Question about 2003 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

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03 VW Jetta TDI

Start problem - We have replaced glow plugs & the 2 relay modules and still havve trouble starting even in warm summer weather, any ideas? My husband thinks maybe something to do w/ timing?

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  • DC-Guy May 11, 2010

    Glow plugs don't do squat above about 30 degrees F. So that wasn't the problem. Describe in more detail what happens when you try to start it. Did you check the resistance of the glow plugs before changing them? They may have been perfectly fine.

  • Anonymous Mar 14, 2014

    it will shift after warming up if I don't let it warm up it wont shift out of first then I had the trans serviced now it will not shift out at all ps never once used the manual shift mode

  • Anonymous Mar 20, 2014

    how to test a glow plug relay for a 2000 jetta tdi

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I realize it's a little late in this game but I had a similar problem with my 2003 TDI. Sometimes it just wouldn't start, Dealer came and picked it up once to replace the battery under warranty and did all sorts of diagnostics to no avail. My brother suggested the ignition switch, so I watched it for several weeks and sure enough, new switch under warranty, problem gone for 4 years now.

Posted on Oct 21, 2008

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Common problems with 03 jetta tdi that lead to start failure (in order of decreasing occurence and increasing cost to owner):
fuel filter has water
intake manifold is cloggeg with carbon and/or MAF sensor has failed
injection pump needs to be replaced.

Posted on Sep 23, 2008

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Cameronas: The timing belt could have slipped. How many miles do you have on it and when was the last time the belt was changed (if ever, you might not have needed one yet). You MAF could be gone and giving incorrect readings. Did the guy doing the safety inspection accidentally disconnect anything or loosen stuff up enough to come off later on you?

TGold1226: You haven'tupdated so I'll just give you some guesses. It could be timing and it could also be a bad MAF sensor. It is either something with getting the correct amount of air or the correct amount of fuel. Can't really narrow it down more without more info. You could also have a bit of air in your fuel lines of a small leak letting bubbles in when stopped so when you start up the injection pump spits out some air till it clears the lines.

Posted on Sep 20, 2008

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Our 2003 Jetta GLS TDI was just safety inspected on Friday and today is Sunday.  Everything was fine and we were complemented on Friday on how "well maintained" our car was.  We were doing some high way driving today, when we took an ext, went on the off ramp and while we were driving up hill on it, I felt a jugging...I figured my husband might have not switched gears very timely.  However, once we were at the top and going towards a light, the car stalled.  Luckily, the light was red and my husband tried to start the car again but no luck.  We let it roll downhill and drove it into the gas station at the bottom of the hill.  There, we tried to start it again - but no luck.  The car was making a sound like it WANTS to turn over but isn't combusting.  Also, I felt the whole front of the car rather shacking...We had enough gas and don't believe the battery was empty.
We have also gotten our starter (and everything around it) replaced TWICE - once under warranty the other time we were out almost $700!!  Do you have any idea what the problem could be?  Thanks!

Posted on Sep 14, 2008

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1 Answer

Where are the three glow plugs that are used for the heater/cooling located on an 02 vw jetta 1.9L tdi?


In addition to the 4 primary glow plugs, the cooling system also has 3 Coolant Glow Plugs to help provide extra heat to the cooling system in order to warm-up the vehicle's interior more quickly, and enhance overall engine warm-up time. (Example - Some Mercedes diesel engines use electrical heaters in the cabin because their engine is so thermally efficient.)
Likewise, this auxiliary source of heat from the 3 Coolant Glow Plugs is necessary because of the VW 1.9 TDI engines outstanding efficiency, which wastes very little heat.


The 3 Auxiliary Coolant Glow Plugs are located at the end of the aluminum cylinder head (in a protruding flange) directly below the vacuum (brake booster) pump, which also connects to a coolant hose.

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The 3 Auxiliary Coolant Glow Plugs use two (underhood) relays which are monitored and controlled by the ECU. During a cold start, the vehicle's interior temperature selector switch helps the ECU choose one of three modes depending on the amount of heat required to warm-up the coolant.

For example, Coolant Glow Plug #1 can be selected to operate all by itself, or #2 and #3 can operate together as a two-some, or lastly, all three glow plugs can form a triple source of heat for maximum enhancement of engine warm-up time.

After the engine is completely warmed up and the thermostat is open, the Coolant Glow Plugs normally shut-off and remain off unless the (thermally efficent) engine cools down sufficiently to have the computer signal them to come back on to keep the engine and cabin air warm. Extensive idling times at stop lights or in the driveway are scenarios where these glow plugs are most likely to recycle on and off.

In conclusion, the period of Preglow and Afterglow is determined by the engine's coolant temperature (during a cold or hot start), which helps the ECU select a predetermined time-cycle for the combustion chamber and / or Auxiliary Coolant Glow Plugs to follow.

Finally, one myth that needs to be immediately debunked, is the belief that the TDI's advanced Glow Plug System is linked to the opening of the driver's side door, which is false! It is also noteworthy to mention that some earlier VW diesel glow plug systems were operated in this manner, but not so with the advanced VW Jetta 1.9 TDI engine.

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1 Answer

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