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2003 Jetta TDI electrical problem

05-10-2007, 09:48 PM
Strange electrical problem just started with 2003 Jetta TDI. Car pooled to work with another person. End of day tried to unlock car with remote, nothing. Unlocked with key, but no lights or power. Battery seems dead. Tried to jump start, but would not. Replaced batter with new one, cranked right over. Drove it home (5 miles), during which the engine check light came on. Shut it off and then tried to restart about 20 minutes later, again no power/lights, nothing. Disconnected battery and tested. Reading a 12v charge, but weak. Charged with 2amp trickle charge to 2 hours and retried. Cranked right over, but engine light still on. Shut it off, retried to start about 10 minutes later and again, no power. Disconnected battery and posted on this forum.

Seems like a dead short some place is draining the battery. Anyone experienced this before or have any answers before have it towed to dealer?? With fuel prices at an all time high, I want my desiel Jetta back on the road in a hurry!!

05-10-2007, 10:00 PM
any lights on in the car? Sure the battery cables are tightened down good.?

Common check engine light issues are glow plugs and harness but that wouldnt cause a battery drain.

05-11-2007, 07:24 AM
No lights at all inside or out. Even the clock is blank acting like the battery is completely disconnected. All battery clamps are tight, no corrosion or damage to cables. Engine compartment is spotless.

The engine light first came on after this problem started and changed out the battery to get it running.

Is there a breaker that would disconnect the entire electrical system if it senses a short? It seems to get reset when I disconnect the battery and then hook it back up. Because it will start after that. Then the problem reoccures. I do notice the the battery terminal does still spark when I take the ground off and on. So it seems to be sending current to something.

Thanks for your responses.

05-13-2007, 10:34 PM
pull the battery out, remove the 4 10mm bolts that hold the tray down and pull the tray out and check the ground connection on the frame under the battery tray. Take it off and clean it and reconnect. Also check the fuses on the pannel above the battery. Also check the ground cable on the tranmission bolt, the top bolt that bolts the transmission to the engine. ALso check fuse "14" and "23" or just all the fuses in the fuse pannel on the side of the dash.
I have seen some battery pos. cables actually come out of the crimp at the battery terminal connection. The wires pull out like the crimp came loose and cause a no start, check that cable also.

05-17-2007, 08:55 PM
Update to suggestions on the connections and fuses:

I pulled the battery box, removed, cleaned and reinstalled the ground underneath of the box. Checked all cables for any defects in connectors or crimps. All were solid and attached correctly.

All fuses in the connection box on top of the battery were good.

The positive cable that runs from the fuse block on top of the battery down to the side and into what looks like the starter had some electrical tape on it in a few places. Seemed odd to me, but look like it might have been a factor job. Does VW wrap the cables that are in places that might be easily torn or cut by wear?

Checked all of the fuses in the side panel of the dash. All were ok.

Charged battery with charger to 11.79 volts, checked with digital meter. No sign of any battery drop. Reconnected to battery cables and tested. *NOTE* you could watch the battery start to drain at a rate of 0.01v about every 5-10 seconds.

All interior lights were working and remotes worked.

Started the engine okay. Tested across the battery with the engine running. 12.56v and steady. The check Engine light (MIL, Malfunction Indicator Lamp) is on solid on the dash. Ran the engine at idle for 5 minutes. Turned off the engine. Tested across the battery, 11.96v and draining when engine off and no other lights/power on (other than clock & Odometer on dash). Still draining at same rate, 0.01v per 5-10 seconds.

Disconnected battery cable from negitive on battery and put it back on the charger.

I'm at a loss at this point. Alternator is working, battery is good, fuses and cables all look good. Still some type of constant drain that is sucking the battery dry.

Any other thoughts before it goes to the VW dealer 70 miles away??

Thanks for your earlier posts, still open for suggestions.


06-13-2007, 08:34 PM
Follow up to this electrical problem. I finally broke down and took the TDI to the local dealer. Turned out to be the control module for the glow plug harness and a connector. With labor and parts $550. Ouch!

But, it's back on the road saving me money everytime I fill up at the pump. Based on the milage I was getting with my previous vehicle at 14 mpg verses the 43 mpg in the Jetta, I'm saving :2cents: $195 a MONTH. That a 3 month pay back. I can live with that! :lol:

10-23-2008, 08:50 PM
I have also experienced my 2003 Jetta not turning over - just nothing. I had it towed to the VW dealer and they tested everything - said nothing wrong and charged me to fully charge the battery and do the evaluation. $108 dollars just to say nothing wrong. The engine light came on yesterday, just 2 weeks after the 'nothing wrong' evaluation by the dealer.

This car has had a lot of problems that I have never experienced with any other car (other manufacturerers)I have owned. Glow plugs at 30,000km, a starter motor at 70,000km.....the list goes on and on.

Thank you for posting all the electrical problems. I will take these messages to the dealer and let them read what might be wrong.

I keep my cars many years, but this is the worst car I have owned. My last VW!!

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