Question about 2000 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

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2000 vw jetta tdi glow plug problem ?

Heya !
So I am having a similar problem that was already posted but I have already done the suggested solution.My tdi won't start on it's own on cold days. It will jump and push start. Last winter we took it in and they replaced all the glow plugs and the relay but the problem still exists. We also put in a brand new battery. And even on warm days i still have to turn the key back and forth a couple times ( like 5 or 6) before it kicks over. Help please ! ? !
ECM error code PO380
synthetic oil unknown brand
new fuel filter
glow plugs work fine when coolant sensor is removed, but do not receive any power

Posted by on

  • 73 more comments 
  • russ334 Dec 16, 2008

    The problem doesn't seem to be glow plugs, as they work with the coolant sensor removed, or when checked directly as suggested. How do I confirm the problem is / isn't w/ glow plug relay? The error has occurred recently, been using the same glow plugs all along.

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3 Answers

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  • 6,966 Answers

Hi and welcome to FixYa,

Initially and based on your description, normally, it would no longer be the glow plugs nor the relay. However, possibilities you may want to check/explore are:

  • determine if the new glow plugs are identical with the old and are meant for your particular engine;
  • wiring that supplies power to the glow plugs;
  • the receptacle/connector where the relay sits;
  • connectors/joints all relating to the wiring that supplies power to the glow plug;
  • the relay itself (again). They have been known to be faulty even when new.
Incidentally, the amount of time the glow plugs turned on is controlled by the computer based on the sensor reading of the temperature. Use a test light with clip to ground to check if the glow plugs receives power when activated. Next to check is for how long does it receives power. If the test light does not come on, then most likely a relay problem; if the test light comes on but only for a short period of time, then it is a temp sensor problem, if the test light comes on and stays on sufficiently but the glow plugs does not heat up, then it is the glow plug that is faulty.

Additionally, you can try using a sufficiently sized electrical wire to connect directly the glow plug to the + terminal of the battery to bypass the relay, heat the glow plugs and start the engine.

Good luck and Thank you for using FixYa. Happy Holidays.

Posted on Dec 16, 2008

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  • 306 Answers

Alot of the diesels in the late 70s and into the 1980s were converted gasoline engines. The demand was fueled (pun) by the oil embargo of 1974. The VW TDI is a different animal. They don't seem to slow down or loose power because of the superb mating of transmissions (ie gear ratios) and engines. Don't take my word for it. Go drive a TDI. You will be very surprised what 100ho can do. That's because the torque is more of an issue than HP!

Posted on Dec 16, 2008

  • AbdulRahiman S Dec 16, 2008

    else replace new glow plugs and no its not normall there should be no air in the system it is either sucking air or it has not been bled properly last time system was worked on usually when changing the fiter check the whole system for signs of leaks if non found bled the system until you get rid of them 


  • AbdulRahiman S Dec 21, 2008

    dont forget to rate it.. good luck!!


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The problem is likely one or more faulty glow plugs. They can be tested by removing the glow plug connector from each glow plug and using a test light connected between the battery + terminal and each of the glow plugs where the glow plug connector would normally go. If the light comes on, the plug is good. If not, replace the plug.

The wrong type of plug can cause this too. As can a bad glow plug relay.

Posted on Dec 16, 2008

  • 1 more comment 
  • taran_2005
    taran_2005 Dec 16, 2008

    I looked up P0380 and found three probable failures listed for it, they are:

    1. The glow plug relay is faulty
    2. Faulty glow plug
    3. Incorrect glow plug installed

  • taran_2005
    taran_2005 Dec 16, 2008

    Remember Water in your fuel filter will stop you cold. Drain at least every
    7500 miles. ( I change every 7500 miles)

    1- We need good clean winterized fuel ( use STP Diesel Fuel Treatment if in doubt)
    2- Need a good Battery Not older than 3-yrs and 685 CCA.
    3- Need a good starter that will spin the motor over fast enough.
    4- Need enough compression 395 psi (minimum) all cyls.should be close.
    5- Need to not have a leaking head gasket.
    6- Need the injection pump to not be leaking fuel & the cold start device to work.
    7- If all of the above check out then :

    8- Check the Glow Plug Relay. Use a test lamp connected to the first Glow Plug to the
    right side ( or rear on Dasher or Quantum) then ground the other side of the lead. Turn
    the Ign, switch on ( not start) and if the test lamp stays on about 8-seconds after you
    dash light goes out your Relay is Good. Otherwise Replace! This assumes you have
    checked the 50amp fusible link Fuse on the firewall and it is not blown.

    9- Next to test the Glow plugs. I'll give you an easy way but it is Hot. Cycle your Pre.
    Glow Dash light on through 3 cycles. Then Touch each Glow Plug The HOT ones are good
    warm or cold replace. You Might start on 3 Good Plugs but 2 Forget it.
    *Note* You cannot always reach all the plugs to do the "touch test" so you
    have to follow the below (9a)

    9a-A More in detail glow plug test.
    Testing and Replacing Glow Plugs
    -------------------------------------------------
    Two types of glow plug circuits were used on early and late model vehicles.
    The slowglow system was installed on early production vehicles; the fast glow
    on late production vehicles. Always refer to the relay number for proper identification.

    The relay number for early slow glow plug circuits is 321-911-261 (BWC #203-0024).
    The later relay glow plug relay number is 171-911-261 (BWC #203-0023).
    Note that the relays must match the proper part number for the type of
    glow plug that is installed.
    An incorrect match of fast glow relay and slow glow plug will result in
    premature failure of glow plug and/or relay.

    To quick check the system, check the amount of current that is flowing to all
    glow plugs. A good specification to remember is fast glow plugs pull 12 amps each
    and slow glow plugs pull 9 amps each.

    Listed below are some guidelines to refer to when checking fast glow plug systems.

    48 amps - all glow plugs are operating correctly.
    36 amps - one glow plug is defective.
    24 amps - two glow plugs are defective.
    12 amps - three glow plugs are defective.
    0 amp - all glow plugs are defective
    .
    For slow glow systems use the following amp rating to test:

    36 amps - all glow plugs are operating correctly.
    27 amps - one glow plug is defective.
    18 amps - two glow plugs are defective.
    9 amps - three glow plugs are defective.
    0 amp - all glow plugs are defective.

    The above specifications are applicable to four-cylinder applications.
    If you have more than four glow plugs, just add 12 amps
    for each fast glow plug
    and 9 amps for each additional slow glow plug.
    NOTE: Depending on outside temperature, you may
    experience a surge of current up to 140 amps.

    10- Thick Oil is also a problem I use 20w-50 till the temp. gets to and stays around 10
    degrees (F) above then I go to 10w-40.

    Hint: The Diesel likes a little fuel added with the throttle (winter starting) as you are cranking.
    Hint 2: If you car is going to start it will fire in the first 20 seconds.
    Hint 3: WD-40 Sprayed into the intake tube will get the motor to fire.
    Hint 4: ATF (1 qt in the tank) every 3 rd. fill up is a wonderful detergent
    cleaner for both the injectors and the injection pump. I always
    fill the New Fuel filter with ATF (any kind) when I install it.

  • taran_2005
    taran_2005 Dec 16, 2008

    After several checks to make sure the car was getting fuel. I put
    a test lamp lead on the first glow plug and the ground to the battery.
    All tested well the relay was coming on and cycling off as it should.

    Finally I forced the car to start and with the test lead to the first glow
    plug still in place I found that:

    The Glow Plug Relay Was Sticking and Allowing the Glow Plugs to
    keep burning when they should have gone out. What happened
    3 of the 4 Glow Plugs had burned out and the car would not start.

    A word to the wise you can never do too much testing to find your problem !

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