Why is engine sometimes frozen

2002 New beetle, 1.9L Turbo diesel, manual.

For a few days prior to the first freeze, after driving a bit the car would emit an odor I would describe as part rubber, and part brakes. Each time I tried finding the problem, each time I couldn’t see any obvious issues. Once a little smoke came out by the front passenger tire but again I could not identify anything.

After driving it 35 miles (highway) I stopped at the library. When leaving, the engine turned over a few times and then seized. It would try but not turn over after that.

I towed it home. It sat for a week before I got to it. For kicks and grins I tried to start it before tackling it It turned over and almost started (normal for cold weather) On second try it seized.

The AC had quit workign a while back with the input reading to high so I thought perhaps this was the problem. I recovered the coolant down to green but it still wont turn over more than once.

I’m a BIG boy and it’s hard to get under the car so I’m still working on getting to the pulleys. Any suggestions on what to look for when I finally get there?


Alternator and/or battery maybe?

My first guess is the belt is being fried because the A/C is frozen and not turning. Be sure to check out the oil, and coolant to make sure both look normal and are at the normal level.

Could you describe “seized” as exactly as you can for us. As it is I can’t seem to pick out anything that would be related specifically to a TDI type A-4

BTW do you have the early or the late model (the late model does not have a key entry to the rear hatch)?

Dead battery wouldn’t cause the engine to seize. I did put a 200 amp jump starter on there to be certain and it still seizes even with full power

Alternator pulley might be frozen but then why would it work again after sitting for a week?

Late model (no key in hatch)

I would describe seized as in something is preventing it from turning over. Starter is trying but can’t get it to budge.

When I get the engine covers all off and am able to see the belt I will check the belt. I’ve been trying to think of a way to bypass individual pulleys as a means to test which ones turn when being cranked. I don’t have any stockings and I’m not sure that would work on these newer belt systems anyways.

Joseph is right,what do you called seized. You could have a bad starter there too. In my time, a seized engine will nerver turn over.

If you can get a wrench on the crankshaft pulley bolt, how about trying to turn it over by hand and see if you can?

Good idea.

Hopefully I’ll have the passenger side engine cover off tomorrow and will be able to reach the crank shaft pulley bolt then. I’ll let you know if it turns. If not I’ll remove the belt and try again also just to be sure. I don’t think it’s engine bearings but I’m not a diesel mechanic and I wouldn’t know how a diesel is built.

The complaint about seizing is a bit sketchy to me but here are some possibilities to consider.
One is a dragging starter motor.
Two could be a coolant leak into a cylinder causing a hydrolock condition.
Three could be a leaking injector which could also be causing a hydrolock.
Four could be something seizing up in the belt system. (water pump, idler or tensioiner, etc, etc.) Hope that helps.

I know this took a while to get back. Weather here has been horrible and I don’t have an indoor place to work on the unit.

Long story short. The AC compressor is seized and was seizing the belt. I finally got the sound damper off the side and got the belt off. Car started right up without the belt on (shut it right down to avoid damage). Wanted to check to make sure. AC compressor is the only thing that refuses to turn.

Trouble now is I have to try to find a bypass pulley. No way I can afford 500 for a new compressor right now.

But at least we have a direction to go now.

Thanks for the input all.

I can understand what happens when you energize the clutch on a AC compressor that is siezed (with engine running,a lot of squealing but it doesn’t stop the engine. What I can’t understand is why you are having problems when the clutch is not energized.

Are you saying the clutch is permentaly engaged and the compressor is locked up,maybe a new compressor clutch will get you through.

I am still not sure exactly what is happening, but for now my guess is going to be a problem with the starter and flywheel gears meshing.

There is a belt listed for “without A/C”. This may work if you unbolt the A/C compressor and move it out of the way. This may allow the use of the w/o A/C belt; or, you may have to get a stand-in pulley. I dunno.

I Was Thinking Leaking Injectors.

This sounds like the classic “flat spot” on the starter. It is infuriating to have the car start easily one moment, and not the next. My wife’s Nissan had this problem recently, and a rebuilt starter fixed the problem. Battery and alternator were OK. Many people run out and buy a new battery, or blame the alternator.

As other suggest, have the entire electrical system, including the ignition switch, checked out, but my bet is on the starter motor. A “seized” ENIGINE will not turn over until it is rebuilt!!

I apologize. I didn’t get a notice about thiese responses for some reason.

What was happening is that, after the car was shut off. the seized clutch prevented the starter from turning the engine over.

After taking the clutch apart I found out several things. It was not a sealed bearing, It was a ball bearing system with 3 lines of bearings, half the balls were missing, and several balls were wedged between the walls of the bearing system.

New compressors ran between 550 and 1250 on pricing. I couldn’t afford that.

New clutches ran between 150 and 350 and I didn’t even have that to work with. We did come up with a solution though.

None of the parts stores shared this with me. I specifically asked if there was an alternative belt, though I did not try to research that online. They each simply said “no”. this would have been an ideal solution if we had found it in time to see if it works.

We did come up with a 15 dollar solution though.

In order to work on the clutch, as bad as it was. I had to remove the compressor. Since it’s aluminum I was afraid of putting it into the vice I had to remove the mounting plate the clutch was on, which pulled out all the pistons. I couldn’t find anyone that had replacement seals/gaskets for the compressor So I decided to use it the best I could. I removed the guts of the compressor. My neighbor machined out the remaining wall of the old bearing since we couldn’t press it out (heat damage). We put a bolt shaft with bushings and a new bearing, guaging the distance and pressing the original pulley back onto the unit.

I now have a dummy compressor. I need to find some weather resistant label and cover the “r134a” label with a note that it’s a dummy system now.

I drove it around yesterday evening. I’m going to fill the tank and check the gas mileage to see if it does any better than before. :slight_smile:

I looked up the “without ac” belt. for only 18 dollars that would have been the ideal solution. There is an alternative belt configuration in the shop repair manual that would have worked if I could have found the belt.

If I had gotten the belt perhaps I could have taken my time and found a better way to remove the clutch, saving the compressor for use later when I could have afforded the clutch replacement.

Well. live and learn I guess.

I’m glad you’re “back on the road, again”. A Chevy truck, I recently worked on, the A/C compressor froze. To remove the A/C compressor, and use a without A/C belt, it needed a stand-in pulley to take the place of the A/C compressor pulley. Your shop manual showed that you didn’t have to put another pulley in when you use a without A/C belt?

After you questioned it I went back to the manual and double checked very carefully.

The manual show’s both the diesel and gasoline engine belt configurations. I wasn’t paying attention to the fine print the first time. So officially the manual does not show that I don’t have to put another pulley in when using a “without A/C belt”

I also went back and did some rough measuring, the best I could, and I think it is possible to remove the compressor and use the “without AC belt” on the existing system. I will try to draw the configuration I’m thinking of and post it to show what I think would work. This is just my theory after hearing about the “without AC” belt.