2

Background

  • 2013 VW Jetta S 2.0L
  • Serviced regularly by the dealer, as per the guidelines, and recently had a major service (e.g., spark plugs, filters, etc.)

Incidents

  1. When I came back to my car after it had been sitting for a few hours it wouldn't start. It would turn over, but wouldn't get running. Someone gave us a jump start and that solved the problem. Since the jump start solved it, I assumed that it was the battery, which was about three years old, so I bought a new one and installed it.
  2. The new battery seemed to solve the problem, but then after a week it wouldn't start again. I asked my neighbour for a jump start and by the time he arrived it just started by itself.
  3. It then ran fine for two weeks and just now my wife had a similar experience: the car was sitting for an hour after running fine then it wouldn't start. After leaving it for a bit, it would start just fine.

Question

Prior to the last incident, I booked it in with the dealer for them to look at it, but couldn't get in for two weeks. Of course, I cancelled the appointment after it ran fine for two weeks and then it crapped out again. I guess I'd have to wait another two weeks just to get it in. Regardless, they were not confident they could identify the problem since it is so intermittent and I don't want to drop some cash on a shrug. Is there a way I can narrow down the problem myself?


Update

Cleaning the connections hasn't solved the problem and the multimeter reads around 13.98 – 14.40 when the car is running.


Update 2

We took the car in to the dealership for their mechanics to have a look and they couldn't identify the problem. They said they could replace 5 different things and still not fix it. It remains unresolved. It seems that they say we need to wait until it is no longer an intermittent problem, but rather a constant issue before they can actually do anything. Quite frustrating that even a VW mechanic can't sort this out.

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  • You might want to check battery voltage while engine is running. You should see 14 volts or more. This checks if the alternator is outputting enough voltage. Auto parts stores like Autozone will test the alternator for free. Another common problem can be bad or dirty battery cables. They should be cleaned at both ends of each cable. – Jupiter Dec 3 '20 at 14:22
  • @Jupiter Thanks for the reply. Should I clean the cables with a cloth or do I need steel wool or something else? – Lyngbakr Dec 3 '20 at 14:57
  • @Jupiter - Actually, ~13.5-14.1vdc running voltage should be considered normal. To the OP, clean them with some type of metal brush, then pour baking soda water on to them to help neutralize the acids, then pour clean water to rinse. Follow up after re-installing with grease (like bearing grease) to help keep corrosion/oxidation at bay. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Dec 3 '20 at 15:17
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Thanks for your insights. Stupid question, but is it okay to get bearing grease directly between the cable and the battery connector? (I mean, does it conduct electricity?) Or do you mean put grease around the outside of connection after the cable is reattached to the battery? – Lyngbakr Dec 3 '20 at 15:28
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    There's no issues with it as long as the clamp can be tightly attached to the battery. My meaning was generally to put it on the outside parts of the clamp and whatever part of the battery post you can get to. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Dec 3 '20 at 15:51

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