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Not likely, a bad solenoid usually results in nothing starting at all. The starter only runs a few seconds when first starting the engine. It could be the alternator which is always running. The starter basically replace the old hand crank form decades ago and simple rotates the engine while the fuel burn cycle engages.
Yes the neg cable is grounded at the starter bolts and also at the frame. Do you have power coming from the starter relay down to the starter solenoid with the key switch in the start position ? Do you have headlights when you try to crank the engine ? Have you tried cranking it in neutral ?
Probably a bad distributor. The cam sensor and optical sensor are under the slotted wheel and when the bearing goes, it gets brown dust on the optical sensor. Temp fix is to clean the optical sensor, but you will need a reman distributor, $200 on ebay. 1999 was famous for this issue.
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Could very well be a starter problem, but I typically suggest that one should check out the condition of the battery (may not be throwing sufficient amps to crank the starter), and then the alternator to make certain the alternator is providing enough amps to fully charge the battery.
Sounds like the starter is actually turning, just not fully engaging. when a starter dies 6 out of 10 times it's a bad selenoid (causing a loud clicking sound instead of the starter engaging). Doesn't sound like your immediate problem.
Try jump starting the Beetle. If it starts that was it's probably a battery or alternator issue. If your successful in getting the car started your local autoparts store (AutoZone, Advance Auto or O'Reillys) can test your battery and alternator for Free. Call before you go to make certain that their testing equipment is functioning.
most likely is the alternator.
jump start the car and pull off one of the cable for the battery terminal. if the car stop. then it is the alternator. if not then you have to check the regulator. it should out put 12-14v.
the battery is not being charged.