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I just acquired a 2011 VW Routan. (It's like a Dodge Grand Caravan.)

Sometimes, when you turn the key to start it, you can hear the engine vigorously turning over many times, but it just doesn't fire. So you take the key out and try again. Again, it turns over many times, but just doesn't "catch". It goes "Wawawawawawawa" If you get lucky, it will start up right away and you're fine, which happens sometimes. If you're unlucky, you'll try again and again until you drain the battery.

The battery is actually fine. The starter motor sounds fine. It also has brand new spark plugs. It also has fuel additive added to the gas to make it awesome. There are no relevant bad engine codes.

We have two keys. We've tried both of them, from both sides, and everything else we can think of.

  • Is this some sort of electrical problem?
  • Should I replace my ignition?
  • Does my key need a battery in it or something?
  • Is there some sort of module I should replace?
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  • Can you elaborate on “sometimes”? Is it 1 in 10 starts it has problems?
    – HandyHowie
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 20:47
  • Sometimes joining or reading forums (if one exists) specific to VW Routans can help diyers by sharing similar problems and solutions. The ignition key isn't the problem unless its a remote with VWs antitheft system. If the antitheft system is disabled, starting problems (cranks but doesn't fire up) may be a fuel, spark or crank sensor issue. Check for fuel pressure and spark to narrow this problem down.
    – F Dryer
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 21:02
  • Sometimes 30 out of 30 attempts fail. Sometimes it works first try. Sometimes it takes 4 or 5 attempts.
    – Magmatic
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 23:03

3 Answers 3

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This is nothing to do with the key if its cranking.

Almost ALWAYS with this model it will be the built in fuel pump relay inside the TIPM (fuse box under hood). You can replace the tipm or you can send it out to have it repaired. I usually charge about $120 for US mail-in repairs on these. You can verify if its the relay by checking for power with ignition "ON" at the fuel pump fuse (I think its #M25 if memory serves). You can temporarily power this fuse from another run fuse but only do so in an emergency as you can cause other circuits to burn out.

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For the record, I took the van in to our local VW dealership, and they fixed the problem by replacing the fuel pump, and charging us $1300 for the privilege.

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I have a 2012 VW Routan with 53,000 miles.  It was hard starting and died once while driving. My regular mechanic and one other mechanic told me that it was a problem only the dealer could solve. So I begrudgingly took it to the local VW dealer who had to keep it over night so that their senior technician could diagnosis the problem which cost $185. Unfortunately the total cost would have been $2480 parts and labor so I ordered a TIPM Plug in Relay Lite online. I’m a 68 year women and it took me about 30 minutes to install and test. Most of my time was wasted on the fuse removal tool, I recommend needle nose pliers instead.  Put in the ground and the van fired right up! And the led lights lite up appropriately!

PS If I can install it anyone can!

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