2001 VW Beetle Diesel - Hard Starts

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2001 Beetle TDI - 80k miles

Question for you all.  My Beetle is hard to start once the temperature
get down below say 50F.  By hard, I have to keep the starter engaged
quite a bit long, probably like 10 seconds.  I have a history of
diesel ownership and this is the first one where I don't notice the
glow light on the dash staying on longer when the temperature drops
(which I find odd).

Anyway, my initial thoughts turn to the glow plugs not getting hot
enough.  My other thoughts are maybe the starter isn't turning the
engine fast enough to build up compression.

I've tried cycle the start switch three or four times, in an attempt
to heat the glow plugs up more, and then engage the starter, but that
doesn't seem to make much difference.  I don't know if the glow plug
dash light is a true indicator of glow heat.  The glow light in the
Meredes I used to own would stay on for 15 seconds or better when it
was cold.

I don't want to burn up the starter and don't know what the duty cycle
of that would be.

The engine has, and always has been serviced with synthetic oil.  I
thought that stuff wasn't supposed to thicken up like regular oil when
it's cold.

I guess as a testiment to the battery, it is the original battery.
The battery has given me no problems, but does drag a little when it's
cold.  It might be time for a new battery.

My guess are either glow plugs, battery or this new low-sulphur diesel

Finally, I have NO troubles with any of this when the termperature is
above 50 F or so.

Anyway, any suggestions would be appreciated.


Re: 2001 VW Beetle Diesel - Hard Starts
    Your battery is past due for replacement.  I just replaced my on my 2002
NB Diesel just to avoid problems.  I suggest you do the same.

    Note: above 40F the glow plugs don't even come on.  The light comes on
now just to tell you that the light is working.  When it gets really cold
(like sub zero) you may notice it staying on a little longer,  but modern
glow plugs heat up very quickly so they don't stay on as long as the older
ones did.

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Joseph Meehan

 Dia 's Muire duit


Re: 2001 VW Beetle Diesel - Hard Starts
The tdi has glow plugs? Can't say that I recall seeing that light but
I live in warm Atlanta. Actually I guess I have used them a few times
but pretty rare. I did put a new battery in my 2003 as it was starting
to spin slow at 40 F.

On Mon, 26 Nov 2007 15:09:57 -0500, "Joseph Meehan"

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Re: 2001 VW Beetle Diesel - Hard Starts
The Handbook of my  1997 T4 TDi states that the Glow-plugs will be in Action
when the Temp is -5degress C.  The Glow-plugs will not glow if the ambient
is above that.  It works once a few Years back at a early Morning when here
in Hong Kong was exceptionally cold.

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Re: 2001 VW Beetle Diesel - Hard Starts
I was being silly. I did open the manual for my 2003. It states "When
the engine is cold the warning light comes on when the ignition switch
is turned to the drive position (ignition on). When the lamp goes out
, start the engine.When the engine is warm the light does not come
on." No mention of temperature. Probably like the idiot temp guage
that shows 190 for a range of actual engine temps.

I do not see that much cold weather that I seem to always just hit the
starter and go. Sometimes the car putters a bit while running on a few
cylinders but the rest catch up soon enough. Bad me!

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Re: 2001 VW Beetle Diesel - Hard Starts
On Nov 27, 8:10 am, Jim Behning
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Hey Jim, You're fine.  The more I think about it, the more I think it's
probably the compression and a weak battery.  I'm going to plug into
the car with my computer and see if that tells me anything.  I
replaced all the glow plugs three or four years ago because one went
bad and I remember the computer telling me which one was bad (pretty
cool stuff for us non- gear head types).

I see a battery in my future.  We'll see.


Re: 2001 VW Beetle Diesel - Hard Starts
Some facts
1- glows plugs don't activate until under 50*F
2- must crank 300+ RPM when cold- see below
3- 6 yr old battery got to be weak. replace it
4- fuel filter replace yearly or 20,000 miles
5- EGR valve gummed up- remove and clean.
6-intake may also be gummed up
7-compression not usually a issue other than from #4

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Re: 2001 VW Beetle Diesel - Hard Starts
I'm pretty sure they activate when you pull the door handle too. At least
the dealer told me that. They start warming while you are getting in the
car. Which is why they don't seem to take as long as older non door handle
glow plugs.
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Re: 2001 VW Beetle Diesel - Hard Starts
Myth regarding door handle activating glow plugs. Test it by parking
your car in your garage with the windows down. Turn key in ignition
without opening door to time glowplug light.


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Re: 2001 VW Beetle Diesel - Hard Starts

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In addition, some models have glow plugs in the coolant, to make the engine
warm up faster, and to provide some heat to the passenger compartment
sooner.  These glow plugs operate for a period of time after the engine
starts (without the glow plug indicator lamp).
Some may be under the impression that the glow plugs begin operating when
the driver's door is opened. This is an "urban myth".  The glow plugs do not
operate until the key is turned "on".

Re: 2001 VW Beetle Diesel - Hard Starts
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It sounds like your Glow Plug relay is not working since you are not having
problems above 50 deg F. If your starting is turning over your engine for
10 seconds, your battery must still have some juice for it's age.
Jeeps and dubs and everything's nice...