GTI (Grand Tourer Injection) technology became available to the automotive industry in the mid 60s, offering a more powerful fuel injection system without increasing the fuel consumption. Initially, GTI systems only went into fast and sporty cars, but Volkswagen changed that paradigm when they stuck one in their hot hatchback Golf. The 3rd generation Golf GTI, marketed between the years of 1993 and 2001, became one of the most popular models, and helped make GTI a household term. An issue sometimes reported with these cars is a malfunctioning instrument cluster, specifically the RPM gauge and speedometer.
The problem becomes most apparent during warm weather or after the car runs for a while: the RPM needle flutters wildly around the panel, and the speedometer tells you that you aren’t moving at all. Sometimes you can drive for a while before the symptoms return, but return they do, and you don’t need us to tell you that this throws a serious wrench into your driving plans.
The instrument panel runs off of a circuit board where wires are soldered to the correct terminals. Occasionally, this soldering goes bad, and the wires become lose or disconnected completely. It is entirely likely that the RPM and speedometer breakdown lie in one of these solders. However, it is also possible that moisture crept into the circuit board or that the car blew a fuse.
Trying to solve the problem on your own, while commendable, can also lead to even more serious damage being caused (and because of the electrical component, you could find yourself zapped to a crisp). We suggest you bite the bullet and take your GTI to a trained VW service technician who can pull the instrument panel apart and find out exactly where the problem originates.
Search for a local, independent Volkswagen repair shop with Volkswagen mechanics that have dealer-level expertise at a fraction of the expense.