning. The sensor is super sensitive. After you get the fan's spinning replace the green top sensor. Sometimes that fixes the problem.

    31. 03-08-2009 01:51 AM #31
      changed out temp sensor, flushed coolant. code came back 300 miles later after resetting battery. I had water pump and timing belt done 40k ago. I'm lost as to where I should go with this next?

      Temp gauge reads fine in cluster

      First 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera SL owned from 1996-1997 driven 10,000 miles. Next-1988 Honda Prelude owned from 1998-1999 driven 12,000 miles. Next-1987 Mustang GT owned from 1999-2000 driven 20,000 miles. Next-1993 Jeep Wrangler Sport owned from 2000-2003 driven 58,000 miles. Next-2003 VW 20th AE GTI owned from 2003-2010. Driven 135,000 miles. Next-2006 Nissan 350Z Touring owned from 2010-2012 driven 35,000 miles. 2007 VW GTI bought 6/2012.

    32. 03-08-2009 09:38 AM #32
      Thermostat

    33. 03-08-2009 05:10 PM #33
      Dana, I came to the same thermostat conclusion on my MKIV R32 with only 25K miles. After EOT sensor, Checking wiring from sensor to ECU and checking the fans being all OK I removed the thermostat. The car never overheated or anything like that but it was setting P2181. While I am waiting for the new one I tested the "failed" thermostat and it seems to operate when I actuate it in boiling water. I do not know how accurately though but it does move. When removing the T-Stat it did not come with the cover, it was stuck up in the housing. I had to gently pry it out with a screw driver. This is quite common isn't it?
      Would you know of any test that would condemn the T-Stat for sure.
      I would love to be able to confirm the failure mode. Thanks.

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      03-08-2009 05:58 PM #34
      the thermostat is the most likely cause, although the water pump should be checked as well.

    35. 03-08-2009 07:31 PM #35
      Thank you for your reply Tom. I do not mean to hijack this thread but it has been a very common code in several VW models and the more information the better.
      Anyways, I figured that if the T-Stat does not fix it my next stop is the water pump as you stated. Now, if the pump has failed and it is not moving as much volume of coolant as it should; would that cause an overheat fairly quick? I know our cluster does not read real temperature but it is always in the middle. Also, with VAG connected I get 85 to 90 Celsius.


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