Sporadic Ignition Shut Down

2002 VW Cabrio @80K miles no major repairs

1 1/2 years ago the car died while in motion - as if the ignition switch was turned off. While “dead in the water” I tried several things, cleaning battery cables (although horn & lights were strong), letting it cool, & jumper cables to no avail. It was towed to a local garage (who have been pretty good in the past) & the starter was replaced (they were puzzeled too, but that worked!!??). Fine for many months. Then another cutoff while in motion (30-40 mph). This time it started about 15 minutes later on its own. I drove it home & turned it off. When I went to move it into the garage it wouldn’t start. After pushing it into the garage once again, cables were checked, the battery charged (again horn & lights were strong, but what the heck), checked all fuses, & looked for anything possibly suspicious. No luck. In desperation I replaced the starter again (I know, it was probably just superstition at this point) & while at it cleaned every wiring connection I could find under the hood. It worked. The car started and ran fine, but I took it back to the original shop to see if they could find anything else - to avoid mid roadway flame outs! Understandably they were skeptical of finding the problem while it was still working. They ran it, drove, checked it, for several days & it did just fine. When I went to retrieve it wouldn’t start!! Now they had it while in cardiac arrest, but before anything was diagnosed it came back to life on its own.

It has been running fine for many months more. It did it again today!! This time the 15 minute wait worked & it is back in our garage and as you can imagine my wife is not crazy about driving it again.

Just some side notes:

- When dead, all of the electrical system is out EXCEPT the ignition circuit - not even a click from the solinoid.

- Previous to these “attacks” my wife has noticed some odd electrical occurences a day or two before, but not enough to disable the car. (dash lights flickering, acceleration stumble on takeoff, the radio going to safe mode when the power was never disconnected)

- The only vague possible electrical anomoly is the installation of a Sirius radio receiver under the dash to the cigarette lighter.

I haven’t clue at this point - any ideas???

Have you asked the VW dealer if they have a tech service bulletin (TSB) on this problem?

Sounds like maybe a bad ignition switch.

Thanks for the thought. I did talk to the dealer’s service manager & he said it was a new one on him!! Even better, he was honest enough to say that if the check engine light wasn’t on or the car wasn’t dead at the time he didn’t have much hope in finding it!!

Yea, I am thinking the switch also. Stress, do you or another driver have a large number of keys and/or other things on their key ring. That extra weight can wear the ignition lock.

I’d be checking into your GROUND connection on the frame and under the back seats. Ceck the neg terminal at the battery and folow it to the frame or engine block. Disassemble the connection and clean and grease…see if this helps. A faulty ground will drive you completely INSANE!!! It will affect ALL ofthe cars systems in one fell swoop as well, so this is a strong argument to look into this connection and all of its other branched connections.
ALSO I dont like hearing about te Sirius connection…if done wrong it can do these things to your car…if you had an aftermarket system put in I would look at where they pulled the switched 12V power source from. V-Dubs have been doing stupid things with the way they apply the electrical connections on their sound systems. It almost sounds like a relay switching on and off at random and affecting the ignition circuit. If the installer did some “creative thinking” on where he got his switched 12V power and ground from you may find the problem right there. Check your main grounds and then disconnect the Sirius whenever this issue arises again. I am leaning toward the ONE electrical connection tht has been tied into your ignition system…yeah I am very suspect of the aftermarket system. Check that for sure…I installed aftermarket sound systems and alarms and remote starts for over 15 years…seen many a strange thing happen to V-Dubs in that area. Just my 2 cents.

You may be on to something - there are only 2 drivers both with bulky key rings!!! Next stop, ignition switch. Tks