Help! '03 Passat cold start problem


cwright
12-16-2004, 09:10 PM
Hi,

I bought a 2003 Passat (1.8T base model) a year and a half ago. I love the car, but it has this nasty habit of not starting in cold weather. Last January ('04), when it got down to 0 degrees F here in Boston area, the car would not start. This happened 2-3 times, with no resolution with the dealer (could not duplicate problem). One guy thought it might be the ignition switch, so that was replaced this past summer.

Now it is cold again, and the problem recurred today. Full details: outside temperature 16 degrees, full tank. I turn the key in ignition to accessory and wait for the seat belt alarm to stop binging. I then turn the key to start, and I hear a relay click under the dash somewhere, but NOTHING else (fan and radio are off). No starter solenoid, no cranking of any kind, NADA.

Mind you, everything else seems to work. Dash lights, radio, fan, headlights... just no connection with the starter, it seems.

Last year, I got a ride to work and the car started fine when I got home in the evening. Knowing this, today I called a tow and kept trying the ignition every 20 minutes or so. I hold the key in the start position for up to a minute with no results.

Anyway, the tow finally came today at 9:45, and we decided to try to start it before towing it. The car started JUST FINE (just like last year). I drove it to the dealer to leave with them overnight and got a rental car (I wish they had loaners). I'm hoping it will be cold enough again tonight that they will see the problem in the morning.

Still, I am worried. What if it isn't cold enough? I'm not keen on paying for a rental car during weather too warm for the problem to happen! What could be causing this problem? Any ideas?

Thanks for any clues,

Charles Wright

Mr Vegas
12-16-2004, 11:00 PM
It sounds like it may be internally "iced" in the starter solenoid,but usually you would still hear the solenoid click-this was a problem with 95 neons.
It maybe a fault with the immobiliser temporarily "locking" the engine,my advice would be to take it to a VW agent and get them to check for faults in the ECU,as the fault sounds like an electrical problem-good luck!

boschmann
12-17-2004, 03:14 PM
It sounds like excessive resistance in the starter circuit. Since the ignition switch was replaced, that rules it out. You might want to get a voltmeter & see if you're getting at least 12 Volts to the starter solenoid wire from the ignition switch when it won't crank. If so then I'd replace the starter. If not, then you'll have to track the cause of resistance. It could be a bad connection, relay problem, anti theft system fault, etc.... Is it automatic or manual transmission.

veedubmechanic
12-18-2004, 12:51 AM
Electrical portion of the Ignition switch- Too much resistance from frosting=no start. Lots of problems w/ jettas and golfs... -5 out and then push it into shop... warms up.. then it starts

cwright
12-21-2004, 08:50 AM
Hi,

Thanks for your ideas. I had left it at the dealership all weekend and Monday, in hopes it would get cold enough to fail again. Nothing doing. So I picked up the car Monday night, and what do you know, it's 5 degrees this fine Tuesday morning, and the car won't start. Got it towed to the dealer, and their mechanic tried to start it, and it did, with some hesitation. He says, "yeah, it's the electrical portion of the ignition switch..." Hmmm, what portion did they replace this past summer? He just fixed one like this yesterday, and he's hoping it'll start this morning, and so it's probably the same thing in my car.

Anyway, I'll post the actual part description when I get it. If it fails again, you'll hear me on Click and Clack ;-)

Charles Wright

cwright
12-21-2004, 08:52 AM
Electrical portion of the Ignition switch- Too much resistance from frosting=no start. Lots of problems w/ jettas and golfs... -5 out and then push it into shop... warms up.. then it starts

What do they mean by the "electrical portion"? A switch is electrical, no? Anyway, that's exactly what the mechanic called it - must be the part name? Just curious...

boschmann
12-21-2004, 05:07 PM
The key and lock cylinder is the mechanical part of the ignition switch. They are sold seperately and have different functions.

carblind
02-21-2006, 04:40 PM
So, what is the outcome of the problem? Did you get it fixed?
We have a 2003 Passat with exactly the same problem. The
dealers couldn't reproduce the problem and did not want to do
anything. We are lost at what to do next.

vwpassat03
03-29-2006, 12:46 PM
I'm experiencing the same problem that you had. Can you please tell me what the solution is to fix this problem? How do I get the dealership to fix it without them duplicating the problem?

Thanks






Hi,

Thanks for your ideas. I had left it at the dealership all weekend and Monday, in hopes it would get cold enough to fail again. Nothing doing. So I picked up the car Monday night, and what do you know, it's 5 degrees this fine Tuesday morning, and the car won't start. Got it towed to the dealer, and their mechanic tried to start it, and it did, with some hesitation. He says, "yeah, it's the electrical portion of the ignition switch..." Hmmm, what portion did they replace this past summer? He just fixed one like this yesterday, and he's hoping it'll start this morning, and so it's probably the same thing in my car.

Anyway, I'll post the actual part description when I get it. If it fails again, you'll hear me on Click and Clack ;-)

Charles Wright[/quote]

carblind
03-30-2006, 11:53 AM
Five time to the dealership, twice reproduced and something got changed.
But problem still exists. We are pursuing Lemon Law right now.

Will12
03-31-2006, 12:53 PM
Just some thoughts... It happens when it's cold only, but electronics love cold because of lower resistance. Also, when you you turn the ignition on, is the gas pump comes on too, and does it happens in manual or auto transmission?

waborat
02-15-2007, 09:44 PM
Someone, PLEASE HELP!!! I've been dealing with this exact same issue for 3 years! I have a 2003 Passat GLX, Automatic. When it's cold out, usually 20 or below, I know I'm not making it to work on time. Usually, it takes several attempts before the car will start. Othertimes, I'm SOL until it warms up. I have found on occasion that when I put the car in nuetral, it will crank right up (doesn't always work). I've taken the car in twice but they have never found a problem. I love my passat, but I dread the winter months because of this issue. If anyone else has had this same problem and discovered the problem and/or solution, please reply!!!!

veedubmechanic
02-18-2007, 10:09 PM
Wow old thread...

There is an electrical portion and mechanical portion of the ignition swtich. VW used dissimmilar metals and when it gets cold out the metals may not touch inside the electrical portion of the switch and thus not allowing electrical power to the starter. If you can turn the key to start but nothing happens than its most likely the electrical portion of the ignition switch a 40.00 part.

There is also a recall out for 2003 passats for a faulty fuel pump. Have your local dealer check for recalls.

waborat
02-20-2007, 12:23 PM
Awesome! Thanks for the response. Makes perfect since. I assuming this is something that can't be tested, it just has to be replaced. It will be worth a shot as VW has checked it twice before and didn't have a clue as to what was wrong. I'm going to take your advice and replace the electrical portion. Hopefully this will take care of the problem. I'll post again with results. Thanks!

ncelik
12-02-2007, 09:25 AM
2003 Passat GL Wagon, automatic, same problem for the last 2 winters.

Yesterday night it was 19F out there and it would not start. I'd replace the electrical portion of the switch, but what makes me suspicious that the dashboard comes on. And just as described in the start of the thread, it does make a slight "click" sound in the dashboard, but then no cranking, no attempt to turn the engine whatsoever.

veedubmechanic --- are you sure about the ignition part? Notice, the fact that the dashboard will come on!

Car really used a lot, transported boats and canoes and bikes on it and we love it, but wife says trade it in now or fix it. I'd rather fix it. Any advice from somebody who had this problem and solved it would be GREATLY appreciated.

functional
01-28-2008, 06:38 PM
I ran into this same problem last week during a cold snap in Seattle. Just one more niggling issue with my first and last Volkswagen.

Anyway, the workaround for me was to just hold the key in the "Start" position until the starter finally turned over. Sometimes it took upwards of 30 seconds for the ignition to make the connection, but it's worked every time so far.

Note that, just like folks mentioned above, all the dash lights, car lights, etc appear to work fine. Turning the key to "Start" -- nothing. Nothing except an infrequent "click". Eventually the "click" makes a connection and you're good to go.

Hope this helps.

Disher
02-11-2008, 11:24 AM
YES! Gotta love "That Internet" as my wife calls it.

Same exact problem described above with our 99 Passat. We live just outside St Louis and we have had MAJOR temp swings lately. Was in the high 40's yesterday and today was in the single digits.

Went out to start the car for Wifey this morning and...

"click, click, click..." No dice. :banghead:

All lights work, jumping did nothing.

Did exactly as described above. Held key on for almost 1 min and then...!

Nothing.

But the very next try and our silver bullet fired right up!

YES! NO VW DEALER MONEY PIT!

Something tells me that high humidity combined with massive temp swings plays a part in the problem. Oh Well.

Problem fixed!

drrich
01-14-2013, 05:36 PM
So here it is 2013, and I have the same problem. I'm in minnesota bought the 2003 passat last year. was great until the temp dropped and it wouldn't start exact same thing, battery looked good. when i turn the key it makes the same click. Ill try the "holding it in start for 30-60 sec" hope it works. Any other thoughts?

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