Question about 2000 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

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2000 Engine runs rough, cuts out/dies in wet weather, rain, water

Hi,

Our Volkswagen Polo is made in Argentina and has the 1.8litre non-turbocharged petrol engine. It runs fine normally but in our heavy tropical rain here in Brasil, it starts to run rough and then dies. It only happens in very heavy rain when the car is driven through some standing water (we get a lot here). After standing for 30 minutes, the car eventually starts again and can be driven for another 5 minutes, then dies again, and so on and so on. The next day, the car runs fine again.

Car has new plugs, air filter, new dizzy rotor and I cleaned the HT leads and dizzy cap with wire wool and alcohol. Also the battery seems very good and has no problems cranking the motor.

When we have the problem, I checked and there is no water in the air filter box or in the distributer cap and I still get a weak looking spark on all 4 HT leads to the plugs (I put the leads close to the block and can see the spark jumping across).

Last night it happened again and spraying some oil on the outside of the distributor cap and all HT leads and all the electrical connectors in the engine bay, allowed me to drive the last 3 km to get home but it may be co-incidence. Parts are very expensive here and very hard to find so I can't afford to change out everything. I'm thinking it's probably the ignitor/coil that is getting old, but maybe it's water on the lambda sensor, bad HT leads or anything else I didn't think of.

Many, many thanks if anyone can please point me in the right direction,
Jon

P.S. I posted this in the Jetta forum first by mistake and now can't delete it; sorry

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  • jonathan_ran Dec 15, 2008

    Hi Bibleman01,



    Thanks so much for a very fast response and great advice. To answer your question, the last time I had the problem, I did spray the distributor cap thoroughly on the outside with our local equivalent of WD-40 and the car started straight away, but was still running rough under load and almost cut out again. I was able to get home by keeping it in low gear, slipping the clutch a lot and *not* giving too much gas. If I give too much gas or not enough, the engine cuts out, so I kind of think it's a problem of weak spark, but why I don't know.



    So in summary, spraying the distributor cap (and everything else electrical in the engine bay, seemed to help enough to get me home, but did not resolve the problem)



    I will check the distributor cap again immediately although my local mechanic said it was ok after I asked him to check it because of this problem. It's possible he missed something.



    P.S. I made the inside of the distributor cap is totally dry and cleaned the contacts with alcohol - maybe it should have some silicon spray too?



    P.P.S. Can my local volkswagen garage get any information from the car's computer if I go there the day after the problem? They are notorious for ripping people off here so I'm loathed to go.

  • jonathan_ran Dec 15, 2008

    Many thanks for the answer and so fast. I've ordered a full set of HT leads, new coil and new distributor cap from the UK and a friend will bring them in a few weeks. In Brasil they are easily 4x the price *if* you can get them. Will advise if this fixes the problem as I hope someone else can benefit. I still wonder if I should also check some sensor or wires underneath the car or really low in the engine bay though as it seems standing water is the thing causing the problem.

  • jonathan_ran Feb 23, 2009

    Hi all (especially Greg),
    Just to let you know that I solved my problem with our Polo. To recap, I had already replaced the distributor rotor, plugs and air filter. In the end I got totally desperate and replaced (in one go) the distributor cap, all 5 leads and the coil, all with aftermarket parts. I also went underneath the car and gave every open wiring loom a liberal spraying with WD40. Problem is now totally resolved. I can now drive the car through a swimming pool of water and it will keep going, no problems.
    So it seems the problem was definitely with the HT system, probably some combination of ageing HT leads, poor output from the coil and possibly a cracked distributor cap. I hope this helps. In the end I got the parts brought over in a suitcase by a friend from the UK, so was able to but non-original parts at very good prices.
    I agree also that this car has terrible splash protection underneath; I often get water all over the head, so I will be fitting some DIY protection shortly to try and semi-seal off the engine.
    As for the rest of the car, what a pile of junk. Drivers's side electric window broke (some poor quality plastic part just snapped), glove box handle broke, some plastic strip just about the number plate broke, cigarette lighter is stuck "in", the exhaust always makes clonking noises and fuel consumption is far too high, especilly when you use the AC. I'll never buy a Volkswagen again.
    Hope this helps someone else resolve their problem and thanks again to Greg for pointing me in the right direction.
    Best regards,
    Jon



  • Greg Wilkins
    Greg Wilkins May 11, 2010

    it sounds like the distributor cap is cracked. sometimes you can't see the crack. did you use wd40 to spray outside of everything?

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I was having the same problem. None of the explanations actually helped. Finally, a friendly mechanic recommended to me that there is an aftermarket splash guard that can be fitted on just inside the the front wheel that kept the water from splashing onto the distributer, etc. This worked like a charm. I'm having the same problem with another Jetta now, but can't find where to buy the spash guard. My friendly mechanic doesn't remember. But this is definitely the answer.

Posted on May 15, 2009

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If you haven't changed your spark plug wires they do break down and usually need replaced every 40,000 miles or so. the dealer can't do anymore than you can they would change parts out too. they could get a code if its something that the computer recognizes

Posted on Dec 15, 2008

  • Greg Wilkins
    Greg Wilkins Dec 15, 2008

    I think you have it under control just put those parts on.
    God Bless you Greg
    Let me know what happens ok?


  • Greg Wilkins
    Greg Wilkins Feb 23, 2009

    God Bless you Jon, I'm so glad you car is fixed. If you ever need anything just holler at me ok!
    BYE Greg


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SOURCE: 2000 Volkswagen Polo runs rough and dies in wet weather and rain

Girlfriend's 99 Polo had same issue. In fact it recurred yesterday! Anyway, am not expert, but it seems to be due to deposits building up inside distributor cap area and then getting damp in wet conditions, causing shorting of ignition 'signals'. Found solution is to clean inside cap every 6 to 12 months with a cloth and IPA (or water if you're stuck - just make sure to dry it properly!) and the problem goes away. Silly thing about her Polo is that there's no decent splashguard to protect the engine area from splashes from puddles etc. I've lost all respect for VW coz of the amount of silly things that have gone wrong with her car...! Hope this helps - sounds to me like it's exactly the same problem.

Posted on Jan 16, 2009

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