Hard Start / No Start - Is your intercooler frozen? Check Here!

Matt927

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Joined
Dec 29, 2013
Location
Northeast
TDI
several
This is incorrect. By simply blocking your lower grille you are not in any way inhibiting fresh air intake through the upper grille intake. Many have run all three covers, including myself with no ill effects in extreme cold. Having the cold weather kit in -20 or colder should mean nothing now that you have a dry intercooler hose. I have been returning 48 mpg this winter with the lower grille blocked and a Kerma Tune. Yesterday was 70, left the lower cover on, I observed max coolant temps at 199 degrees F in traffic.

You will notice increased fuel economy from quicker warm up times and better aerodynamics, not less. With aggressive EGR, you would be surprised how much "fresh" air these cars actually use.

Remember some of the last CJAA 2014 Jetta vehicles had factory lower grille louvers to restrict air flow.
 

jesus_man

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North Dakota
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2005 Jetta (gone), 2002 Passat (gone), 2009 JSW (VW bought), 2010 JSW
Two, Ive heard on your airbox, if you take the part that goes from your grille to the bottom of your airbox off and tape it off, it helps. But i was thinking, isnt that just blocking air off and affect power/MPG?
This is incorrect. By simply blocking your lower grille you are not in any way inhibiting fresh air intake through the upper grille intake. Many have run all three covers, including myself with no ill effects in extreme cold. Having the cold weather kit in -20 or colder should mean nothing now that you have a dry intercooler hose. I have been returning 48 mpg this winter with the lower grille blocked and a Kerma Tune. Yesterday was 70, left the lower cover on, I observed max coolant temps at 199 degrees F in traffic.

You will notice increased fuel economy from quicker warm up times and better aerodynamics, not less. With aggressive EGR, you would be surprised how much "fresh" air these cars actually use.

Remember some of the last CJAA 2014 Jetta vehicles had factory lower grille louvers to restrict air flow.
What is incorrect? Perhaps I am misunderstanding you, but from my interpretation, MrCypherr asked if taping off the actual intake tube feeding the air filter is a good idea. Perhaps his question is more about covering the upper grill as opposed to actually choking off the air to the filter inlet??
 

MrCypherr

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Ontario
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Mk6 Wagon
I do believe there is a mixup in understanding with the question. I was told that before the cold weather intercooler kits, VW said to block off the bottom of the air filter box where the pipe comes up and connected to the front grille. I found it kind of odd cause I was wondering where the air would come. I've seen people block off the bottom and whatnot. Which I have thought of doing but I am getting the cold weather kit later this week because I found a good 1/4 cup of water in my pipe. Ill be doing the Cold weather kit soon and later this year I will be doing a full DPF/EGR delete.

Drivability/economy wise, the cold weather kit doesnt really affect that right? Considering its just a new intercooler and some vacuum lines?
 

prsa01

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mpls,mn usa
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14 jsw 6m, 96 B4v, miss my a4 :(
** Additional note: I had recently been getting an intercooler related code (p026a) It will be interesting to see if that clears now that I've drained it or if whatever is causing that code was a contributing factor to the water. I don't believe I have read that the code may mean water in the intercooler. Will report back.
========================

Adding another data point: Had not had this issue in the 2+ years of ownership even though I live in MN. I hsd hoped that the fact I was driving relatively regular highway speeds was giving an opportunity for the intercooler to be dried out via operating temp high airflow. I also have always covered my lower radiator in the coldest months. Compared to the coasts we generally have very low humidity when we get our coldest weather.

This past weekend drove the car ~ 160 miles of highway in moderate early winter temps (upper 30s) but with still relatively humid, compared to winter, air. Since we had some "warm" days coming up I had not yet covered the lower radiator. The car sat for one below freezing night and was started and run just a few minutes to move it. Sat for another day and wife was unable to start. Initially thought something had drained the battery so charged it but that made no difference.

We luckily had another above freezing day and having read this thread knew this was a distinct possibility. Opened up the intercooler and drained ~ 2 cups of water. Car stumbled a bit but did start and ran fine once started. Did cover the radiator for the trip back. I will ultimately install some type of drain that can be opened from below the belly pan.

So, lessons learned:
o It doesn't have to be below freezing to be a problem
o Cover the radiator earlier than you think necessary
o Frequent highway miles don't necessarily clear the intercooler
o Highish Relative humidity along with coolish air can be an issue (others in more humid areas have already reported this)
o MOST IMPORTANTLY if you suspect this issue DO NOT keep cranking the car before checking for water, you CAN ruin your engine

?? Does anyone know why the passenger side seems to collect more water? Most of the videos I've seen show/report water on that side and in my case I only had water on that side. Is it safe to only put a drain on that side?

Thanks to all contributors on this thread. It saved me major expense and inconvenience. I was in a very rural area and am not sure what my options would have been. Closest dealership was over 100 miles away and the few local mechanics had essentially zero experience with TDIs.

Happy ending!
 
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SAR_TDI

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denver, NC
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2011 Jetta Sportswagen
Steve, 2011 TDI Jetta Sportwagen: Happened to me twice in 2014-2016 time frame, 25-40F, Charlotte NC. I did a partial radiator blockage using a cheap plastic advertisement sign from the road edge, cut to fit and back-sliced so I could slide it in the front plastic and unfold it in front of the cooler. It's a 10 minute seasonal change. A squirrel did a nose dive into the plastic grill and broke some grill joints which gave me good but careful access.
In addition, I cut the rubber intercooler hose and inserted an aluminum tube with saw tooth edges for the hose to fit back over with hose clamps. My first version blew the hose off the aluminum joint. Piece was 2" long approx 1.8" diameter, with 1/4" pipe thread in center for a short pipe nipple to a 1/4" ball valve. and short drain nipple. The handle sticks through a 2x3" hole in the belly pan so I can manually drain when conditions are good for high condensation following compression. It works good enough. The valve is ahead of the right front wheel and I've actually opened the valve when I parked with a load with the valve touching the curb. When the powerloss was apparent, I just stopped, hopped out and reached under to reclose the valve.
The intercooler discharge hose is on the right side and is the only good drain access.
An HVAC friend showed me a psychrometric chart for sea level and 5000 ft ASL, similar to going from atmospheric pressure (intake) to turbocharged, then cooled. A large amount of water vapor condenses out particularly when ambient conditions are cold and high humidity - fog, rain, and snow.
 

jesus_man

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North Dakota
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2005 Jetta (gone), 2002 Passat (gone), 2009 JSW (VW bought), 2010 JSW
It's hard to dig thru all the threads, but here is what I did.


In the winter, I just leave the valve cracked open and this seems to allow the condensation to be pushed out if it doesn't drain on it's own. I also moved the valve to right in front of the drivers side tire where I can easily reach it and made the hose with as much slope as I could. This condensation issues haven't returned in over 2 yrs. Well, they did once. Last year I was testing to see if our new dryer location in ND would have an affect. There is still enough condensation that the car didn't want to accelerate one day. Then a plume of white smoke and the engine ran like normal. That is when I decided to leave the valve cracked open.

The only issue with this setup could be that if you are parked outside with days on end of below freezing temps, the drain hose could freeze and not allow the IC to drain. Thankfully, I can park in the garage during the day while my wife is at work. That is enough time to allow everything to thaw and drain. The other solution is a short heat-tape could be installed in the drain hose and be plugged in.
 

Carl Ulli

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Location
Oshawa, Ontario
TDI
2005 Jetta Wagon TDI (My Daughter's now); 2012 Highline Jetta TDI; 2012 Golf Wagon
Here's a pretty good summation of your problem from another forum

http://www.myturbodiesel.com/forum/f7/cr-cold-weather-inspection-4197/
Here's a pretty good summation of the solution from this forum. I studied this problem several years ago right on this thread. People have tried various things from home-made drain valves which have to be opened regularly to empty the water out to the sophisticated dealer update which they reported to not be much good. Several folks encouraged me to cover the lower grille for the winter saying it works well for them. I did it for both our TDIs last winter and also had no problem with either one. For anyone in NH where it is extremely damp and cold it would be good to check with others in that area. I am in Ontario, and perhaps it is not so bad here. I did have the problem with the Jetta the year before I added the grille cover. The template to make such a cover is basically the same for Golf or Jetta, the only difference being the cut out for the license plate. I used a thermal bubble wrap type of plastic that normally is used to wrap around water pipes and sewed gray vinyl onto it. The sewing machine had no problem with it. I used brass snap buttons from Lee Valley Tools. Installation is quick and easy now.
 

crashtested

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Jun 15, 2010
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Nelson, BC
TDI
2014 GSW Trendline 6MT, 2004 Jetta GLS 5MT (sold), 2010 GSW Highline 6MT (buy back)
Has anyone had any issues AFTER they have had the intercooler kit installed?
Weekly. All good for the drive to work in the morning (05:30, rain & or snow) but end of day I'm always ready to smash the GO pedal if it stumbles otherwise I'm sitting for 20-30min until I can try again,
 

crashtested

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Nelson, BC
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2014 GSW Trendline 6MT, 2004 Jetta GLS 5MT (sold), 2010 GSW Highline 6MT (buy back)
Hard starting and whenever I do get around to pulling the hose (not that offten) there is a sludge build-up and some moisture.

Really eh? Have you had water build up in the hoses or just a hard starting?
Yes, there have been reports of the VW cold weather intercooler kit not correcting the problem.
 

kjclow

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Apr 26, 2003
Location
Charlotte, NC
TDI
2010 JSW TDI silver and black. 2017 Ram Ecodiesel dark red with brown and beige interior.
Has anyone had any issues AFTER they have had the intercooler kit installed?
Used to be a member from Montreal that had two diesels. one had issues before and after the upgrade. The other did not. He said the worst was cool temps and high humidity. Personally, I think I've had one or two stumbles since 2010 in either car.
 

MrCypherr

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Location
Ontario
TDI
Mk6 Wagon
Now im wondering if these issues still happen with a delete. I've heard they happen cause the EGR is so good in what it does.
 

jesus_man

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North Dakota
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2005 Jetta (gone), 2002 Passat (gone), 2009 JSW (VW bought), 2010 JSW
Now im wondering if these issues still happen with a delete. I've heard they happen cause the EGR is so good in what it does.
That is my understanding as well. I wonder what would happen if one were to replace the existing gasket from the EGR with a blank?
 

MrCypherr

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Ontario
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Mk6 Wagon
Intercooler kit with no EGR might be the sure fire way to ever prevent freezing again in the piping.
 

Carl Ulli

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Feb 19, 2009
Location
Oshawa, Ontario
TDI
2005 Jetta Wagon TDI (My Daughter's now); 2012 Highline Jetta TDI; 2012 Golf Wagon
I don't believe it. The turbo pressurizes the intake air so it heats up. Then it goes through the intercooler to cool it but keep it under pressure so that there is more of it going into the combustion chambers of the engine. While leaving the intercooler there is enough of a pressure drop to cause the condensation. A weatherman knows this phenomenon and links dew point in the air with the explanation. Incidentally, because of the direction of the airflow, that is why only the right side pipe/hose fills with water. (Somebody else asked about that.) Perhaps you are thinking that the hot EGR exhaust air mixing with the cooler, but still warm, intake air makes the temperature difference that causes condensation. If you cut out the effect of the hot exhaust air that may help some, but that does not eliminate the effect of over chilling the intake air in the intercooler. Covering the lower bumper grille for below 0 C. temperatures is better because you leave the EGR system in place and have less NOx pollution in the air we breathe. Also the engine can warm up faster in winter so you end up saving fuel too. Look at my avatar - that is the summer look, in winter there is a vinyl cover buttoned onto those snaps.
 

jesus_man

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2005 Jetta (gone), 2002 Passat (gone), 2009 JSW (VW bought), 2010 JSW
Perhaps you are thinking that the hot EGR exhaust air mixing with the cooler, but still warm, intake air makes the temperature difference that causes condensation.
Yes, this is my thinking, although I agree that it is not the only cause. And I think this because when I drain out the fluid, it is generally very sooty, which isn't really ideal for an engine to burn either. I understand the logic behind EGR, but it causes it's fair share of problems making the engine run less efficient then it could, but this really isn't the thread to discuss that.
 

MrCypherr

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Ontario
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Mk6 Wagon
Seeing people who have the intercooler fix and still get water in their piping makes me believe that the new intercooler kit with the flap on one side, doesnt really do much. I usually plug my car in when it drops below 0C but I know thats just coolant warming up.
 

06bluebeetletdi

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'14 Passat TDI SEL and '13 Beetle TDI
For those asking about the cold weather kit, it does NOT guarantee you will not have the issue. Here’s my 2013 beetle:
Purchased 10/14 at 9600 miles
Commute 65 miles a day - 90% 70 mph Raleigh NC
Jan 17 - 53,000 miles. Starts then shuts off immediately. Towed to dealer under cpo warranty- cold weather kit installed.
August 17 - 61,000 miles tdi modification
January 20 - 89,000 miles. Starts then shuts off. I drained 2 1/2 cups of water out of the intercooler hose. Ends up towed to the dealer for not starting accidentally killed the battery.
As a note that summer (2019) under hard acceleration i had the car stumble, thought at the time it was fuel or something evidently it was water in the intercooler. Installed a winter front after January 20, it now has a winter front if it is below 60*. At 90k, 95k and now 106k, draining the intercooler only yields a few drops of water.
 

prsa01

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mpls,mn usa
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14 jsw 6m, 96 B4v, miss my a4 :(
Just FYI - my brother had a (gas) mini and apparently this was a fairly well known issue with them as well. He attempted to leave work one day and similar symptoms. A quick search told him what the issue was.

So not exclusively a VW or TDI issue. Oilhammer or others may be able to say whether other engines have similar issues.
 

ddorrer

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WVa
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2015 GSW Tdi, 2012 JSW Tdi DSG (Sold w/80k miles), 2010 Sportwagen TDI 6spd (Traded)
Yep. 2013 JSW. Same icing issue every winter. This time I drained over a cup of water from my downpipes. Then I removed my glow plugs and cranked the motor to blow out any water. I used a .22 cal cleaning rod and brass brush tip to clean the glow plug chamber. Then cleared any code before starting. Started right up.

Harbor Freight had a nice 3/8 drive deep well thin wall socket set for $15. 12mm works well.

Remember ppl placing cardboard in front of their radiator in the winter? Maybe there is some truth to why...
 
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06bluebeetletdi

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'14 Passat TDI SEL and '13 Beetle TDI
Ddorrer, blocking the grill has been night and day difference for my bug. 2.5 cups over 3 years before the grill cover down to a few drips maybe 1/8th of a cup over 2 years after grill cover. If the high is below 60* the bug’s grill is covered especially on rainy, cold humid days.
 

MrCypherr

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Ontario
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Mk6 Wagon
My buddy had a Cummins and he placed cardboard in front of the rad and even his warm up times were alot better. Might remove the grill and block the bottom of the rad cause I tried using pipe insulation and not sure if its really doing anything.
 

ddorrer

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WVa
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2015 GSW Tdi, 2012 JSW Tdi DSG (Sold w/80k miles), 2010 Sportwagen TDI 6spd (Traded)
Update on my 2013 JSW. I did drill a small 5/32 hole in addition to blocking the lower grill with metal duct tape. It's been over a week of frigid temps. No issues. I took down the belly pan and sure enough, condensate and crud are being blown out that tiny hole. 6 more weeks of winter. Watching my temps as well.
 

duteman2

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Nov 10, 2002
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Connecticut
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'02 GOLF, '04 Passat Wagon, 5-speed, BSD, our 8th. and 9th. TDI's
Oh boy... "come up to speed" on this issue I did indeed. It happened to me, 2011 Sportwagon, and I have running again. As an FYI, I recently, and JUST A WEEK BEFORE my extended warranty ran out, had a dealer replace the DPF. They had my car for a week, replacing this, replacing that, trying hard to not put any more into it than they had to. They finally replaced every component, pipe, sensor, starting with the Cat and all pipes back to the engine. Not sure if this made the condensation process more efficient or not, but I've had the car for a few years, driven it in winter, not experienced the problem. The DPF work was done in the end of November, '21. There is a caveat. I do think it happened once before, years ago, and I was just not aware of it. I did replace the battery, it was old anyway, it cranked hard, sputtered, started. I guess I was lucky. This time it was severe hydro-lock. I have other vehicles to drive so I waited until it was warm for enough days to thaw, drained what must have been over a cup of water from the intercooler piping, took out the glow-plugs, cranked it over. Water blew out of two cylinders like geysers! I had parked on a bit of a L-R slope so I think the condensation ran down to the two cylinders on the lower end. Cylinders three had very little water in it. I put the Glow plugs back in, it started, stumbled, smoothed out, has been running fine since. I was lucky, AGAIN, I guess. Since I'm a bit superstitious I don't plan on it happening a third time, so...

SOMEONE PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG!!

I have done some research, mostly here, and have come to the conclusion that a drain valve of some kind, or an EGR-Delete, is a better solution than the intercooler fix. I've read, on this mega-thread, that some people have had the intercooler fix and have still had the problem. That is not good. I like some of the drain valve solutions and have an idea that I'd like to run past you all. (DISCLAIMER: I have NOT read through every post on this thread but saw 2micron's picture. Wondering how it's working? Thanks.)

I'd thinking about an electric draining system using a N.O. 12v poppet valve drain system. I have ordered, for other reasons, the Skid plate ID parts sells, so my plumbing will have to consider that. I thought of sourcing power from a circuit that is only energized when the ignition is on and using a valve that is open when not energized. Stop the car, it opens, drains. Start the car, it closes.

Any thoughts? Thanks in Advance. Chris
 

jesus_man

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North Dakota
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2005 Jetta (gone), 2002 Passat (gone), 2009 JSW (VW bought), 2010 JSW
The system will drain better when under pressure, so I would want to be able to have a manual switch to bypass the operation and allow the valve to be open for even just 30 seconds at my command.

This winter is the first in many I haven't had an issue, and you might have seen my manual drain system. I leave the valve cracked open ever so slightly and with the amount of soot covering the chassis and suspension where it dumps, I know it's doing its job. Not to mention the small puddle of black goo where the car is parked.
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2021
Location
Kansas City
TDI
2014 Jetta Sportwagen DSG
I had a few hard starts/no starts this winter which I attributed to either gelled fuel, old fuel filter, or dead battery. I was able to eventually get it started, with subsequent stumbling and white smoke for a few minutes afterwards. After changing the filter and battery, and adding powerservice, it seemed to be fine. However, a couple of days ago it took a few tries to start and the conditions suggest intercooler condensation. It was in the mid-30's F and I had driven it the day before when it was in the low/mid 20's. We had several inches of snow that had been melting. There was a bit of white smoke (steam?) again after it started.

So my concern is, could the car have sustained any damage? It's running well, nothing obviously wrong. It has 121,250 miles so the emissions warranty is almost up. Would it be worth having the dealer take a look at it? I will cover the lower grille next winter should I choose to keep the car.

Sorry if my concerns were addressed already; I read several pages of this thread but not all 184 of them! :) Thanks
 

jesus_man

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North Dakota
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2005 Jetta (gone), 2002 Passat (gone), 2009 JSW (VW bought), 2010 JSW
If it's running fine, you probably didn't do any damage, but I would certainly A. get under there and drain it yourself and perhaps take measures to do this more regularly, or B take it to the dealer.

With mine, it seem to run fine when I was just chugging along, but if I wanted to pass someone, or accelerate hard, the higher boost pressures would push the water into the engine and I would get the white smoke (presumably steam) and the car would lose nearly all power. I added a DIY drain and haven't had any issues since.
 
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