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    Thread: Fault Code: P2181-35-00

    1. Member
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      03-08-2009 08:03 PM #36
      if vagcom has a obd freeze frame option for the triggering of the cel then use that. in most cases if it triggered the p2181 at 79 degrees its the thermostat sticking open. if it was triggered at like -49 degrees or somthing just not logial then its your temp sensor. easy as that. but i dont know if your vagcom retrieves obd freeze frame data.

    2. 03-16-2009 01:15 PM #37
      Hey guys

      I happen to have the same problem but i noticed that my fans don't turn on and my engine needle temp gauge stays in the middle at a reasonable place so i don't thing its the Engine temp. but i tested the fans bridged them to the battery and both turn on. i think it might be the temperate fan switch but i might be wrong i will replace it this week and will get back to you guys.


    3. 03-19-2009 09:29 PM #38
      Man I too have this problem. My temp gauge stays in the middle, the waterpump was replaced 5k mi. ago, fans turn on and the heater works. The only thing was when i opened the coolant tank, there was some smoke/steam coming out of it. also, my car recently crapped out because of overdue oil change making it sluggish. i don't know if it overheated b/c i wasn't there when it happened, but i replaced couple coilpacks and spark plugs and now running fine. any ideas?

    4. 03-24-2009 04:50 AM #39
      K so i replaced my aux temp sensor and that didn't fix the problem and then i replaced the coolant temp sensor for the ECU reset the ECU and haven't gotten check engine light on. But still the fans don't work they are all getting power and sensors work so does any one have any idea what it could be.

    5. 03-30-2009 09:06 AM #40
      I am having the same problem as a couple of the people in here, so i figured i will post as well.

      I have the P2181 code , replaced water pump and CTS , still on and car would not heat up , so i replaced the thermostat. A little under a week later the code pops up AGAIN.

      I am not really sure where to go from here, my fan turns on when the AC goes on , heat is good. The car will take a longer to get to temp. but still get there. and it will sometimes start getting cooler while driving.
      I am thinking i have a bad thermostat , but i want to make sure before i do it again because it literally has less than 300 miles on it.

      What else would cause this , im lost here


      *edit* i just remember when i did my thermostat i noticed that the electrical connection (in front of the coolant reservoir, i am not sure that 'switch' that is) was making a really fast clicking noise , whether that is a malfunction (i would assume , but i will leave it to those who know what they are doing to decide )


      Modified by Borg-Omen at 9:16 AM 3-30-2009


    6. 03-30-2009 07:59 PM #41
      have you checked the thermo stat sensor or the aux fan switch check those the engine has to be heating up it just can't not be heating up so check those sensor that what i did and erased the codes tell me how th works out.

    7. 03-31-2009 10:37 AM #42
      alright.

      i will check those out and report back


      Modified by Borg-Omen at 10:39 AM 3-31-2009


    8. 04-01-2009 07:12 PM #43
      i went to autozone and tried to get a ect sensor and they had two types. green 4 pin and balck 2 pin. which one should i be looking to replace? what does each one do?

    9. 04-06-2009 05:53 PM #44
      the 4 pin green one is for the ECU to check it's temperature i'm not exactly sure what the other one does but i have read a lot of info on this and that 4 pin sensor is commonly the problem and go defective out first so try that out. hit me back

    10. 04-06-2009 07:10 PM #45
      yea who ever was asking for the another name for the aux fan sensor just check this site it will help.

      http://www.drivewire.com/produ...18030/


    11. 04-12-2009 03:16 AM #46
      Badmex007, How/what did you do to test the fan switch faultiness. I'm another one that's been having the dreadful P2181 (for 1.5+ years). Changed out WP, Thermo, and ECT. see this post if interested... http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=4339502

      Also, Anyone know how to check if the connection and/or wiring harness is bad, or even know the resistance values for the ECT harness. thx


    12. 04-12-2009 12:22 PM #47
      I've chased down temp faults before in the past. My rule of thumb is If I diagnose the sensor to be bad (compare actual engine coolant temp with what the ecu thinks, of course checking power, ground and signal.) I will recommend replacing the T-stat. If I find a bad T-stat I insiste on a new temp sensor. Never use an after market temp sensor, it must be VW.
      I have found bad grounds to the temp sensor. Or I should say bad grounds in general. The ground is just bad enough that it will start the car, but while cranking the voltage drop in the rest of the system will cause the temp fault. Its always worse on the colder mornings. On start up the ecu uses ECT IAT MAF TPS to calculate air/fuel ratio, coolant temp being one of the more important ones. As well once the ECU goes into fuel control.

    13. Member dr.chop's Avatar
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      04-13-2009 02:15 AM #48
      Okay, here's my run at this issue. My wife has a 2004 Jetta wagon with the 2.0l and the CEL has been on for a year+. She never took it in under warranty, so I decided to have it checked myself (should have just bought a vag-com with the $ I wasted). It threw the P2181-035 code on the sheet and another fault number in the instrument/cluster section of 01304 49.

      I am not sure what the later code is, but after reading this thread, the other is common. My question is this: The dealer has said that the "Thermostat was sticking open" causing this code to come up. Not sure how they figured that out just by running the code, but the car has no issues with warming up or overheating. The fans all work as they should, and there are no issues other than the light. Oh, and an occasional stutter when driving on the freeway like a lack of power. The car has 65k on it, so I am confused as to what the problem could be...I am going to change the CTS and I bought a thermostat, but it is a lease going back in October and don't want to waste a dime on it. Any insight?


    14. 05-03-2009 05:16 PM #49
      i just got the p2181 with autozone device. i took the car to carmax and they said it was the catalytic converter thats bad. im not sure who to believe now. also, where is the thermostar in car???

    15. 05-04-2009 10:31 AM #50
      Quote, originally posted by ThatJustHappened »
      i just got the p2181 with autozone device. i took the car to carmax and they said it was the catalytic converter thats bad. im not sure who to believe now. also, where is the thermostar in car???

      P2181 usually is a intermittly stuck thermostate. or bad connection on the ect wiring.


    16. 05-07-2009 01:40 AM #51
      Usually the malfunction in the cooling system code is caused by a faulty ECT sensor. Other than the sensor, the cooling system is not really monitored by the ecm.

      The ECT sensor is sensitive, so if you are running anything other than Pentosin or VW pink coolant I would recommend flushing the system and replacing the coolant. If you have ever put other coolant in the system than the above 2 listed, then you might have issues until the system is purged. Other coolants will goop up the system and can even gel up.

      Water pump impellers are made of phenolic plastic and will eventually heat fatigue and fall apart. Just go ahead and plan on replacing them every time you get the timing belt replaced. It is a wear and tear item on the newer VWs, kind of like brake pads.


    17. 05-07-2009 01:48 AM #52
      Also, replace the coolant atleast every 40k miles ideally on VW engines.

      Timing belts should really be replaced about every 60k miles to avoid breaking and bending valves. I've seen too many break before 100k miles to recommend that change interval.


    18. 05-11-2009 02:44 PM #53
      I have an '03 with 51.5k miles. I just got that p2181 CEL. I bought the car used, should the dealer take car of my ECT for me? or is that not covered under the original warranty?
      Otherwise, I will try that green 4 pin thingy from autozone. My friend has an ecu chip reader, and I used it to clear the CEL sensor.

      I don't mind the DIY route, but if the dealer will cover it, i'll have them take care of it!

      So far my temp gauge sits around 190 when i'm driving and doesn't overheat, although i think the floorboard area does get a little warm (could be because it's warming up outside though).
      Car seems to run fine without any issues.

      Thanks for your thoughts.



      Modified by manlee at 1:45 PM 5-11-2009


    19. Member
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      06-30-2009 11:27 PM #54
      i hav an 04 GLI and just got CEL n P2181. It has 42,600 miles and recently replaced the coolant temp sensor, coilpacks, and MAF. Do u guys think I should replace the timing belt, water pump n thermostat? And will this fix the problem? Any suggestions or thoughts. BTW the car is chipped with intake and turbo back exhaust.
      SOFAKINGEURO

    20. 07-24-2009 09:34 PM #55
      2003 Jetta 2.0 liter, have owned car for 4 months, most of time with CEL light on. (Last month I drove to the Badlands and back no problem.) When the light first came on, maybe in April, I had the codes pulled: P2181 and P0420 (cat. con.).

      Last week I failed Illinois' emissions test on account of the P2181 code (though interestingly the test site didn't note the P0420 code). This week I took the car in to a local auto repair shop (not VW specialists) to assist with fixing. They did diagnosis and recommended replacing thermostat (opening too early), which I just had them do today ($314, incl. diagnostic charge). Light is off now, but they wouldn't sign off for me to re-test for emissions because I guess they need a week or so for "readying"? or what I read on here as a "drive cycle"(?).

      If the light remains off after seven days (everyone's hope), I take it back to them and hopefully all is good. If the light comes on, our verbal agreement was for me to take the car to the dealer to deal with the P0420 cat. con. code, which they also pulled, which this shop can't deal with. This, of course, is assuming the light comes on because of the P0420 code and not the P2181 code (!).

      I hope all goes well, which I guess means that the light won't come on, they complete the paperwork, and I pass the emissions re-test.

      I decided to drive to the VW dealer just after this and run by them what this shop did. In a quick chat as the mechanics were picking up their checks, the service manager pointed out a couple things: why didn't this shop also replace the coolant temperature sensor (CTS) since they were in the thermostat area? Why didn't this shop fill out the paperwork and send me right away to re-test since they technically cleared the code for the P2181 fault that the testing site pulled? Both these things sound slightly fishy to him. I'll have to wait a week and see what the story is...

      I'll keep you all posted! I guess the worst case scenario is that the light comes back on, and the P2181 code is still there!

      P.S. The VW service manager I spoke with about the catalytic converter code says that this code (P0420) is often a symptom of the cooling system issues. VW can replace the cat. con. under warranty (up to 100k, or was it extended?) provided that the catalytic converter code is the ONLY one up.


    21. 07-31-2009 07:15 PM #56
      Yup, the thermostat cured it! No more Check Engine Light. I passed emissions. Yay!

    22. 09-20-2009 09:37 PM #57
      "never use an aftermarket temp sensor"...Have you seen issues with those? I put in an O'Reilly's green sensor and the CEL went out for several days, but came back. Code P2181-35-00, and 01039. Also gives "30-10 Open or short to plus - intermittent".

      Thanks
      04 VW Beetle 2.0L


    23. Member steinosaur's Avatar
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      12-10-2009 11:18 PM #58
      So i've been looking through this thread a lot of good stuff, as i have thrown this code also. The guy before me had the coolant temp sensor replaced, im gonna pull it and make sure its the green top. Car runs fine, just pops this code up, i erased it first time it came, now it came back about 1000 miles later. AC/Fans/ And Heat work. Is there a diy on checking the wiring, and whats this ECS im reading about, wheres that located and is that a common fix?

      Thanks

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    24. Member strykr24's Avatar
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      02-15-2010 02:09 PM #59
      Ok so yesterday my car (2003 Jetta GL 2.0) kicked a P2181, I cleared it and drove another 20 some miles to see if it reset it, and it hasn't come back on yet. I just went out and checked, I have the green top sensor, my fans both come on when I turn on AC, and I get plenty of heat when I turn the heater on. Car operating temp hits 190 and stays there, like normal.


      Side note, my key fob is also having a very reduced range, and it is no longer unlocking the entire car, just the driver door. Any ideas what could be causing this? And any help with the 2181 is greatly appreciated.


    25. 08-10-2010 07:07 PM #60
      Quote Originally Posted by dr.chop View Post
      Okay, here's my run at this issue. My wife has a 2004 Jetta wagon with the 2.0l and the CEL has been on for a year+. She never took it in under warranty, so I decided to have it checked myself (should have just bought a vag-com with the $ I wasted). It threw the P2181-035 code on the sheet and another fault number in the instrument/cluster section of 01304 49.

      I am not sure what the later code is, but after reading this thread, the other is common. My question is this: The dealer has said that the "Thermostat was sticking open" causing this code to come up. Not sure how they figured that out just by running the code, but the car has no issues with warming up or overheating. The fans all work as they should, and there are no issues other than the light. Oh, and an occasional stutter when driving on the freeway like a lack of power. The car has 65k on it, so I am confused as to what the problem could be...I am going to change the CTS and I bought a thermostat, but it is a lease going back in October and don't want to waste a dime on it. Any insight?


      I have the EXACT same problem, same car, same year, same mileage, same code, same stutter. The CTS was replaced and everything else was confirmed fine by VW. Did you ever get a conclusive answer?

    26. Member
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      08-14-2010 09:24 PM #61
      All right here is my take on this issue. the car is a 2004 VW Jetta Wagon 2.0 with 73K miles
      I replaced the CTS for the 3rd time on the car and the CEL came back within 40 miles with the same P2181 code. This time I said enough and I went out and got the VCDS from Ross-tech for $370 and read everything I could about this issue. So here is how I approached this issue:
      1) Changed the timing belt, tensioner and water pump cuz it was about time.
      2) Changed the thermostat and coolant.
      3) Changed the battery
      3) Check the fans and found out that the main fan (driver side) is not working at all. The passenger fan (smaller one) was working on just one speed. I checked the fans by bypassing the radiator fan switch on the driver side of the radiator. Just bridge the terminals and look for the fans to spin. There are 2 speeds so check both.
      Checked the fan fuses and they were ok so then I applied battery power straight to the fans. The fans connectors are on the bottom driver side of the radiator. So far I found out that the main fan is not working at all and that the smaller fan is working on both speeds. So now I got to replace the main fan and the fan controller cuz the small fan was working on only one speed when I bypassed the fan switch.

      So make sure that the fan work properly both speeds and that the radiator fan switch is also working properly. If they don't work then the car can throw the P2181 code.
      The weird thing is that the car is not overheating or anything and I am pretty sure they have not been working for a while because my dad has been driving the car with the CEL on for about a year.
      So I cleared the code and i will be taking the car on a short trip tomorrow to see if the CEL comes back on. If it does not the I will take it in for smog. And then next week I will change the fan and controller and see what happens.

      Oh yeah I also applied some di-electric grease on the CTS connector to make sure it always make connection. You can get that from an electronics store.

      I will keep you guys updated on how it goes.

    27. 12-01-2010 12:52 PM #62
      Hey i am having similar issues with my 2003 GTI 1.8T. My car seems to be running a little rough and my gas mileage has seemed to decrease a little. I got the same code of P2181 ( cooling system performance). for some reason though i am suspicious to think that it might be a mass air flow leak because about a couple months ago i had a check engine light for the mass air flow leak and then i reset the ECU, no this light came on and i think that it has something to do with it. Did you ever figure out what the problem was?

    28. 02-10-2011 06:16 PM #63
      If you never overheat and you've got a green ECT sensor then it is likely the thermostat.

      To test this theory drive up the biggest hill around your city preferably a highway hill. Then coast down the hill in gear at a decent speed, and watch your temperature, if temp drops even a bit your thermostat is either stuck open/no able to close all the way/or opening at too low of a temperature.

      The stock thermostat does not have a "jiggle valve", a new OEM replacement should. This feature allows a small amount of coolant to bypass the thermostat so that it is subject to the coolant temperature on both sides. Without this "jiggle valve" the cold side of the thermostat affects its ability to operate in the true ambient coolant temperature. This jiggle valve should be used when replacing a thermostat, if your parts dealer does not have one with such a feature then he/she has old stock.

      Good Luck.

    29. Banner Advertiser vwemporium's Avatar
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      02-10-2011 06:32 PM #64

    30. 03-05-2011 06:17 PM #65
      My CEL Dash light popped on. After scanning for codes, I discovered it was due to a p2181. Originally, I believed it was due to a sticking thermostat. After researching this website, I decided it also could have been due to the ECT sensor. Therefore, I replaced the inexpensive ECT sensor which I originally had the black sensor and the bought the upgraded green sensor, reset the code. Then after driving for a couple of days, the CEL popped back on. Therefore, I was certain my original presumption was correct. Therefore, I changed my thermostat and the CEL light has not popped back on. Thanks for your incites!

    31. 04-07-2011 09:25 PM #66
      This thermostat listed by the Poster above did work on fixing my long standing P2181 error code.. !!!

      http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/VW-AU...Q5fAccessories

      BTW, I am not too knowledgeable on cars and not quite sure why this thermostat fixed it. I would be curious to know why it worked. As far as my car goes there never was any visible problem I could see, It never ran hot or had any problems except the stupid check engine light with this elusive code attached.
      Last edited by jaima1000; 04-07-2011 at 09:34 PM.

    32. 05-29-2011 07:54 PM #67
      KBS3 SAID 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.

      When I do this only one fan kicks on? Any suggestions on where I should start?

      I have a 2003 VW Jetta GL

    33. 05-29-2011 10:37 PM #68
      Yup

      Trace the wiring and verify, fuses, grounds, the fan and module.

      When playing here, post a auto-scan.

      I have the modules and fans in stock just let me know what # you need or email me your scan so I can tell most of the time from that.

      We even have some used fans in some cases on ebay store.

      Best,
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    34. n00b gliphil's Avatar
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      07-26-2011 08:34 PM #69
      I also have had the dreaded code. I have chased it for a while. But I thought nothing of it when I bent my valves after neglecting my timing belt. But after I replaced my head my car has not over heated (according to my guage). But I did go under my hood the second I got the code and notice that in my resivoire I seen the coolant boiling. I have changed my ect sensor with an az one before cause I was desparate and vw was closed. But I will try the factory ect sensor and factory thermostat and will post any improvements.

    35. n00b gliphil's Avatar
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      07-27-2011 10:45 PM #70
      So it was a pain in the &$$ to do the thermostat cause its behind the alternator but with some fresh g12 coolant I did it. I almost want to say that my car idles better. I drove about 30 miles today and no codes or any thing. I will keep you guys posted to let you know if anything changes

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