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Problem with VW Jetta

We were driving my grandmothers 2001 VW Jetta. We ran out the battery because we plugged in a phone charger that had a little light on it. We jumped it mid day, we ran it for a while and then went on a drive. It started up fine after sitting for about 10 minutes, then we we just came off the free way it started shifting a lot, like four or five times in a couple of seconds. The battery light, ABS light, check engine light, EPC light came on right then. At the next light about 40 yards ahead, the car died. The tachometer looked fine, but you could hear the engine just dying. We had someone get a little battery jumper, it didn’t start the car the first time, but the second little jumper pack worked, for about 3 seconds then just died. The third person had another battery pack, but he suggested running with the battery pack on to drive to a parking lot 100 yards away. He suggest that it was a alternator problem. Is it? if not What is it?

It could be an alternator problem, or it could be something entirely different.
The glowing CEL is your clue that you need to have this diagnosed directly–rather than via cyberspace–as we can only guess from afar.


Anything that is to be done to solve this should be the Owners choice . It could be the battery , alternator or both .

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Bad battery and/or alternator.

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Those lights all come on when the engine stalls.

We don’t know what happened because we can’t put hands on the car and it does not sound like you are able to diagnose it.

Yes, it could be the alternator but don’t replace it just because it could be. There are many other things it could be and, if you replace them all, you will far exceed the value of a 2001 VW.

Diagnose first, then fix.


The alternator may have very well been fried after the jump start, and then driving the vehicle.



I can’t add much to what others have said here already about this issue. From what you said about what happened I too think you are most likely going to need a new battery and an alternator. It is good practice to replace both of them at the same time if one of them fails and the other is getting fairly old. They have to work together. The battery may have previously lost a lot of reserve capacity since putting a phone charger on it drained the battery. Unless it was on there for a very long time. A good shop will be able to do a load check on the system to verify the charging system operation. It may be a good idea to check the alternator out on a test bench before connecting up a new battery. If there are some shorted diodes inside it then AC voltage can get to the new battery and possibly damage it.