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First time posting here. Looks like lots of great resources all around, so I am going to give you all a try.

My daughter is out of state at college and I feel somewhat helpless to her. Normally I do any of the regular maintenance and even some major things at times, but being 1500 miles away....well, anyway. I am trying to do all I can to make sure nobody takes advantage of her and she gets her car fixed. I did speak to a local shop that the owner seems like a great guy and he agreed with my preliminary diagnosis. I wanted to see what you all think. Here's the situation......

2000 New Beetle has a VERY random instance of not-starting. It cranks, but won't fire. A jump start will always get it back running. Sometimes it happens inside of a week, but sometimes it will go for weeks without an issue.

I have read a ton here on NewBeetle.org and other places on the internet. This seems a likely crankshaft speed sensor problem.....with other possible issues being a fuel pump relay or even the fuel pump......and even could be the key chip. My understanding, though, is that without the CHECK ENGINE light being on, no codes will be revealed which makes troubleshooting that much more difficult.

Not sure how much of a difference it makes (I am suspicious), but the tachometer with the motor in the OFF position doesn't go to zero.....it shows just below 1000 rpm. Also, when it IS running at idle, it never drops below that same rpm (<1000).

A few questions for you all...........

1. Should I just direct the local mechanic to put a new crank sensor in?
2. Is it true that the CHECK ENGINE light must be on to determine the code(s) that might show faults?
3. Does the fact that the tachometer display doesn't go to ZERO seem to be a secondary indicator of a bad crank speed sensor?
4. I see speed sensors online for $25 to $45 bucks and most people seem to indicate it takes a half hour of labor or so to do the replacement. I would guess it would cost less than $150 to do this by a reputable shop that isn't gouging, right?!?!?!?

Thoughts?
 

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Well, these pesky no start issues; can be a challenge to diagnose (tons of threads on the problem). The key, is finding the source of the problem; this is a case, where a VW specific scan tool can really shine. In particular; the immobilizer problems, probably will not be accessible with a generic scan tool and certainly not, doing testing with the speedo cluster (measuring blocks/output tests) or programming things, such as keys, speedo clusters, etc.

On the "CEL" not coming on and that there not being codes thrown; this is not true, there can be many trouble codes in memory and the CEL may not be on. Trouble codes; will remain in memory and accumulate over time, until they are cleared. Now, a CEL can illuminate; then, turn off but the trouble codes associated with it, will remain in memory (in the ecu).

Thoughts on your questions:

1. Should I just direct the local mechanic to put a new crank sensor in? (I would try to diagnose the problem; rather than throwing parts at the issue)
2. Is it true that the CHECK ENGINE light must be on to determine the code(s) that might show faults? (read above)
3. Does the fact that the tachometer display doesn't go to ZERO seem to be a secondary indicator of a bad crank speed sensor? (if it is displaying wrong with the car "off"; then, no I think you may have a mechanical or electrical problem with the speedo cluster. The stepper motors; are known t fail and this requires a replacement stepper motor or send out the speedo cluster for a rebuild. Speedo cluster repair service; through BBA REMAN is about $250, look on ebay.)
4. I see speed sensors online for $25 to $45 bucks and most people seem to indicate it takes a half hour of labor or so to do the replacement. I would guess it would cost less than $150 to do this by a reputable shop that isn't gouging, right?!?!?!? (labor rates; are typically estimated by "the book" and most shops charge what they estimated time is and then, however much they charge per labor rate hour. The labor rate; varies, depending on the level of the shop, vw dealers being the highest and rates going down from there. If you decide to replace the speedo sensor; get a OEM BOSCH part, DO NOT buy a cheap, aftermarket speed sensor.).

You can search here; for the correct BOSCH parts for your car:

https://www.boschautoparts.com/auto

Thoughts?

Much depends on balancing financial cost of the repairs and the life issues; of having your daughter stranded somewhere and being without transportation.

If money; is less of a issue, have the car looked at by a independent shop, that specializes in Volkswagens and have them diagnose the car, repair it (be done with it). If money's an issue; you have to decide, how much you want to be involved in the repair process and how to proceed with the troubleshooting, repair process.

Let us know; what you want to do and how little or much, you want to work on things yourself or involve yourself in the troubleshooting process.
 

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"A jump start will always get it running."

This tells me something.

A few things, most students away at college do not drive their cars on a regular basis, so I assume it must sit at times up to a few weeks? Then if it is driven, it is like for short trips around the college town to run errands. I may be wrong, but this is the typical college student profile.

I might recommend a replacement battery just because. But she can also maybe get a local AutoZone, Advance, PepBoys, etc to test it for free.

If the car sits, she should have a solar charger, something like this - http://www.amazon.com/Sunforce-5810...r=8-1&keywords=solar+battery+charger+with+obd

I like this charger because some cars the cigarette lighter is not powered when the car is off and/or it can be in bad shape and the OBDII port can be used to maintain the battery.

A micro jump start battery is very useful thing to have on hand in the car or dorm as well. These have USB ports and can also charge phones.

Not sure what you mean about the tach not going to Zero?? Typically most cars the tach will register a steady 100-150 RPM when cranking which usually means the crank sensor is in fact good.

The question of trouble codes and no SES/CEL/MIL light has not been clearly explained, I can go on for months about this.

In short other there are 3 different types of Trouble codes and only 2 of the 3 will light the SES/CEL/MIL light on the dashboard. Additionally there are 2 different states of OBDII codes, PENDING and ACTIVE.

Generic OBDII codes that are the same codes across all manufacturers and they mean the same thing, or should mean the same thing regardless of manufacturer. These codes are usually in the P0XXX format. These codes WILL light the SES/CEL/MIL as long as they are not PENDING.

Manufacturer Specific Codes, these follow the OBDII standard PID format and they often mean different things for different manufacturers for the same code These are a bit trickier to understand, you will usually need to research these codes in more depth to make sure you understand what the code means for your model vehicle. These codes are usually in the P1XXX format. These codes WILL light the SES/CEL/MIL as long as they are not PENDING.

The 2 states of codes are as follows, PENDING and ACTIVE.

PENDING codes WILL NOT trigger the SES/CEL/MIL. A PENDING state means only a single instance of the code has appeared. If the code reappears in a fixed time frame, typically between 20-40 run cycles, the SES/CEL/MIL will light, Freeze Frame info will be stored and you can read the code.

IF a 2nd instance of the PENDING code DOES NOT appear in the in a fixed time frame, typically between 20-40 run cycles, the SES/CEL/MIL WILL NOT light, Freeze Frame info WILL NOT be stored and you CANNOT and WILL NOT have any history or clue there was ever a PENDING code.

If a 2nd instance of the PENDING code DOES appear in the in a fixed time frame, typically between 20-40 run cycles, the SES/CEL/MIL WILL light AND Freeze Frame info WILL be stored.

The 3rd type of codes are Manufacturer Specialized or Proprietary codes. These codes DO NOT trigger the SES/CEL/MIL light on the dashboard. In some instances they MAY trigger another specific indicator on the dash, but they USUALLY DO NOT alert the operator. This is because these codes typically cannot be read by a GENERIC OBDII tool, they usually require a more advance Pro level scan tool and/or a manufacturer specific software or hardware tool to read and display the errors. These errors or codes usually do not clear themselves and often will record the mileage when a fault has occurred and may also have an event counter to let you know that the specific error may have occurred more than once.

Manufacturer Specialized or Proprietary codes usually do not cause significant driveability problems, usually go more in depth than OBDII codes and can often just add more to the big picture as to what is going on. But sometimes they can be helpful in they can provide information about problems in the immobilizer circuits or other things that may add more clues to what is really going on.

What everyone needs to understand is thousands of vehicles are repaired every day using only Generic OBDII tools. If you are able to get your hands on Manufacturer Specialized or Proprietary software or hardware, you would probably find a typical 10 year old car would have dozens of faults that you were unaware of, however, they rarely cause problems with the daily operation and driveability of the vehicle.

So do not get your hopes up there is a silver bullet hidden away in the ECU history, I doubt there will be.

If this was my daughters car, I would have her download OBDFusion to her smart phone, purchase the proper interface on Amazon and have it shipped to her. For less than $30 she will be able to monitor any OBDII codes that are PENDING or will light the SES/CEL/MIL. The battery Voltage can be displayed and if you work with her, she can set the tool up to Log OBDII data that can be sent to you for review. This is really a life skill any and all drivers need to learn, do not think this is a worthless activity for her to pursue.

You want OBDFusion, for the iProducts it is $9.99, for Android is is $3.99.

For iProducts you NEED a Wifi adapter, for Android you can use the Bluetooth adapter.

iProducts adapter - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WPW6BAE/...BWNPO9BZ&psc=1

Android adapter - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WPW6BAE/...BWNPO9BZ&psc=1

So for the basic OBFusion, you are at $30 or less for iProducts and under $20 for Android.

Sure you could buy a VAG401 for around $52, Amazon.com: Xtool® Vag401 Live Data OBD II OBD2 Car Diagnostic Tool For Vw Audi Seat and Skoda Vehicles - Black: Automotive

This is a good tool, however, it would be in addition to OBDFusion which she could have on her phone and keep the interface in the car. VCDS is a great tool, but now we are talking about laptops, software installation, USB cables and so forth. Not something I would put my kid through.

My point is there is SO MUCH misleading information out on the web and in the automotive industry, I am tying to get the word out in plain and simple explanation that people can understand. You would be surprised how many professional level mechanics and techs do not even understand the basic info I just outlined above.

If the car starts EVERY TIME it is jump started the battery is weak because the car sits, it may need to be replaced, phone chargers need to be unplugged and having a MicroStart device on hand allows your daughter to be independent and not have to rely on anyone as long as she knows how to proper connect the device. Also a SOLAR charger is a MUST for ANY college student that lives on or close to campus because the do not drive their cars often enough.
 

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X2 on the solar charger. Cars sitting for a long time need some sort of a trickle charger, and solar would be the way to go as long as it's not parked in a parking garage.

If the battery is older than 4 or 5 years, I'd just replace it. If it's a "newer" battery, I'd still have it tested. All of that sitting for long periods of time and all of the short trips aren't very good for a battery.
 
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