i turn the key and the car cranks but wont start. i drove it this morning for about a mile, just fine, and then when i was about to go on a green light, the car shut off. i couldnt get it to start again.

65

Asked by Jul 09, 2013 at 09:52 AM about the 1988 Volkswagen Cabriolet Base

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

31 Answers

Ok has it started since then, or still won't start?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

let's hope that it isn't a broken timing belt~

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
65

I tried starting it again, and nothing.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Did it sound "weird" kind of "low energy"? I suspect a broken timing belt~ have it looked at by a pro who will either put one in, or he'll say that it was an interference type engine and is finished, now~

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

they are actually VERY cheap with tensioner wheel too~ it IS an interference motor, but since you were stopped when you tried to start it originally (rather than laden with inertia) you may still be okay!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
65

It has been very weak lately. When I was able to drive it, it felt like it lacked power. I could put the gas almost full throttle and it would still take awhile to speed up. I also have difficulty with the idle when turning it on, sometimes. It'll idle erratically at 10 and below, revving will usually just shut the car off. Not sure if this is all the same problem.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

I believe you Judge, but I ran across this: "These engines, 1.8liter, the same one used in the Rabbit, in stock form, are known as non-interference engines. This means that the timing belt can break while the engine is running and not cause serious damage to the valves and pistons, provided that the engine is not running at a very high rpm when the belt breaks. From: http://www.cabby-info.com/engine.html .. but I don't know if the guy knows what he is talking about or not. Just a post on the forum

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Ok I blew up your screen shot, that is a more reliable source of information. It is interference after all

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Best Answer
65

I'm having my mechanic look at it while I'm at work, he believes it is the distributor

the distributor will stop turning...that's how I discovered my Toyota timing chain break...you will notice that it "SOUNDS EASY" when starting...that's because the starter is only turning the crankshaft...

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

it is a possibility that it isn't the timing belt at all....but experience has taught me...

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
65

Looks like distributor is actually fine, have to go to an electrician. :/

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

not if it ain't turnin' because the timing chain is broken...an electrician will not help there....only a grease monkey~

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
34,995

You can take the top of your distributor off and see if it's turning yourself. If it's not, then your timing belt is the culprit. If it is turning, I would then suspect a bad fuel pump. But first I would check for spark. If your spark is good, I would move towards a bad fuel pump.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

1998 VW Beetle; I am having the same problem!! I thought it was the battery I bought a new one and still doesn't turn on!! I took it to a mechanic and they did a test to see what might be the problem but it's not reading anything!!

20

have you guys found out the problem, we are having the same problem

34,995

Deano, what exactly are the symptoms you are experiencing?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
20

Car was driving fine....no problems at all ran fine, went to local store, came out and car would crank over but would not turn on....?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
20

I have no idea where to start,,,, i bought this car in october, it has run great since.... previous owner replaced many parts with quality vw parts, but i am lost need some ideas... Process of elimination... Please help me start....

34,995

If all was well, and suddenly it just failed to start, I would suspect that your fuel pump has failed. For a quick test, have someone turn the key to accessory and either open the gas cap and listen for a humming noise, or put a screw driver tip to the bottom of your fuel tank and place your ear on the hard plastic end. You should hear the pump hum if it's working. I would start there. If no hum, change out the fuel pump relay. If that doesn't do anything, your fuel pump has most likely failed. If all is well with the fuel pump, check for spark. Not sure what year car you have, but you may have a bad coil. Start with the fuel, them move to the spark. Post back with your findings.............

20

1989 Cabriolet fuel injected.... Thanks I will try those things in the A.M. Ill let you know, asap.... Thanks again....

34,995

Deano, please post the make and year of your vehicle. If it's an early 90's Cabriolet, there are two fuel pumps. One in the tank, and one on the frame just forward of the rear right tire.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
20

yes its an 1989,,, Is there just one or two???

34,995

I believe there are two. If you remove the back seat, there should be an access panel on the passenger side. That will be your in tank pump. Just take a quick look under the car just forward of the right rear tire on the frame. You should see a skinny tin can colored cylinder. That would be fuel pump #2. It will probably be easier to remove the back seat and listen for the hum that way. Another issue with the older Cabriolets is rust will build up and plug the screen on the inner tank fuel pump. I just recently had to replace both pumps in my kids car. She had a '92 Cabriolet.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
20

Thanks so Much... I will start there.....Ill let you know how it goes....

20

Thanks for your Help.... It was the Fuel replay,, NAPA auto parts $22.00 Easy fix, started right up

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
34,995

Cool! I love the cheap fix!

My cabriolet has been having problems starting up. It was cranking and just taking a lot of time to fire. I was thinking it was because of the cold weather at first but then even on a warmer day it would have the problem. As of recently it hasn't been starting at all. I replaced the fuel pump relay and the fuel tank in the pump is buzzing but still nothing. I popped the clutch going down a hill and it started up just fine. Is it a problem with the starter?

34,995

Heyitsalec, If it's cranking over forever and not firing up, it sounds like you may have a fuel/spark issue. If you mean that it's not cranking over, it's most likely the starter/or weak battery. Which scenario are you experiencing?

Thanks, reelin68. I was thinking it might have been a fuel problem, but I could smell fuel after turning the engine over a few times. Also, would it have started up by popping the clutch if it was fuel or a spark problem? I'm going to pick up some new spark plugs and see if that helps.

34,995

If it started by popping the clutch, it would be more of a starter/weak battery issue. May also be a bad clutch switch.

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