Question about 2003 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

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2003 Jetta, manual transmission - will not start if -25 C.

My 2003 Jetta will not start if it is -25 C. and below. If it warms up to above -25C, it starts. Have been to shops/Volkswagen dealship and they cannot troubleshoot it. Sure would like some help on this one. We have been told it is the battery (new battery and it still has problem), and it possibly be the starter, but no one is for sure.

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  • tfoster002 Mar 12, 2009

    Using synthetic oil and it turns over great. Also have a block heater, but still doesn't start. It seems to have the mechanics stumped at every shop that we have tried.

  • tfoster002 Mar 13, 2009

    I will have the engine coolant temperature sensor checked and will also check to see if there is a spark as you have suggested. I appreciated the suggestions and will let you know what works.

  • Dave  C
    Dave C May 11, 2010

    Man, -25, I don't blame it for not starting. If you are not using synthetic oil, standard oil turns into tar at that temperature and the engine will be a lot harder to crank. Switch to synthetic and get a block heater, have you been using one?



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Same problem with my 03 jetta. My buddy who is a car guy installed a push button start. I don't know anything about cars but this worked great and has started with no problems, he basically ran a wire from the push button, to the battery and it works great. If you still have problems, I will ask him specifics.

Posted on May 06, 2009

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Change the engine coolant temperature sensor. This is a guess, but I've seen several bad ones. There is a situation where the range of the sensor just doesn't go low enough. The computer may be getting a reading from the sensor that indicates the temperature is -10 instead of -25 and the fuel enrichment at start up just isn't aggressive enough to support combustion at that low temp. Failing this, you are really going to have to check if it has spark when it is not starting. Then you can determine if you are chasing a fuel or ignition problem.
Get a spare spark plug and plug it into one of the spark plug leads, hold the threaded portion of the plug against a metal part of the engine while someone cranks it over and watch the electrode. Your results here will give you a much clearer direction to take.

Posted on Mar 12, 2009

  • Dave  C
    Dave C Mar 13, 2009

    I have checked them myself and they appear good, but a new one solves the problem. I'm not sure why, maybe you just can't test the function throughout it's entire range. But checking it is really harder than just changing it. Easy to install, do it when the engine is cold, pull the wire clip retainer, pull the sensor out, put the new one in before too much coolant dribbles out. I just checked my parts supplier, 10 bucks for these new, and there has been THREE revisions, and you have to know the bulid date, so obviously they've had some issues with them.


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If you've ever been to Canada, you may heve noticed there are electrical outlets in most of the parking spaces. Especially when you head further north.Almost everyone has a block heater. That is your solution. Even gasoline is supplied in more volatile form in the winter because it is difficult to ignite. Same with other fuels. Alt fuel cars and deisels are especially prone. If you put a block heater on, you are helping the physical properties of the fuel to compress and ignite.

Posted on Mar 12, 2009

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