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Go Back   TDIClub Forums > TDI Model Specific Discussions Areas > VW MKIII-A3/B4 TDIs

VW MKIII-A3/B4 TDIs This is a discussion about MKIII-A3/MkIII Jetta/Golf (<99.5) and B4 Passats (96,97) TDI's. Non TDI related postings will be moved or removed.

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Old December 3rd, 2018, 10:07   #1
genscripter
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TDI(s): 98 Jetta
Default Gradual starting issue

Over the last few weeks, I've noticed my 1998 Jetta starting slower and slower. I've recently done a bunch of fixes (Heater Core replacement, CV boot, instrument cluster replacement, new battery, new radio) and I don't know if this relates to my starting issue. Just more info.

It cranks fine, but it's just a little weaker and slower each day. It almost seems like it might get slow enough to not let the engine start up, but usually after a moment, it fires up like no problem.

I replaced the battery a few months ago, so I know that is good. I have a voltmeter in my cig lighter, so I know it has decent juice. And the alternator appears to be working fine. When i did the heater core replacement, I pulled all the interior and engine and battery grounds, and cleaned them up.

I'm worried it might be the starter. Do VW starters die like this? Slow deaths or do they just catastrophically fail? If it is the starter, what is a good quality starter that can last another 300,000 miles like my old one?
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Old December 3rd, 2018, 17:10   #2
Jetta SS
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My starter was grinding. I replaced it and was surprised by how much faster the new one turns the engine over.

i wasn't working at the time, so i got one off ebay for $50 shipped. It's been over a year now and no probs, but I don't have a lot of confidence in it.
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Old December 3rd, 2018, 20:56   #3
garciapiano
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Does it correlate with colder temps? Batteries naturally out out less juice when they are cold.
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Old December 4th, 2018, 03:18   #4
Tdijarhead
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He’s in LA so cold isn’t likely to be an issue. 300k on a starter, yeah I’d say it’s time to replace it, with a new Bosch of certified Bosch rebuild.
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Old December 8th, 2018, 00:42   #5
genscripter
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The problem seems to correlate with moisture. We had two rains recently in LA (rare events), and both times, it started hard. Cranked for 3 or 4 seconds, and fired up. Kind of weird. Once the day dries out, it starts ok.

One time, I had the battery light on when it idled after a hard start. Once I pulled out of the driveway, and drove down the road, the higher RPM's got the voltage back up over 13V.
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Old December 8th, 2018, 03:17   #6
Tdijarhead
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I think you’re going to need a multimeter to diagnose this problem. A cheap one can be had from Walmart or Home Depot for $25 or so. If you don’t know how to use one youtube is your friend.

Sitting in your driveway the battery should read across the posts 12.6-12.7. Below 12.4 is a battery that is not fully charged, but still operational. 12.2 or below is a worn out or discharged battery that will have trouble starting your car if it even does in colder temps.

After starting your car at idle, you should get 14.1-14.5 across the battery posts again. If you are getting less than 13.5-13.6 your alternator is not keeping up. Which could be a worn alternator, alternator pulley or bad wires.

If you get less than 14v at the battery take the red lead from the multimeter and put it on the bolt where the big battery wire connects directly to the alternator, do you get 14 or so there? If not the alternator is bad if you do then that fat wire needs replacing or the terminal ends need cleaning.
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Old January 14th, 2019, 17:15   #7
genscripter
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It rained again today, and the voltage went nuts again. I managed to limp it home and I'll pull the alternator to get it rebuilt.

This is the oddest problem in the world. Every time it rains in Los Angeles, my Jetta voltage goes haywire.

(BTW, i was getting 13.5-14V while driving around before this rainstorm. But in the rain today, it dipped down below 12V and near the end, it was around 11.5V. I barely got it home.)
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Old January 14th, 2019, 17:33   #8
iluvmydiesels
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idk-for sure. sounds like your problem is some type of moisture saturation. older alternators /starters and such you could 'clean out', like electronic clean to kind of 'dry out' and try to get working again. you have a high mileage car, and rather old, just like ours. could be something like the alt or voltage regulator collecting ambient moisture. when this happens, you say its moisture/raining. when it happens check in your engine compartment, i mean some moisture gets in whether driving or just by moisture its self. but check compartment for excessive moisture, -spots.
all hot wires coming off and going to the battery, the hot starter wire, you can check for resistance, and the contacts, and clean up, in the same notion, if you know how to do a voltage drop test, for each contact, and wire, etc. same with the alt charging harness, and connections. double check for other grounds you may not have checked and cleaned. from battery post, to motor/trans. from batt to body, a very important one, from another motor or trans point to body ground. check, clean up, test for resistance, even voltage drop test.
another thing you can try as well, run a ground from top, or right in contact with alternator to a meaty body ground. run another ground from same alt spot or another good spot alt you can connect to, to other side of trans tunnel, even the common trans ground point will work. these can help, but in all your recent problems moisture seems to be the main problem causing theme.
another ground you can run is the other ground from where i said above another grounding point on motor or trans to body, do this yourself.
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Last edited by iluvmydiesels; January 14th, 2019 at 17:39.
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Old January 14th, 2019, 17:47   #9
Tdijarhead
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When is the last time you changed the serpentine belt, maybe it’s stretched enough so when it gets damp it slips. Is there a tensioner on the older cars or can you tighten the belt up a bit?
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Old January 15th, 2019, 08:40   #10
genscripter
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I changed the belt recently. I just pulled the alternator last night and I inspected the belt. It's still good. and the tensioner is still ok too. Getting that alternator out around that AC line was a PITA. Man, they really cram everything closely together.

I have an alternator shop that does rebuilds in Los Angeles. I'm bringing in my VW alternator, and I have a back Ford 3G alternator that has a problem too, that I'm bringing it, so it's a good time. If he says my VW alternator is fine, then I'll start inspecting the cables and starter, but I doubt it's the battery and cables, because when I did the heater core job last year, I cleaned up all the electrical, grounds, and connections. Also, I replaced the battery around then as well. Maybe I got a bad battery.... That's an option. But I pulled it last night and put it on the trickle charger for the night. I'll check the voltage later today.
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Old January 15th, 2019, 14:58   #11
genscripter
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Just got the alternator back from the rebuilder. He said the regulator was shot, and other stuff was bad too. It was long overdue for a rebuild anyway. I'd already have it back in the Jetta, but it's pouring again and I'll wait till it clears up.
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Old January 15th, 2019, 16:02   #12
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yea, that will/may do it.
so what you do, as some people have pointed out to you. i have a not too expensive sears maybe its a craftsman multi-meter. for us and cars you put it on the 20v setting and go to town. the battery charged like some have said to you is 12.5v+ (note the 'plus'). after you start it, just for a alt voltage test, let the alt charge it and now test. i think mine is about 14.5v charging. this is important. the right charge voltage means you can drive all night and not have to worry. (unless you like have all accessories on and an amp and turn your radio up, like a teen, and then just get to where your going and shut off the car. when you go out to start it, you cannt figure out why you cannt get it to turnover. huh, duhh). <other than that you should be ok.
and other than that after the voltage tests, a voltage drop test, if you know how to do one, will tell you all the rest, well except for such as bad regulator and/or alt.
let us know how you fair out.
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Old January 16th, 2019, 11:11   #13
genscripter
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I reinstalled the alternator (in the light rain) and cleaned up all the connectors and leads. While I had other stuff apart, I cleaned up my air cleaner box and other parts of the engine bay.

I let my charger charge my battery in the garage all night. It got up to 12.7V this morning. I hope the battery isn't permanently damaged from the low charge left on it.

Started it up.... It still started hard, with only 11.7 V on my gauge. It started up though, after 2 cranks, and ran for a bit at 11.7V. Then the alternator kicked on, and it bumped it up to 14V. I let it idle for ten minutes, and it got up to 14.5V sometimes. Seems high. IDK.

I shut it down and fired it up again. Fired right up. I hope this is the end of this issue, but we'll know later today and tomorrow. It's supposed to rain all day and tomorrow.
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Old January 16th, 2019, 11:35   #14
iluvmydiesels
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idk for sure, perhaps electronic memory, the refreshed alt cleared up? keep your eye on hard starts if that comes back.
after a couple of hours or overnight, do a quick test of battery, this will tell you in a pinch if its holding charge.
the first reading you got from alt is it under charging load. the second test is charge test with charging. what i mean the alt isnt loaded up charging battery, and/or accessories on. 14.5 seems right, like is a good choice thats a bosch alt. (right?)
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Old January 16th, 2019, 14:20   #15
genscripter
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It's a bosch alternator, original to the jetta. My rebuilder took it apart and rebuilt it from scratch. He's a good guy, and he's done my all my 3G and 1G (ford) alternator rebuilds in the past with good success. I suspect he fixed it well, but if not, he stands behind his work until it's right.

I'll know more in the morning. I'll keep you in the loop.
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