Car won't start when 1/4 tank of fuel

cochrank

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 23, 2005
Location
Erie, PA
TDI
2002 Jetta
This only started happening recently. The cars fuel gauge would read above 1/4 tank and when you try to start it acts like the tank is empty. You put a few gallons in the tank and it starts up after some cranking. I first thought it was the fuel filter so I changed that but that did not seem to matter. I can see air going through though the clear line to my fuel rail when it is this low so I seem to be sucking air somewhere. Is my gauge faulty and I really am empty or do I have a leak in a hose somewhere. Anybody else run into this issue before?
 

dweisel

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 28, 2006
Location
Wheeling, West Virginia
TDI
dweisel isn't diesel anymore!
The float arm on the fuel sending unit may be bent causing incorrect fuel gauge reading. Access the fuel sender under the rear seat once your tank is fairly low. Check and see if the sender arm/float is up off the bottom of the tank and still reading a 1/4 tank when you're actually out of fuel.
 
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BobnOH

not-a-mechanic
Joined
May 29, 2004
Location
central Ohio
TDI
New Beetle 2003 manual
While you're in there check for any foreign material. Sometimes black slime is created if the car has sat for a time.
 
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Alchemist

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2007
Location
Lethbridge, Alberta
TDI
'04 ALH Golf
The pick up tube in the tank has been known to crack and let air in when the fuel level is below the crack. While checking the float, check for damage to the tube.
 

Nevada_TDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2008
Location
Reno, sort of...
TDI
2001 Jetta TDI
When I first started looking for TDI Jettas 8 years ago, I specifically did not buy a 2002 as they had a software issue about fueling; specifically if the fuel level got "too low" the engine would not start so the pump and injectors would not be run dry. Your fuel issue may have nothing to do with the "2002 Curse", but I wanted to put it out there.
 

jettawreck

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 2, 2004
Location
Northern Minnesota-55744
TDI
2001 Jetta and 2003 Jetta
When I first started looking for TDI Jettas 8 years ago, I specifically did not buy a 2002 as they had a software issue about fueling; specifically if the fuel level got "too low" the engine would not start so the pump and injectors would not be run dry. Your fuel issue may have nothing to do with the "2002 Curse", but I wanted to put it out there.
I have not heard of this before and have owned TdIs of model years 2000, 2001, and 2003. Why only 2002 models with "software" issue?
Got any links to threads about this quirk?

I would be leaning towards the possibilities mentioned in posts #2 and 4.
 

dweisel

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 28, 2006
Location
Wheeling, West Virginia
TDI
dweisel isn't diesel anymore!
curse

I have not heard of this before and have owned TdIs of model years 2000, 2001, and 2003. Why only 2002 models with "software" issue?
Got any links to threads about this quirk?

I would be leaning towards the possibilities mentioned in posts #2 and 4.
According to legend " he who speaks of the curse,shall forever be cursed" Doubt you'll get an answer.
 
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Nevada_TDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2008
Location
Reno, sort of...
TDI
2001 Jetta TDI
dwiesel, am I supposed to be insulted by the,"Doubt you'll get an answer" comment? If not, please let me know.
Anyway, unleaded regular gasoline was $4.25 a gallon and I lived almost 90 minutes away from Reno at the time, and my Subaru even though it got 30 MPG the fuel cost was killing me due to all the trips I needed to make to Reno every week. USLD was $4.75 at the time and buying a TDI cost less per mile than buying unleaded. The bonus was WVO was becoming popular and there was a guy out where I lived that had a Greasecar kit in his Jetta and we got together collecting and filtering WVO and I too got a Greasecar kit and had it installed. WVO ended up costing around $0.50 a gallon to filter and process so I thought I had the world by the tail...
My new friend had a Jetta so that was what I looked for, a TDI Jetta. Looking back I wish I would have purchased a Jetta wagon instead as they are cool.
Sorry for the long post.
I went on the internet and searched all the info I could find about the ALH models (remember this was 8 years ago) and there were no issues with the 2000,2001, and 2003 models but the 2002 model had owners in a fury. They would be on their way somewhere and the engine would just quit running (especially when new) and had to have their dead cars towed to the stealer's to get their car fixed.
 

Nevada_TDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2008
Location
Reno, sort of...
TDI
2001 Jetta TDI
After a 5 minute search this is what I have found discussing the 2002 Curse:

  • I have a 2003 Jetta VR6: and my friend a 2002 Jetta, both cars stall if fuel level is at or under ¼ tank. After many Web search results I see many stories like mine, car stalls on Highway, traveling at speeds from 50 to 75. Sometimes I can feather the accelerator and will save from stalling but if not I have to pull over put the car in park and it will restart.
    This has been trouble on both cars for over 2 years, we never let the fuel get below ¼ tank. The tanks get flushed and filter replaced every two years but same problem. VW had done many tests but can’t figure it out. Someone said the fuel pump could over heat and shut off, that the gasoline keeps it cool, it makes sense when the gas is below ¼ tank that the pump is more above the fuel than under. If the manufacture had the pump designed with a low heat tolerance than maybe all the OEM replacement pumps and aftermarket pumps would react the same causing same failure and confusion after replacing one.
    In conclusion, I believe there are multiple diagnoses posted that are correct. More than one specific failure could cause the same symptom. I’m told by VW a faulty crank shaft sensor would typically cause a computer error code, they are either working or not unless it has poor connection. The tank is clean so I am going to try replacing the fuel pump with a more superior one pump like BOSH and not an OEM part.
    I’m curious as to the person that posted they used the BOSH pump and seems to have worked if this stall had resurfaced or not.

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  • bpeebles Posts: 4,085
    February 2014 edited February 2014

    Lets be clear, this car is over 10 years old and not worth a whole lot. It makes no sense to pour money into this 'problem' you describe.
    Personally, I would not waste much time nor money on this 'issue'. Since you have already diagnosed the problem as happening ONLY when the fuel-tank is less than quarter full.
    Hence, you have already figured out how to resolve the 'issue'. JUST KEEP THE FUEL ABOVE QUARTER FULL..
    End of problem, worries and no money spent.

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whitedog

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 12, 2004
Location
Bend, Oregon
TDI
2004 Jetta that I fill by myself
Well, the VR6 has a fuel pump in the tank, whereas a 2002 TDI does not. So I think that we can pass on chasing this rabbit.

There have been a number of cases where the pick-up tube was cracked as mentioned earlier. Pull it out and have a good look at it.
 

dweisel

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 28, 2006
Location
Wheeling, West Virginia
TDI
dweisel isn't diesel anymore!
dwiesel, am I supposed to be insulted by the,"Doubt you'll get an answer" comment? If not, please let me know.
Anyway, unleaded regular gasoline was $4.25 a gallon and I lived almost 90 minutes away from Reno at the time, and my Subaru even though it got 30 MPG the fuel cost was killing me due to all the trips I needed to make to Reno every week. USLD was $4.75 at the time and buying a TDI cost less per mile than buying unleaded. The bonus was WVO was becoming popular and there was a guy out where I lived that had a Greasecar kit in his Jetta and we got together collecting and filtering WVO and I too got a Greasecar kit and had it installed. WVO ended up costing around $0.50 a gallon to filter and process so I thought I had the world by the tail...
My new friend had a Jetta so that was what I looked for, a TDI Jetta. Looking back I wish I would have purchased a Jetta wagon instead as they are cool.
Sorry for the long post.
I went on the internet and searched all the info I could find about the ALH models (remember this was 8 years ago) and there were no issues with the 2000,2001, and 2003 models but the 2002 model had owners in a fury. They would be on their way somewhere and the engine would just quit running (especially when new) and had to have their dead cars towed to the stealer's to get their car fixed.
No, I was just making light of the "curse". I've been driving ALH engines since they were introduced. Have owned several Beetles. A 2000, 2002 and a couple of 03's. Also have parted out 4 ALH equipped Beetles. Never had the curse and had never even heard of the curse until now. Not trying to offend you or anyone else. If there are any curses.........it's not on an ALH.
 
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BobnOH

not-a-mechanic
Joined
May 29, 2004
Location
central Ohio
TDI
New Beetle 2003 manual
Searching these forums you may come across some odd threads about weird problems, especially the older stuff.
For example the "Secret Cold Weather design flaw recall"
 

cochrank

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 23, 2005
Location
Erie, PA
TDI
2002 Jetta
Group, I finally had time to look into this more. I accessed the tanks and took out the pump. It is a intank pump. It does not seem to have a pickup hose as it seems to be "compressed" at the bottom of the tank when it is installed with the ring. I took it apart and cleaned some black gung that was inside the pump and replace an o ring (thought it might be letting air get by (aka pick up hose). However there wasn't too much to it. I let it get to 1/4 tank and it still quit. I removed the pump and there was still plenty of fuel in there so the float was ready sort of correctly. Any other ideas?
 

JB05

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 20, 2005
Location
Il.USA
TDI
Golf,2005,anthracite blue
Who installed the in-tank pump? Not a factory item, but an after market.
 

whitedog

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 12, 2004
Location
Bend, Oregon
TDI
2004 Jetta that I fill by myself
Group, I finally had time to look into this more. I accessed the tanks and took out the pump. It is a intank pump. It does not seem to have a pickup hose as it seems to be "compressed" at the bottom of the tank when it is installed with the ring. I took it apart and cleaned some black gung that was inside the pump and replace an o ring (thought it might be letting air get by (aka pick up hose). However there wasn't too much to it. I let it get to 1/4 tank and it still quit. I removed the pump and there was still plenty of fuel in there so the float was ready sort of correctly. Any other ideas?
Are you sure it a pump? Does the electrical connector have two wires or four? Four would if it has a pump, two if it's just a pick-up tube with level sensor.
 

cochrank

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 23, 2005
Location
Erie, PA
TDI
2002 Jetta
I have had this since almost new (~60,000 miles) and nobody has switched it. It has always had it and when looking for a replacement that is what is being sold. So I am going to state that it was indeed a factory item.
 

dweisel

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 28, 2006
Location
Wheeling, West Virginia
TDI
dweisel isn't diesel anymore!
I have had this since almost new (~60,000 miles) and nobody has switched it. It has always had it and when looking for a replacement that is what is being sold. So I am going to state that it was indeed a factory item.
Look and see if it's 2 wire or 4 wire? Let us know.
 

cochrank

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 23, 2005
Location
Erie, PA
TDI
2002 Jetta
Group, I finally had a chance to look and I corrected the problem. First off there were only two wires so I guess no pump, just sending unit. I took the unit out again and took it apart. I checked the two hard plastic lines in the unit for pressure and found no holes. I cleaned out the little bit of "Stuff" in the canister and then for giggles I decided to pry off the side plastic piece on the unit (looks like a screen of some sort). In this I found the culprit. It was full of "stuff" and there was also some debris not allowing the rubber plunger to seal. I cleaned it all up, reinstalled the plastic screen unit (just snapped on) and put it back in. Low and behold it is working fine again. Guess the moral of the story is to use clean diesel or make sure to clean the entire unit, not just part of it. Thanks to all for the help though and I hope this thread might help some others.
 
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