Question about 2003 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

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2003 tdi, 54 k miles, bought car new, had manifold cleaned, new glow plugs and harness. car has been driven only short commutes for 3 years. Heavy blue smoke at startup, then it clears right up. No driveability issues at all, car runs great. All oil changes were done with synthenic vw oil. What is the most likley cause?? Thanks!

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  • Anonymous Mar 17, 2014

    possible causes oil smoking on a 2003 vw

  • Anonymous Mar 17, 2014

    possible causes oil smoking on a 2003 vw


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I have a1998 jetta TDI it idles rough and glow plug light stays flashing all the time, but it runs fine when driven, except for rough idle. what is the couse of that?

Posted on Jul 28, 2010

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Valve seals are going. when car sits excess oil gets past the valve seals then when you staRT up it burns the oil off then runs fine and no more blue smoke. It is fine to run like that had the same in a dodge caravan 1996 6cyl. ran another 100 000 km. and still ran fine got rid of it for other reasons.

Posted on Nov 20, 2009

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1 Answer

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Glow Plug harnesses in these models were notoriously brittle. If your plugs are known to be good, the harness will be your next stop.
It's a fairly easy job for a moderately inclined person.

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Hi the glow plug harness is the wiring for the glow plugs, it could just be the small wire attaching the 4 plugs, very cheap and easy to do yourself, that is if it is the smaller visable wire that runs over all 4 glow plugs, easily visable.

If not the problem could be more serious, I should think it will be but without seeing the car it's difficult to say.

That would definately stop the car from starting this is what heats the glow plugs to allow the fuel to ignite, without ignition it will not start

Also worth emntioneing the wire for the glow plugs could just be corroded or have a poor connection try cleaning the contacts are replacing, as far as I recall it should only be 4 8mm nuts to remove.
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Yah, my 02 did the same thing. Could be 1 of 2 things-

The ECU always sends a tracer signal out to the plugs. This not only tests for a bad plug, but also for a resistance imbalance before a plug even goes bad. It's a very small change in resistance and you'll need an analog ohm meter to see it accurately. Oh, and just because the car says it's #1 glow plug doesn't always mean #1 is at fault. I've tested some cars with the numbering order backwards. If your car has some miles on it, I'd replace the 4 of em', they go for around $65

The other issue is that it's has been with the harness corroding up. New ones again go for arouund $65. The replacement is either fish the new wiring a through the engine compartment, or cut, splice, and heatshrink

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They are absolutely pulling your leg if they're telling you that you have 7 glow plugs. It sounds like they don't have a clue about TDI's.
Everything you ever wanted or needed to know about TDI's can be found at You should even be able to find a knowledgeable guy in your area that would be willing to take a look at your car. These guys know their stuff. Better than any VW dealer on the planet.
Read this thread - you might be able to figure something out on your own:

Are you having problems with your heating/cooling? OR did you get a check engine light and found out about P0380 when you brought it to the shop?
You more than likely have an issue with your glow plug harness. The connectors on the glow plug harness (where they plug into your glow plugs) prob need to be cleaned. Read this thread too:

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You probably need to replace the glow plug harness. The contacts in the boots that connect to the glow plugs get corroded and throw off the resistance of the circuit. The controller in the VW measures whether your glow plugs are good or not by testing the resistance in the circuit. Test all the glow plugs like DickyIV1 stated and if they are all good try cleaning out the crud on the contacts in the glow plug harness. You will then either need to clear the error code or wait several trips for it to clear itself. If it never clears itself or if it comes back on after you clear it then the glow plug harness is too much of a mess. This is really common on the TDIs (mine needs to be changed but i have been putting it off and ignoring the mil light). When I first tried cleaning the harness on my car it didn't give me a problem for another year and a half. But I knew I'd eventually be changing it.
The other thing to keep in mind is that you should change out glow plugs as a set. It causes less problems in the long run since if one failed you will probably find other will soon fail and it keeps all the resistance close to the same value.

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