2001 VW Beetle Diesel - Hard Starts

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 fuel.
Finally, I have NO troubles with any of this when the termperature is above 50 F or so.
Anyway, any suggestions would be appreciated.
Greg











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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

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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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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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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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On Nov 27, 8:10 am, Jim Behning

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.
Greg






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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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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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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.
wrote:




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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".


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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.
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