Updated: 25-Aug-19

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How the Rear Seat Folds Forward

  1. Open trunk.  (Note: 1979-1980 convertibles do not have the locking mechanism; skip to step 3.)
  2. Pull out black knob and leave trunk lid open.
  3. Pull rear seatback forward with driver's side strap.

If your rear seat does not have the pull strap, follow steps 1 and 2 above.  Then, lean inside the trunk and push the rear seatback hooks (one on each side of seatback) up and away from you.  Replacement straps can be made or bought; see the Parts page for more info.  

How to Remove the Headrests

There should be a metal spring clip in the center of the black plastic trim pieces where the headrest slides into the seatback.  That spring clip needs to be pulled out/off of the trim piece in order to pull the headrest out. Click here for picture.

Installing Seats From Another Volkswagen

Front seats:

  • Any A1 (1980s) and A2 chassis front seats should be a straight swap (Rabbit, Golf I & II, Jetta I & II, Corrado).
  • Note: A2/Mk2 seat belt receivers will need to be removed; after that, they are drop-in replacements.
  • Seats that sit a bit lower than the Cabriolet stock seats: Scirocco II, Jetta II Recaros, Corrado
  • Swapping the front seats from an A3/Mk3 or later chassis VW is possible, but because the frames are different, you'll have some modifying to do.

Rear seat:

  • Cabriolet-specific
  • If you take the rear seat out of a Rabbit hatchback, for example, you'll need to do some modifying to make it fit (most remove the seat covers and fit/tailor them over the Cabriolet seat); swaps have been done from most A1-A2 models to the Cabriolet, so it's not an impossible task.  Most folks fit front seats from a Mk1, Mk2 or Corrado and simply re-upholster the Cabriolet's rear seat to match the fronts.   

Heated Seats

Only the front seats are heated.  There is a switch for each seat in the instrument panel that controls the heating elements.  Heated seats were an option on particular Cabriolet trim levels from '91-'93*; the "Cabriolet Classic" trim level for 1993 came standard with heated leather seats.

*Cold-weather climate nations, such as Canada, had heated front seats as an option from about 1984 onward.

Seat Fabric

Many people have asked where to obtain the original seat fabric for restoration projects.  Unfortunately, almost all OEM seat fabric is unavailable (there are a few covers still available through VW's ClassicParts in Germany).  You'll either have to source a close match, have all four seats re-upholstered, or have matching fabric custom-made (you might try contacting sitzklinik.de in Germany).

Seat Belts

Front Seat Belts

Front seat belts are no longer available new.  You will have to source good used belts, or adapt other belts to fit.

Installing Rear Shoulder Belts  

The rear shoulder belts in the '91+ North American Cabriolets are installed as such: the belt guides are mounted to the seatback and the belt retractor assemblies are welded to the car (inside the trunk and behind the rear seat).  Therefore, if you want to install the rear shoulder belts from a '91+ Cabriolet, you have some work to do.  If you feel uncomfortable with only lap belts in the rear seat, it would be wise to buy a '91+ Cabriolet.  Installing rear shoulder belts, whether OEM or aftermarket harnesses, is, however, a doable project.  Click here for further information.

Dash & Kneebar

Removing Dash and/or Kneebar

  • 1980-1993 kneebar: On the  passenger side, if your Cabriolet has it, remove the 5 screws holding in the Jetronic controller (3 for the ECU, 2 for the ECU's bracket).  Remove the two 13mm bolts and two 13mm nuts on both sides of the kneebar.  Remove the 3 screws (2 on the kneebar) holding in the center console.  Kneebar is now ready to be pulled out.  The wiring harness to the ashtray needs to be disconnected before removing the kneebar completely.  Detailed instructions here.
  • 1990+ USA kneebar: Detailed instructions can be found here.

Installing 1990+ USA Kneebar Into a 1980-1989 Cabriolet

Can be done, but be aware that your stock manual window cranks will not work in the stock location.  The 1990+ USA kneebar was specific to these cars due to the addition of the airbag and was, probably, the main reason for the addtion of power front windows being standard equipment.  Countries outside of the USA received these kneebars only if the cars had center console gauges along with power windows.

Installing a Dash from Another Volkswagen

Another model's dash can be installed, but with major or minor modifications depending on the replacement dash and its compatibility with the kneebar.

Removing the Kneebar Permanently

It has been done by many, but it's not recommended.  The metal kneebar (behind the external padding) is part of the structural reinforcement Karmann added to the cars.

Glove Box

Removing Glove Box

The glove box is heat-welded to the dash.  The dash must be removed first before attempting to remove the glove box.

Removing Glove Box Lid

The glove box lid is separate from the glove box; however, to remove the lid completely the side vent must be removed in order to gain access to the lid's spring.  Remove the lid screws and the spring to lift out the glove box lid.

Center Console

Removing Cassette Tape Holder

The cassette tape holder in the center console simply pulls out.  The later cassette holders that are lighted will have a wiring harness to disconnect prior to removing the cassette holder completely.

Swapping the Console Gauges and Radio

This is a common swap; it's simply a matter of some re-wiring and cutting (and obtaining/making a new gauge face-plate).  Note 1: Depending on the head unit, the heater core may block the head unit from being installed properly.  Note 2: Airbag-equipped Cabriolets will have a problem: The airbag control module is located in the space behind the cassette storage/cubby and will need to be removed if the radio head unit is to be placed in the center console (this means your Cabriolet will be without an airbag, not that it presently works anyway); cutting all of the wires will result in your Cabriolet not starting; please read the airbag page thoroughly before proceeding (it is possible to move the module to another location as well).  The gauges can also be installed in place of the center vent in the dash.


Trunk Contents

Click here to see what your trunk contained from the factory (guide does not include the top boot, which came with the car from the factory and just flopped around inside the trunk when not in use).

Making The Trunk Floor More Sturdy

Have a piece of plywood cut, insert it into the trunk and lay the carpet over it.  Click here for a photo example.

Trunk Strut

Replacement part numbers:

VW #155827550

Sachs #SG301016

Trunk Light Does Not Work

The trunk light is wired into the lighting circuit with a separate "switch" installed at the trunk opening.  The light switch on the dash must be turned to the parking light and/or headlight-on position(s) in order for the trunk light to switch on when opening the trunk lid.  If this doesn't solve your problem, check the bulb.


Rear Windows do Not Roll Down All the Way

The rear windows will not roll down all the way due to a) the shape of the glass and the space inside the rear quarter panels; b) the speakers are in the way.

For power window issues, please refer to the electrical page.

Tonneau Cover

A tonneau cover is an accessory that covers the interior of a convertible when the top/roof is down.  Volkswagen sold an OEM accessory tonneau cover (pictured here and at right) to European Cabriolet owners, which is now no longer available.  North American Cabriolet owners will be hard-pressed to find an OEM tonneau cover and will most likely have to source a custom-made version, if one is even available.


Many folks have asked what type of cupholders are available for Cabriolets.  Click here for a list of various options folks use.


Keys Your Car Came With  

2 master keys

  • Locks/unlocks driver's door, passenger door, trunk and glove box and is the ignition key

1 valet key

  • Locks/unlocks driver's door and is ignition key

2 gas cap keys

  • Locks/unlocks OEM gas cap (3-digit key code is stamped into key; keys are coded to each gas cap)

1 key code tag

  • Key production code (i.e. serial number) for master and valets keys

Key Codes

Master Key

  • 1979-1987: HV (part #161837219)
  • 1988-1993: AH (part #357837219A)

Valet Key

  • 1979-1984: VB (part #111837219A)
  • 1985-1987: NV (part #111837219A)
  • 1988-1993: AN (part #357837185)

The HV key is also considered to be a universal key.  This means that if your car originally came with an AH key, you can also use an HV key, if need be.

Key blanks are on eBay, at WatercooledKeys.com and/or at your local VW dealer.  Some dealers will cut the keys for you, or a local locksmith will too.

Cleaning Products

Vinyl Surfaces

  • Simple Green® + water + damp cloth + plastic scrub brush.  For best results, do not dilute the product before applying; instead, spray the product on, scrub a small area then spray the area with a bit of water and scrub again, then wipe off.
  • A concoction of 5 parts water, 5 parts Simple Green® and 1 part bleach is said to clean and restore dingy white vinyl to white.
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser® + a damp cloth.
  • Regularly apply a vinyl conditioner like 303.

Leather Surfaces

  • Leather cleaner (follow bottle's directions); many different manufacturers are available, visit your local auto parts store for a selection of products.
  • Vacuum all seams regularly.
  • Regularly apply a leather conditioner.

Cloth Surfaces

  • Best method is to use a carpet cleaning machine's upholstery attachment (vacuum the upholstery first).  If you don't have a carpet cleaner, you can rent one.
  • Spray-on, wipe-off cleaners are also available at your local auto parts store.


Vacuum regularly; use a carpet cleaning machine to wash/shampoo the carpet as needed (but don't do it too often).