Updated: 25-Aug-19

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 Everything you should know about VW starters and solenoids*: http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?2359900.

The above link includes:

  1. How it's made
  2. Upgrading
  3. Replaceable parts
  4. Troubleshooting
  • Lots of starter issues are wiring related
  • Sometimes it starts, others not
  • Starter stays on even when driving or after the car is shut off
  • It grinds like a mofo!
  • Ok the starter is out, how do I know if it's good?
  • Slowwwww cranking
  • The starter spins, but doesn't engage the flywheel
  1. Replacing the starter

*Diesel starter is shown/used in that link.  Diesel starters contain reduction gear sets and are larger and heavier than gasoline starters.

Intermittent Starting

Causes and remedies:

  • Ignition switch is faulty.  Replace ignition switch.
  • Starter is faulty.  Replace starter.
  • Faulty battery cables and/or electrical connections.  Replace battery cables and/or clean/repair electrical connections.  Be sure the ground connections are good.  Note: Replacing the battery cables is a wise idea whether or not your car is suffering from starting issues.
  • 1990+: Coolant temp sensor (CTS) is faulty.  Replace blue CTS.
  • Cabriolets with automatic transmissions:
  • Fuel pumps are overheating.  Replace fuel pumps.
  • Fuel pump relay is faulty.  Replace relay.

No Start

Common causes:

  • No spark
  • Faulty/wet distributor cap, rotor, and/or spark plug wires
  • Weak coil
  • Faulty ignition switch
  • Defective Hall sender
  • Incorrect ignition timing
  • Broken timing belt
  • Faulty fuel system
  • Engine mechanical failure

For complete diagnostic procedures for all of the above, please refer to your Bentley Service Manual (or other repair manual).

No Re-Start When Hot

Is it an automatic? Automatic Cabriolets are notorious for this problem due to the poorly-located starter (next to the exhaust manifold).  The best solution for this problem is to install a starter relay: click here for a how-to.  Also, be sure that the heat-shield is in place.

Spark Plugs

Spark plug guide is now in a PDF document: click here to download.

Bosch is still making decent wires, so they are still recommended.  However, NGK is now making a set of plug wires for these cars, which are also recommended (#VWC013, or NGK57283).

Firing order: 1-3-4-2



Ignition Coils

Digifant I uses a coil pack:

Bosch #0040402001

VW #6N0905104

NAPA #DEN 6739102

Coil pack connector is available at AutoZone (Duralast #789).

VW wiring:

Pin 1 = Brown

Pin 2 = Green/Black

Pin 3 = Black

Ignition Control Unit Pin-outs


The Load Reduction Circuit

Also known as the "X" circuit, the load reduction circuit is exactly that: It is the circuit that reduces the load on the ignition system during cranking by cutting power to high-load accessories.  These accessories include the headlights, the HVAC system, windshield wipers, and rear window defroster.

More thorough explaination and troubleshooting can be found at this link.

Starting Battery

North American Cabriolets were originally equipped with Group 41 lead acid batteries. These are now becoming harder to find in some regions. Click here to read about your other options.

Tech Tip:

Is it a starting issue, or a running issue?  If the car starts and runs, albeit poorly, it does not have a starting problem; the car has a running issue.  For troubleshooting, visit the engine and/or fuel system pages.

Ignition System