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Sun Jan 08, 2006
A few days before Claire and I went down south to visit relatives we had a very cold morning. It was right around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Our 96 Golf had always seemed to be harder to start in very cold weather, and this particular morning it just would not start after several attempts. When we finally did get it started, it ran funny and the check engine light was on. At that point, I didn't have time to look into it before we left for our trip, so I left it until we got back. When we got back and I hooked the car up to my laptop running vagcom, this is what I found for a code stored in the ECU:

VAG-COM Version: Release 512.1-UD

Control Module Part Number: 037 906 259
 Component and/or Version: MOTRONIC M5.9 HS V08
  Software Coding: 00000
   Work Shop Code: WSC 09446
1 Fault Found:
17988 - Throttle Actuator (Bank 1): Malfunction
 P1580 - 35-10 - - - Intermittent

Seeing this made a lot of sense to me, because I have heard that the electronic throttle actuators used in OBD-II Volkswagens are prone to sticking and jamming during colder weather. I cleared the code and it hasn't returned yet, although I expect that it would be a problem again once the temperature drops. I hope that some cleaning and silicone or white lithium grease will do the trick to keep this from becoming a problem again.

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Date: 12/07/06, 12:50:58 PST
From: brett
Comments: mine is reading the same code how do i go about fixing it? please HELP asap. thanks

Date: 12/07/06, 16:29:54 PST
From: Max
Comments: Brett, this code is commonly caused by grime built up in the throttle actuator (or even in the throttle valve itself), but could also be bad wiring between the actuator and the ECU or it could be that the actuator itself is simply worn out and failing. Try cleaning the throttle body as well as the actuator mechanism itself first (you may need special tools to open up your actuator if it uses tamper proof torx screws). If that doesn't help, then check the wiring between the throttle actuator and ECU (you'll need a multimeter for that), and while you're at it make sure the terminals at both ends are not corroded. If that still doesn't help, then it's probably a bad throttle actuator, which means you'll need to replace the throttle body assembly. New throttle bodies for OBD-II VWs are pretty expensive, so you may want to consider a used one.
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