Car won't start, won't jump, "Error: ESP"

pb88

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Location
Seattle
TDI
2012 Passat TDI SE
I have a '12 TDI SE. The other day I went to start the car in the morning for my commute to work: car won't start, acts like it's low on batteries. I needed to get to work so I just decided to try jump start it. It takes 3 tries, but it worked. Off I went on my roughly 1 hour/18 mile commute figuring I should get plenty of battery charge that way.

Well by the end of the day, I try start the car: no luck. I get a friend to help me jump it, multiple times with no luck. Symptoms, even with the jump cables attached to the other car:

-Move the key to accessory position and see "Error: ESP" on the MF display
-Try to crank anyway: all dashboard lights and the MF display black out briefly. Analog clock resets and spins.
-I can hear the engine turn a little bit sometimes (if I wait a few minutes between attempts). I am not sure if it is 1 turn or only a partial turn before everything goes black/dead.

In order to rule out the battery being bad and somehow causing too much resistance during my jump starts, I even tried purchasing a brand new battery from Volkswagen, disconnect the old battery, and hook up the new battery via the jump cables as a test: to my surprise the exact same problems still occur.

At this point I am baffled and also in a bit of a pinch: the car is located in a garage that has an entrance of 7 feet which is too low for a tow truck. What to do?
 

jetlagmech

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2009
Location
Toledo, WA
TDI
2010 jetta
you can ignore the errors on dash for now, probably caused by loss of power. the new battery hooked up with jump cables is not a good test. not enought connection surface on jumper cables to be more than helper to existing battery. instal the new battery corectly then try. could be that or a corroded connection from cable on starter. Gotta start with easy stuff first and since you already have battery do that first. did the cable ends on battery look clean when you removed them?

I just changed my battery 2 weeks ago. I barely was able to start it with jump cables, the battery went so bad so fast. after putting battery on charger for an hour still no start without charger connected. it was 9 pm and the car was needed the next morning early. so had no choice but get battery at walmart. no problems since.

I'm headed to Seattle area next week for the sons wedding. driving up. will be trying to move back there end of this year or next. Puyallup area. Bought my car in Auburn
 
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pb88

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Location
Seattle
TDI
2012 Passat TDI SE
I'll try fully attaching the battery. The reason I didn't/couldn't do that was because I didn't realize at the time the battery is bolted down and the bolt is deep down requiring a long reaching arm attachment for a ratchet, which I did not have on me. And the battery lead cables aren't that long.

The cable ends looked clean yes, everything pretty clean.

If this doesn't work I don't know what I'm going to do as I have just discovered the owner's manual says there is no way to tow the car with like a cable or something. It's not like there is a tow hook attached or anything. I need to get it out of the garage so a flatbad towtruck can bring it to be serviced.
 

c-wagen

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2012
Location
Houston TX
TDI
North American Passat 2012 TDI SEL (bought back march 2018)
One thing at a time. Take out the old battery, install the battery and try. Hopefully it will work. Jump cables can be troublesome for heavily dischraged/damaged batteries.
 

40X40

Experienced
Joined
Feb 12, 2006
Location
Kansas City area, MO
TDI
2013 Passat SEL Premium
Agree with all above.

Install new battery. Charge it with a good battery charger, not the alternator.

After the battery is installed and fully charged, start the car and check the voltage at the battery terminals. With the car running it should show 13.8 volts +/-. With the engine off it should be 12 volts +/-.

Good luck!

Bill
 

VeeDubTDI

Wanderluster, Traveler, TDIClub Enthusiast
Joined
Jul 2, 2000
Location
Springfield, VA
TDI
‘18 Tesla Model 3D+, ‘14 Cadillac ELR, ‘13 Fiat 500e
Someone should have a low-boy tow truck that can get your car out of here. We have them in DC that will fit into 6' garages.
 

pb88

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Location
Seattle
TDI
2012 Passat TDI SE
Thanks everybody. I was able to get it out of the garage by replacing the battery fully. No more ESP error.

There is still a yellow engine symbol that stays on while it is running. Seems like an electrical/digital issue I need to have Volkswagen diagnose. My guess is that for whatever reason the battery is not getting charged. Bad alternator?

Very disappointing for a 3 year old car that also just (3 weeks ago) cost me around $900 for a 40k mile service that completely negates any fuel savings diesel brings.

Meanwhile my relatively simple 9 year old 90k Honda CRV has been virtually maintenance free and problem free.
 

BPofMD

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2013
Location
Maryland
TDI
2012 Passat SE
That's prob a code that was set when you had the bat problem. Put a code reader on it to see what it is, then if no concern, turn it off.
 

Herkguy

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2013
Location
minneapolis
TDI
2013 passat SE sun/nav
Very disappointing for a 3 year old car that also just (3 weeks ago) cost me around $900 for a 40k mile service that completely negates any fuel savings diesel brings.
Meanwhile my relatively simple 9 year old 90k Honda CRV has been virtually maintenance free and problem free.
I know what you mean. I absolutely love my TDI but it does need more mx. The only surprise was the DSG service, that was a shocker.

My last commuter was a 2005.5 Jetta with a 2.5l 5spd and the only thing I had to do to it was plugs, oil, filters and tires. In 110k it didn't even need brakes.....:eek:
 

pb88

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Location
Seattle
TDI
2012 Passat TDI SE
Yeah it was the DSG service tacked on that made the 40k service nuts. If I had to do it over again, I'd either skip the Diesel engine or find a manual transmission. Or go with a different make altogether. Many companies offer more substantial warranty periods. 36k mile isn't much and the fact that this happened to me almost immediately after the warranty period expired is confidence shaking. I bought mine in September of 2011 close to when they first came out and so it is one of the oldest in existence.
 

tadawson

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2013
Location
Lewisville, TX
TDI
2013 Passat TDI SEL, 2015 Passat TDI SEL
If you have a DSG on a gasoline engine, the service interval is the same, is it not? I just don't get all the whining about the DSG . . . It's a far better tranny than a normal auto, and it costs a modest amount ($0.01/mile) to keep it in good shape. So what? If you don't want to spend much on drivetrain upkeep, buy a Schwinn . . .

- Tim
 

VeeDubTDI

Wanderluster, Traveler, TDIClub Enthusiast
Joined
Jul 2, 2000
Location
Springfield, VA
TDI
‘18 Tesla Model 3D+, ‘14 Cadillac ELR, ‘13 Fiat 500e
I don't get it either, Tim - especially when people don't shop around for reasonable service prices. :confused:
 

pb88

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Location
Seattle
TDI
2012 Passat TDI SE
the 40k service is in the 400+ range, the DSG service is in that range too. So that's a $900 bill at the Volkswagen dealership in Seattle.

You act like I'm an idiot. You say the DSG is "better" than a normal auto transmission but how so exactly? In the driving experience it does not shift substantially (granted that word may be slightly subjective) better than any other auto tranny.

More fuel efficient because it shifts quickly? Maybe. But that "fuel savings" is moot with the price of a DSG service.

At the end of the day, after less than 3 years (September 2014 would mark 3 years) and 40k miles, I have to deal with a dead car and had to eat an expensive 40k service price.

Before this I liked the car a lot from the perspective of the aesthetic design and materials/fit and finish, and roominess. I loved the mileage until I hit the 40k service and realized it was totally negated. Now with this reliability problem I am thinking I should have listened to the lower reliability reputation marks Volkswagen has had. At the time, I thought "all new cars are roughly equal in reliability, even a Ford or whatever".

I chose the Passat because at the end of the day I felt the ratio of price to aesthetics and roominess, and perceived "German quality" were right. But at the end of the day a car that doesn't run has become a useless Car-Shaped-Object that does nothing but stress me out and lower my productivity at work. Which, if you calculate the value of dollars per hour, will probably exceed the repair bill.
 
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40X40

Experienced
Joined
Feb 12, 2006
Location
Kansas City area, MO
TDI
2013 Passat SEL Premium
the 40k service is in the 400+ range, the DSG service is in that range too. So that's a $900 bill at the Volkswagen dealership in Seattle.
Then don't go there, those prices ARE high.
You act like I'm an idiot. You say the DSG is "better" than a normal auto transmission but how so exactly? In the driving experience it does not shift substantially (granted that word may be slightly subjective) better than any other auto tranny.
The DSG is substantially better than the auto transmissions that came in the previous TDIs.

More fuel efficient because it shifts quickly? Maybe. But that "fuel savings" is moot with the price of a DSG service.
More fuel efficient because of less friction loss and lack of a torque convertor.

At the end of the day, after less than 3 years (September 2014 would mark 3 years) and 40k miles, I have to deal with a dead car and had to eat an expensive 40k service price.

Before this I liked the car a lot from the perspective of the aesthetic design and materials/fit and finish, and roominess. I loved the mileage until I hit the 40k service and realized it was totally negated. Now with this reliability problem I am thinking I should have listened to the lower reliability reputation marks Volkswagen has had. At the time, I thought "all new cars are roughly equal in reliability, even a Ford or whatever". Who told you that a TDI would save you money? If you had asked here, we would have told you otherwise.

I chose the Passat because at the end of the day I felt the ratio of price to aesthetics and roominess, and perceived "German quality" were right. But at the end of the day a car that doesn't run has become a useless Car-Shaped-Object that does nothing but stress me out and lower my productivity at work. Which, if you calculate the value of dollars per hour, will probably exceed the repair bill.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do. BTW, there is no accessory position on the ignition switch. Lol.

Bill
 
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VeeDubTDI

Wanderluster, Traveler, TDIClub Enthusiast
Joined
Jul 2, 2000
Location
Springfield, VA
TDI
‘18 Tesla Model 3D+, ‘14 Cadillac ELR, ‘13 Fiat 500e
Those prices are probably on par for most VW dealerships, but that doesn't mean that they aren't high compared to independent repair shops.

I would really recommend getting to know a trusted TDI mechanic in your area. You will save a substantial amount of money over the life of the car and you can have more confidence in the quality of service being provided. Unfortunately, many VW dealerships don't have the best reputation for quality of work, professionalism, accurate diagnostics, or price.
 

Tdijarhead

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 10, 2013
Location
Lawrenceville PA
TDI
2003 TDI Jetta Daughters Car, 2001 TDI Beetle, Daughters car, 2005 Golf TDI Mine, all 5 spds
I never buy a vehicle that I am not prepared to do the maintenance on myself . Either because I all ready know about a particular car or am willing to learn. I've never done a DSG fluid change, but if I owned a car with a DSG I would be learning and doing it my self .
 

Lightflyer1

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Sep 13, 2005
Location
Round Rock, Texas
TDI
2015 Beetle tdi dsg
2 of the dealers here charge in the $400 range for the DSG service. My trusted mechanic charges in the $250 range. Guess who I am using?
 

Justinw303

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2014
Location
Silver Spring, MD
TDI
2013 Passat TDI SE DSG w/ Sunroof
Yeah it was the DSG service tacked on that made the 40k service nuts. If I had to do it over again, I'd either skip the Diesel engine or find a manual transmission. Or go with a different make altogether. Many companies offer more substantial warranty periods. 36k mile isn't much and the fact that this happened to me almost immediately after the warranty period expired is confidence shaking. I bought mine in September of 2011 close to when they first came out and so it is one of the oldest in existence.

VW's warranty on this car is in line with the industry average. Don't forget about the 60,000 mile power train warranty as well.
 
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