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VW MKIV-A4 TDIs (VE and PD) This is a general discussion about A4/MkIV Jetta (99.5-~2005), Golf(99.5-2006), and New Beetle(98-2006). Both VE and PD engines are covered here.

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Old October 17th, 2011, 21:26   #1
dislexicmofo
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Default Starter motor engages flywheel but wont crank

This is an emergency post of sorts, I went to start up the car today and... well it didn't. So like any responsable TDI owner I have rushed to the forums for advice... so heres the deal. Car is a 2003 (ALH) Golf TDI manual.

When it goes to start you can here the solenoid engage and the teeth must be engaging the flywheel as the lights all dim and if you hurry you can smell the motor heating up under the hood. So the solenoid works, its drawing current, and the starter gear is engaging the flywheel. no crank, no turnover, no movement at all. Turn key, Click of solenoid, burning motor.

The starter is new(ish), I replaced it about two weeks ago with a remanufactured Bosch part from Orielly. I had taken the old one out after it started to have problems disengaging, I re-lubed it, put it back together, and it was fine for about two months before it started again, hence the new (to me) part.

I am going to try to taking the new one out in the parking lot tomorrow and test it to make sure it is working properly, but my hopes are rather dim at this point, in other words I think the starter is fine.

Now heres where I need some help, if the starter is proven to be in working condition, any idea what I could be looking at here?

For some more background and to think aloud I checked a few things while waiting for a ride...

I checked the control wiring terminal and it seemed to be secure, also indicated by the fact the starter tries to work but seems to be meeting alot of resistance.

I checked the oil level, I thought it could be that the drain plug came loose and it all came out and it seized at exactly the moment I turned it off in the lot. But that was not the case, the oil is a bit low but not enough to cause problems.

Initially I thought transmission but it rolls in neutral and I can shift through all the gears. That and the flywheel is engine side of things so that kind of killed that idea right off the bat.

I changed the timing belt out at 85k, its got about 125k now, but that would have been a rather explosive ending while running.

Im really at a loss... any ideas would be appreciated. Things to check or try, wise tips, support. As a side note I'm in Atlanta so its not the cold. Its late and I have to get to work in the morning, I have a ride thankfully.

And yes it has fuel...
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Old October 17th, 2011, 21:32   #2
Ski in NC
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Put car in 5th gear with hand brake off and go push on the back bumper. This will rotate the engine in its normal direction. It will be hard to push, but keep at it and you should feel the engine slowly rotate and the car slowly move forward. If it does, that means the engine is free to rotate and starter is pooped. If you cannot move the engine, then something is wrong inside the engine. Don't force it.

If engine does not rotate, take the plastic cover off the timing belt and check tension. If belt is loose, it could have jumped time on the last shutdown.
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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 October 17th, 2011, 21:34   #3
dislexicmofo
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I did find this but it didn't help much...

Car wont start troublshooting
http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread...hlight=atlanta

Rather annoying that "wont start" did not return it as a search result though.
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Old October 17th, 2011, 21:43   #4
dislexicmofo
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Thanks ski, I will try that if I cant find a way to get to the flywheel and rotate it with a screwdriver. That thread I found mentioned it and I seem to remember doing it during the timing belt change.
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Old October 17th, 2011, 21:47   #5
Ski in NC
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Take the rubber plug out of the timing hole in the top of the flywheel housing right where tranny meets engine. Should be able to pry there, but airbox is kinda in the way. Note top of flywheel rotates toward front of car.
__________________
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 October 17th, 2011, 22:25   #6
whitedog
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dislexicmofo View Post
I did find this but it didn't help much...

Car wont start troublshooting
http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread...hlight=atlanta

Rather annoying that "wont start" did not return it as a search result though.
It was #24 when I just searched.

I agree with Ski to try to turn the engine over by hand. I would use the flywheel hole so I can feel things better, but that's just me.
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Old October 18th, 2011, 10:39   #7
dislexicmofo
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So I went back at lunch and tried to manually rotate the flywheel with my handy prying screwdriver, no dice. Also tried to push it in 5th, and got the same result. I am now 95% sure it is not the starter, I didn’t take it out but you can clearly hear the solenoid and smell the motor burning up as though it has caught the gear but cannot move it. I also checked the timing belt and it looks great! Unfortunately. Good tension, no obvious signs of wear, looked new actually. The only time I have ever hoped it didn't.

I still can't imagine what would make the car seize the way it did. It didn’t happen while it was running, it didn't sound strange when I turned it off, it just won’t turn over all of a sudden. And it is mechanical too as I cannot manually turn the engine over.

The only relevant information I have is rather unhelpful in that I cannot quantify it very well, I am good with a wrench and learn quickly but I do not have much experience. For the last few days the car was "off" when starting. It wasn't a "rough" start, like a sputtery cold winter start, or like the starter was having trouble turning it over. It was more like the engine started hard, like it had a little too much "oomph" if that makes sense. You could feel it torque more than normal.

It was also a little smoky, light-greyish/white in color on start for the first puff and under full throttle when cold. And when I say a little you can't even tell unless the lighting conditions are right. I have not cleaned the intake manifold yet so I figured it was either that or maybe the EGR valve being bad, its been throwing the insufficient EGR flow code for a while now and I just didn't feel like replacing it. Though I would imagine that insufficient exhaust gas recirculation flow would make it run better.

In the name of full disclosure the timing maybe being a wee bit off as I did not electronically adjust it after the TB change. I used all the proper tools and locked everything out and it was my understanding that the electronic adjustment was a "tweak" rather than a "set".

I may take the rest of the day off and see if I can get a laptop to check if there are any additional codes. The EGR code is intermittent and I think it was actually clear yesterday. I will update with any additional information I come across.

Last edited by dislexicmofo; October 18th, 2011 at 10:46. Reason: typing errors
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Old October 18th, 2011, 10:53   #8
Ski in NC
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Try rotating the engine backwards. If valves are hitting pistons, it will go one way but not the other.

Maybe cam sprocket slipped?

Strange things can happen with timing on shutdown as engine does kick backward in its last motion.

If you can rotate engine backwards, next step would be to try to re-establish timing belt timing positions (cam, IP, flywheel tdc).
__________________
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!!

Last edited by Ski in NC; October 18th, 2011 at 10:56.
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Old October 18th, 2011, 13:17   #9
whitedog
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At this point, I would also pull glow plugs and see if it will turn over. Although if it were hydrolocked, there would be a springing action when the flywheel is turned.

How about the clutch though? Maybe the clutch has come apart? That would be better than a seized engine.
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Old October 18th, 2011, 13:41   #10
dislexicmofo
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Thanks for the advice whitedog, I was actually in the process of doing exactly what you sugested. After consulting with a co-worker with more TDI experience he suggested a "vapor lock" situation when, as I understand it, one of the cylinders intake and exhaust valves seal at the same time, locking the motor up. So I went out and removed the glow plugs and tried again. Still no start.

I am guessing this is the same as a hydrolock? I would actually like to know more about this if you care to expound.

If the clutch went I wouldn't think I could roll it it around in nuetral either? At least not without some noise. It should have made quite a racket when it went as well yeah? Is there a good way to check this fairly easily?

Ski, if valves were hitting pistons would it not turn over, just with added hideous sounds from the valvetrain? I will try the rotate-the-wrong-way test. I will rename it the twist and shout, just to try and feign a smile to lighten the mood.

I also talked to a mechanic on the phone that said he had had a starter get stuck completely in the engaged position and lock everthing up. This was on an F250 but it sounds feasable. I am on my way to check it as I send this message. Better to go ahead and pull the starter and give the flywheel a push just to go from 95% to 100% sure it is not the problem.

Thanks for all the help guys, I really cannot express how much it is appreciated.

Last edited by dislexicmofo; October 18th, 2011 at 13:44.
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Old October 18th, 2011, 15:14   #11
Ski in NC
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Yep, starters can jam engines, so pull starter off and get that off the list.

With starter out, you can pry on flywheel ring gear teeth pretty easily.

If cam timing got off (somehow), it will jam the engine with no noise. If engine has some speed to it when pistons hit valves, it crunches the valve hardware and continues to spin. If engine is moving slow, it will stop with a thud.
__________________
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 October 22nd, 2011, 12:31   #12
dislexicmofo
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I believe we have a case of the ****tily remanufactured starter. I finally got a wrench on the crankshaft from the right hand side and it turned over, so I decided I would pop the starter back into the car and try again before I gave up and called the tow truck. Started right up. I am going to make Orielly's take this one back and get a fresh Bosch unit. I'm also going to take the car in for a once over, it hasn't had attention from a skilled mechanic in a while, and while I hold myself in high esteem, I am by no means an expert.

Thanks for the help Ski and whitedog. Next time though whitedog, wait until the person finds out their car isn't totalled to say they could have found an artical searching, I was about ready to jump through the internet and choke you on Monday night .
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Old February 21st, 2012, 20:15   #13
dislexicmofo
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This may not have been the whole story, timing belt broke later that month.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 05:13   #14
mrGutWrench
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dislexicmofo View Post
This may not have been the whole story, timing belt broke later that month.
__. That's a bummer. Did you say that you have (or have access to) timing belt tools and you installed the belt last time? If so, you're a long way ahead of many other people with a broken belt.

__. Get the head off, have Franko6 rebuild it, check "deck height" on the pistons, and after you reinstall the head, put a new belt kit on it.

__. Also, the "electronic timing" isn't just a "tweek", it's another check that all the mechanical timing has been done well. If everything looks well, the engine has been locked down with the tools, but the electronic timing is off the chart, then that's a sign that something has gone wrong and you should reinstall the lock tools, set the engine to the timing mark on the flywheel, release the cam sprocket, and go through the timing again.
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