Hard starting


Asked by Jan 18, 2011 at 02:43 PM about the 2000 Volkswagen Beetle GLS 2.0

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Hello! My girlfriend has a 2000 beetle diesel  and we are having a very hard time starting it. Heres what I've done so far. I read engine codes. It came back as a glow plug relay (I guess it comes back as that alot even though it never seems to fix it) I changed it anyway. Same problem. I tested glow plugs found 2nd one on left (facing engine) tested open. Replaced it. Same problem. Checked harness. Checked out ok. Voltage at all 4 plugs.  When we try to start car in 10 to 30 degree weather glow plug stays on 12 to 15 seconds. So I cycle it twice .(Have tried cycling it 3 to 5 times with same result.) Now it tries to start kind of rough then the starter drops out after 15 seconds. Almost like battery is weak ,but that tested fine. It does this 3 or 4 times then may start and smoke alot , heavy black smoke. Or it may not start. Now what I found works is holding the peddle down half way and it starts on the first crank  runs rough for a few seconds then is fine after that it drives fine idles fine accelerates normal. Leave it sit a few hours starts right up without touching peddle. Leave it sit for 5 plus hours same hard starting problem. Please help

12 Answers

Ozzie Carothers

Look at your owners manual for proper starting in the cold. On my old Ford diesel it said right on the driver side visor that in weather under 30 degrees I should hold the pedal to the floor when trying to start. I'm not sure what its like in the VW but from how you described it I would look up proper starting procedure.


Thanks Ozzie I will look into it but we havent had this problem for the last 4 years.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Ozzie Carothers

well if it has been working that way for that long, that probly isn't the answer. Have you checked or changed the fuel filter, and treated the fuel. If it doesn't get enough fuel pressure it would be hard to start, and the problem would go away when you hold down the pedal.


Hey Ozzie I was thinking that for a few days now. When a vehicle is running does it put out a higher fuel pressure so a partial restriction wouldnt affect performance (ha thats a funny word (performance) to use when talking about a vw) only starting. I wish I still had my 04 Ford superduty diesel then we could talk performance.Of course I would be crying at the pump with that beast.

Ozzie Carothers

well the majority of my issue right now is trying to figure out how you're diesel works if it is an electronically controlled diesel, or if it uses a mechanical injector pump to fuel itself. If it uses a mechanical pump (like mine did) then it just adds fuel based on how far the gas pedal is pushed and the pressure from the injector pump is what opens the injectors, so the only thing that would really effect that is bad fuel, no fuel, or gelled fuel. If it is electronically controlled common rail diesel it runs like a fuel injected car and uses a set fuel pressure at the rail, and opens the injectors based on what the computer tells it to do. Let me do some checking on the internet and see what I can dig up to help you.


Thanks Ozzie I've be researching everything I can and I just cant get a solid answer. I will go get a fuel filter and change that tomorrow and see if that helps, tomorrows suppose to be 9 degrees that will be a real test.

Ozzie Carothers

can you check for some things on your car, then I might be more help. Does it have an individual fuel line for each injector that leads to a round pump? or does it have a single fuel rail at the top of the engine? make sure when you put the new fuel filter in you prime it with some good treated diesel fuel.


I will check for you tomorrow when I change fuel filter. I think its a single fuel rail but not positive.


I just went on ehow to see if it would tell me I looked up how to change fuel injector and it talked about removal of fuel rail .

Ozzie Carothers

well I wish I could help more but I've got 0 experience with commonrail diesels, just a general knowledge of how they work. Try a new fuel filter and see if that helps, you may also want to make sure the air filter is good and clean. If its easy to get to you may want to remove a glow plugs and cycle them to see if they actually heat up like they should.. on my diesel they would glow red within 10 seconds. If the glow plugs work, and its got air and fuel it should start right. Maybe it has a bit of a dirty injector it'll have problems.


Hey Ozzie, sorry it took so long to reply, I pulled all the glow plugs out and flipped harness and energized held threads of glow plug to ground they all heated up. Must have overheated 2 because tested open after testing. So I replaced them. In the mean time changed fuel filter filled it with a mixture of fresh diesel, seafoam and diesel 911. Put it all back together still wouldnt start right. Got aggrevated left it for the night. Next morning determined to fix it got in turned the key it started immediately (and it was really cold out -2 degrees) Smoked like crazy black and white smoke took it down the road smoke finally cleared. Started fine the next 5 days. Interesting thing on glow plugs tested good from top to engine, when taken out 2 tested open end to end after making them all glow. Strange how tested ok 1 way and not the other. Have a new problem now starter drops out before car starts. Don't know if its a relay or starter going did it 3 times so far. It just spins freely. like its disengaging but turning internally just not turning flywheel. Worked fine about 20 times inbetween the 3 failures.Any thoughts? And thanks for your input on the other problem.

Ozzie Carothers

Sometimes it is better to bench test something rather than rely on a voltage or resistance check like you did, it uncovers other problems sometimes, I fixed a chevy pickup that the guy bought a new starter for and after pulling the old one out and bench testing it we realized it was an engine ground not a starter problem. As for your starter problem it sounds like either a bad bendix or it is shimmed incorrectly, but considering how you havn't changed it, that rules out the shim part. I would assume from all the attempts to start it without good glow plugs it really took its toll on the starter, you're never supposed to crank them very long, and you should let them cool down if you do have to crank them a lot. I'm going to say you need a new starter or a starter rebuild. I had a truck with a bad bendix that I drove for months, but sometimes it took 15 key turns for it to finally engage the flywheel.

Your Answer

Add photo

Related Questions


Looking for a Used Beetle in your area?

CarGurus has 8,731 nationwide Beetle listings starting at $995.


Search Volkswagen Beetle Questions

Volkswagen Beetle Experts

#1 tenspeed
Reputation 1,430
#2 Chris Billings
Chris Billings
Reputation 1,370
#3 Tom Demyan
Tom Demyan
Reputation 1,050
View All

Related Models For Sale

Used Volkswagen Jetta"
562 Great Deals out of 33,264 listings starting at $999
Used Jeep Wrangler"
354 Great Deals out of 14,796 listings starting at $2,795
Used Honda Civic"
1,038 Great Deals out of 54,820 listings starting at $995
Used Ford Mustang"
749 Great Deals out of 39,986 listings starting at $1,450
Used Volkswagen Golf"
40 Great Deals out of 2,794 listings starting at $1,999
Used Volkswagen Passat"
235 Great Deals out of 20,784 listings starting at $500
Used Honda Accord"
1,246 Great Deals out of 74,616 listings starting at $995
Used Toyota Corolla"
1,276 Great Deals out of 64,577 listings starting at $995
Used Volkswagen GTI"
108 Great Deals out of 5,920 listings starting at $2,199
Used Toyota Camry"
1,511 Great Deals out of 94,217 listings starting at $895
Used Ford Focus"
977 Great Deals out of 58,296 listings starting at $995
Used Nissan Altima"
1,424 Great Deals out of 81,452 listings starting at $695

Used Cars For Sale

2016 Volkswagen Beetle For Sale
3 Great Deals out of 2,174 listings starting at $10,554
2015 Volkswagen Beetle For Sale
22 Great Deals out of 643 listings starting at $10,500
2014 Volkswagen Beetle For Sale
18 Great Deals out of 506 listings starting at $9,595
2013 Volkswagen Beetle For Sale
49 Great Deals out of 1,139 listings starting at $8,994
2012 Volkswagen Beetle For Sale
28 Great Deals out of 561 listings starting at $6,997