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1998 vw beetle- stalls out


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BluVDub
Novice

Jun 30, 2013, 12:57 AM

Post #1 of 11 (1105 views)
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1998 vw beetle- stalls out Sign In

1998
vw
new beetle
2.0L
156k mi

The car idles rough, stalls out, and won't immediately restart. When trying to restart it sounds like it's trying to turn over but just wont catch. Intermittent problem.

Bought the car one month ago.
It has an after market radio.
I noticed on the way home from buying that the lights on the display and the radio would pulse brighter (without discernible pattern).
I stopped for gas on the way home and the car wouldn't immediately restart. I tried a number of times. After about 30 min it started right up and got me home.

I called the guy that i bought the car from; he acted very surprised.
They had just replaced the battery.

After about a week of owning the car without further incident I took the car into a vw guy to get the belts changed and a tune up done. He did the belts and a tensioner and said ( I believe after inspecting spark plugs) that a tune up had just been done.
He cleared out a generic hvac code and the check engine light went off.

I noticed on the ride home that it initially idled a touch rougher than I'd remembered. (a/c doesn't work and is never turned on)

After a few miles it seemed to smooth out.
The next 3 or 4 days it was a dream.

Then I took the car out for some errands. After about 10 min and 3 mi, I noticed the car idling rough at the stop light. It stalled out and wouldn't restart. After about 15 minutes, a nice young man helped me push the car off the road. i tired the car again and it started right up. I made another stop before continuing home without further incident.

I went to and from work another couple days. On the second day, a guy told me my brake lights were out on both lights, but no the fin. These had both been working when I bought the car.
The front headlight had been out too. I took the car over to a big box store and replaced the bulbs (which are all different fuses, I think). While I was there, I asked the guy to use the computer to scan for codes. A generic one for hvac came up. The guy there said he's been driving for years with a similar code and that on the low end it'd cost 100s of dollars to find and ultimately just save me a few mi/gal.

The next morning the car fired right up and I took it to work (about 15 mi away). it started right up to get me to lunch. On the way back from lunch I was stopped at a red light. I looked up to go and it had stalled itself out. There was no jerking or unusual noise.
The car wouldn't restart right away. I tried for about 15 min before calling aaa.

The tow guy said he had some experience with cars and poked around for a minute. He firmly thought it was an alternator issue.

I had car towed to mechanic who tested gas pressure, batt, and alternator voltage. We noticed that the pos cable is about 1/3 severed and that the clamp on pos terminal was a little loose.

He tightened clamp and car immediately started. He sent me on my way.

About 5 min later the car stalled out on an entrance ramp to a busy expressway. (I may have failed to downshift.) The car wouldn't restart. i played with the batt cable- to no avail. AAA call #2 got me home.

She's been parked here ever since.
I've read about people with after market radios having the same pulsing light issue until they beef up batt cables. Or I can go the dealer route for more cables. Either way I'm looking at $90 - $150 for the cables alone.

I'm too po' to be guessing.
While I know I need to get that pos cable changed out, I'm wondering if collectively these experiences suggest a different issue for avoiding the stranded thang again in the near future.

Suggestions I've seen on 2 similar posts:
* idle control volume relearning on high tech scan tool (from the batt being changed. dealer only thang?)
*cam shaft sensor
*vac leaks
*throttle body cleaned

I've been out of town a week and a half. I thought I should try her to see. It didn't start the first time. The second time it started normal and after 3 min idling got very rough. I tried giving her gas again. It didn't make any difference. I let her idle another 2 min; yhe idling got more and more "wild." I turned her off before she stalled out.

I'd like to get as far as possible before towing her to a mechanic cause I want to try to have the right amount of $ to fix.

Is there a simple bigger picture that explains all of this?Could it be as easy as a batt cable or a simple push of buttons on a "high tech scan tool?"

Thanks for any help! :)


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jun 30, 2013, 5:10 AM

Post #2 of 11 (1078 views)
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Re: 1998 vw beetle- stalls out [In reply to] Sign In

After all that have you tested out the alternator? You probably need to monitor operating voltages as it could be intermittent from no charge to too high blowing bulbs. They make a silly digital voltmeter that just plugs in a power port to see actual output not just gauges of the car.

Doesn't seem like the aftermarket radio job was done well so far either,

T
_________________________________________
Long retired now


BluVDub
Novice

Jun 30, 2013, 10:12 AM

Post #3 of 11 (1059 views)
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The mechanic checked the voltage across the alternator. He used a generic multimeter tool on the wires coming out of it and said the numbers were good.

That should be accurate enough not to buy the dongle thingy for the cigarette lighter, right?
(I know I'm gonna have to spend $ somewhere, I just want to get the most bang for my bucks.)

So the pulsing light is a different issue, you think? I thought you just got a wiring harness and things click in? Is there a trick to it?

Thanks again!


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jun 30, 2013, 10:39 AM

Post #4 of 11 (1049 views)
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I just think your problems are intermittent so when checked it may have been fine. For a stupid $10 bucks you can watch your own voltages as you drive and when the problems happen.

Up top you said Quote">>The car idles rough, stalls out, and won't immediately restart. When trying to restart it sounds like it's trying to turn over but just wont catch. Intermittent problem.<<"

If alternator can't hold the charge of the battery you might not notice and doesn't take long to lose power and it not run well if so up to stalling out. Sometimes a battery run down will recover some and the car will start and if intermittent may charge again.

I just think with the oddball problems it's a cheap way to know if that is happening without going nuts running a voltmeter into car and taping on you dashboard or some creation.

It's a dinky thing you just push in a power port which work better than cig lighter if you have both.
Actually you should be getting a warning light on dash if not charging or battery running low but I'm not convinced your wiring isn't all hacked up with the stereo job and who knows about this pulsating light?

Stuff like that shouldn't be associated but dunno who did what already with wiring or if there's some low voltage problem going on and you are not being warned?

T
_________________________________________
Long retired now


BluVDub
Novice

Jun 30, 2013, 10:53 AM

Post #5 of 11 (1042 views)
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Re: 1998 vw beetle- stalls out [In reply to] Sign In

I don't remember seeing the batt light come up while driving, but when it won't start lights/radio/etc work. Maybe it's just not enough juice.

This may be why they just had to replace the battery.

I'd say for $10 it's well worth looking at.

So, I'm looking for the indicator on the dongle to bounce around, which will indicate a faulty alternator? (What does it do when everything is normal? Or will it explain that on the package :)


Discretesignals
Veteran / Moderator
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Jun 30, 2013, 10:56 AM

Post #6 of 11 (1041 views)
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Re: 1998 vw beetle- stalls out [In reply to] Sign In

Sounds like you got a nightmare car. You really need to leave the vehicle with a technician, so they can duplicate the concern and do some testing. You might want to look at shops that specialize in VW/AUDI. Stay out of the chain stores when it comes to drive-ability or intermittent problems on those. They are not equipped to handle such issues.





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BluVDub
Novice

Jul 5, 2013, 10:53 PM

Post #7 of 11 (991 views)
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Alright! So my dongle finally came! (No one around here stocks them! )

Battery tested at 14.2
Started car/alternator:
First 10 min: 14.2-14.0
Second 10 min: 14.2-13.8, one random 13.2 noticed
Then it stalled out.
Batt reading 12 and wouldn't start.

I noticed a couple "shudders" while it was running. I saw the light pulse twice on the radio display.

So, it's the alternator, right?


BluVDub
Novice

Jul 5, 2013, 11:24 PM

Post #8 of 11 (988 views)
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Re: 1998 vw beetle- stalls out [In reply to] Sign In

If it's the alternator, which size replacement do I want?
Obviously one that will fit. ;) do I want a larger amp one? Could this after market radio be drawing more current and creating some problem? (It's animated and looks cheaply made. No brand visible.)

Is it better to get the alternator rebuilt or a big box parts one? Rebuilding is less convenient, but worth it if quality difference is large enough.
I've read AutoZone isn't the first choice. Lol

Thanks again for any and all help :)


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jul 6, 2013, 6:10 AM

Post #9 of 11 (966 views)
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Quote
So, it's the alternator, right?


No, that doesn't sound like a bad alternator. It was charging right up to the point it stalled. Something else made it stall and not restart.




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BluVDub
Novice

Jul 6, 2013, 8:31 AM

Post #10 of 11 (958 views)
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Ok

What should I try next?


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Jul 6, 2013, 10:35 AM

Post #11 of 11 (953 views)
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A qualified repair shop.




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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.





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