So my 2003 VW Passat will not start. I last drove it a few days ago, and it has been sitting inside a nice warm garage. The battery was replaced a few months ago. The car doesn’t “turn over” but just has a steady sound when you try to start it. It’s not a clicking sound like I had 6 months ago with it. I attached a link to the audio file of me trying to start it today. There are no warning lights per se coming on only the typical ones coming up when the ignition key is turned on. The lights and interior lamps come on indicating there seems to be power but nothing else. The plugs were cleaned a few months ago as well. Could it be alternator? Anyhow want to help? I could try jumping it but the sound it makes leads me to believe there is plenty of juice. THANKS.
It sounds like you have a problem with spark or fuel. I can’t offer any real advice without having hands on the car.
The alternator would be low on my list.
Who all has had a hands on look? Has a professional had a chance to check it? What exactly did they say?
How often do you drive this car?
When you say
I suggest you find a local independent (that is not a chain like the quick oil change places) check it.
As Meehan stated, from afar all that anyone can guess is that you have either a fuel delivery problem or a spark delivery problem. Clearly, the engine IS turning over, so please don’t lead a mechanic down a blind alley by telling him that the engine won’t turn over.
Whether the fuel pump failed, or whether a problem in the ignition system is to blame for the no-start situation, you are going to need to have the car towed to a competent mechanic. In addition to avoiding quick oil change shops, you should also avoid chains like Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, Pep Boys, AAMCO, etc.
Phone a well-reputed independent mechanic’s shop, and tell them that the engine turns over, but it does not “fire up”. Once he gets it into his shop, a good mechanic should be able to trouble-shoot this problem within an hour or so.
I am going to say that you have a very serious problem. It sounds to me that the motor is free wheeling, which means it is cranking with little or no compression. My best guess is that you snaped the timing belt and took out your valves, or something to that effect. The sound you posted has the motor spinning very quickly, and it does not have the normal cha, cha, cha sound a healthy motor should make…
Gsragtop makes an interesting observation.
While I am not familiar with how modern VW engines are supposed to sound when the starter is turning, it does sound like the engine may be turning over a bit fast, and as he points out, that could be a very bad symptom.
If the timing belt was never replaced, it is about one year overdue, so…it would not be inconceivable for the problem to be the result of a snapped timing belt.
I agree with @gsragtop,it’s cranking without compression.
this is a little confusing. in your post you say the car is not “turning over” are you sure that when you turn the key that the motor itself is not spinning “the pulleys on the motor”. because your audio file does sound like what the other poster said free wheeling with no compression. if the engine is not spinning i would check to make sure the starter yo make sure it is engaging. If the motor is spinning. i would check for compression in all cylanders. this might sound dumb. but you did say the plugs were pulled and cleaned. did whover did this remember to put them all back in?
I had a very similar symptom with my 2001 passat V6 a few years back. The engine would crank, but it sounded like it was freewheeling. As everyone here has stated, the problem could be fuel or spark, but my money is on a lack of compression caused either by a bad gasket or, if you are lucky, a bad spark seal. I would start by checking all of your spark plugs (you could do this yourself if you are a bit handy) and seeing if they are in properly. Maybe even replace them (it’s relatively cheap). You could also buy a compression gauge (also pretty inexpensive) and test the compression on each cylinder.
Did your engine make any strange noises or movements just before it started doing this? When my Passat did the same thing, it started with a rumble, then a hiss, then it did what yours was doing. This sound was the valve gasket failing and losing compression.
Well I will have it towed for sure. I am not too handy but lack the tools here . As an aside we are in Europe now with the car and it has been serviced by pretty competent VW dealership all along – but it always has given us a lot of trouble. We are almost positive the timing belt was replaced in 2011 with the required service with dealer in another country we also trusted. I wonder about the plugs. They said last time it didn’t start I had stored the car for months without starting and fuel in the car … after they replaced fuel they also cleaned up the plugs so we will start there and then see what else they find. I will report back here for sure to find out.
@mikekubo, what do you mean with “bad spark seal”?
“valve gasket failing and losing compression” sounds very serious indeed.
Were your valves too tight?
Valves that are too tight can significantly lower compression, to the point of hard or no starting.
The first thing to do is verify whether the starter motor is working or not. A mechanic can check the voltages at both terminals of the starter motor during cranking (when the key is in “start”), from the terminal to the starter motor case. If either is below 9.6 volts during cranking, you have an electrical problem of some sort before the starter motor. That should prove relatively simple to fix. If both are above 10 volts (during cranking), and the starter motor isn’t turning, then the starter motor has to be removed and inspected. If the starter motor seems to be turning, but the engine isn’t turning, likewise, remove the starter motor for inspection. While the starter motor is removed, make sure the machanic rotates the flywheel through 360 degrees and checks the condition of all the gear teeth.
Sounds like your engine isn’t catching. It’s very annoying.
So, could you include a sound byte on how the engine sounds when it does start running? We need a comparison.
Can you tell me why my external minispeaker won’t turn off after I ran your engine clip?
If you can pullup the last two months in the VW Discussion forum, you’ll discover that many others had your problem of either engine stalling or nonstart.
IMO it’s doubtful that it is the fuel system-but that you can check if gas is being pushed thru the fuel filter. Also doubtful that you have a compression problem because you would have seen a power loss and low mpg. And before you pull a tank’s fuel pump, replace the underdash relays-which is a much cheaper possible fix besides changing the fuel filter.
Let us know,
@longprime it helps to read the op’s post. His car is not starting at all!
Thankyou, but if you read my first paragraph, I acknowledge that the engine will not start and then confirmed it in the second sentence.
Apparently one gets a point if you mention the commenter, @gsragtop.
OK just got the car back this week. The verdict. ::drum role:: Failed temperature sensor! I have to do more research but looks to be typical failure for these years. I guess when faulty sensor reports high temperature when it’s not, fuel is not introduced to start the car? Not sure. But that is why it wouldn’t start. They couldn’t even see sensor when replacing it but had to feel around for it. Took a week to order part.
Glad you got it fixed.
We often don’t hear what the problem ended up being. Thanks for reporting back.