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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just purchased a 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit convertible (102k miles, 3rd owner), originally wanted an 80's Mercedes 380sl but parts are expensive, not really a commuter car, and I have no idea what I'm doing. I thought the Rabbit would be the perfect car for me to not only commute (8 miles round trip) but to learn how to work on cars myself, a good first-time oldie to gain experience. The guy before me seems to have put some work into it, and is a classic car guy himself, and had the same mechanic work on it the past 4 years.

Passed smog in 2018
Fluids are good
New Master Cylinder booster
New brake pads
New muffler hanger
New radiator
New water pump
New timing belt
New gasket cover
Most of this work was done in 2019

Body is good with a little rust on the back bumper corners, Reupholstered seats and exterior of soft top. On cold/wet mornings the timing belt seizes up and it sounds like I'm peeling out so I make sure to spray a little belt conditioner every morning before I start her up.
I need to get it re-smogged, kind of nervous about that but there's nothing alarming that tells me it wont pass, just my first oldie so I'm anxious.

Two things about the car that need work.

He says a couple days before selling to me he pressed the button under the odometer and speedometer and that section of the dash cut out and is more than likely a loose wire or a wire replacement. Electricity wise it seems the dash is split into 3rds and it's only that 3rd that isn't working which I think is a good sign? Is this something I should try to fix myself? (i really would like to if but if its a dumb idea obviously I would rather play it safe and have it fixed by a mechanic) and if so any advice would be AMAZING I am a beginner. Don't know how to get into the dash and don't really know what I'm looking at once I'm in there.

And then as I was driving today I noticed a little whistling sound (super super faint) and when accelerating it would go away only when I let up off the gas or was stopped in gear could I hear it. I was thinking Vacuum leak? is this also something I could fix myself? Let me know your thoughts, all alone here (no mechanic friends and internet is all I've got but really want to be self sufficient and do it myself as much as possible)

Thank you in advance for any advice I get!
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Super Moderator
10,633 Posts
Moved your post to the older rabbit forum, as yours is a mk1.

Super Moderator
10,633 Posts
Welcome to the forum, and Cabby-hood.

MK1 Convertibles are also Cabriolets, they ran from 1979-1993, all were built at the Karmann Coach Works in Germany from the ground up, and imported to the US.

The Bentley, and the Early haynes is a goo thing to have since you want to be wrenching on the little critter.

Belt noise is probably a loose or overly tight belt, Loose they Squeal.

Pressing the Trip odometer reset shouldn't have bothered the electric as it is a mechanical issue.
What exactly isn't working on the dash, as 2/3 is working...need further information.

Whistling is probably a vacuum leak since you are hearing it, I as going to assume that it is inside the cabin.
Try to move your heater controls that shuttle the aif flow from defrost to feet to center and tell us if it goes away or changes pitch.

The FAQ's in this section has some good information.
Places that you need to get to know,
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