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84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2021 9:13 pm    Post subject: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

*i've tested, read and tried to find some info, but nothing seems to fit what i'm up against*



the joys of resurrecting the dead Confused

84 vanagon powered by something from the Land of the Rising Sun.

i'm running a 84 wolfsburg cluster (tach and LCD clock)

upon initial running etc the coolant temp LED would do it's initial "test blink" and go dormant until the next key cycle

when i was testing the cluster upon install (needed to swap pins around in the main connector) everything worked as it should.... jump the wires on the low coolant sensor and no light. disconnect them and after a few seconds, the light would flash and the gauge would peg.

after a few test miles the light would keep blinking but the temp gauge as normal (also backed up by a stand alone gauge)

coolant is full, proper 50/50 mix (i did find the TSB on the light blinking)

my foil was weak, but worked. i had a cluster master box on the shelf just for this purpose.

tossed that in. same deal.

what i've checked not necessarily in this order:

swapped out coolant relay- no change

checked for anything goofy in the black box in the engine bay...nothing (everything was cleaned when i did the swap)

power/ground at coolant relay is fine

ground trees under dash recently cleaned/terminals replaced as needed

if i disconnect the blue/green wire from the level sender, light continues to flash and temp gauge pegs out

if i remove the relay and remove the blue/green wire from the level sender the LED continues to blink but the gauge will NOT peg out. this tells me the system is working fine up to this point

would also like to note with relay removed and the TEMP sender grounded the gauge will peg out to hot

so, this leads me to believe that the gauge itself went tits up. any thoughts on this and is it repairable?

i thought i saw a thread where someone said there was something in it that went bad, and can be repaired but it was a total PITA.

looks like i need 255 919 511 which of course is vanagon only, and NLA.

it's the only thing that is making sense that it's internal to the gauge.

the temperature portion (needle) works fine...it just has a constant blinking light
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gprudenciop wrote:

my reason for switching to subaru is my german car was turning chinese so i said fuck it and went japanese.......
[email protected] wrote:
most VW enthusiasts are stuck in 80's price land.

Jake Raby wrote:
Thanks for the correction. I used to be a nice guy, then I ruined it by exposing myself to the public.

Brian wrote:
Also the fact that people are agreeing with Skills, it's a turn of events for samba history
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DanHoug
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 5:15 am    Post subject: Re: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

have you polished the stainless steel rods in the level sensor with a 3M pad? get 'em all shiny and retry.
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crazyvwvanman
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 6:02 am    Post subject: Re: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

If it happens even with the coolant level relay removed it CAN'T be caused by the level sensor or its wiring.

Internal to the gauge is a capacitor that commonly fails and causes the coolant led to blink when there is no real reason. The procedure for replacing it is around.

On the instrument cluster is a 10v regulator that also can be the cause, or it contacts may not be perfect.

On the back of the gauge are 3 nuts that act as contacts to the blue foil and sometimes one of the nuts needs to be cleaned and/or tightened.

Mark
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dobryan Premium Member
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 6:14 am    Post subject: Re: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

This may get you pointed in the right direction.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=265318&highlight=coolant+capacitor
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 7:33 am    Post subject: Re: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

thanks guys!


DanHoug wrote:
have you polished the stainless steel rods in the level sensor with a 3M pad? get 'em all shiny and retry.


it's a different style, but new and appears to be ok


crazyvwvanman wrote:
If it happens even with the coolant level relay removed it CAN'T be caused by the level sensor or its wiring.


yea, that's when i realized it had to be internal to the gauge itself.


dobryan wrote:
This may get you pointed in the right direction.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=265318&highlight=coolant+capacitor


thank you. i had not seen those threads in my search. this one here i found super late last night (or at 2 am, so early today i guess) i was just to beat to post back here

fun starts on page 3

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=4449378#4449378

like i said my foil was ok, but getting weak. i swapped the foil for the cluster masters box and it still did it.

all of my years owning VAG products of this vintage this is the first one i have had an issue with and (going off memory) the only one that uses the relay in the system.

looks like i will be ordering those caps. once i do the deed (and get the parts) i will update the post here.

anyone who's done this.... how miserable is it? looks like it's kind of tedious. i have a bunch of soldering stuff.... a vice, clamps etc so i should be ok there.
_________________
gprudenciop wrote:

my reason for switching to subaru is my german car was turning chinese so i said fuck it and went japanese.......
[email protected] wrote:
most VW enthusiasts are stuck in 80's price land.

Jake Raby wrote:
Thanks for the correction. I used to be a nice guy, then I ruined it by exposing myself to the public.

Brian wrote:
Also the fact that people are agreeing with Skills, it's a turn of events for samba history
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crazyvwvanman
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 8:16 am    Post subject: Re: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

The 83 Vanagons were the first to use the coolant level relay but a year or 2 later some other VWs got it as well. Quantums, Jettas, Convertibles, etc but not all, I think only ones from German production.

To open the gauge itself you need to deal with drilling a small rivet. No need to remove both rivets, just one and then pivot the gauge face out of the way. Having the face still attached makes it easier for me. I leave the rivet closest to the temp needle pivot.

Mark

[email protected] wrote:
......

all of my years owning VAG products of this vintage this is the first one i have had an issue with and (going off memory) the only one that uses the relay in the system.

looks like i will be ordering those caps. once i do the deed (and get the parts) i will update the post here.

anyone who's done this.... how miserable is it? looks like it's kind of tedious. i have a bunch of soldering stuff.... a vice, clamps etc so i should be ok there.
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kamzcab86
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 9:12 am    Post subject: Re: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

crazyvwvanman wrote:
The 83 Vanagons were the first to use the coolant level relay but a year or 2 later some other VWs got it as well. Quantums, Jettas, Convertibles, etc but not all, I think only ones from German production.


The convertibles (sold in North America) did not get a cooling system relay until 1988, and that was only for the fan's after-run system. A coolant level relay was added to the convertibles in 1990, coinciding with the introduction of the Digifant injection system.🍺
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 9:53 am    Post subject: Re: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

cool, thanks again. looks like a local place has what i need. i'll get after this in the next day or so.

Mark, that is what i was going to do...swing the face out of the way.

sweet... lets see if i can make a mess out of this Very Happy
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gprudenciop wrote:

my reason for switching to subaru is my german car was turning chinese so i said fuck it and went japanese.......
[email protected] wrote:
most VW enthusiasts are stuck in 80's price land.

Jake Raby wrote:
Thanks for the correction. I used to be a nice guy, then I ruined it by exposing myself to the public.

Brian wrote:
Also the fact that people are agreeing with Skills, it's a turn of events for samba history
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Samba Peckerhead


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 8:46 pm    Post subject: Re: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

well got this all done

just a tedious job, holy shit...i mean magnifying light and jewelers loop kinda shit.

couple of data points....or at least what i notice on my van

-after the repair key on coolant relay OUT the LED flashed and went out before the seat belt buzzer was done

-relay in...again, key on engine off disconnecting the blue/green wire from the level sender would start the needle rising and LED would blink as the temp gauge pegged out. hooking the wire back up without touching the key (still on) shut the LED off after a few seconds and the needle dropped.

many say you have to cycle the key. i found this not to be the case.

either way, it appears to be fixed which is good because having that thing blink while driving was pretty obnoxious
_________________
gprudenciop wrote:

my reason for switching to subaru is my german car was turning chinese so i said fuck it and went japanese.......
[email protected] wrote:
most VW enthusiasts are stuck in 80's price land.

Jake Raby wrote:
Thanks for the correction. I used to be a nice guy, then I ruined it by exposing myself to the public.

Brian wrote:
Also the fact that people are agreeing with Skills, it's a turn of events for samba history
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Vanagon Nut
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 9:24 pm    Post subject: Re: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

Sounds like fun. Wink Good to know cap replacement worked.

I'm coming from the POV of having installed this part during an air to water cooled conversion but FWIW, though it would involve bit of rewiring, I bet you could upgrade to the later model year coolant low module. That module won't pin the needle in a coolant low situation.

PN
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 9:44 pm    Post subject: Re: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

^^^^

that seems to be an option. i really don't mind it pegging the gauge as i have a dedicated temp gauge

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


i know the watercooled factory gauges are more of a suggestion than reality so i decided to run a gauge with numbers.

FWIW, cruising at 70-75 i never hit any higher than 190-192* on a 90* day. that was verified with the ECU. speedhut stuff is by far the most accurate gauge company i have ever found. trans temp never got above 165* (automatic)

anyway, i wanted the system fixed more for a low coolant warning than anything
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gprudenciop wrote:

my reason for switching to subaru is my german car was turning chinese so i said fuck it and went japanese.......
[email protected] wrote:
most VW enthusiasts are stuck in 80's price land.

Jake Raby wrote:
Thanks for the correction. I used to be a nice guy, then I ruined it by exposing myself to the public.

Brian wrote:
Also the fact that people are agreeing with Skills, it's a turn of events for samba history
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Abscate Premium Member
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 11:18 pm    Post subject: Re: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

Skills

Ive found a local ham radio Club usually has guys who can do board level stuff much better and faster than I can , for the usual price of a drink if their best. I take pride in learning a new skill but my Ham friend has the whole setup and lets me watch, too. Sometimes the wives join in as well.
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crazyvwvanman
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2021 10:16 am    Post subject: Re: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

There were 3 versions of the coolant level relay used in Vanagons.
You have the early primitive version.
The early primitive version pegs the temp needle hot when coolant is low, in addition to blinking the led.
The later improved versions only trigger the blinking led while leaving the gauge needle reading for temps.
The early version doesn't need the key cycled to reset the warning.
VW fixed things in 85.

Mark


[email protected] wrote:
......
many say you have to cycle the key. i found this not to be the case.
......
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Vanagon Nut
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2021 11:38 am    Post subject: Re: 84 coolant warning LED won't stop blinking Reply with quote

[email protected] wrote:
^^^^

that seems to be an option. i really don't mind it pegging the gauge as i have a dedicated temp gauge


Right on. Wasn't sure if this was your personal bus or not.

On my '88 I had a blinking light issue. It "resolved" itself but I may have to dig into it someday. Good to know the cap R&R job is not *too* difficult.

Your gauge install reminds me that I really should install an oil pressure gauge, one of these days. Wink

Neil.
_________________
1981 Westy air cooled to 15 ABA swap: http://tinyurl.com/y9n4xob8

50 ABA Swap in to '88 Westy: http://tinyurl.com/yap5hpwt

Vanagon VAG GAS engine swap Google Group:
https://tinyurl.com/2f24rmh

VE7TBN
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