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VWDoc, Independent VW Shop owner
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1999 volkswagen beetle: jump..the dash lights up, the horn blows

Resolved Question:

i have a 1999 volkswagon beetle 2.0 engine, i have been driving the car every day, got up this morning to go to work, tried to start car, but engine would not turn over, checked to see if i left lights on but appeared to have not, tried giving a jump with my other vehicle. when i turn on the igniction the dash lights up, the horn blows, but engine wont turn over. when i turn off the igniction the dash lights go out and the horn doesnt blow. is there a fuse or something that can blow and keep the engine from turning over? remember we r talking about a vehicle that i drive everyday, engine light is not on, and i am just baffled as to why it wont start. Please help me
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: VW
Expert:  VWDoc replied 6 years ago.

Hello, I'm Jason.
I will do my best to answer your question quickly and accurately using the information you have provided.


Ok, before we go into a long process of diagnostics here, we definitely have to start with the basics. First: are you absolutely sure that the battery is good. Meaning a full 12.5v or better, and 500cca or better available?


I also need to know if your car is an automatic or stick.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
i am not sure about the battery, i know that when the car sits still for about 2 or 3 days then i always have to jump start the battery. but once i do that and drive every day then there is no problem with starting the car. i bought the car from my sister and i had to jump it off then because it had been sitting for about a week. the car is an automatic. but when i jump start a car,shouldn't it start.
Expert:  VWDoc replied 6 years ago.

Then we definitely need to make sure about the battery. Also, it sounds like you have a key-off battery draw, since these cars typically won't drain a battery down to a non-start condition unless about 3 weeks have passed. You ask about jump starting. If the battery in the car that is being jump started is too low, then jump starting won't necessarily work. Jumper cables can only carry a "certain" amount of amperage.


But again, it all starts with a good, hot battery. Most parts stores will do a battery test for no charge. If the battery tests well, and you're considering doing your own work, then you will need to have some basic hand tools and a multimeter available.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
what is a key-off battery draw? and what if my battery test out to be ok? should the horn blow without the igniction switch being on?
Expert:  VWDoc replied 6 years ago.

Key-off battery draw: when you shut the car off, and lock it, there are a few electrical consumers that stay energized. Some for only a minute or two, and some longer. Typically, only the alarm system stays on for an extended period of time. If anything else does, this will draw down on your battery. If you have a multimeter with a mA reading, then it's something you can do yourself with the following procedure:


Open your bonnet (engine hood), and then manually re-latch the latch using a screwdriver or similar (we're re-latching so that the alarm computer will think all latches are closed). Open driver's door, and also re-latch. Disconnect negative lead from the battery. Set your multimeter to the A or mA setting, and place your meter leads between the battery cable and battery post. You should then see how much current is drawing on the battery with everything off. Write down, or take a note of the amount of current (ex: 550mA). Then open your fuse panel cover on the left (driver's) end of the dashboard. Start with fuse 1, remove the fuse and look at the meter. If there is no change, reinstall, and move onto fuse 2. Repeat this process until you see a significant amp drop on the meter. You will then know the circuit that is drawing down the battery. Look at the fuse legend, find out what is on that circuit, reinstall the fuse, and then unplug any electrical consumers on that circuit until you find out what specific component is drawing on the battery by unplugging them one by one until the amp reading on your meter drops below 50mA


Regarding the horn question, this circuit is only live when the key is in the on position.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
so lets just say that i go and buy a new battery, at the time of it being installed then the vehicle should start or at least the motor should turn over, would u say that was correct? i do think that the battry has something to do with it, as i might have stated, i jumbed the car at my sisters, drove it home, about 10 miles, turned off engine and battery still didnt have enough power to start car. then i jumbed it again and it started, i drove for about a week everyday and had no problems starting the car, then i came home from work one very cold night, got up the following morning to go start the car and would not start. i started my other vehicle and left jumper cables connected for about an hour. tried to start the car but it still would not start. when i turned the swicth to the on position, all dash lights come on, signals work, horn blows, i can even hear the fuel pump come on. but car still doesnt turn over. i checked all doors . locked the car and set the alarm. i have not tried to start he vehicle again. would purshasing a new battery turn the engine over?
Expert:  VWDoc replied 6 years ago.
Without actually being able to use a test light to see if the starter is receiving a start signal from the ignition switch, I can only give an answer based on items already tested. From what you're describing, yes, I would put a 90% chance on a new battery starting the car. At the same time, even if the new battery does take care of the starting problem, I still recommend having the draw test performed as I outlined previously.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
i have done everything that was stated in my responses
Expert:  VWDoc replied 6 years ago.
I'm not quite sure what further information you're looking for, and I'd be happy to clarify more, if necessary. I'm outlining steps to you that I would personally take if such a problem was brought into my shop. If there is anything that is unclear, I would be happy to elaborate, but this will also mean that testing will have to be done on your end using the methods I describe. If these methods are not possible, than the only thing we can do is start with the basics, and the very first step is to be absolutely positive that the heart of your electrical system, ie: the battery is in perfect working order.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
i had the delco battery that is in the beetle checked out and it is a perfectly good battery, i replaced it and the vehicle still doesnt turn over. could the starter have gone bad that quickly from one day to the next with out any notice. i must admit i had been noticing a sorta rough sound, or not as smooth of a sound as other cars when i had been starting the vehicle. maybe that was a sign of the starter going bad ,, i dont know.
Expert:  VWDoc replied 6 years ago.

Ok, then our next step is as I outlined in a previous post:


Without actually being able to use a test light to see if the starter is receiving a start signal from the ignition switch, I can only give an answer based on items already tested. From what you're describing, yes, I would put a 90% chance on a new battery starting the car.


So, now we are to the point where you need to use a multimeter or test light to determine if there is a start signal getting to the small wire on the starter. If there is a 12v signal to the starter, and both electrical connections to the starter are clean and free of corrosion, then replace the starter. If there is not 12v getting to the starter when the key is turned, we will have to do further testing, which I can outline after the signal test is performed.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
what is the easiest way to get to the starter and what tools do i need?
Expert:  VWDoc replied 6 years ago.

The starter is towards the front of the engine bay, just behind the radiator. It's bolted directly to the transmission bellhousing. Follow the main positive battery cable downward, and you will find it.


I highlighted the main power terminal in red and the starter signal terminal in blue



Customer: replied 6 years ago.
sorry but i am a professional chef and some of my questions might sound.....well stupid, but i do need the answers to be able to do the job. i appreciate your help and you will be compensated,,, but what tools do i need and can i reach the starter from above the engine or does it have to be on a lift or jack?
Expert:  VWDoc replied 6 years ago.

The starter, and any testing that I speak of can all be done with the car on the ground. The starter is located about halfway down the front side of the transmission bellhousing, in the area I indicated here in red





You will need very few tools. Possibly a 10mm socket to get the steering reservoir (green cap) out of the way. You will also need either a test light or multimeter to probe the small wire connection that I spoke of previously. At the same time, you will need another person inside the car to turn the key to the start position while you see if the test light illuminates, or multimeter shows battery voltage, when the key is turned.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
so, finally, i do not have to remove the battery box and the housing to get to the starter, and i do not have to take out the radiator, i dont have to dissconnect the wires from the starter to text to see if i have voltage, what should my tester read or will it just light up or something. and what size socket do i need to remove the starter from the engine, and how many bolts are there that attachs the starter to engine. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME AND EFFORT.
Expert:  VWDoc replied 6 years ago.

Let's just start with testing before going through the removal and installation process.


This needs to be done with the battery in place, so that you can test for voltage. If you're using a test light, you connect the alligator clip to a good ground, even the negative post of the battery. Then, if you're not comfortable back-probing the starter signal terminal to the starter, just unclip the signal wire from the starter, put the tip of the test light into the harness end, and have your assistant turn the key to the crank position. Tell me if it lights up.


Then we will proceed to the next step, which may or may not be to remove the starter.

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