Google, an iPhone and a P0380 Fault

Since I am taking some time off between jobs, I’m taking care of some of the less exciting tasks. This morning I went to get my 2001 VW Jetta TDI emissions inspection done. It failed.

My local mechanic said that it had a P0380 fault, which has to do with a glow plug failure. Althoughthis doesn’t affect emissions, it does cause the check engine light to stay on, and that is an automatic test failure.

Since my mechanic can’t fix the problem, he sends me to the (GULP) dealership. While spending the required one hour wait / $100 on diagnostics, I did research on the mysterious fault.

Turns out that it is caused by the glow plug system (diesels need to warm fuel before it will combust). Either the relay, harness and/or plugs need to be replaced or the contacts must be cleaned.

Anyway – I am looking forward to talking with my “service consultant.” I’m guessing that he will not appreciate my newly found knowledge because it will limit his “upsell” opportunities.

Now that I have been waiting for two hours I am more than ready to have that conversation!!

5/7/09 – Looking at my inbound traffic stats, the P0380 fault seems to be a popular subject, so I will update it, since I have learned more (and spent money to fix my car).

The glow plugs are similar in their life expectancy to spark plugs. It is normal to have to replace them after 150k miles (or probably more frequently, since the light had been going on and off for a bit).  I don’t remember the cost off-hand, but it was not particularly cheap to get these replaced.

I would suggest finding someone who can clean them before you commit to replacement. After they are cleaned, drive for about 100 miles and see if the light stays off or if it comes back on. If it comes back on, you are likely to need replacements.