Filled Tank, Didn’t Start

Mass. Wine Guy

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May 21, 2001
Location
Ipswich, Massachusetts
TDI
2001 Golf GLS 5-speed, 2003 Jetta GLS wagon 5-speed, 2015 Golf S 6-speed manual
I was extremely low on fuel today and it took a few tries to get started. I drove directly to a station to fill up. Put my key in and it cranked like crazy, but wouldn’t start.

Could the fuel filter have gotten clogged with some dredge at the bottom of the tank? My mechanic can’t get to it for at least a couple of days.
 

burpod

teh stallionz!!1
Joined
Nov 27, 2004
Location
cape cod, ma
TDI
82 rabbit vnt ahu, 98 jetta vnt ahu, 05 parts car, 88 scirocco.. :/
May have gotten the injection pump air locked. 17mm wrench and crack injector nut and crank until you see a tiny bit of fuel come out. Retighten, then crack and close the others and try cranking again
 

Vince Waldon

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Apr 25, 2009
Location
Edmonton AB Canada
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2001 ALH Jetta, 2003 ALH Wagon, 2005 BEW Wagon
May also need to pre-fill the fuel filter with fresh diesel... if it ran dry the internal vane pump will have a hard/impossible time re-priming all the way from the fuel tank.
 

kennethsime

Veteran Member
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Oct 29, 2010
Location
California
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2004 Jetta Wagon GL TDI 5-Speed Baltic Green
Burpod is almost certainly right - I've been in the same position a few times.
 

jettawreck

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Aug 2, 2004
Location
Northern Minnesota-55744
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2001 Jetta and 2003 Jetta
Pump pulls fuel from the bottom of the tank all the time, not just when fuel level is low....
After you get it started again with a full tank it will be a test to see if it starts normally. Suspect you have some sort of air leak in the fuel system not related to low fuel level. I had a fuel sender unit crack at the outlet nipple this summer. Ran/started perfect until suddenly it did not. Diagnosing it correctly was more trouble than it should have been...
 

Mass. Wine Guy

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May 21, 2001
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Ipswich, Massachusetts
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Wow. Cars, like people, can be so fragile.

I’ll definitely pass these ideas along to my mechanic.

Thank you!
 

BobnOH

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May 29, 2004
Location
central Ohio
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New Beetle 2003 manual
I'm guessing you just introduced a big ole air bubble in the fuel supply system. Bad luck. Easiest for a quick fix would be to remove the thermostatic tee and top off the fuel filter. Use a small coat of grease on the o-rings when re-intalling. Another possible would be to hook up a battery charger and repeatedly crank. Be careful not to overheat the starter, maybe 8" crank 2' rest.
 

jokila

Vendor
Joined
Dec 3, 2004
Location
Houston, Texas
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS, Manual
I was extremely low on fuel today and it took a few tries to get started. I drove directly to a station to fill up. Put my key in and it cranked like crazy, but wouldn’t start.

Could the fuel filter have gotten clogged with some dredge at the bottom of the tank? My mechanic can’t get to it for at least a couple of days.
Which car? You have three of them in your list.

The 2015 has an in tank pump which should prime the system. The other ones need you to prime the system.
 

Genesis

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 26, 2003
Location
Sevier County TN
TDI
'03 Jetta Wagon
Got an oil sucker?

If so remove the return line from the IP to the "T" and plug the "T" so air cannot get into the return side of the filter. Attach sucker to the return line and pull vacuum with it. Crank until fuel comes down the line OR the car stumbles (tries to start), then STOP. This will take only a few SECONDS (like five! If it starts with that on there you will not believe how much fuel winds up in the sucker!)

Reattach the hose to the "T". Done.
 

Mass. Wine Guy

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Ipswich, Massachusetts
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Although I’ve been called a sucker, I have no oil sucker. Hardly any tools. No garage.
 
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mrGutWrench

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 29, 2002
Location
Wallace, NC
TDI
'03 Jetta Wagon
I'm guessing you just introduced a big ole air bubble in the fuel supply system. Bad luck. Easiest for a quick fix would be to remove the thermostatic tee and top off the fuel filter. Use a small coat of grease on the o-rings when re-intalling. Another possible would be to hook up a battery charger and repeatedly crank. Be careful not to overheat the starter, maybe 8" crank 2' rest.
Lots of good info in this comment. I recently cracked a "T thermostat" while changing the filter. My symptoms were like the OP's. On the way home from the auto parts story (trying to buy a new O-ring --dealer wanted $289 for a "T" and a spare set of O-ring), car died on me -- first time in 545,000 miles I was on the side of the road wrenching. I dribbled a little on the filter top from my spare engine oil bottle to try to temporarily seal up the crack, loosened one injector nut, it turned over three times and sputtered. Then I tightened the injector nut and it started right up. I got home, it stumbled a time or two on the next start up so I called ID Parts, got a new "T" (tip, pretty much the only place that there's enough pressure in the fuel system to make a noticeable leak is the "T" or the metal pipes from injector pump to the injectors -- they almost never leak and when they do, it's easy to see where it is and it's usually at connections. The reason for this is that most of the rest of the system works under suction from the injector pump -- a leak isn't good because air gets into your system but it has to be a major hole for visible fuel to leak out.)

Put the IDParts "T" on with the new O-rings, greased lightly as Bob says. Not a whiff of a problem since then. Oh, and the IDParts price was about 1/6th of the dealer price. BTW, the new "T" comes with O-rings but I bought a couple of extra packages (there are two) just to have spares.

Also, if you need to fill a filter, what works well is "Power Service - silver bottle". It helps with fuel system cleanliness, it's mostly diesel fuel anyway, and it comes in a neat, clean bottle (which won't be neat and clean after you've tried to dribble it into a funnel in the "T" cavity in a fuel filter but it's better than trying to fill a little bottle at a service station). I poured about 6 - 8 ounces into a mustard bottle from the Dollar Store and used that to fill the filter. I think that amount had it pretty well filled -- if you get that much in it, the action of the returning fuel from the engine will push any remaining air back to the tank and fill the filter all the way up as you drive the first few miles. The engine sucks fuel from the bottom of filter so it doesn't matter if there's a little bubble of air in the top, that bubble will be gone soon anyway.

Apple-Oh-Gees for all the words but it really is a simple system and it's pretty easy to take care of. HTH. MrG

Since I'd found a nipped O-ring when I took it apart, I unclipped the two metal clips on the fuel pipe connecting points by sliding them back along the rubber pipe (I had to do that anyway to change the "T") and slipped the rubber pipes off the "T". Then I refitted the greased "T" without the fuel pipes being attached. That made it a lot easier to replace the "T" without rocking and taking a chance on damaging the new O-rings. Then I put the "Micky Mouse clip" in place, put a tiny dab of grease on the "T" barbs, gently slipped the pipes on and then slid the metal clips into position. The little ears on the metal clips can just be compressed with a pair of pliers to expand them so they slip of the bump in the pipe caused by the barbs on the "T".
 

Mass. Wine Guy

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May 21, 2001
Location
Ipswich, Massachusetts
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2001 Golf GLS 5-speed, 2003 Jetta GLS wagon 5-speed, 2015 Golf S 6-speed manual
I’m picking up the car today. Mechanic said the fuel filter as dry. He primed it, cleared the air bubble and let it idle 30 minutes to be sure it ran fine.

A few years ago I had some fuel tank issue where there was a lot of detritus in the internal filter/thingie/part inside the tank. I think what we did was enlarge the holes in that part. I’m sure all this makes sense?

So now, when my low fuel alarm sounds there’s way less than 1.9 gallons left. The moral being: I should fill up at no less than 1/8 th of a tank.
 

Diesel Fumes

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Dec 30, 2008
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Creston, bc
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2003 alh tdi 5 speed
I’m picking up the car today. Mechanic said the fuel filter as dry. He primed it, cleared the air bubble and let it idle 30 minutes to be sure it ran fine.

A few years ago I had some fuel tank issue where there was a lot of detritus in the internal filter/thingie/part inside the tank. I think what we did was enlarge the holes in that part. I’m sure all this makes sense?

So now, when my low fuel alarm sounds there’s way less than 1.9 gallons left. The moral being: I should fill up at no less than 1/8 th of a tank.
Glad you got it going. Yea I don't even know if the low fuel warning works on my car. Have never tested it! Lol
 

mrGutWrench

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Wallace, NC
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'03 Jetta Wagon
That " internal filter/thingie/part inside the tank" will also clog with ice crystals if there's water in the fuel. This only happens in very frigid temps, of course, but it's something to be aware of.
 

jokila

Vendor
Joined
Dec 3, 2004
Location
Houston, Texas
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS, Manual
I’m picking up the car today. Mechanic said the fuel filter as dry. He primed it, cleared the air bubble and let it idle 30 minutes to be sure it ran fine.

A few years ago I had some fuel tank issue where there was a lot of detritus in the internal filter/thingie/part inside the tank. I think what we did was enlarge the holes in that part. I’m sure all this makes sense?

So now, when my low fuel alarm sounds there’s way less than 1.9 gallons left. The moral being: I should fill up at no less than 1/8 th of a tank.
I wait until the light comes on. At that point I have at least 80 miles to go based on an average 42 MPG for the way I drive. If the light didn't come on and you ran out, then you want to get that fixed or definitely don't let it go past some safe zone level on your gauge.
 

Mass. Wine Guy

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Ipswich, Massachusetts
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2001 Golf GLS 5-speed, 2003 Jetta GLS wagon 5-speed, 2015 Golf S 6-speed manual
That’s the thing. Given the past mod to the fuel tank filter thing, I have much less than 1.9 gallons once the light goes on.
 

jokila

Vendor
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Dec 3, 2004
Location
Houston, Texas
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2003 Jetta GLS, Manual
That’s the thing. Given the past mod to the fuel tank filter thing, I have much less than 1.9 gallons once the light goes on.
Whatever the difference is from 1.9 gallons it's going to be consistent. Figure the delta and use that. Even 1 gallon should give you some range.
 

burpod

teh stallionz!!1
Joined
Nov 27, 2004
Location
cape cod, ma
TDI
82 rabbit vnt ahu, 98 jetta vnt ahu, 05 parts car, 88 scirocco.. :/
... uh, let it idle for 30 minutes? 😳 I question your mechanics abilities with the TDI... 😲
 

burpod

teh stallionz!!1
Joined
Nov 27, 2004
Location
cape cod, ma
TDI
82 rabbit vnt ahu, 98 jetta vnt ahu, 05 parts car, 88 scirocco.. :/
ok good :) 1-2 minutes is plenty, 5 minutes is crazy overkill and 30 minutes is ... well, just inane! lol
 
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