Question about 1996 Volkswagen Cabrio

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Car will not start at times, will stall out while running, and has choppy acceleration

My 96 VW Cabrio started giving me problems the last week in May. I have had the car since September 2000. The whole time I've had it, I've always put premium unleaded in it. With rising gas prices, I felt the time had come to scale back to regular. On May 27th, the car gas tank was down to half full (of premium) and I filled it up with regular. It seemed like just shortly after that, I noticed problems with the acceleration being rather choppy as I shifted gears (it's a manual). Perhaps this is just a coincidence that the car started acting up at the same time I decided to start using regular gasoline; I'm not all that informed on auto mechanics so I don't know. Anyway, by two days later, the car really started giving me fits. It would stall out in traffic, and at times it would seem that there was just no response to get the car going even though I was accelerating. Then it started acting really badly, not even wanting to start. The weird thing is though, that occasionally, it will start up and run for a while. It doesn't alway STAY running though; it'll stall out, not want to start again, then voila, it comes to life again. I take it to a local place that specializes in imports that has worked on the car before. They said the computer said a new air mass meter was needed, so I authorized them to replace it with a new one. However, that did not fix the problem. The car has been with them now for almost 6 weeks; they say they are totally baffled and don't know what is wrong with it but are really curious to figure it out. I am somewhat attached to the car and honestly believe there has to be some reason why it's not working, and some solution to getting it fixed. I've been without it for over 6 weeks now and very, very badly want it back, especially because it is so much more economical on gas than the spare Chevy pickup I'm borrowing from my Dad in the meantime. Does anyone on here have any clue what could be causing this? Could it MAYBE be the switch in gas from 93 octane to 87? I've mentioned this more than once to the people at the shop but they keep dismissing it, saying that wouldn't be causing the problem. I just want my car back! If anyone can help me, I'd be SO SO SO grateful! Thank you!!!

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There is one thing you can do yourself and that is to drain the fuel tank (save the fuel for later!) and put some 93 octane in, to see if that cures the problem.
The other suggestion is to get that list of fault codes from your mechanic and post them here. Make sure it's a current list - read the codes, print out the list, clear the codes and then run the car for a while before getting the fault codes read again. Then send us that new list.

I haven't looked up the spec on your engine because I don't know what engine type it is, but if it has anti-knock sensors they could be trying to ****** the electronic timing so much that the car stalls, maybe combined with some other problem.

If these suggestions do help you solve the problem, please give my reply a rating to help others judge my knowledge / guessing skills.
If they do not, please hold off on the rating and add a comment with more details so I can try to help you further. Cheers, D

Posted on Jul 12, 2008

  • Richard Raynor Jul 12, 2008

    In the second to last paragraph I typed something which came out in the post as ****** for some reason. The word I typed was r-e-t-a-r-d. Hope it comes out OK this time. If not, the word means the opposite of "advance".



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