Dash vent light bulb removal/replacement (1998- early 2003)
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  1. #1
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    Dash vent light bulb removal/replacement (1998- early 2003)

    This write-up is for the replacement of the dash vent light bulbs for Passats 1998 - early 2003. Basically, if your cars vent lights lit up at one time or another, than this is what you need to repair them when they go out.

    If you have a late 2003 B5.5 or later, the write up you need is HERE. This is a really good write-up by JimmyDee on how to remove the dash vents and add red LED’s to light up B5.5’s that didn’t come stock with vent lights (apparently late 2003 and later models).

    FYI – There is also a very good write-up by MeinPassat HERE
    The picture links seem to be dead but the information is valid and good.

    I started this project expecting the vent removal to be the hardest part, oh was I wrong. The hardest part for me turned out to be the removal of the bulb from the vent. My hope is that this write-up will help others avoid the pain and frustration that I went through.


    1) Using butter knives, insert at key points (marked by Red Dots) and work the plastic vent housing tabs down to remove vents (please see JimmyDee’s info. HERE for better detail on vent removal).


    2) The dash is very flexible and has a lot of give, so don’t be worried about prying on the material, just be careful not to hurt the vent while prying.
    *HINT: Sometimes it is not necessary to actually pry down on the butter knives to remove the vents. Once the knives have passed over the vent tabs it's possible that you might remove the vent by just taking a flathead screwdriver and prying at the corners.






    3) Gently pull out vent and unplug electrical connector. To unplug connector just hold the vent and grab the wires with your fingers or a pair of pliers and pull straight out.











    4) Now that you have the vent(s) removed, turn them on their side and look for the little hole in the middle of the white plastic cover. If you look in you will see part of the black bulb base and some metal. You need to insert something thin like a tiny flat head screwdriver or something similar (a large paper clip unbent should also work) in the small gap between the metal parts. Push down and you should feel the tool push through (you’re depressing a small plastic catch that is under the bulb base), keep downward pressure and remove the bulb base with a pair of needle nose pliers. You may need to give a good pull on the base to free it. It may even take a few attempts at getting the screwdriver or tool to release the catch far enough down to make this work. Don’t give up, it will come out.

    * HINT: If the above method isn't working out for you, try another approach taken by some. Take a thin flat tool of somekind or use a large, unbent paperclip, and stick it down behind the black bulb base. It seems some have had success getting the tab to release that way.





    Replace the bulbs (VW#3B0-919-243-B) I found them online for around $3 plus shipping or at the dealerships for $4.50 – 7.50.
    The picture below is what the bulb looks like. It is attached to a plastic base that is all one unit. This should be exactly what your replacement should look like.






    5) Before reversing the procedure turn on your lights to make sure everything is working. When replacing the vents back into the dash make sure that the wires don’t get trapped between the vent and the duct, or pinched between the vent and the inside of the dash.
    Last edited by SeattleReign; 05-07-2005 at 09:49 PM.

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  3. #2
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    Good writeup .. got to book mark this one !!!!

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    Good job....still see one red 'X'?

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    Quote Originally Posted by leadfoot
    Good job....still see one red 'X'?
    Patience Grasshopper .. I see no red X s'

  6. #5
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    All fixed now Awesome write up Alex. I've been lucky as I haven't had one burn out on me yet but I am sure it'll happen soon. You're inspiring me to add more write-ups.....

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    stupid quesiton but for the guys w/ new passats, instead of adding in the lights manually, can we just buy the oe parts meant for older passats and install that way?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1.8Tttturbo
    stupid quesiton but for the guys w/ new passats, instead of adding in the lights manually, can we just buy the oe parts meant for older passats and install that way?
    Having removed just about everything off of my vents trying to figure out the bulb removal, looking at JimmyDee's setup and what I had, I would say that it's a very good chance that you could buy the pieces and do a stock type setup. You would still need to run a wire harness of some sort to the vent I would suppose. I think it would cost less and maybe even be easier to do it the way Jimmy did. Good luck, let me know if I can be of anymore help.

  9. #8
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    SeattleReigh,

    Very nice write-up.

    Just one question. Is the black housing part of the replacement bulb or does the replacement bulb pop into the housing you show in your last photo?

    Thanks,

    Tom

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    Good question Tom, I should have addressed that in the write-up. The bulb does come connected to that black plastic piece. I will update my information to say that.

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    how did you pull the vent out after you push down all the tabs, there is no were to grab and i already broke 2 flaps on the vent

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    Oripaamoni - When I did my vents I would make sure to work all of the knives as far back between the dash and the vent. Then I would start at the top and pry all of the knives down to push the tabs down. If you do it right the vent will start to give some gap around the sides, just get a flat screwdriver or something on the side and try to work out a corner. You say you broke 2 flaps, do you mean the plastic retaining tabs? Or are you talking about the horizontal flaps on the front of the vent?

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    holizontal flat vent (changes direction of air) i fixed them by molding on a little plastic nub to the end

  14. #13
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    Once you have the tabs pushed down and the vent needs a little extra to come out, try using a flathead screwdriver on the corners and give it a little pry.

  15. #14
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    SeattleReign helped me yesterday during our Get Together to replace my bulbs in the center vent on my and with a little patience and the right butter knives :biglaugh:, we got it done within 15 minutes or so. Alex, thanks for the help on that yesterday and thanks for a great write up, i'll be set for the next round when i need to replace some more bulbs

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    I tried and tried, and I still can't get that tiny f##king little bulb out of the housing. How far do I have to insert the screwdriver? Any other suggestions??

  17. #16
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    Good write-up.
    I've never actually seen how the OEM lights looked.

    Jimmy

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    Q for JimmyDee's writeup,
    what are the 680ohm resistors for?
    Do you have a page of all your electrical mods?

  19. #18
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    Teledog - You might want to post your question on JimmyDee's page HERE I think you might get a quicker response from him.

    Tom - I know your frustration. Even after I did this on three of my own vents I went to help RAH with his and I still had problems. So don't get discouraged. I thought I was a seasoned pro after all I had done and it still gave me fits. It really can take some time and effort getting those (*&^% things out. It can be tough to get the bulb to release but keep in mind, when you're placing that small flathead screwdriver between that "V" looking metal piece, there is a small plastic tab on the other side that needs to be held down to allow you to remove the bulb. Sometimes it's tough keeping one hand gripping the vent and holding the screwdriver down while trying to remove the bulb with the pliers in the other hand all at the same time. Good luck!

  20. #19
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    I knew they'd go sometime!

    Well my right light in the center vents finally burnt out after 2 1/2 years so I am glad I had your instructions SeattleReign ...why haven't you PM'd a Mod to get it added to the Info-Base? Anyways, my difficult part was getting the vents out themselves...I'd say it took at least 45 minutes...I wanted to be careful and not break anything. I wish I had an extra set of hands and more than the two old butter knives I used! As for the bulb release you mention, I had a little screwdriver and it wasn't small enough to do what you did to release the bulb but I did manage to get them out. What I did was to unfold a large paper clip and pushed the stiff straight piece down the back of the bulb and socket between the vent assembly and the socket (sim. to what Mein_Passat talks about, see photo below), then when it wouldn't go anymore easier I pushed it harder and I felt the clip you talk about release and with a pair of needlenose the bulb pulled right out. Actually getting the wiring clip off the vent assembly prior to the bulb wasn't mentioned. I hard a hard time with those little buggers too. I didn't know if there was any special clip on it but I discovered by just using the needlenose on the black plastic and with a swift tug it came out easily enough. Then of course one of the wires fell inside and I needed to get a small piece of clothes hanger wire with a hook on the end to get it back. Also, I recommend you buy two bulbs and replace them both cause I am sure as soon as I would've put it all back together, a week later the other one would have gone out. I wouldn't want to have to do this again anytime soon but I am happy and am confident now to do it again without any hesitation. Bulbs from a VW dealer cost me $5.78 each (CDN). Total time including cleanup was a little under 2 hours. Knowledge and confidence gained: Priceless!


    Photo by Mein_Passat



    Here's another link to all of Mein_Passat's photo's and other info...
    Center vent LED broken, fix $210?! WTF!

    >leadfoot
    Last edited by leadfoot; 05-07-2005 at 04:41 PM.

  21. #20
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    I also got mine done today. If I had to do it again it would take less than 20 minutes. However, I have been working on this on a off for 4 weeks!

    Using the method described above in the first set of photos was useless for me. The real trick is to get something thin enough to slide down the back bulb/housing far enough to depress the clip (see hint). In my '99 the clip is plastic. I used a needle from a repair kit for baseball gloves which has a flatened tip.

    Earlier in the day I visited my local VW dealer and showed it to the "expert" VW mechanic. He told me he had no idea how to get the bulb out. Their manual was too vague for him to figure it out. In the past, what he ended up doing was breaking the housing and then replacing the whole vent unit. No wonder VW service is so poor. What surprised me the most was that there was no concern by the mechanic or the service advsor that they could not fix my problem. What a bunch or useless #$%^!$!#!.
    Last edited by Tom Parish; 05-08-2005 at 05:21 PM.

  22. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by leadfoot
    I am glad I had your instructions SeattleReign ...why haven't you PM'd a Mod to get it added to the Info-Base?
    I actually have PM'ed a couple of the Mods to see about getting this added to the info. forum. Here's what I got back on my first PM back on 3/24/05.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny Payne
    Quote Originally Posted by SeattleReign
    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny Payne
    We're about to host all of the Info Forum content on the Passatworld Server. If you have something that's ready to go, you can post it in the General Discussion Forum and we'll move it to the Info forum.

    Thanks.

    Kenny

    Quote Originally Posted by SeattleReign
    If I were going to do a write-up on something, where would I post it? I see that you can't do it in the Information forum so which forum is the best to do this?

    Thanks,

    Alex
    Wow! If that means what I think it does, that would mean you guys will not have to worry about info. write ups where the pictures are dead linked. Is this correct?
    Yes.
    The other Mod told me to let it gather feedback and then add peoples comments and suggestions to my write-up. Then I should post the write-up in the "Rest Of The World" forum and then the Mods would work in into the Info. base.
    Well, I've done everything but post this in the ROTW forum, so I'm just about to do that. Hopefully they (Mods) will then add it. It would sure be nice, then I wouldn't have to host the pictures to this anymore.

  23. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeattleReign
    ...It would sure be nice, then I wouldn't have to host the pictures to this anymore.
    Don't count on it! I tried to get PW to host my dashcreak PDF and had NO luck. After numerous PM's to almost all of the moderator's, some responses and some no responses, I just decided after two months of dickin' around, and after numerous PM's/email to me for the pictures and info, I just hosted the pictures myself up rewrote the instructions from my PDF file into the Forum. I originally had atomicalex take the ROTW post and transfer it into the Info-base. She was very prompt . Once it is posted to the Info-base you can still edit it there but no one can post responses.

    Dave

  24. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Parish
    ...he ended up doing was breaking the housing and then replacing the whole vent unit....What a bunch or useless #$%^!$!#!.
    Unbelievable!

    I have not much faith in VW service either. I had an intermittent rattle in my drivers door for sometime now and decided to get to the bottom of it. With the ETKA instructions in hand I proceeded to remove the handle and power window assembly on the drivers door to get at the three screws to take off the door panel. Well guess what I found....two of the three screws were tight and the other was sitting there loose...BINGO...rattle found . I then thought to myself why is this unscrewed and then I remembered I had some weather stripping replaced under warranty about a year ago as it had a split in it (since the day I bought it) and the VW guy told me they had to take the door panel off to do it properly. Figures! Suffice to say I do not go to that dealer anymore.

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