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VW MKV-A5 Golf/Jettas Discussions area for A5/MkV Jetta/Golf (2005/2006 PD and 2009 CR).

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Old May 30th, 2013, 18:55   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Houston Texas
Default Slow or weak crank but battery seems OK

For the last several months off and on my wife and I have noticed that our 06 Jetta TDI frequently cranks weakly when the starter is first engaged. The car is on its second battery since new, and this battery is about 2 years old. I checked the battery for correct fluid levels, checked the terminals for corrosion. The car always starts, it just sounds like a car normally does when the battery is showing first signs of weakness. You know, that quick "uh oh" feeling when the starter is struggling for a second to turn the engine over.

However, best I can tell the battery seems OK. I hooked up jumper cables to another car as a test to see if it would crank more strongly and it cranks just the same.

So, are these cars prone to cable issues? Grounding issues? Or even starter failures that produce these symptoms? Any advice would be appreciated.
2006 Jetta Mk5 June build Package 2 Auto - sold in Oct 2019
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Old May 30th, 2013, 19:11   #2
Ski in NC
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Wilmington, NC USA
Fuel Economy: 48-52 typical

As starters get older, they can get weaker. Bearings drag, etc. I know my 2001 starter is due for a go-through, in winter it lumps over then fires even with a known good batt. Now that it is warm, it whistles right over. So that's a fall project.

Yours is 5yr newer than mine, and weather down there is certainly not cold, so batt still is on the suspect list. Jumper cables do little on these things as they simply cannot carry enough amperage to make much of an inprovement.

Two things I would suggest: One, put a DVM on batt terminals and view voltage while starter is rolling. 10.5v, good. 8.5v or lower, not good.

Two, simply try a known good hot batt.

Also check your alternator volts. Engine warmed up idling should be about 14v on batt terminals.
2001 Jetta TDI 5sp Stock 201k mi
1981 Rabbit IDI 4sp Sold at 339k mi
1990 S-10 4.3 4wd 5sp 154k mi
1986 VW Pathfinder 1.6 45hp Marine 4700 Hrs
2001 Cummins 8.3 420hp Marine 1660Hrs..REFIT DONE!!
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Old May 30th, 2013, 19:15   #3
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Location: Scotland
Fuel Economy: No idea

Definitely most likely the starter, mine was really struggling but I pulled it apart and gave it all a good clean, it's like a different starter now and the engine turns over really fast. I did this part


But if you tap around the other end of the motor it comes apart too, I then cleaned all in around the brushes and comutator with switch/contact cleaner and lubed the bearing in the end there.
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Old May 30th, 2013, 19:22   #4
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Location: Hoffman Estates, IL

I don't recall many starters failing, but wire connection corrosion is a big issue, as well as harness chafe and in some cases broken insulation leading to broken conductors. I've personally repaired two separate grounding issues under the hood, and the last one didn't even look bad.

I would remove & clean both ends of the starter cable. Wire brush everything and coat with dielectric grease. Bad engine grounds will trip DTCs and limp mode, so I suspect it's not ground in your case. There's also the possibility of a starter relay issue, but I'm guessing not likely. In any event, an easy test is to swap with a TDI buddy.
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Old October 9th, 2019, 10:46   #5
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Location: ATX/Mile Hi
Fuel Economy: unknown at the time, waiting for engine swap

I have this same problem, took it to Advanced Auto for the test and they said the battery and alternator were fine. It will crank over very slowly in the mornings and sometimes not at all. Also when I drive it around town and go into a place for half hour it won't start and will need a jump. I even drove it 30 miles one time and no start half hour later. I noticed my right side lights of the car sometimes stay on and sometimes turn off when I pull the key out. This is a intermittent problem. Any ideas what it could be? 06 Jetta has 215k. It pretty much requires a jump to start so I parked it started driving other car but would like to get it fixed soon. I have a VW dealer mechanic on the side near by supposed to take a look at it this coming week but would like to do a self diagnosis if possible.

Last edited by Texas_sky; October 9th, 2019 at 10:48.
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Old October 9th, 2019, 18:20   #6
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Location: Charlotte, NC

I had similar issues and would require a jump after sitting and acted up after warming up. It was a dirty ground. It's easy to clean and tighten up.

Move the air box to the side, you might need a 6mm allen.10mm to remove the battery and 2 10mm bolts to remove the battery box and reveal the grounds. There's a ground cable going from the chassis to the transmission, should be 13mm on both sides.

If that doesn't do it and you're wanting to pull the starter(I did this recently for pulling the , it's the same process to get to the starter. Then a flat blade to disconnect the harness, remove the nut holding the positive wire and 2 bolts holding the starter. Swapping the starter is super easy once you figure out the yoga position needed to get to the lower bolt.
'06 Jetta DSG: GTB1749VC, PD150 injectors, Malone tune, and some other stuff and things
'97 Cummins: It looks stock, does that count?
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