My mothers TDI 2000 is a hard starter, Installed a new Batt., Alternater, it sounds like the batt. is low, but its all new stuff! Any idea's?

Asked by Dec 25, 2006 at 02:40 PM about the 2000 Volkswagen Golf

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

2 Answers


Hi jhelsius ... I think we already talked about a block heater for your TDI. Hopefully that will help. That's aside here's some tips and thoughts on cold starting from's FAQ section ... ( "Cold Starts - This is one of the big questions that non-TDI drivers have: How well will it start in cold weather? The answer is that they behave quite well. Volkswagen was confident enough in the cold-starting ability of this engine that there is no engine block heater designed to suit the TDI engine. For those living in truly cold places - we're talking Edmonton or Winnipeg cold, those in balmy Boston have nothing to worry about - there are ways of making the block heater designed for the previous 1.9 turbodiesel fit this engine, it's not easy but it can be done. Diesel engines operate on a principle of compression ignition, rather than a spark ignition as in a gasoline fueled engine. The air within the Diesel engine's cylinder is compressed much more tightly than a gasoline engine, usually 2 to 2 1/2 times more tightly. This high compression heats the squeezed air to a temperature that causes the Diesel fuel to burn as soon as it is injected. Cold temperatures suppress the tendency for self-ignition of the Diesel fuel. "Glow plugs" are used to create a hot spot within the cylinder to help force ignition. The glow plugs are small electric heaters which are turned on before the starter is operated. The amount of time required for these heaters to obtain a sufficient temperature to ensure ignition depends on the engine's temperature. When the coolant temperature is above 9 C, the glow plugs may not come on prior to starting. On cold winter nights, they may take several seconds to heat up (7 to 10 seconds is typical). Many measures have been taken to ensure reliable starts in cold weather, but there are some factors beyond the control of the car. More than one person accustomed to gasoline engines has merrily hopped into the car during cold weather, stuck the key in the ignition and turned it all the way to the "Start" position (which prevents the glow plugs from operating!!!) and then wondered why the car acts up. The proper procedure is to switch the key to the "On" position and wait for the yellow glow plug lamp to go out before cranking the engine. The amount of time you have to wait ranges from none whatsoever (if the coolant temperature is above 9 degrees C), to about 10 seconds (if the car has been sitting outside in -10 C for some time). If this is done, the engine normally starts with perhaps a second of cranking, even at -10 C. Owners have reported starting their engines at temperatures below -30 C, which is about -20 F. Better make sure the battery is healthy, at those temperatures - but that's no different from any other car. The other factor beyond the control of the car, is the quality of the fuel. In Canada, diesel fuel must be provided to stations "winterized" to expected outdoor temperatures as low as -45 C in some areas. The most common source of problems is when one purchases fuel at an out-of-the-way station, which may go months between refills of their underground tank. Prudent and experienced diesel drivers go to stations that have lots of traffic during cold weather, to avoid getting a tank full of summer diesel in the dead of winter. The problem with summer diesel is that it "gels" or "crystallizes" below a certain temperature. The TDI engine is capable of operating at temperatures below what could normally be expected for a given fuel, because the fuel filter is heated by fuel being returned from the injection system. If fuel gels up in the filter, the engine will generally start, but won't have power to do much other than idle for a few minutes until the fuel filter warms up ... but at least you'll get going. It will only handle so much, though, and the car will not run in -20 C with summer diesel fuel. Under very cold start-up conditons (and this means in the -30 C range), you may need to wait for several minutes with the engine idling before driving off to allow the fuel to be warmed. Otherwise, power will be impaired or the engine may stall as the injector pump will be starved for fuel. Because of the long range of a TDi, when you are driving from a warm to a cold climate it may be prudent to fill up with winterized fuel in the destination area before the system cools down. If you are in the unfortunate situation of a completely gelled fuel system and the car will not start, the only cure is place the car in a warm garage for a few hours. For extra insurance, diesel fuel anti-gel additives are available at truck stops and many auto parts stores. There are some additives which can be added "after the fact" to a fuel tank which is already gelled, and during extremely cold spells it is highly recommended to carry a container of anti-gel additive in the car. Using a portion of gasoline or kerosene in cold weather, as a substitute for an anti-gel additive, is not recommended, because these fuels do not have the proper lubricating characteristics and cetane number. It is normal to have somewhat reduced power and slightly higher fuel consumption when using winterized diesel fuel."


If you changed the battery and alternator and it's still hard to start, you should then check your glow plug. Diesel engine use glow plugs which are little electrical resistance to heat up the combustion chamber when it's cold outside. However, these glow plugs loose their efficiency over time so they need to be changed. Also, make sure that you don't try to rev-up the starter right after you insert the key in the switch. You need to insert the key, then you will see a small "horizontal coil" like shaped light appear on the dash and you should wait until this light turn off to start the engine.

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