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Discussion Starter #1
Yes another one. I have been trolling the past threads on the issue and have learned a lot about the MK3 from you all. Here is my story, hopefully someone can put me on the hunt for the fix.

I have recently bought a used 1997 Golf GL 4 door, automatic MK3. I was driving along and everything was great. Out of no where it quit. Like someone reached over and turned the key off. I coasted to a stop in a parking lot and the car wouldn't start. It wouldn't turn over or anything. Just a click and that's it.

So I get it towed home and start to fiddle. I read all the threads about the alarms on these cars so I did the alarm bypass with a jumper wire. No joy, it just clicks. While investigating that I found all the wires and the vacuum hose to the drivers door all cut and disconnected. I fixed them just in case there was a short that might have caused it. Still no joy.

Now, when the key is turned I hear clicking and a hum around the distributor and the fuel injectors. I bought a new distributor cap and rotor cap, cleaned all the battery connectors at both ends. Nothing. Still just clicking. The car won't turn over.

It has a new ignition switch that was installed by a mechanic by the previous owner too so I don't think that's it.

What next?

If I get this thing running again I am going to post how i did it. It seems most people with an issue like this don't seem to tell everyone the happy ending that all of us stuck in "It won't start land" are looking for.

Thanks in advance for your time,
D.
 

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idk how much of a help ill be but i think that its got to be electrical of some sorts. If it was fuel it would still turn over but not start. vacume problems would do the same. Ive even accidentl run without the brake booster connected and it would still run just would shut off if you let it below 2k rpm. It sounds sorta like a starter motor maybe if its not turning over. You turn the key in the ignition and something happens. So its sending a signal from the ignition...so id look past that especially if it was just replaced. Distributer cap and rotor are not good you say. And even if they were it would still turn over just wouldnt ignite and start. so id check the starter and see what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks lax5,
I picked up a used starter from the salvage yard and hooked it up to the car without installing. I wanted to see if the starter would turn before installing it. The car did the same thing, just clicked and hummed. So either I got another bad starter or it's not a starter issue. Why would the car quit running because of the starter? That doesn't make sense to me but I could be wrong.

I have looked at the transmission gear location sensor to make sure the car isn't starting because it thinks it's in park (it's an automatic). It looks okay from everything I can tell.

Maybe I need a new coil but I have seen so many posts about people replacing it and it still won't turn. I am hearing current at the distributor cap so I don't think its' the coil.

Thoughts?

D.
 

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well i guess the next thing if we both agree its electrical is just start from your spark plugs and work your way back the system. make sure you got spark, then move back to cap and rotor (which you already replaced so you should be good), then move back past that. just grab like a voltage meter and a buddy to start the car while you check each part. idk anything about automatics so i wont be of any help there. also, grab a bently's off amazon used cause those are pretty helpful. itll tell you exactly how to test all the different components which is helpful especially on electrical stuff when you cant really just look at it to see if its working. the other thing that comes to mind is a bad ecu. ive heard of them going bad on these cars and that would prevent it from running and also just cause it to shut off.
 

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air + fuel + spark = boom
My opinion is coil. you may have a separate charging issue that is not engaging the starter but to be running as you described and just stop I think coil. My MK3 had a problem that whenever it rained it would shut down. no warning or anything. once the coil dried out everything was fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It's back on the road! Here is what the issue was.

I am still not exactly sure why it quit but my hunch was that the alarm unit was wonky. So the first thing I did was by pass the alarm with a jumper wire. The car still wouldn't start so I did a tune up and replaced the rotor cap, distributor cap, plugs, and plug wires. I almost replaced the coil but didn't. I had a spare starter from the salvage yard so i swapped it out.

Turns out the starter has some sort of clutch in it that engages when starting and then disengages after its started. The one that I pulled off was all seized together. It smelled like a charred mess. I think I was dealing with two problems at once. A bad alarm situation with the cut wires on the drivers door and a starter that crapped out at the same time.

It's running like a champ now. I will update this thread if anything changes.

Thanks for all of the input.

D.
 

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great to hear! although for future reference, the mk3's dont have an immobilizer in the alarm. that started with the mk4s. so idk that the alarm would cause it to shut off.
 

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That is true. I just assumed that it was an aftermarket alarm, but even at that they are usually starter kill only. Every time I hear a car shut down while it was running, I just immediately think coil and all of the times sitting on the side of the road throwing rocks into the woods out of pure frustration because I didn't know that at the time.

D-dub - I am curious to know how you bypassed the alarm. Maybe that could help someone else out.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I found all of the alarm info here it was invaluable for me. When i got the car none of the locks would automatically lock either. That was because of a vacuum leek in the driver door hose. I still can't get over the fact that VW uses a vacuum pump for door locks.

The post at at that link says there is not an immobilizer but it will stop the starter from cranking. That's why I bypassed it. It was a pain anyway. I just put a kill switch in the circuit when I bypassed the alarm.

Thanks,
D.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
UPDATE

Okay, so there is more to the story and maybe this will help others having this problem. My son and I drove the car from Colorado to Georgia and got to know it's little quarks pretty well. For one, the "new" ignition switch on the column likes to stick forward every so often when you start the care causing the starter to stay engaged. If the key doesn't come back a bit after starting, the starter says engaged and will burn out and cause the car to stop, and not restart.

The other issue we discovered by driving from a very dry climate to a very wet one, was that there was a hairline crack in the starter coil (mounted on the firewall). If it rains or gets really damp, water will condense in the cracks (can't see them) and cause the car to stop running and not start until its dried out again. If your car stops when it's a rainy day or dewy morning or won't start on a wet morning but then it starts fine in the hot after noon it's a good bet the coil is cracked. A simple test is to start the car and very carefully take a spray bottle and start spraying the coil. If the car starts to sputter or stops running then that's your issue.

Hope that helps someone,

D.
 
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