VW Golf heater problems

As the mercury falls, you’ll no doubt reach for the heater controls in your car. But what if they don’t work and you end up with more cold air blasting through your cabin? There’s no excuse for having a chilly car this Christmas, so here’s some tips on how to sort out some of the most common VW Golf heater problems…

Cold cars aren’t fun, and while gloves and hats will combat the chill, a misted up windscreen on the other hand could be dangerous; just a small amount of warm air from the blowers should keep things clear, and during the dark, wet winter that could be a real life saver. Here’s what to check.

Mk2 in snow

Mk2 matrix woes
The heater matrix is the source of most climate related complications on the Mk2 Golf and its booted brother the Jetta; and when it goes your blower will be chucking out cold air not hot. This is caused by the matrix can blocking, causing it to split, which in turn soaks the passenger footwell with water (and hopefully not your passenger’s feet with hot coolant).

Check under the bonnet where the inlet and outlet heater plumbing run into the bulkhead because it’s not unusual to find the heater matrix disconnected altogether, or the VW non-return valves removed or replaced by solid bits of pipe inserted to transport the water back and forth. Do note though, that the replacement upgrade heater matrix we offer here already has this valve built in, so will require the removal and bypass of the original valve in the engine bay.

Mk2 Golf matrix new

The matrix works like a mini radiator and the non-return valve prevents it from exploding. The valve can fail (in which case you can replace it) but if that doesn’t cure your temperature troubles, then you will need to fit a replacement matrix which is a ‘dashboard out job’ as it’s tucked up behind the middle of the facia. Don’t rule out air locks causing the issue though; to get rid of these run the car with the expansion cap removed and the fan disconnected, let the water boil over, then turn off the engine and top up with more coolant.

Heater resistor
If the heater on your Mk1 or 2 Golf only works on setting 3 the chances are the resistor on the fan pack behind the dash has failed. It’s a relatively simple fix that requires a soldering iron and removal of the lower passenger under panel. The resistor is on the back of the blower connector so follow the blower wires to the heater fan housing. They should be attached to a connector on a metal plate on the front of the blower housing, so disconnect it. This plate will prise free with a screwdriver, but be careful not to snap the clips as they break very easily.

heater control

When you get the plate off, look on the back of it and you’ll see the thermal overload resistor (small, cylindrical thing). Desolder it and get another one of the same value and solder the new one back in (be careful here, too much heat and you’ll blow it again). When you’ve done that, clip it back into the blower housing.

Mk1 fan foibles
If your Mk1 Golf has been sat for a while, water may have run in from the scuttle panel, and started to rust the bearings causing the fan motor to seize; so when you switch it on, nothing will happen and the fuse will blow! Before you pull the blower motor out though just double check you haven’t got a faulty heater switch on your hands, you can pick up a new one here and it could save an hour swearing and grovelling under the dash. If the old blower needs to come out it must be removed from the inside, where it lives in the centre housing beneath the dashboard – sadly it is slightly too big to be removed out the top and through a non-smoothed engine bay (the firewall gets in the way!)

Coolant level lows
If you’ve got rubbish heaters, have you checked the coolant level in your expansion tank? It may sound simple, but if it’s dropped below the minimum mark, then your heaters won’t be nearly as efficient. Topping up with the correct anti-freeze is a short term solution; use what the manufacturer originally recommended and don’t mix two and five year (Organic Acid Type) brews.

coolant 2upoil filler cap 2up

You do need to know why the level’s dropped in the first place though, and once you’ve ruled out obvious leaks the most likely culprit is the cylinder head gasket. If it’s failed, you’ll notice oil contamination in the water and water in the oil, in which case there will be a creamy white deposit on the underside of the oil filler cap. And you thought having cold feet was your only worry!


The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage

51 responses to: VW Golf heater problems

  1. Matrix ok. Pump ok. Both thermostats changed. In fact according to the service station I used recently everything is checking out ok. But they still cannot solve the heating problem WARM AIR ONLY. I WOULD LOVE YOUR HELP PLEASE

    1. What year or model is the car Charles? Sounds like the control valve or cable that controls it isn’t working properly.
      There should be a way of stopping the coolant travelling into the matrix, and thus turning the heating off.

        1. Apparently my golf has everything working fine ie electrics,flaps, matrix new pump,two new thermostats,all pipes heating up as they should. So can any genius tell me why I only have slight warmth coming out of the vents

          Golf 1.4 tsi 2013 model
          Charles Cumbers Br60ra

          1. My garage tell me all is working ok on my VW golf tsi 1.4 2012/13 and they do not understand why my heater is only blowing warm air and takes at least 5 miles to reach operating temperature,. Is there a genius out there in the big wide world who has the answer__who ever you are you are of great value especially at this time of year.


          2. Hi, did you ever get this resolved? I have a 2013 model with the exact same problem.

            Would be useful to know what happened?

        2. I’ve got the same problem with mine same car same year I think I mite just take it back to Volkswagen and make it there problem it mast be very common in that model

    2. Heater bypass valve could be blocked I had same problem on my mark 5 got it replaced, only cost me labour and under £10 including vat from dealership and it’s a non stock item had to be ordered in for the next day.

  2. My ’15 GTI is in getting the heat exchange flow valve replaced under warranty. US tech support states they have seen some sticky valves that don’t open fully and allow all of the coolant to flow to the heater core.

    1. Sadly we don’t deal with Golf models that new i’m afraid. The main dealer will be your best bet at finding a fix for this.

  3. Hi can anyone help! The heater in my golf does nothing when turn on! There is no blow what ever!.

    It has been sitting idle for a couple of month! Not driven all, but before it was left to sit idle! It was working perfectly ok, any ideas would really be appreciated thank you dan.

  4. 01 tdi golf. No longer blows on any setting. A couple times it would start blowing and slowly die down to nothing. Any help thanks

    1. Hi Dakota, is this a heater issue, or a blower issue? It sounds like regarding of heat, the fan/blower has given up. First step would be to make this work again… then look at getting the heat back in. Traditionally diesel vehicles do take longer to get up to temperature, so even with the heat turned up, it will start off cold.

  5. VW golf 1.4 tsi 2012/13 my garage tell matrix ok pump ok electrics ok flaps ok they changed both thermostats,but still only warm air ,can you help please

    1. Like I mentioned the bypass valve in golfs common fault gets blocked ir broken very fragile piece it’s called heater bypass valve small job not so expensive and easy and quick fitting by good mechanics only due to plastic components are fragile and can break during fittings , it’s the same fault no mechanics could find easily but experienced mechs can identify it give this a go hopefully you should be back with proper heating good luck

  6. Hi my 2012 Golf TDI Hatch has been making an intermittent “pump” sort of noise coming from passenger side when first started and not every time 🙁
    When it was booked in for a 75000 service mentioned I could here a noise in front passenger side like a pump struggling to do what pumps do and the VW dealer reckon my fuel pump was stuffed so they replaced it
    The noise is still there and I suspect it has something to do with when heater is on as when it did it this morning turned it off and noise stopped
    As it was obviously not the fuel pump any ideas on what we should be looking for
    And have asked for a report on why fuel pump failed – will be interesting !!

  7. Hi! My vw caddy -88 Yes 1988 is still alive but one of my problems is that I can’t turn heat off! In summer really hot in car. Winter is ok ;-). I have changed the valve, controlled by wire, but it seems that the coolant is going thru anyway to the internal heater. Yes the valve is ok but they don’t shut 100% (i have checked Visual and with air). Any suggestions??? Best regards J from Sweden

  8. Hi, can someone please help me. I have a MK2 Golf GTI 8v (no air con) I am struggling to get hot air coming out. I have changed the thermostat, water pump, heater matrix and all the pipes, work has been carried out by VW garage, topped up coolant with genuine stuff still getting no hot air? The guys have also inserted foam where the old one had became brittle. I need help ASAP please guys?! ☹️

    1. Check the heater bypass valve, it’s based in between the pipes hot and cold and third leading to in car heaters transferring heat if it’s blocked car will only give out Luke warm heat after a while if driving even when the engines hot at 90 degrees temp, it’s a small plastic bypass valve, major issues not common but when it goes mechanics can tell that’s the problem but will know job over not to much to make interns of money so they will take you in a unnecessary spending spree costing you a lot more than the odd £40-£50 full job including parts from dealership only cost me under £10 including Vat

  9. Hi there, I’m having issues with my 2000 Vw golf gl 2.0l. I’ve replaced the blower, resistor and fuse but still not blowing anything.. i can feel heat coming from the heater core so I know it is not an issue of heat. I’m not sure whether it is a matter of faulty switch or bad wiring?

    1. Did you ever find this out? I have the exact same problem!

      Any insight would be helpful:) I took to dealer and they weren’t of much use haha

  10. Hi. I have a golf 2007 and have had constant repairs done from the day I bought it ,I know I should get rid but I’ve spent do much I had litterally replaced everything ,however now my heater only blows slight warm air when engine on but stationary as soon as I drive the heat goes very cold ,a garage has flushed the tubes ?, but still not working and I’ve topped up with coolant I need help please any suggestions ?

    1. Heater bypass valve get that check if it’s blocked I had the same problem after changing my thermostat housing due to leak then my bypass valve broke had to replace it found it incorrectly fitted with a piece stick attached to pipe not taken out by the mechanic, leaving me with cold air up to half hour then a bit of Luke warm air got it deen to remembered my old part breaking so advised a new mechanic check and there we were bypass valve blocked, now all fixed not very expensive job but not knowing this mechanics would take advantage and take you for s ride not much people have morals these days

  11. Hi I have a vw Passat cc 59 Blowers will work when it is cold and first start the car but when the car gets warmAnd you try and put the back on again they do not work I can hear them trying to work in the background but they are not blowing at all thanks

  12. Hi, when I turn my WV golf mk4 off the heating turns back on. As you can tell this is now dying the battery & a constant struggle of jumping the car. Has anyone had this issue or no how to fix it

  13. Got a 62 plate vw jetta which blows put cold air when on hot setting until you turn dial to cold and back again to hot then it starts working. Anyone had the same and found the cause please?

  14. Hi know this is an old thread but did you resolve your issue with the heater only blowing warm/hot air as I have the same problem with my golf Mk7 TSI 1.2 regards Richard

  15. my 2003 vw golf chico 1400’s heat gauge rises while driving, but the water level stays the same and there is no obvious leaks?

  16. Hello there
    I have a Golf 2.0 TDI 2008 reg, my heater stopped working on lower level and only blew on level 4. Now it’s totally stopped, so after some research I replaced the blower Resistor. Still no joy. I did notice the passenger side footwell was quite damp. Does anyone have any ideas what my problem is before I take it into the garage, please? Thanks in advance.

  17. Where is the heat valve on a caddy from 2002 placed?
    No heat what so ever in the car. But hoses are warm.
    Sincerely lars

  18. Hello. My heater is only blowing cold air. The coolant looks as it should at a good level and so is the oil. The temperature gauge when driving sits in the middle. Any advice is welcomed

  19. Hello all. I have a mk2 golf and the blower unit has packed in completely. At first, it would work fine, but then died after a while, gradually going slower and slower until it stopped. It wouldn’t respond to controls. Then it would, on, burst back into life only to die again. Now it does nothing. Any ideas?

  20. Hi my mk4 2004 golf heater blows hot air and doesn’t turn off or cool down even tho it’s off, need help

  21. Hi, I’ve a mk6 2011 golf, has been stood a few months as it had injector issues but when we started it the other day the aircon is all lit up but nothing from the blowers, you can feel the warm air coming through the vents so does clear the windscreen eventually. It was working perfectly before it was taken off the road. Resistor or motor? Or start with cheapest and work up?

  22. Good evening. I need help.please. my vw.polo tsi 2013 model is using lots of water. After every drive, yet there are no water leaks at all. We changed thermostat did coolant thing the works but still the temperature light comes on. Today while switching on the heater of the car a heck of a lot of water came squirting out into the inside of the car. Please help anybody. What can the reasons possibly be for this happening.

  23. my mark 5 golf heater has died.i took out the glove compartment and the blower works of the battery.replaced the resistor an the 3 jkob control panell and stiil nothing.and every time you disconnect something your dash warning lights come on.any ideasplease and what is a decent fault scanner that does not require a pc.the OB11 dont light up
    help welcome

    1. Did you ever get this resolved? I’m intrigued to know. I’ve had the same problem. Now I have changed the resistor, changed the fan blower motor itself and changed the module incase something wasn’t working on that! All fuses in the car have been changed with new whether they needed it or not and still nothing!!

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