View original topic: VANAGON- intermittent starting issues- have spent alot $ Page: 1, 2  Next
zetecvw Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:47 pm

I have a 1986 Vanagon. It is stock with an automatic transmission.
I have had too many times where my van would not start.
Often loaded up with the family and camping gear and then having to unload.
Ferry boat- had to be towed off the dock.
The dash lights come on and that's it.
**No sounds or engine cranking. Fresh tune up. The van runs and drives great if it starts up- which it normally does.

Work done so far_
New starter
new ignition switch
new ignition keyed tumbler/switch
repaired neutral safety switch. We will be ordering a new one (van started up fine after contacts were repaired).
after all the above repairs were done at a shop the van started fine each time.
Then the issue would re-appear again days later.
It's frustrating for the shop and I since the issue rarely presents itself once the van has been towed in for work. It starts right up.
Please offer suggestions or experiences with this issue.

a1fa Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:49 pm

Does it even turn-over?

air, spark, gas is all you need to make that thing move.. did you check for spark? did you check to see if your fuel pump is turning on? You'll have to get familiar with some basics.

zetecvw Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:51 pm

The dash lights come on and that's it.
No sounds or engine cranking.

colins84 Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:52 pm

Do you hear the fuel pump turn on?

a1fa Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:52 pm

Double relay?
Ignition switch?

Have you tried bypassing the switch?

a1fa Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:58 pm

..also check voltage to the starter.. i've hard that starter can get jam the motor when it gets hot...but you've had cold and hot issues..

colins84 Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:03 pm

Also could be a hot start relay installed next to the starter motor.

zetecvw Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:06 pm

I do not believe the fuel pump turns on.
Double relay? Is this suggesting installing another relay somewhere?
The starter has been replaced

Keep it coming. I'd sure like to nail this. I don't want to sell my van !

indytriple Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:24 pm

You can easily bypass the neutral safety switch by connecting the two red wires together at the switch. Ben (ftp2leta) has suggested doing this in another thread as something that should be done to avoid trouble anyway in auto transmission vans. Just keep in mind that the neutral safety switch is a safety feature, and you're disabling it. Good luck. I'd start there.

joel72 Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:36 pm

i would check and clean every single electrical conection in your van and replace any wiring that looks old ive had simalar problem took forever to finally realize that when i pulled some of the rubber covering off of my ground wire to the battery it was horribly corroded inside replaced the wire started right up

camerahunter Sun Jul 08, 2012 12:55 am

I actually had this problem with my 85 once. It turned out to be a bad idle stabilizer which is actually not on your 87. I would bypass the neutral safety switch for a while and see if it still happens. Does the 87 have a hall sender? Can't remember. If it does you may want to check those connections.



vanagonjetta Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:59 am

If the fuel pump doesn't come on and it won't crank - it's the ignition switch. Try shooting contact cleaner on all the terminals of your ignition switch. I had intermittent problems like that on another car with the switch. Re-seat the connector after you put the contact cleaner.

edit: relative made this post while they were searching for answers to my no starting problem, I have no idea if this is related to your issues or not

a1fa Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:05 am

guys, he said the engine is not spinning. he turns the key on, and nothing happens. most definitively check the grounds.

vw54john Sun Jul 08, 2012 6:09 am

I think the answer may lie with what I think Colins84 was trying to suggest - the ADDITION of a hard start relay. I haven't had enough experience with Vanagons (yet), but damn I've had enough buses and beetles with this issue. It's a long haul from the ignition switch on a bus or beetle back to the starter compared to most vehicles with the engine in the front. Over time resistance builds in the wiring and the full voltage needed to kick the starter over just doesn't get there. One solution back in the day was to install a starter (doorbell type) button for the sole purpose of operating the starter. But the far better solution is to install a hard start relay, which will boost/ensure that the starter receives the necessary voltage. They're available from most of the usual VW parts vendors out there.

Ahwahnee Sun Jul 08, 2012 6:59 am


Jake de Villiers Sun Jul 08, 2012 10:39 am

zetecvw wrote: I do not believe the fuel pump turns on.
Double relay? Is this suggesting installing another relay somewhere?
The starter has been replaced

Keep it coming. I'd sure like to nail this. I don't want to sell my van !

When you turn the switch to the 'run' position you should hear the fuel pump do a little 'buzzzzz' self test. If that's not happening, you're not going to start.

Do you have a Zetec in there? Who installed it?

Wildthings Sun Jul 08, 2012 10:57 am

Have you replaced your fuel injection and fuel pump relays? They can fail in an intermittent manner.

Assuming the fuel pump runs momentarily when you turn the switch to the run position, why don't you temporarily install a starter switch in you engine compartment.

zetecvw Sun Jul 08, 2012 10:07 pm

Thank you everyone for your help.
I am going to order one of these-

I'll bring in notes from some of the replies in this thread to the shop.
I'll give it one more shot on this issue.

16CVs Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:19 pm

If the dash lights come on and the fuel pump buzzes , I would look towards bad grounds or bad connections on starter as stated earlier . If you are handy ,I would run a wire from the starter solenoid to a power source like the back of the alternator or somewhere easy to access . When it will not start again ,turn the key on ,be sure you have dash lights and and the fuel pump buzzes and the vehicle is in park with the brake set and touch your wire to power ,if it starts you know your starter and relays are good and you have a supply issue to the solenoid which your hot start may fix ,but more than likely cleaning those connections and verifying clean grounds are more of the issue
The good thing about installing this wire is that you will be able get going while you figure out the problem .
Good luck if you are not mechanical have someone who is do this for you and explain how to use it when you need to.

boat_builder Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:40 am

Another vote here for replacing your ground cables and the cable going from the battery to the starter. If they have never been done, they will not be at their best after 26 years.

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