starter question?

TornadoRed

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Location
Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
TDI
2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
I'm wondering if I'll soon need to replace my starter, or if the problem lies elsewhere.

Sometimes, 20-30% of the time, when I turn the key, there is a hesitation before the starter begins to turn over. It is as if there is a power drain somewhere, and it takes a while before there's enough juice to crank over the engine.

When temperatures are very low, the engine does turn over more slowly, when it is cold. But the starter issue occurs, sometimes, even when the engine is warm.

So far, I haven't been worried about the engine starting, because it always has. But this is not normal, and I suspect that eventually this phenomenon is going to get worse, and someday the engine might not start.

The battery is less than three years old, and I don't think the problem lies with the battery. But the starter -- it's like one side of the starter is good and the other side isn't, and it's just a matter of chance whether it will crank over perfectly as soon as I turn the key, or will hesitate for half a second or so before cranking.

Any ideas? Any troubleshooting suggestions?
 

PeterV

TDIClub Enthusiast, HO5G Doyen & Zen Master
Joined
Aug 17, 2000
Location
So, NH.
TDI
2000 Jetta 5 sp.
These cars take a bunch of amps to crank over. Battery terminals need to be clean. Also you have a LOT of miles on the car at 9 years old. Just think of the many hundreds of thimes you have cranked it over. Easiest thing to do is remove the starter motor and relube the bearings and give it a good cleaning. I have done this to ours twice each and so far OK. elbow grease is cheeeeeper that a new motor.
 

Dodoma

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2004
TDI
2002 Jetta White
If the problem you stated happens when the temperature is warm, then your starter is failing. Starter usually behaves the way you described when failing. Because they are not expensive, have it replaced with a rebuild unit that comes with new bearings and armature. Without starter, you may be able to start by pushing the car over 15-20 mph.
 

TornadoRed

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Location
Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
TDI
2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
To eliminate any possibility that the problem was battery-related, I went back to Walmart where I bought the battery about three years ago. They tested it and gave me a printout, showing 954 CCA and voltage 13.05.

This was after the engine would not turn over fast enough Friday am to start. So I put it on the trickle charger for about 30-45 minutes.

I still do not know if the problem is that the starter is drawing too much juice, or what. I have an appointment Monday morning at a dealership, and will go ahead with a replacement starter unless I can come up with a different solution.
 

Joe_Meehan

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Sep 3, 2005
Location
Ohio USA
TDI
NB TDI, 2002.5, Silver
I have an appointment Monday morning at a dealership

While I tend to use the dealer for some of my work, I actually like my dealer, generally dealers are no better or no worse than an independent. There are good ones and not so good ones. The down side is dealers tend to be more expensive.
 

TornadoRed

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Location
Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
TDI
2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
I have an appointment Monday morning at a dealership

While I tend to use the dealer for some of my work, I actually like my dealer, generally dealers are no better or no worse than an independent. There are good ones and not so good ones. The down side is dealers tend to be more expensive.
I've been trying to find a local independent shop... have been asking around... just haven't really found one yet. I guess I need to look harder.

But I do have someone lined up to do my timing belt in a month or two, someone I consider fairly expert, and who has also agreed to do a few extras like installing a new oil pump and crank seal.
 

HornetHandler

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2010
Location
Canada
TDI
2010 Jetta TDI
I've been trying to find a local independent shop... have been asking around... just haven't really found one yet. I guess I need to look harder.

But I do have someone lined up to do my timing belt in a month or two, someone I consider fairly expert, and who has also agreed to do a few extras like installing a new oil pump and crank seal.

Have you tried cleaning and tightening all of your heavy connections, e.g., battery posts, vehicle grounds, starter and solenoid?


Mack
 

TornadoRed

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Location
Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
TDI
2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
Are you in St. Paul, Minnesota? Isn't Deafbug around? What about GreenGeeker up in Cambridge?

Y.
I am talking about general VW work that doesn't require a TDI expert. Jon Fettig has agreed to do my timing belt when the time comes. Greengeeker and his wife recently had twins, so he doesn't have the time; and I don't know if DeafBug has a heated garage but I don't think so. I don't, I'm lucky to have off-street parking.
 

WAKeele

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Location
Missoula, Montana
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS
For what it's worth, I just changed out my starter and it sounds as if it was doing a lot better than yours. Mine was just sticking sometimes like every TDI I've come across with the milage like mine. I plan on getting another 244,000 miles out of my car, so I just went ahead and changed it since I was doing a bunch of other things. I normally get most of my parts from IDParts, but I was able to get a new one from AutoZone for about $75 after returning the core ($275 Bosch reman with $92 core from IDParts). It's a U.S. made starter and had a warranty that will outlast the car, so I rolled the dice since it's an easy job to replace anyways. The thing starts like a champ! I'm really glad I replaced it.
I wouldn't be surprised if it costs $400 to put one in from the dealership, but I don't know from experience because I try to avoid them as much as possible.
 

TornadoRed

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Location
Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
TDI
2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
My starter does make that horrible squawk at least 30-40% of the time, supposedly caused by clutch dust accumulating somewhere around the starter shaft? But it has been doing that for quite a long time. As for the hesitation before it turns over, I don't know if this means the starter is dying or if there could be a grounding problem somewhere. I think what I will do is discuss this with the service advisor beforehand, saying I am willing to pay to replace the starter if that will guarantee that my engine will start every time, all winter long. But I don't want to pay $350 or $400 or more if the problem isn't the starter -- I can live with the awful noises it makes, so long as it turns the engine over fast enough to start the engine.

They charge over $100 for a diagnostic fee, so I want to make sure I get $100 worth of diagnosis for my money. Can they test the starter without removing it? Or can they at least eliminate the other possibilities?

WAKeele said:
Mine was just sticking sometimes like every TDI I've come across with the milage like mine.
What do you mean by "sticking"?

Also, it's been at least a decade since I had a car with starter solenoid problems, so I don't know whether it could cause the symptoms I'm observing.
 
Last edited:

WAKeele

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Location
Missoula, Montana
TDI
2002 Jetta GLS
Yeah, that's what I generally mean by sticking. Some folks on here have said even after cleaning them up, they can start back to their old ways in six months--particularly those on higher milage cars.
I'm not an expert like some are on here. From my experience with the two Jetta's I've owned and with other mechanical platforms, in this situation it appears that this could be a 336,000 mile starter gradually losing its life. I'd ask if it was doing this before the weather dropped below 50F? How are the glow plugs? The delay makes me think the starter is dying as long as the battery is strong and all the connections are tight and clean. Does it do it after a bumpy ride before the next start more often than a smooth one?
For me, with that kind of mileage a new starter is in the cards regardless. Even if it's a broken foot on the same leg with a blown knee situation, a new or rebuilt one will certainly give you enough feedback as to whether there is something larger at hand. I'm not a person of great means, but I do prefer to go with new parts if they have a lot of miles on them and aren't too expensive since I don't work on my car as a hobby, but as a means of keeping it going longer without incident.
 

Curious Chris

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 11, 2001
Location
Pineview GA
TDI
Jetta Wagon 2003 RIP Rockford IL
Once the starter starts making noise IMHO just buy this starter:http://www.idparts.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=1478 assuming your car is a 5 speed manual.

I have a John's Auto rebuilt in my garage that I would sell cheap but it works pretty well but is not quiet. I already sold the starter that a shop in Saint Paul rebuilt for about the same price as the one from IDparts. I put in the Bosch rebuilt in the link above and it has been quiet as can be.

Replacing a starter is pretty easy: take out the battery and air cleaner; disconnect the cable from the battery, take out the two big bolts that hold the starter in place; reverse to install.

I discovered this weekend that a Golf fits in my garage with good room in the front and on one side. Or you could have room to walk by on both sides but not much more. If we keep this warm spell going in MN we could do it in my garage (Hopkins) as I have all the tools and have swapped out starters more times then I want to think about.
 

TornadoRed

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Location
Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
TDI
2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
I didn't know replacing a starter was that easy. Maybe I was thinking there were other parts in the way, like the alternator.

PM answered.
 

TornadoRed

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Location
Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
TDI
2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
A belated update...

I canceled the appointment at the dealership, instead went ahead and ordered a rebuilt starter from IDParts.com. Chris put it in for me -- I refuse to say that he "helped" put it in, because he did 90-95% of the work.

The starter was the cause of the problem. With the new starter, the engine turns over immediately and starts right away. And the squawking noise is gone. I believe I go through starters more frequently than most TDI owners because I use my Golf as a courier vehicle, so the starter is called upon 20 or more times daily.
 

DSL HED

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 14, 1999
Location
S. Portland, Maine
TDI
2012 Jetta wagon DSG
Congratulations on fixing your starter problem and avoiding the dealer. I just received a brand new Valeo unit from germanautoparts.com today. At 204xxx miles my starter has started to grind every time I start it and cold starts are difficult if the car sits outside for a while even with a fresh VW battery and good glow plugs. So hopefully the new starter cures that problem. Going to try to get it installed over the weekend.
 
Top