My 2002 VW Golf TDI (turbodiesel) first began having starting issues a year ago. Slow cranking especially when cold led me to suspect the battery was weak. I replaced the battery with a fancy 880 CCA battery about a year ago. Noticeably faster cranking/quicker starting was the welcome result. However, then the car began having a new issue - sometimes when starting from cold (mornings) the starter would every so often become disengaged from the flywheel such that after turning the engine over a few times the starter motor spins up quickly with no load on it.
I bought a new (rebuilt) starter and installed without any further troubleshooting, and to my surprise the problem not only continued but actually seemed to happen more often! I started from scratch and checked all my battery cables for any voltage drop between the battery and starter solenoid and also between the battery and chassis ground. A 0.1 VDC drop was evident so I cleaned all my terminals and ensured no voltage drop remained. The problem continued, so I returned the "new" starter and finally convinced the parts store to exchange it even after a bench test showed it was working properly (though of course with no load.)
The problem continues to this day even after installing the second starter. The car always starts on the second try, and this never happens when the engine is warm - it only occurs in the morning when the engine is "cold." I began to suspect that perhaps the flywheel itself was damaged in a spot but last weekend I installed a new timing belt and had an opportunity to inspect every single tooth on the flywheel - it's in fine shape with no missing or broken teeth.
Here's a video demonstrating the issue. Sorry for the long-winded post and thanks in advance for any suggestions or opinions.