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gomi_otaku, VW Technician
Category: VW
Satisfied Customers: 3459
Experience:  VW FastTrack '00-'01, VW Academy Chicago and Seattle '00-present, VW Certified
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Cranks, but doesnt turn on. New battery, new fuel lines, new

Customer Question

Cranks, but doesnt turn on. New battery, new fuel lines, new fuel filter, starter tested, alternator tested, fuse box wire brushed and dielectic greesed. Seems like every third time she wont turn on. If i hit the dash, jam the oil stick, and rock the whole van for 45+ minutes I can sometimes get her going. 1985 Westy 1.9 Standard- Dolly (no kitchen, no backup battery, no ac)Thank you for your sweet guidance!!!
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Customer: Not sure if this after hours where you are at.***@******.***
JA: When did you last fill the tank? And do you smell gasoline around the engine?
Customer: Gas tank is half full, no smell of gas at all not under, at engine, or inside. Had the tank cleaned, new sending unit, lines, filter done about 2 monthes ago
JA: What is the model/year of your VW?
Customer: 1985 vanagon 1.9 standard.
JA: Are you hoping to fix this yourself? What have you tried so far?
Customer: I have taken her to mechanics, and it seems to be getting worse. So today I wire brushed the fuse box and added dielectic greese to the connections, made sure the connections were secure to the ignition box/relays. Air filter was new 8 monthes ago. New battery 1 month ago. Oil chang last november. If its dropping a engine, I will take it someplace, but hope to get it going
JA: Anything else you think the mechanic should know?
Customer: The tackometer jumps all over, but i can hit the dash to kinda make it work from time to time. Had to take out the flourescent light over the table because it would randomly turn on. The buzzer when i turn the keys only comes on every once in a while. Again, seems like its every 3rd drive/start up, she wont catch. Again, alternator has already been tested, as well as the starter.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: VW
Expert:  gomi_otaku replied 1 year ago.

So it starts sometimes, but sometimes it will not? Have you checked the wiring at your ignition switch? Your lack of a key buzzer seems to me to be an indication that maybe one of the circuits in your switch is failing. The circuit for the starter goes straight through to the starter, but the other circuits must also be powered up to activate the ECM and other systems.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She starts twice in a row, and then the third time won't..... But her idle acts like she is going to cut off when I get her on. So the ignition switch in the steering column, correct? And we are going to test the fuel pump / main relays as well. Would low oil pressure contribute to any of this? That light starts to act up on me while trying to get her on, and during winter when I run heat. Im having a more mechanically inclined buddy come over after work, we will test any direction you give.
I inherited may van last year. Im the 3rd owner. My grandparents bought her used in 88 I believe. Before i got her, she had been undriven for a decade, sitting in the desert bad lands of Arizona. She has no rust, because of being in AZ all her life. No wires look chewed/ all checked...but a mouse nest was found in the air filter. So that brings concern. My dad says my grandparents went through a couple batteries a year in her and couldn't find the problem-which leads me to think she is grounding out somewhere too. I now live in Montana, and shes my daily commuter.
Thank you for your direction and pointers, will test this afternoon! All ideas much appreciated! Thank you!!
Expert:  gomi_otaku replied 1 year ago.

no, the oil light will always come on if you are cranking and it doesn't start, due to the engine being at a certain RPM but the pressure not being where it needs to be (because it is not running) It won't keep it from starting.

This is a diesel, non-turbo correct?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, gas
Expert:  gomi_otaku replied 1 year ago.

OK, that makes it a little easier for you to do some testing when it fails. I would start out by seeing if you are even getting a spark from the coil when cranking, and also pull the fuel line end off and put it into a glass jar, make sure you are getting fuel flow from the pump.

As for the battery- it could be something as simple as them not driving it enough, so the battery would sit half-dead and go bad. If you experience that it goes dead just overnight, then you have a draw and can trace it down. Or can check your charging system to make sure it is charging at an OK level