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Hey vw forums I'm new here but not a stranger to VAG vehicles. I'm here because yesterday my sister came to me and told me that the ESP and ABS lights came on while she was driving home. I went outside and they weren't on BUT as soon as I shifted into first or reverse they came on along with the airbag light and all shut off as soon as I shifted back into neutral. As i was doing some basic checks she told me that the car started idling rough and the radio started doing some funny stuff as she was driving home and also told me that at one point it was running so poorly that she thought it wasn't going to make it over the bridge near our house and it has a very very gentle incline. She also mentioned that once she hit about 55mph it kinda stabilized a bit but then ran crappy when she got below 55mph. I then shut down the car as part of my express diagnosing and when I attempted to restart it it cranked over very slow like as if the battery was drained. My first thought was the alternator but upon further pondering (and searching) it seems to be something else. Anyone else experienced this before? I don't have a vag com unfortunately and I need this figured out by Tuesday the latest.

Thanks

2003 VW Jetta 1.8T 5 speed manual 132,000 miles
 

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Thanks for the reply. I went to start the car a bit ago and the lights were off I shifted into first and then reverse and crept the car a bit in both directions and the lights stayed off but the idle was a bit funky. I shut off and restarted it cranked slow like a weak battery but it did start but the second time the battery light was on and stayed on I shut off again and restarted and third time no battery light. The second time I got a loud screeching sound from the passenger side of the car that's when the battery light was on...
 

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Alternator pulley problem? I would double checked it's spinning freely due to the screeching. As for the ABS and ESP light I would pull all the fuses above the battery and push them in and out. Contacts on the fuse might not be making a clean contact to the box. It's only one fuse but I forgot which one it is, so just do them all :p

Like Bimmer84 said, grab the clone vag cable and install VCDS Lite on a small netbook. Works wonders when it comes to troubleshooting.

Definitely sounds like an alternator problem or something is screwing with the belt to help charge the battery.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Alternator pulley problem? I would double checked it's spinning freely due to the screeching. As for the ABS and ESP light I would pull all the fuses above the battery and push them in and out. Contacts on the fuse might not be making a clean contact to the box. It's only one fuse but I forgot which one it is, so just do them all :p

Like Bimmer84 said, grab the clone vag cable and install VCDS Lite on a small netbook. Works wonders when it comes to troubleshooting.

Definitely sounds like an alternator problem or something is screwing with the belt to help charge the battery.
well I replaced the alternator yesterday and upon initial drive the lights came back and just down the street everything electrical shut down and the car sputtered when trying to accelerate (limp mode?) we limped it home shut down and no restart. I put a multimeter to the battery and lo and behold it showed only 7-8 volts. I jumped started with the minivan and it started took off jumpers and shut off and bam again no start. Long story short I pulled battery out and had it checked and charged at pep boys went back home put it and good as new then drove about 20 miles trouble free. At the destination I shut off and restarted and now the battery light stays on. Wtf? Alternator is a reman from pep boys. I checked and double checked and even triple checked all the connections on the alternator prior to bolting it up to the engine. Can the battery be killed so soon? I bought that for my sister in September 2013
 

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yeah its possible depending on how long this problem has been going on. If you have a warranty on the battery just get it swapped. If that fails then you may need to start looking into other likely problems. Is there an aftermarket radio/system in the vehicle? Ive also seen a faulty under the hood light drain a battery and actually melt the positive wire in half. Start with simple and work your way towards not so simple..
 

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If it's a crapped out battery then yes. I had a battery 4 months ago that could barely hold a charge; even if I drove it for 30 min I was either lucky to turn it over or I was screwed. Get a new battery, check your ground on the battery tray, and make sure all the wiring from the alternator and battery are in good shape.
 

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If it's a crapped out battery then yes. I had a battery 4 months ago that could barely hold a charge; even if I drove it for 30 min I was either lucky to turn it over or I was screwed. Get a new battery, check your ground on the battery tray, and make sure all the wiring from the alternator and battery are in good shape.
A defective battery will often hold a surface charge long enough to start the vehicle, and then your newly installed alternator runs the show. If the battery is bad, however, it will not "re-charge" from the alternator alone and will not have enough surface charge for a second start or will have drained enough to turn on that light. I'm surprised you didn't have the battery tested 1st before the alternator replacement, but that would be my next step. Defective batteries are more common than you think, I used to sell them.
 

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Check your wires under your battery and especially the positive wire coming off the alternator. Might be corroded really bad
 

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Hey everyone thanks for the replies sorry I am late to post it's been a hectic week. On Monday I took out the alternator a second time cuz it left my sister stranded late the night before (me not happy Stockton is NOT a safe city) took it to get tested both alt and battery and they tested good. I went back put everything back together and the problem persisted. I gave up due to time constraints and had it towed to the local Audi/VW Indy shop here in town and he found that the fuse box that lives above the battery was completely shot along with the wiring harness between the alt and battery so that was not allowing the two work together. He replaced that and retested the battery and alternator and the problem has been solved. We picking up the car tomorrow morning since it had to stay an extra 2 days to get the timing belt done cuz it was found to be WAY overdue in the free full vehicle inspection he does along with the dignostic work.
 
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