My car won't start! Sometimes!
August 24, 2012 4:58 PM Subscribe
I know you're not my mechanic, but are you a
mechanic? Because I have a very strange electrical problem with my Jetta that I can't begin to troubleshoot.
posted by pdb to travel & transportation (17 answers total)
My wife and I have a 2002 Jetta - the 1.8T 4DR sedan, automatic transmission and gasoline engine. It has 77,000 miles on it and so far has run like a champ, with nothing but routine maintenance. We just got back from a road trip, and on that trip a very strange thing started to happen. As we were leaving town, the car started up just fine, we drove to the grocery store for some supplies, shut down the engine, and once again after our shopping the car started up just fine. Then we stopped at a gas station less than a mile away, got gas, and when I got back into the car and turned the key....nothing.
No grinding, like a dead/dying battery; no false starts like a mechanical problem, nothin'. Utter silence. Pretty much all the dashboard warning lights came on, but the engine didn't even try to turn over. About three attempts later, after removing and reinserting the key, opening and closing the door, and panicking somewhat (can you tell I'm not a car person?), the car started right up and ran fine. This happened twice more in our six hour drive today.
Other strange symptoms:
- During these episodes, the brake pedal wouldn't depress, which I discovered when trying to shift into neutral to try to start it from there in case that might help
- The car wouldn't shift into neutral, because the brake pedal wouldn't depress
- Even when the key was out of the ignition, the electric windows opened and closed as if the car was running or the key were in the ignition with the engine off
It seems to me like the car might have thought it was still on - like it didn't shut down properly or something? The only things that have changed on the car in the last few months are a couple blown fuses that were replaced (one for the climate control panel lights, one for the cigarette lighter), otherwise the car has never had a serious issue and hasn't really been modified in any way. The battery is about three years old-ish, and I'm not enough of a car guy to know whether that is old enough to need replacement and could be causing this.
Googling didn't really turn up much that would help on this specific issue, so I'm turning to the hivemind - have any Jetta owners out there experienced anything like this? What did you do about it?
I'm going to go to a mechanic at some point, but I want to go in with more than "my car won't start sometimes and it's really weird" because I'm the guy that would take the car in, only to have it start fine 20 times in a row before the mechanic sent me home, thinking I was insane.