2001 Passat DRL not working and low beams dim
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  1. #1
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    2001 Passat DRL not working and low beams dim

    I have searched and searched these forums and spent a lot of time reading about similar issues. No clear cut answer.

    Son has a 2001 Passat GLS V6 5-Spd Manual.....

    All of a sudden last night, he said his headlights went dim, bad enough he needed to put his high beams on. So we checked it out when he got home, turns out the daytime runners are not functioning at all, low beams are pathetically weak, high beams are bright as bright can be.

    Symptoms--No DRLs at all--Dim Lowbeams

    -I have checked fuses--physically removed and did a visual as well as continuity check.
    -I have taken out and reseated the 173 relay or whatever it is called.
    -Tested battery voltage-Good-12.5 or so....
    -Removed headlamp control switch--reinstalled and made sure it was seated well.

    Any other ideas? Should I replace the 173 and/or the switch?
    Is there a way to test the 173 relay?
    Is there a way to test the switch?
    I have a digital multimeter.

    I would tend to think it is NOT the alternator voltage regulator as it would cause more issues. Correct?

    As this point, my son cannot drive at night as I wont allow him to be one of those annoying "high beam drivers".

    Thanks in advance

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  3. #2
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    Almost guaranteed that the bulbs are bad. It's very common for both sides to burn out within moments of each other. The low beam and DRL use the same bulb filament. Most likely, the dim light you see when in low beam mode is the city lights and not the low beams at all.

  4. #3
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    I understand what you are saying, but I am getting no DRLs at all. The only time anything comes out of those bulbs is when I turn on his low beam headlights and it's dim as I said. If they were the running lights ONLY as you said, they would be on as soon as the brake lever was down or the car was put in 1st gear. Daytime runners are not working at all, not at anytime.
    I also understand they run on the same filament and just get a little more power when running as low beam headlights.
    I did a little experiment, I hooked up my battery charger, turned on the lights and turned the battery charger to 200amp Start......headlights lit up perfectly. If the bulbs were bad, they would never get bright no matter what I hit them with. For some reason the lights are not getting the message to run daytime runners and full power low beams......crazy.

  5. #4
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    I'm not talking about the running lights, I'm talking about the city lights. They are a small, white #192 lamp that comes on when the HL switch is in the full on position. They are there to dimly illuminate the fixture when the low beam fails, and they do not come on with the DRL's. Have you pulled the low beam bulbs out of the fixtures (with them still connected) so that you can verify if it's the low beam bulbs coming on dimly, or just the city lights that you are seeing?

    Anyway, is the car running or is the key at least turned to the run position while you're checking the lights? The DRL's and low beams will not turn on unless the key is on. Stating the (hopefully) obvious, but wanting to cover the bases. Have you tried checking everything with the car running?

    It's really odd that the lights would work with the charger connected. Seems as though there may be a more serious electrical issue if that's the case. Did the lights work in DRL mode? Check the obvious points like the battery terminals and the ground connections. I had similar issues in an old pickup truck, the battery tested fine but the truck would behave like the battery was weak. Turned out that the lead terminals needed cleaned even though they looked fine and had no signs of corrosion.

    You can also check the fuses, there is one for each side. Other than that, I still suspect that you may simply have bad bulbs. We've seen several people here that over-troubleshoot this since both sides go at the same time. Only other thing that comes to mind would be the load reduction relay, but that would also prevent things like the HVAC fan and radio from working, and the high beams would only work when pulling on the lever.

  6. #5
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    Ahhhh, my mistake. I never heard the term "city lights" before, I thought people were referring to the DRLs just using a different term. No mention of that term in the Haynes repair manual and I have no original manual for the car.
    So, with that said, you are correct, I am looking at the city lights. Those are the ones that brightened when I hooked it to charger....duh LoL
    Honestly, I was confused looking at the headlights of the Passat. Little City Lights closest to grill, Low/High Beam in same area, then outside of the headlight has what appears to be an unused area that resembles a light but has rubber grommet on the back and not hooked to anything. I thought those were the running lights.
    I ordered the Switch and 173 fuse already, no big deal, I will throw them on eBay.
    I will pick up two bulbs tomorrow and give it a shot.
    Instinct when two bulbs go at the same time is to over troubleshoot it.....I agree and I'm guilty as charged. Never saw that happen before, hence my stressed state of mind.
    Thanks for the help. Will post results tomorrow.

    Son just got the car and started driving, so I'm learning about his car as I go, hopefully it will chug on for awhile.

    PS- Did all the fuse checks more than once and battery terminals as well as grounds for the headlights, all was good.

  7. #6
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    Well, let us know what you find. Hopefully it's just the bulbs!

  8. #7
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    Quiksillvr, do you know your son's Passat is 2001 B5 or 2001.5 B5.5? 2001 B5 should not have city lights and uses H7 for low-beams and H4 for high-beams and fog lights. 2001.5 B5.5 has different headlight units with projector low-beams and 192 bulbs in high-beam reflector area as the city-lights. Both low- and high-beams use H7 bulb.

    Here are a couple of links on how to replace the headlight bulbs on 2001 B5:

    Replacing Headlight bulbs for B5 model
    Instructions for removing headlight and corner light for B5
    Last edited by yrwei52; 01-07-2011 at 09:45 PM.

  9. #8
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    Ok, I think it's a 2001.5 as it has the clear/white strip along back tail lights and chrome accents around the car. Manufacture date 12/00.

    I removed the light bulb I thought was the problem, only one filament in it and high beams work perfect. So I guess I need to get the corner lights?

    I don't know, I hate to be an idiot but the headlight set up is lie this:
    Inside near grill- Little tiny light up corner, same chamber high beam bulb as well.
    Next moving towards outer edge of car.....what appears to be a projection light, rubber grommet on back.
    Then blinker on edge obviously.

    So tell me this.....where do the daytime runners come from? Projectors? Are they also the low beams?

    I wish I took better notice when they were working.....jesus. LoL

  10. #9
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    Replaced the headlights(lowbeam/DRLs) and all is well and fine. Unbelievable they both blew at the same time. I did find that the insulation on the wires was very cracked and brittle, few spots were showing wire. Taped them up with electrical tape just to be on the safe side.

    I over-troubleshooted the issue, but in the process (thanks to you guys) learned a lot about the car.

    Thank you guys for the help.

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