Starting Up the Hornet's Nest - 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Long-Term Road Test

2011 Volkswagen Jetta Long-Term Road Test

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Starting Up the Hornet's Nest

September 16, 2011

VW Jetta TDI start switch.jpg

Apparently I stirred up a baby hornet's nest when I posted last month that our long-term 2011 VW Jetta TDI had a bit of trouble starting.

I drove it only for 1 night when I reported that, and started it a few times in the course of my brief driving stint.

I did extensive testing this week on our Jetta (with Video!) and it turns out that my original quick diagnosis wasn't correct.

When I drove the Jetta TDI last month, I thought I had thought that night that the Jetta would start then die (stall) immediately afterwards. That wasn't the case.

The starter would turn and the lights in the meters would come on; that's why I thought it died upon the gear shift into D.

What is happening is that our diesel Jetta is difficult to cold start on the first try. I normally press the start switch briefly, then I will move the shifter immediately afterward.

This procedure works for me in every car I have ever driven with a smart start switch -- except our Jetta.

The Jetta TDI, it turns out needs an inordinate hold time on the start switch -- over a second and a half -- to get started.

And although Donna said it's always been like this with our Jetta, that's not my recollection and I didn't have this problem when we first got it.

The video shows me in our long-term Jetta TDI. I press the start switch and get nothing. I immediately press again a second time and the car starts right up. Weird.

After shutting it off, I then show a successful cold start up by holding the start switch for over a second and a half; it eventually starts up.

But it's a diesel, right? "They all take a long time to start."

By luck we happened to have a 2012 VW Passat TDI for comparison, right next to our Jetta. It started right up from cold, no problem at all.

So our Jetta diesel doesn't start up, then stall. On cold start you just have to hold down the start switch longer than normal.

That's why I don't think this condition is normal.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 11,100 miles

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