2012 Volkswagen Beetle Long Term Road Test


2012 Volkswagen Beetle: More About The Headlights and Drained Battery

June 26, 2012

beetle_headlights.JPG

I saw some comments on yesterday's drained battery post where people were wondering about how exactly the Beetle's headlights/parking lights operation works and how I actually managed to drain the battery. Here are my responses in a separate post.

Allthingshonda was wondering about parking lights, since the headlight switch has just two positions: off and on. The parking lights activate if you turn the headlights on and then place the transmission in park and set the parking brake. Basically, you get the DRLs up front plus illuminated taillights and side running lights. That's what is pictured above, and what effectively drained the battery as the parking light mode is not automatically shut off according to the owner's manual.

Benhamean figured out the headlight/parking light situation, but wondered how I actually let it happen. Well, I tested it out today. If you have the headlight switch on with the car running, then turn off the ignition and open the driver door, you do get a warming chime. In theory, I should have noticed this and then turned off the lights.

But, there are two excuses here. One: From the driver perspective inside of the car, it does look like the car's headlights turn off when you shut off the ignition off. No more bright headlight illumination, just the parking lights. And that can go easily unnoticed since just about every car these days leaves the lights on for you after you exit the vehicle (especially in my situation, since we drive so many different cars, and I'm not super familiar with each car's peculiar operation).

Two: The chime isn't different than any other warning chime and repeats five times and then turns off. Like isend2c wrote, in modern cars you get chimes/beeps for everything these days. Sure, five times should be plenty, of course, but I suspect I was just distracted as I was returning home late with my wife the night before and was probably talking to her and not paying attention to a beeping chime, which is all too common.

Finally, hybris wrote that it's all blown out of proportion since it was indeed operator error. No question there. But I do think it has taken on a little more relevance here since the Beetle doesn't have automatic headlight operation nor a method to really prevent the battery from draining if the driver does indeed leave the light switch on.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Volkswagen Beetle in VA is:

$140 per month*
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