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I have a 1997 Passat TDI purchased used in 2000. I suspect it had been leased prior to 2000 and not particularly well-treated (lots of bodywork scratches, broken cupholder, handbrake ineffective, plus a few other defects, none of which the dealer was prepared to correct but I bought it anyway). I have been through the usual Passat problems – 109 relay, failed air conditioner compressor, new ignition switch and starter relay, door lock problems, etc. For the past few months I have experienced the failure of all the instrument panel units which come through the J265 module. That is, no operation of any of the following: speedometer, tachometer, odometer, clock, trip meter, fuel gauge, temperature gauge, oil pressure warning light. However, in the summer when the outside temperature gets to above 90F for awhile, there is a hoarse rustling sound from somewhere under the dash and all the instruments start operating. As soon as the outside temperature drops the instruments stop operating. I think there must be a temperature-sensitive relay controlling the J265 module somewhere which should be replaced. I would appreciate any help anyone can provide in identifying the cause of this problem and how to correct it. Many thanks in advance.
 

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I can tell you that the Passat instrument cluster failure is a common problem. If you get low voltage that can kill it. If the battery is dead and you keep trying to crank the engine that can damage it. Could it be related to the battery being cold? I don't know. I've had the low voltage problem and it sounds like gears turning and then the dials move and the odometer resets.

What is the J265 module?
 

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Thanks for the response. I don't think I have any battery problems at the moment but I did replace the old battery just over a year ago as it started to fail to hold a charge. Perhaps the problem began to occur then and built slowly to the total instrument cluster failure of a few months ago. The J265 module is shown in the electrical schematics in the "Volkswagen Passat Official Factory Repair Manual". The J265 module appears to be a multiwire connector through which many of the signals driving the instrument cluster pass (those which I mentioned in my post plus the low coolant warning signal). I have the Bentley CD containing the repair manual. It shows the electrical schematics but not the physical layout and positions of the components, thus I am not sure where the J265 module is located.
 
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