Broke down in Chicago, no start. Glow plug light flashing, coolant level looks really high.

mandrake slink

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Jul 9, 2011
Location
Michigan
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI GLS
So, driving hours from home, South side of Chicago near the west 294 and I 80 interchange. Glow plug light is flashing with the key forward and coolant level seems really high in the reservoir. Engine won't start. Any thoughts for a member in need? Is this an overheat? Get a tow?
 

tgray

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Location
Marengo, IL
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'02 Beetle, '05 Golf, 2000 Jetta, 2001 Jetta, 2002 Jetta
Doesn't sound like an easy quick fix. Could be caused by several things for a no start situation. Not sure about the coolant level. Doesn't sound like something you want to be dealing with on the side of a road. I live about 2 hours from that location and have plenty of spare parts if you needed something. Maybe someone else is closer.
 

UhOh

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Dec 24, 2014
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Overheat wouldn't keep your car from starting/running. UNLESS... unless you've cooked it. Does the engine turn over?

Any previous signs of trouble?

Generally these engines just don't NOT run out of the blue.

High coolant level "might" be a blown head gasket.
 

mandrake slink

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2003 Jetta TDI GLS
Oof, will Glow is blinking, cel is on solid. Running and moving fine. I am blasting the heater now to get it to cool down more.. Was running ac for like four hours
 

tgray

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Probably best to find someone who can pull up the codes and start there unless you see something obvious
 

tgray

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good to hear it is running. Maybe pull into an autozone or some one that can pull up some codes and see if anything really wrong shows up.
 

Diesel Fumes

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Flashing glow plug light can mean a lot of things. Not sure if anything related to cooling system. Did the temp gauge go past half way?
 

tgray

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a head gasket will usually like to blow coolant out of the overflow or exhaust pipe.
 

tgray

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Usually it is hard to keep coolant in the engine with a bad head gasket unless it blows between cylinders and then will run horrible on only 2
 

tgray

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I have to drive for a while but do some research on flashing tdi glow plug lights and maybe that will help point in the right direction.
 

csstevej

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north nj
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2001 golf tdi 4 door auto now a manual, mine, 2000 golf 2 door M/T son's,daughters 98 NB non-TDI 2.0, 2003 TDI NB for next daughter, head repaired and on road,gluten for punishment got another tdi 2001NB,another yellow tdi NB
A blown tail light will give you a flashing GP light......
 

UhOh

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2000 & 2003 Golf GLS
Coolant migration issue? Rare, I think.

OP - Do you know whether your fans are coming on? Were you in stop and go traffic? Generally driving along is sufficient to cool down without fans. However, if you're running AC I believe that the fans run by default. Whatever you do don't look to overheat this thing because you don't want to blow a head gasket ($$).
 

mandrake slink

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Michigan
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2003 Jetta TDI GLS
Car off, key in drive, no fans spin. have to turn the AC on to make fans spin. I think this is normal. I can hear the thermostat clicking every so often, wondering if it froze up or something
 

mandrake slink

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Michigan
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2003 Jetta TDI GLS
Some time passed and on/off a couple times and all dash error lights are gone. Coolant in reservoir looks normal at correct level.

Neither fan seems to spin, engine running, when the AC is off and it's hot outside here. Both turn on with AC on. I'd been cycling the AC button off when it got too cold in here and I guess I had no active cooling during those times and it overheated. I'll have to figure that out when I get home which I am driving to immediately.

All I wanted was to pick up my Craigslist purchase in Chicago. At least these mk4s are pretty bombproof and I made it and am headed back. Yee haw! Thank you to all who replied so quickly, I was freaking out. ;) (y)
 

csstevej

Top Post Dawg
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north nj
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2001 golf tdi 4 door auto now a manual, mine, 2000 golf 2 door M/T son's,daughters 98 NB non-TDI 2.0, 2003 TDI NB for next daughter, head repaired and on road,gluten for punishment got another tdi 2001NB,another yellow tdi NB
I don’t mean to sound stupid....... but how do you know that your overheating?
the cooling fans do come on low when the a/c switch is on. This can be checked with the engine is off but with the key in the on position and a/c switch on and a fan speed of 1 or greater.
As long as that a/c switch is on both fans will run low speed.
There is a temp sensor in the rad that will put the fans to High speed if the coolant temp gets to 212 or there abouts.
You don’t have to cycle the a/c on and off , just turn the temp knob warmer if too cold.

if temp is good while driving or with the fans running I would suggest you check the water pump impeller to see if it’s spins on the shaft.
You can check that by removing the thermostat and housing and sticking your fingers in and try to spin the impeller.
If it turns then you have a bad water pump and that will be your issue of overheating.

But again......how do you know it’s overheating?
 

mittzlepick

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union maine
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Small resivior hose clogged. Been there before. Check it by seeing if its flowing into tank at idle. Or pull it off and observe if your tank isnt brittle looking
 

mandrake slink

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Michigan
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2003 Jetta TDI GLS
I don’t mean to sound stupid....... but how do you know that your overheating?
I don't know that for sure, but what does anyone REALLY know? "Does anybody really know what time it is?" ?

It was hot as all hell that day in Chicago. Engine glow plug light started blinking, CEL on, Aladdin's lamp oil symbol for a second, car shut off. Popped hood and level of coolant in the reservoir was extremely high, like 3/4 full, I assumed from expansion. It seemed real hot. It was windy as well, so I sat there with the car off, key in on position, ac on to make the fans spin. As it cooled, the level went down to normal and then it started and I drove away.

I have more to check on this still. I will look into the water pump and the hoses. And the thermostat which might have been clicking at one point.
 

mandrake slink

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Michigan
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2003 Jetta TDI GLS
hmmm, sorry, my info on the side is gone since the forums update last week. 2003 Jetta ALH thats basically a stock setup. I have an Atlas skid plate installed. 320k miles. My thermostat and coolant bypass pipe were replaced a year ago (leaking slowly at the time). The water pump was replaced in spring of 2019 at the TB change time. ~15k miles on it now.

Again, the coolant showing 3/4 full in the expns tank was the one thing screaming at me. And it seemed real hot opening the hood. Oil temp on the dash I never noticed above the 190 mark, but things were frantic in the moment and it wasn't above 190 when I pulled over after getting going again. I did think I heard the thermostat clicking on/off a couple times when I stopped after the breakdown. I'm going to check the impeller and the thermostat real soon here, need coolant and some time.
 

STDOUBT

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Joined
Jul 30, 2007
Location
Portland, effing Oregon
TDI
ALHx2
Oil temp on the dash I never noticed above the 190 mark
That's water temp. If that never went over 190 you're probably fine. I doubt it was a real overheat.
My money's on a crap or wrong thermostat.
What thermostat you running? Does it look like this?
Note the dual spring setup. Correct for a diesel:
 

BobnOH

not-a-mechanic
Joined
May 29, 2004
Location
central Ohio
TDI
New Beetle 2003 manual
..................................Again, the coolant showing 3/4 full in the expns tank was the one thing screaming at me. ....................................
Possible this means nothing. You need a good read on the stored codes. May not tell you the issue, but will give a clue.
 

mandrake slink

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 9, 2011
Location
Michigan
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI GLS
Update: I re-read all the advice here and considered carefully. I also read the codes with vag com. As Bob pointed out, its totally plausible this had nothing to do with overheating and the visual on the expansion tank above max isn't necessarily a diagnosis. A lot of big rig trucks driving fast 3 feet from your door in high heat during a breakdown event may cause a jump to conclusions. Anyway, I read the codes and got address 01: engine #16705 Engine Speed Sensor (G28): Implausible Signal
P0321 - 35 - 10 - - - Intermittent

So, this could be a crank position sensor crap out, though I understand thats rare, but the wires aren't indestructible either. I changed it with a new genuine one. Haven't got the code again yet. Earlier this year, I had the engine shut off while driving after 90 minutes on the freeway 2 times, just a few feet from home (I'm about a 1/4 mile and 3 turns from my exit ramp). Errors:

Fault Address 03: ABS Brakes #01314 - Engine Control Module - 013 Check DTC Memory - Intermittent came up both times.

My ECM could be dying too, but that's also supposedly rare.
I don't know if this is related and it finally threw the Crank Sensor code this time, but I hope so.

When I just did the crank sensor, I also cleaned the grounding wire point beneath the cowl near the ECM, vacuumed debris from that area as there was some leaf material and checked the wires around there which seemed fine. All the other ground points in the bay near the battery, trans, engine block have been cleaned and done in the last year when I did the clutch. Hoping this failure doesn't come back.
 
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