VW Jetta, Beetle, Passat Easy Air Conditioner Repair | More info
This video shows how I fixed the air conditioner on my daughter's 2003 Volkswagen Jetta. The problem turned out to be nothing more than a fuse (thank goodness), but a lot of car repair places would have charged big bucks for this. I probably saved a few hundred dollars. I've gotten some feedback from people who have seen this video that Beetles and Passats have this same issue. Just about any VW with a 2.0 liter engine has a similar fuse box setup in the engine bay, and that that one fuse tends to accumulate some carbon buildup on the little blades. Eventually electricity can't pass through the fuse and then the A/C clutch won't pull in. No A/C clutch means no air conditioning.
This is apparently a very common problem. On various Volkswagen forums people have mentioned that this happened to them, too. I bet at most dealerships this fuse is the very first thing they check when a car with air conditioner problems comes into the shop. I also bet they still charge the outrageous diagnostic fee.