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Stored VW won't start

We are storing my wife’s 2003 VWBeetle Convert in a driveway in NJ while we are out of the country. My mom tried to start it today for the first time in a couple months…and it won’t start. The battery is a year old, the red light for the alarm is still blinking…it just won’t start.

I remember hearing somewhere that there was an immobilizer on some of these cars…that if the car sits too long it will stop starting. Could that have tripped and needs to be reset? The alarm hasn’t been activated though.

If the battery was left in the vehicle over this time, you might be looking at something as simple a dead battery. But if a battery goes dead on some vehicles, it may require a trip to the dealer to reset some of the modules.

Good Luck!


The blinking LED light takes only a tiny bit of current. To crank the starter takes a whole bunch of current. The battery isn’t completely dead, but it is close. It has enough current to blink the light but not enough current to crank the starter.

Best would be to put the battery on a charger (run and extension cord to the car) to fully charge the battery, then start the car. It is actually better not to start the car, but a good idea to charge the battery every few months using the charger.

Did you put fuel stabilizer in the gas tank before storing the car?

Does the car even CRANK?? If it won’t crank, the battery is dead. This is to be expected of a car in storage. There is no “immobilizer” installed on your car.

You should have stopped by before you left. You would have found that driving your car on occasion, especially short drives, is not a good idea for the car when it is in storage.

My suggestion now would be to remove the battery and bring it inside and put it on a battery tender, to slowly recharge it and keep it charged. Also that will make it more difficult to steal, since few thieves will have a spare battery with them. However Mom may not want to do all that. How long are you planing to be away.

If you know someone comfortable with working on cars, they may be able to bring it back to life. Leaving the battery near dead, will damage the battery over time. That is about the worse of it. As Tester suggested, you may need a little help from someone (likely the dealer) with a VW specific computer tool to rest the car’s computer.

The battery is probably too weak from sitting for two months. Tell mom to get a jump from someone. She should drive your VW for 20-30 minutes once every couple of weeks to get the engine warmed up and keep the battery charged.

Parking in a driveway is not storage. How long are you going to be away?

Thank you EVERYONE!!

We’re going to be overseas until the middle of August. Unfortunately, we have NO place else to store this car until then.

We didn’t put fuel stabilizer in the tank, since it was actually being driven ever few weeks-for various reasons, that has ceased.

Perhaps a AAA tow to the VW dealer is in order? I can have my mom arrange that. She won’t want to work on the car herself unfortunately, and I’m not going to be back until August.

Next question-this will be an issue in the future-I’m an Army Officer and the Army will only transport ONE car-so my Saab goes with us and this car stays behind when we are out of country. This has been the first time it’s been stored like this…what SHOULD I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

Also-can running it in the driveway stand in for driving it? My mother can’t actually take it on the road-it isn’t registered in any US state for this period and can’t be driven.

It would be worse to start it and run it in the drive way than not starting it at all. It is best to drive it for at least a half hour every week or two.
There are lots of things that you should do before storing a car for a year of so…

  1. Fresh oil change.
  2. Fuel stabilizer in the tank.
  3. Support car of jack stands so the tire belts don’t get bent.
  4. Disconnect the battery so that it doesn’t run down.
    And so on.

Having it towed to the dealer would be the most expensive solution and accomplish little. Have SOMEONE add some stabilizer to the gas, any parts store has it. By a small battery charger and charge the battery overnight. Start the car and let it run until the temperature gauge reads normal. Shut it down, disconnect the battery (remove the negative cable) and leave the car alone. Every 60 days, recharge the battery for a couple of hours to maintain it. Just run an extension cord out to the car. Or just forget charging the battery, charge it up now and it will be good until August…

Some “anti-theft” radios need a code entered to get them to recover after being disconnected…If you have such a radio, do you know the code? That would be the only problem with disconnecting the battery…

Sadly, I can’t see my mom doing that (working on the battery) and we don’t have any friends in the area who could do it. I could get her to add stabilizer to the gas though.

I checked on the dates and the car has only been stored immobile since the end of February. It was driven up until then at least every week or so.

I don’t know if my wife knows the code-it maybe in the manual? That is in the US with the car.

We hadn’t expected this car to be left immobile-we had anticipated that my mom would drive it at least every too weeks…but that hasn’t happened.
This may be a case of when I get back to the US-I will just put a new battery in. Think that works?

Does she have a neighbor she could trust, and offer a few bucks to help?

That might be an option. Unfortunately she doesn’t live in the most “friendly” neighborhood.

I feel like we’re kinda stuck here though. I’m thinking next time we’re overseas we should just sell the car. We don’t want to, but we don’t have a network of people who can take care of these things for us.

Check on this site for a local independent mechanic who can go to you moms place and take the precautions others here have indicated. Your mom should be able to pay the guy to put it up on blocks and so forth. If I were you, I would also have a car cover on it to shield it from weather. Look for a “mobile mechanic” to do this for you and good luck to you.

Thanks…THAT is a great idea!

Appreciate all the help and advice people have given too. Most appreciated!

I like the mechanic idea. If you can find one, he or she could be a real value to mom.

There is no reason to put it up on blocks with modern tyres. They just don’t need it. I would make the suggestion that if a car cover is used, make sure the car is out of the wind and that the cover fits very close and is not moved around in the wind, as they can damage the paint by being blown around in the wind.

Why have Americans become so isolated, so anti-social?? Don’t people have FRIENDS anymore??

Mom might ask the counterman at the local parts store for help. If he can’t help directly, chances are he knows someone who can…

The reason the car should be started one more time is to get the stabilized fuel to the injectors…After that, worst case, you have to buy a new battery…Also, this person should be able to pump the tires up to 40 psi which will preserve them…