I'm new to the VWVortex forums, but I've heard lots of good things about you guys, so hopefully you all can help me out. I haven't been able to find information elsewhere online.

My 03 Beetle experienced a few Iowa winters and the lower hinge of my driver side door seems to have got the worst of it. A couple winters ago, my door appeared to be falling off whenever I'd open it past the first "locking" position. Being in the middle of nowhere and in college, I took it in to a local place and they looked at it and said that the plate for the bolts to screw into was cracked, so they welded it and welded the actual hinge attachment to the door as well. They didn't have a replacement part, but it fixed it. It worked great, like brand new, until this last winter in Western New York.

This time the welding around the hinge got some tiny cracks and started to rust. Then the same problem of the door feeling like it was falling off resurfaced. This time, if the door goes as far out as the first "locking" position then, upon closing it, the door angles so it sits higher than the door frame and has to "fall down" before I can close it. I get around this problem by opening the door just enough so I can get in and no further.

I've taken it to 2 places so far (in the greater Seattle, WA area). One said that they'd have to take the door paneling off (understandable) and check it out and probably could just replace the hinge. The other guy said I'd need to replace the whole door because it's been welded before. Also, they believe that the hinge is attached only by welding, whereas I'm thinking it might be a combination bolt and welding. This second place also claimed on their estimate sheet that they would need to remove the front AND rear bumper in order to replace the door (whaaaat??? ).

So, what is the real story to the lower door hinge? Is it a bolt? Is it welded? Is it both? Has anyone else had this problem? I feel like I must just be unlucky since the first guy said he'd never seen anything like it before.

If pictures will help, I can post some.