Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

VW Beetle Hard Start Problem

The only way I can get it to start is to crank it over and then release the start key. If it’s going to start at all, it will do it at the moment of release. Why?

Sounds like a worn lock to me. What year and model VW do you drive? How many miles on it?

Is this an old Beetle? I’m not sure how VWs of that era were wired, but most cars that had a coil and points ignition ran the ignition system through a resistor to limit current to the coil when running (so it didn’t burn up), but bypassed the resistor to give a hotter spark when cranking the engine for starting. It sounds like the ignition switch or some wiring may be damaged so you’re getting no spark when turning it to ‘start’, but it’s functioning normally when you release it to ‘run’

It’s an old 74, standard, Beetle. The ballast resistor is built into the coil, so there is no bypass during starting. The ignition switch is the original. I will try jumping across it to see if that helps. Thanks a lot.

Yes, it was the ignition switch. With the key turned all the way to the right (start position), less than 1 Volt was reaching the coil. With the key in the on (run) position, the full 12 Volts was reaching the coil, hence the post-release start. I’ll have to replace the ignition switch, but for the moment, I found that the car will start if I give the key a good hard twist while starting, to overcome the resistance in the (deteriorated) contacts I guess. Case solved. Thanks a lot.

Ah, the moment of release!