Starts hard (if at all)..after some serious cranking and a little luck! 1999 vw jetta 2.0 4cyl

Well I just bought this 1999 VW Jetta wolfsburg edition 2.0 4cyl gasoline (old style model) from my aunt. It’s been a 1 owner car, meticulously maintained, and driven for 91k miles with love. :slight_smile:

The problem started the morning after I brought it home.

It takes tons and tons of cranking to get it to start. the battery is good, the starter seems to be in good condition.

*** Note - the check engine light is on, and has been for the last 5k miles but with no noticeable performance


once it starts it idles fine. but if you put load on it before it warms up it’ll shudder once or twice and stall out hard. I’ve added dry gas because I figured maybe it has some water in the fuel. still does the same thing.

the mass airflow sensor had already been replaced at 48k miles.

My next step is to clean the throttle body and run through a bottle of injector cleaner and super premium gasoline.

if those steps don’t solve my problem then I’m outta ideas.

PLEASE HELP ME!! my wife and I need this up and running ASAP!!



the check engine light is on,

That CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P0123) not just their translation into English and post it back here.

My next step is to clean the throttle body and run through a bottle of injector cleaner and super premium gasoline.

While I doubt the injector cleaner is going to help, I know the super premium will not help. This is not a problem high octane will help. Note: octane is NOT a measure of quality, but rather a measure of how fast the gasoline will burn. High compression engines need gasoline that burns slower to prevent knocking (pre ignition). Premium fuel may or may not have additives not also found in lower octane fuel.

I am going to try and get it to my local autozone…won’t have the codes to post until my next day off, probably tuesday(ish)

You don’t consider hard starting, shuddering, and stalling performance issues? The car is trying to tell you what is wrong, it set a check engine light and you are ignoring it and trying to fix it with magic potions.

um well to clairfy, the check engine light came on before I owned the vehicle. It had no hard starting, shuddering or stalling issues until this morning, the day after I brought it home. the issues started today. not 5k miles ago when the check engine light came on. This I know for sure because the last owner was my aunt, and she wouldn’t sell me it if it had problems. (I have reciepts for all maintenance since she bought the car in '99)

*Thanks for reading the post in it’s entirety, Oldtimer 11.

Now I got to thinking and thought in the meantime while I wait to get the codes checked tuesday, I left out some info in my orginal post.

The car had always been garaged. it now lives outside. we had heavy rain and wind last night and it got very cold afterwards. I’m guessing the engine prob. got pretty wet.

I’ve talked to a few mechanic buddies…they said to get the codes checked (tuesday). but they also said that it sounds like it might be an ignition problem, i.e bad/cracked coil wires, bad coil.

hopefully it’s something easy like that…I doubt it but I can hope right?

well I can guess all I want but the next step would be get the codes and go from there.


When was the last time the car had a basic tune up, including spark plugs? Never, possibly?

At this point, the check engine light is like the boy who cried wolf–it may have originally been on for something minor, but now there may be 5 other issues it’s trying to warn you about that are more serious. You need to find out what error codes the computer has stored. The engine computer can compensate for a lot of issues—the car probably hasn’t been running at its best for a very long time.

It has happenened twice in 150K miles to my son’s '98 Jetta 2.slow.