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Good battery...but won't start
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OneArmBandit
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:31 pm    Post subject: Good battery...but won't start Reply with quote

I just bought my son his first Beetle (74). Tonight he was stranded and it would not crank. Both dash lights would come on when you turned the key, but nothing else. Barely even a click (not even sure it clicked)...engine would not even attempt to turn over. I jumped it off with battery cables and it started fine (so I assumed it was a bad battery). We drove it to the parts store and pulled the battery. That's when I noticed it was 6 months old. I had them test it and it passed just fine. We installed it again and it would not crank. We jumped it off again just fine. Just for giggles (which I now regret), we turned it off one more time. We could not get it to crank or jump after that. We're having it towed in the morning. Any thoughts? Starter related? Alternator? Thank you so much for any help you can offer!
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ps2375
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Good battery...but won't start Reply with quote

Have you looked closely at the cables and their connections?
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heimlich Premium Member
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Good battery...but won't start Reply with quote

Look at this thread. Your question reminded me of his/hers.

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6...highlight=
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Alex Maldonado
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:54 am    Post subject: Re: Good battery...but won't start Reply with quote

I'm having the exact same problem in my '69 beetle. The battery tested as being better than good and is barely a year old, yet my bug will regularly refuse to give me more than a click when I turn the key if I've been driving it recently. If it's sat for more than three or four hours it will usually click for one or two keyturns, then start just fine.

My starter motor is only a year old and the terminals are all corrosion free, so after a couple forum searches I think the issue might be my ignition switch. If you're sure the starter and battery is fine, it might be the ignition switch. I'm planning on easing on over to the local aircooled shop to pick up a new switch, then I'll let you know if that fixed it for me.
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Eric&Barb
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 9:19 am    Post subject: Re: Good battery...but won't start Reply with quote

ps2375 wrote:
Have you looked closely at the cables and their connections?


Do not look. Take each connection apart for a good cleaning, apply dielectric grease, and retighten back down. Do this to BOTH ends of BOTH battery cables. Do the same to the transaxle to body ground cable. Get rid of any cables that look worn out or battery cables that now have those bolt on battery clamps. It does not hurt to replace a cable with a known good one just to test.

This is a bolt on cable battery clamp:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Battery clamps need to be at least swedged on for a gas tight connection that should not allow battery acid and oxygen to get between cable and clamp. The above image is great for a "got to get it home" situation, but for the long haul is a pain because then you have an extra connection you need to clean at least twice a year to keep it reliable.

Wolfsburg West has the factory style of battery cables with brass clamps that last much longer lasting than the cheap FLAPS lead ones. Plus the brass clamps are soldered onto the cable so no way oxygen and battery acid can get between them, where on occasion a swedged on connection can sometimes fail.

Once you have those cables clean, tight, and inspected, you can run a thick cable from battery positive terminal to the different connections up front to see if you can touch each connection and have a helper turn the ignition key and see if the starter suddenly works. Pretty easy then to find any problem connection up front that might be causing you a problem.
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garyt
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 6:44 am    Post subject: Re: Good battery...but won't start Reply with quote

I once had that problem and to start the car carried a thick bit of houshold wire and took it from the positive battery terminal direct to the starter. The car started easy every time I did this, so I knew it was either the battery cable or the ignition switch/wiring. Changed the plastic ignition switch, and all was well, because the original battery cable was fine.

Also one thing I have mentioned before, I'm a bit ham fisted sometimes and was turning the key too far to the right, and it would cause the same thing, but now I turn it slowly and gently a little bit and it starts always in all weathers hot or cold etc.
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ashman40
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Good battery...but won't start Reply with quote

After you have checked/cleaned the battery terminals and confirmed you have a good/clean ground for the negative cable....

Check the voltage on the #50 wire of the starter. There is a junction below the left rear seat just before the red #50 wire exits out the rear next to the center tunnel/brake line. See "Starter Wire" in this pic:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Disconnect the two wires from the junction.
With the parking brake set and the car in neutral, touch the end of the wire that exits next to the center tunnel to the battery positive terminal (use jumper cables to extend the wire if necessary). When you do this the starter should crank the engine. If this works reliably, you know your battery has the current/voltage to crank the engine. This test basically bypassed the ignition switch and the long wire run from the battery to the ignition switch and back.

With your voltmeter, test the voltage on the end of the other red wire which comes from the left side of the car. This wire comes from the ignition switch. When you turn the ignition key to the START position there should be battery voltage on this wire. If you read 12.6v at the battery and less than 12.0v at this wire you have a common problem with too much resistance in the #50 circuit. This could be caused by old wires, dirty connectors or burnt contacts in the ignition switch. The last one is the most common reason to replace the ignition switch. If the voltage is intermittent, you may have no other choice but to replace your ignition switch.
If the wire is less than 12.0v but always more than 6.0v you could install a Hard Start Relay (HSR) to directly power the starter solenoid from the battery and the low voltage coming from the ignition switch will be enough to trigger the HSR. If you have to install a new ignition switch, you should also consider installing an HSR to extend the life of your new switch.

Once you have your starter working.. test the starter draw and capacity of the battery. Measure the voltage at the battery terminals WHILE you crank the engine. A voltage drop into the 10.Xv range is as low as you should tolerate. If the battery voltage drops below 10.0v while cranking it could be a bad battery. Also measure the charging voltage while the engine is running at 2100rpm or more. It should read at least 13.8v at the battery posts if the charging system is outputting enough to charge the battery.
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'67 Beetle #1 {project car that never made it to the road Sad }
'75 Beetle 1200LS (RHD Japan model) {junked due to frame rot}
'67 Beetle #2 {2019 project car - Wish me luck!}
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garyt
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:54 am    Post subject: Re: Good battery...but won't start Reply with quote

Uh thanks ashman, I just found my problem after reading that, I hope the op does too.

I thought I'd solved the problem for a while but it returned. I had put on a hard start relay like you said, and I thought the connections were good, but really, when you install it you are also just adding yet another connection into this big loop. Well, I just made sure the relay was directly connected to the original black and red wire from the ignition, which is not so easy because at this junction I also have the wire comning off to the double relay terminal... Anyway, after I did this the (new) starter spins like mad again, so it has definitely made a difference and it looks like it has solved my problem.

BTW when I did your test with the meter I got 11.6 volts constant at the red/black wire on ignition, so a bit low (battery is good), and there was good continuity. So it was the connection to the hard start relay, ironically.
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