2003 VW TDI starting problem “Closing the door to start the car”


#1

I own a 2003 VW TDI with a manual transmission. Over the past several months, I have been experiencing a problem starting the car. This problem happens sporadically and is becoming more frequent.
When I hit the ignition, the dashboard lights up, the radio and blower fan come on, but the car acts like the clutch isn’t pushed in and won’t start. I thought the clutch switch had gone bad so I had it replaced. The next day it happened again.
I jumped in the car to go somewhere and the same scenario happened again. In frustration, I opened the driver door and tried to start the car again, nothing. I turned the ignition off and on several more times and again, nothing. During one of the attempts, while engaging the ignition, I closed the driver’s door and the car started up.
The sensor in the driver’s door latch had gone out about a year ago. I asked the mechanic if that could be the problem. He checked the error codes and of course found some for the driver’s door. So, I had the latch replaced. Later that afternoon, the car wouldn’t start again. I opened the car door, engaged the ignition while closing the door and the car started up.
I have been doing the door trick for several weeks. Several times in the past few days the door trick hasn’t worked and I have been left to push start the car. I have also noticed on several attempts that starter acts like the is a short somewhere in its power connection.
I have consulted several VW service managers and they have no idea what is wrong without getting the car in the shop and charging me a diagnosis fee.
So, help me solve the mystery of the “Closing the door to start the car”. Any serious advice would be appreciated.


#2

I suspect that the driver’s door is a “red herring”, leading you astray from doing proper diagnosis.

No shop is going to tell you what’s wrong without having the car there to diagnose. I can make a guess over the internet because there’s no risk to me. You cannot get mad at me if my guess is wrong.

My guess is that your starter assembly, possibly the contacts that enable the actual starter motor circuit after the solenoid engages the starter gear to the flywheel ring gear. These contacts get fried over time, because they engage “hot” and arc a bit every time.

It’s good that this is happening regularly. It’s easier to diagnose. Simply check for 12 VDC at the starter connections when the key is in “start” and nothing is happening. If you have 12VDC, the change the starter assembl;y. If not, backtrack to the relay and so on until you find the missing voltage.

Post back with the results.