Intermittent Ignition Problem

I have a 2000 VW Jetta 1.8T that is having an intermittent ignition problem. The problem first occurred just over one month ago and has been happening with increasing frequency since then. Basically, the problem is that at certain times when I try to start the car, it will turn over but not actually start up.

The battery is fairly new and all of the electrical systems seem to function normally, even when this problem is occurring. When it does start, it runs fine and never stalls or dies, acceleration is smooth and so is the idle. There has been no discernible pattern to trigger the problem, it has occurred in both wet/dry weather, hot/cold temps. day and night. The only consistency is that it always seems to happen when I am on a deadline or have to be somewhere work related.

I suspect the problem could stem from either an electrical failure (i.e. no spark in the engine) or a fuel system failure (maybe fuel relay pump?). If anyone has had a similar experience and could share any info it would be greatly appreciated. I have taken it to Pep Boys, the VW Service center and a private mechanic and not one of them has been able to diagnose the problem. Please help!! =(

Also important, I forgot to mention that the problem always fixes itself when the car just decides to start after repeated attempts, usually it takes 1-3 hours of trying to start the car and it suddenly just comes back to life and wont fail again for approx. 24 hours.

I can’t seem to find it, but there was a recall on the coil packs for my 01 1.8t. They would randomly just…stop. Sometimes it would still run, but very rough, sometimes not. I don’t know if it applies to your car or not. The recall replaced them all. There is a coil pack in each cylinder.

Go to the Recall Portal, have you VIN handy, and see if there are any outstanding for your car.

If you have to have it towed in, and the recall is the only reason, VW will pay for your towing. You may have to insist, but they will, and they’ll need a copy of the towing receipt.

Good luck,

The trouble could be with the ignition system. I recommend you get something that you can use to verify that the system is working when the trouble happens again. Electricians use a pocket tester that can detect voltage when it is placed near a live AC circuit. Using one of those will pick up ignition pulses about a foot away from the wire. They only cost about 25 dollars. I would first suspect the ignition system as the cause of this trouble. Make sure that power is getting to it.

Next time this happens give the fuel relay a plink with your finger. It may free it up. My Golf had the same symptoms and the fuel relay is relatively quick and inexpensive.
This analyses is based on the suspicion that the fuel relay knows better than any other part when one is under time pressure.
Not sure where the 2000 JETTA keeps it’s fuse panel, they used to be under the dash by the driver’s left foot.

Left side of the dash, hidden by the door - so you have to open the door to get at it.

And of course, right next to the battery for the under-hood one.

Don’t think there are any relays in the inside panel…they’re all under the hood.