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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
anybody else had this problem?

my CEL came on and my reader spat out the code: P2181, coolant system proformance. i have replaced the ECT sensor and i don't think it is the thermostat because the fan kicks in when it is supposed to. does anybody have any ideas about what could cause this code?

p.s. it is not overheating, the temp. is constant all the time
 

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Same exact problem here, was just about to post your question myself. Changed the sensor the first time to the green one (German Auto Parts) and the code came back. Got a second sensor from VW and the code came back. The car does not overheat, the temp never bounces, when it gets to 190 it sits level and does not budge. Fans kick right in when you turn the AC on. Car runs great otherwise. Baffled and seems like the internet is out of luck too. I would just leave it but I don't feel like running codes every week to check if anything else has gone wrong.

2003 Golf 2.0
 

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This might help point you guys in a direction regarding your code. Try this link to a code site.
OBD-II Trouble Codes - DTC Codes Car Repair

I listed your code p2181 in the search box on that site and got this info:
Question: I have a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta (50k). My Check Engine light came on. I took it to Autozone and got a P2181 code (Cooling System Performance). My engine temperature is normal. Could it be the water pump even though the temperature is normal. - Cody, October 2008

Answer: Hi Cody. Please see the answer below this one (2003 Passat). Yes, it could possibly be the water pump, but it could be other things as well. Good luck!

2003 VW Passat Engine LightQuestion: I have a 2003 passat with the 1.8T engine. I have a check engine light with a p2181 code. I know it's coolant related. Can I get anymore details? - Dave, September 2008

Answer: Hi Dave. Yes, the VW P2181 code description is Cooling System Performance. Possible causes include (but are not limited to) a bad coolant temperature sensor (CTS), stuck thermostat, bad waterpump, bad electrical connector somewhere between the CTS & the ECU (car's "brain"), or a failed cooling fan. Most likely the problem is the coolant temperature sensor, I've seen that before. Anyway, start by checking the sensor and replacing if necessary... go from there.


Hope it helps.
 

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This is from the Ross-Tech website:

Possible Solutions:

* Check Engine Coolant Temperature Sender (G62)
* Check Coolant Thermostat
* Check Engine Cooling System
o Put the key on, fan speed on 1, and push the a/c switch. Are both fans kicking on? If not, you found the problem.
o Put the key on and fan speed on 1. Does heat come out readily from the vents?​
+ No. Probably the water pump is gone.
+ Yes. Probably the thermostat is gone.
Retrieved from 18613/P2181/008577 - Ross-Tech Wiki

i.e. if you turn the car on, turn the knob to hot, and turn the fan on, heat should come out fairly quickly. If not, then it's probably the water pump. If it does, and it's none of the other solutions (i.e. fans not working, sensor, etc.), then it's the thermostat.

Hope this helps.
 

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Just for others, I have a 2004 Jetta Gl 2.0L. I got this code because of a non-working radiator fan. My water pump.was changed about 1,000 miles ago, and probably 2,000 on my thermostat. I could visually see the fan not moving with the AC turned on. The car didn't overheat unless the car was idle and the temperature outside was over 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
 
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