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david craig
david craig, Auto Mechanic
Category: VW
Satisfied Customers: 564
Experience:  owner/mechanic at 3D Automotive
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Pearl. I'm looking for information on possible causes of an

Customer Question

Hi, Pearl. I'm looking for information on possible causes of an intermittent problem I'm having with my 2001 VW Beetle Turbo. The car starts perfectly and may run, but many many times will simply die. It's a 5-speed manual, and it doesn't matter if I'm in neutral or in gear with the clutch depressed, and it doesn't matter how much gas I give it (the fuel injection system makes it unnecessary to give it ANY gas when starting normally, but I've tried flooring it to see if that would keep it running, but it doesn't). I've had the MAF sensor changed, thinking that might be it. Absolutely NO codes are flipping on my computer, so that's no help to me.
JA: Has the clutch been slipping? Are you having any trouble shifting?
Customer: The immobilizer? Something in the fuel pump?
JA: Are you fixing your Beetle yourself? What have you tried so far?
Customer: I'm not. I've been using the same garage for 20 years. They're great and have always done a great job on every car I've ever owned (including this one), but they're at a loss. I've had the car down there twice for this issue, but of course the starting issue didn't happen for them.
JA: Anything else you want the mechanic to know before I connect you?
Customer: I think that's it. Thanks.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: VW
Expert:  david craig replied 1 month ago.

Hi Im David, have your mechanics driven the vehicle while monitoring the parameters and taken a snap shot of the parameters as it was starting to have this issue?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I don't know; I can ask them. I know that nothing has come up on the computer (and my light isn't on) when they've run diagnostics in the shop, and that there wasn't a starting issue the first two times I left it there for them to check out. I can ask if they've done any monitoring while driving it (I'm not even sure if they HAVE driven it, since there isn't any problem with the car running once it's on). I asked them to replace the mass air flow sensor, since that can cause problems like this, and because the car had other symptoms related to the MAF. When it runs it now runs smoothly, without loss of power during hard acceleration (that was one of the issues before replacing the MAF), but still has a problem with dying after starting.
Expert:  david craig replied 1 month ago.

they really need to drive the vehicle while monitoring the parameters. otherwise they may never figure it out

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
that's it? Any suggestions for things I should look up, read about, research? Like, specific issues that could be causing the problem?
Expert:  david craig replied 1 month ago.

its intermittent..... its a guessing game... it could be a lot of things. what do you expect me to tell you? have them replace every part in the vehicle? if they were skilled enough mechanics they would have driven the vehicle while monitoring it. i dont play guessing games. until you have a hard fault or a non intermittent problem. there is no way to tell whats wrong unless they do as i suggest.

Expert:  david craig replied 29 days ago.

checking in to see how tis going

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Hi, David. I had a late night (work0 and wasn't able to get to this earlier. I'm still trying (on my own) to research possible causes of this problem. Replacing the mass air flow fixed the rough running, so at least that wasn't a wasted repair. I've read that the immobilizer can make this happen (the problem is exactly as described under immobilizer issues; the VW starts normally and then simply dies - the revs are normal and then within 1 second drop to zero). I've tried to figure out if it could be the fuel injection, but it seems like the starting problem would be different - it doesn't die like a car that's not getting gas; it simply turns off.
Expert:  david craig replied 28 days ago.

does the security light go out when starting the engine?

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Expert:  david craig replied 28 days ago.

ok good

Expert:  david craig replied 28 days ago.

then its not the immobilizer

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Okay. It's just as good to rule things out as to think of ideas, so thank you. Years ago, the timing chain on the car broke - WELL under warranty (50,000 miles short of the warranty, actually). It was all fixed, but ever since the computer pops a compression error code, which we've (the garage folks and me) finally decided is simply an error and not an actual issue. The engine was rebuilt 3 times (once under warranty by a dealership, once at my expense at my garage, and then a third time at a second dealership; my garage felt so bad about not fixing the problem that they paid to have it fixed a third time - I've been a customer there for a LONG time, which is why they did that for me). The computer has continued to show the compression issue from time to time, but the computer will freak out at the slightest variation with/re: to the compression, so it's most likely an issue of the block being machined a portion of a millimeter off from what the computer would like. When tested, the compression is actually fine. So, here's my question: is there any way whatsoever that a computer malfunction could do this? The car still has low mileage, other than the timing chain has been problem free until now, and has been paid off for years, so in a way I'm more invested in putting money into figuring this out than dumping it and getting something else. Plus it's damn fun to drive. Even if I just have a list of a few things that I can discuss with my mechanics, I'll be a bit ahead.
Expert:  david craig replied 28 days ago.

i mean its possible, especially if it intermittently gives a compression code. if it spits out a code every once in a while then other co-systems will react to that code based on the interfacing of the networks within the vehicles brains. so in theory yes it could be the computer.

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
We've talked about replacing the computer - before the research-minded person at my garage suggested that the code is an issue of sensitivity, rather than an actual problem. I get the codes run every time the light comes on, just in case something "real" has come up. It's really weird to have something as significant as this happening and the computer is totally freaking silent. It's weird and really really really incredibly annoying. It's just so.... vague yet makes the vehicle useless. I'm not super happy with it right now. I'm glad to know about the immobilizer/security light. It's one more thing I can put aside.
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
My car has been a bit of a pet project to some of them down there, ever since the chain broke at 50,000 miles. So they put a lot of thought in, but don't really have the time to do research on it the way I do. I've had so many other cars there in 20 years that I know it's not a problem of having crappy mechanics. They're awesome. My car has just (in recent years) become like a gremlin. They love to give me crap about it, but in an affectionate way. :) Old-school garage with old-school mechanics. They're awesome. Next time I'll go armed with video of the starting issue and any ideas I can come up with, and let them do some brainstorming with it.
Expert:  david craig replied 28 days ago.

I suppose it is very frustrating. and believe me, with my experience i have seen some outrageous issues being causes by the smallest things that no one ever thinks of andd every so often there comes along one that no one can fix.

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
I'm reeeeeeeallly hoping it's the former - the smallest thing. I'm not quite prepared to give the car up. No rust. Super fun 5-speed on the floor, turbo, torque that makes you really have to hang on if you stomp on it. Love. That. Stupid. Car.
If you should happen to think of anything that would make a car start normally and then drop the revs to zero and kill on its own, please let me know.
Expert:  david craig replied 28 days ago.

and there are no faults codes?

Expert:  david craig replied 28 days ago.

thats very interesting that there are no stored codes. that leads me to believe more so now that its the computer......

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Yeah, no fault codes. Only the occasional compression code (which we've already addressed and discussed at length down at the garage). That's the weirdest thing. This is a pretty major issue and NOTHING.
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
I'll talk to them about what a new computer would entail. It seems to me the part is something like 1400, and then there's the labor. I'll have to figure out if I'm willing to go that far.
Expert:  david craig replied 28 days ago.

its not no 1400.00 flippin dollars...thats insane.

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
I'm probably remembering wrong. I never got a proper quote. We just discussed it in passing. (It's possible that was an off-the-cuff quote without looking anything up.)
Expert:  david craig replied 28 days ago.

what size is the engine 2.0?

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Oh, eff yeah. They're like $100 on ebay. God knows what I'm thinking of.
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
A new one is like $150. Maybe I'll be totally stupid and sentimental about my car and ask them to replace the computer. I just love that stupid car.
Expert:  david craig replied 28 days ago.

i was gonna say....thats ridiculous 100.00 is more like it

Expert:  david craig replied 28 days ago.

please accept the answer and leave me a 5 star rating and i will keep this open in case we need to go further with this...thanks man.

Customer: replied 28 days ago.
I appreciate the extra conversation. It's a weird problem that doesn't have an easy answer, and I was searching for any possibility I could look into. So thanks for talking more!
Expert:  david craig replied 27 days ago.

any update?

Customer: replied 27 days ago.
Not at the moment. I'm having minor surgery tomorrow and have had to put the car aside for a couple days. But when I'm done with recovery, I'm going to call my mechanic and talk to him about the computer and see what he thinks and what the estimate would be.
Expert:  david craig replied 26 days ago.

ok well keep me in the loop.

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