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2003 NB starter problems

2495 Views 10 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  canardblanc
In the past 4 or 5 months, my 2003 NB has failed to start, and, a starter was installed, which fixed the problem. This has happened twice, and yesterday it failed to start again, and it appears that once again the starter is the culprit. Same symptoms.

Is there something that needs reset when a starter is installed?

Any ideas of why a starter will only last about 2 months, and then stop working? The issue is getting very expensive.

Thanks for your help.
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Maybe its not the starter. Could be the ignition switch. Did you have the starter tested to verify that's what was wrong previously? Wiring good?
I would ask what are your symptoms?

What happens when you turn the key and try to start the car?
Nothing at all, no noises or sounds, some noises, clicks, etc?

From who are you buying your starters from?
New or rebuilt?

Like Smileybug said, take them back and have it tested to ensure its bad.
If its bad what is going out on the starter? is it electrical or mechanical problem with the starter.
If it is truly the starter that is going out then you are either getting very poor starters or you probably have a wiring problem, or some other problem that is the actual root of the problem.

Hope this helps,

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Thank you for the replies.

When the key is turned, I hear a "clank" noise, and that is it.

Did not think to mention that I am not fixing the car. Auto repair is not "my thing". Dobbs has replaced the starter twice, but the issue is still there. They have a very good track record when fixing this VW, though. This is the first time something has reoccurred.

Will ask them about the ignition switch and the wiring.

If you can think of anything else that is pertinent, please post.

Thanks again.
Have them check the voltage drop on each of the starter cables: 1) from the positive battery terminal to the starter and 2) from the negative battery terminal to the ground connection on the transmission.

It sounds like the starter may not be getting enough current to run. There is probably a bad connection or cable coming apart somewhere. The negative cable has an intermediate connection under the battery tray to ground the chassis where the conductor is exposed. It could be corroding there.
Thanks again for the help!

Will be towing the VW to Dobbs tomorrow (Monday) and will mention your suggestions.

Once a new starter is installed, it works fine for 6 to 8 weeks, and then the car no longer starts.

Does that mean something other than what has already been mentioned?

Took car to Dobbs on Monday, they tested a thing or two, nothing was detected, no repair work was done on it, but the car started. It has started every time for the past two days.

Have gotten the car towed 3 times now, and the insurance company is not going to be happy.

Have no clue as to what to do now. This is very frustrating, and working with cars in not 'my thing'.

Is this business of not starting for days, and then starting without problems, give a clue as to whatever is wrong?

Any suggestions?

Thanks for the help!!
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So when it starts, the starter works completely normally? The engine cranks quickly without any unusual noises?

And every time it won't start you hear the "clank" and then nothing else happens?

Does the car have a manual or automatic transmission?
Yes to all of your questions, and thanks for your continued support. It helps to have someone knowledgeable provide some insight.

The transmission is automatic.
Well let me first start by saying that troubleshooting via forums is not the easiest thing to do, sometimes what we could see and hear in person makes a big difference compared to what is explained to us, sometimes even the difference in words can make a difference.

So with all of that said my first thoughts of what you have told us is some kind of electrical problem, most likely a lose / bad connection. This could explain why some days it starts fine and others it does not. I am basing this off the statement that you said that when it does not start you hear a "Clank" I am assuming that the "Clank" is coming from the engine compartment?
The noise or "Clank" as you call it could be the starter solenoid pulling in but the starter is not turning the car over. It takes a lot more amperage (electricity) to turn the starter over than to just pull in the solenoid. A bad / weak connection could cause this.

Next question, have you noticed any kind of routine of when the car does not want to start?
For example does it not want to start after sitting for sometime period like overnight or at work / school? or does it seem to be completely random? for example you drive to the store run in come back out and once again it does not start?

The second possibility is a mechanical problem of some kind. The starter is pulling in and trying to start the car but is binding / locking up someplace.

It would help to know exactly what they tested, a thing or two tells us nothing.
Did they test the battery? Did they look at all of the electrical connections on the battery, starter and grounds to the engine? Did they check / pull any codes from the car? this will probably not tell you what the problem with the starter is but might help, for example if one the codes was "low voltage" on a controller, etc.

Also fill out your profile, you never know how close you could be to another ORG member who could be willing to help out even if its just listing to how your beetle sounds when starting and not starting.

Hope this helps.

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On your questions:

1. ...the "Clank" is coming from the engine compartment - Yes

2. ...have you noticed any kind of routine of when the car does not want to start? - It does seem to be completely random. Sometimes it takes 5 or 6 weeks before the starting problem happens again. The car runs fine otherwise.

3. ...Did they test the battery? - Yes. Have not gotten any info as to what other tests were done.

Thanks for the help.
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