2000 Volkswagen Beetle It keeps stalling!

Tiny
EASILYERIN
  • MEMBER
  • 2000 VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE
  • 145,000 MILES
Hello 2CarPros,

I've been having a major problem with my 2000 1.8L Volkswagen Beetle. Usually the day starts out like this, I'll start up the car, start driving for a couple of miles and everything is fine as usual. The problem comes when I come to a stop, stop light, or even in drive-thrus. The car will literally just cut out. The only light that comes on the dashboard is the battery light. When this happens, the battery light is not flashing, and there are no symptoms to when the car is going to stall. No jerking, sputtering, flashing lights, smells, or check engine light. Also, this doesn't happen at every stop, but it does happen at least once every time I take the car out. Weirdest part is, it'll start right back up, and you can drive it again until the stalling happens again. I've taken it to three mechanics so far, and I've had the fuel filter replaced, fuel pump replaced, air filter replaced, throttle body cleaned, crankshaft sensor replaced, 2 fuel injectors replaced, and I'm just about to give up. The repairs are starting to add up to be more than the car is actually worth, and I've almost been in many accidents due to this. As a newer driver, the stalling situation is really scaring me and makes me afraid to drive. I NEVER take the car out anymore unless it's on the way to another shop. PLEASE, PLEASE, HELP ME. I really love my bug, but I just can't deal with this anymore.

Thanks so much,
Erin :)
Do you
have the same problem?
Yes
No
Monday, October 14th, 2013 AT 6:37 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
EASILYERIN
  • MEMBER
And it's been checked for vacuum leaks as well.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
-1
Monday, October 14th, 2013 AT 6:48 PM
Tiny
EASILYERIN
  • MEMBER
The alternator and battery were checked, and they were fine too.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Monday, October 14th, 2013 AT 6:50 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Most mechanics have scanners that can record a snapshot of sensor data when a problem occurs. You may need to go to a VW dealer because Volkswagen likes to do things differently than most other manufacturers. Your mechanic will have to drive the car until the problem occurs, then he presses the "record" button. Because the data passes through the scanner's memory, the recording actually starts a few seconds before you press the button. That data can be replayed slowly later to see what happened. The hard part sometimes, when a sensor's signal has a problem, is determining if that is what caused the stalling or if that signal was in response to the non-running engine.

Chrysler also has a special scanner used as a "flight recorder" that they leave in the car with you, then you press the button when the engine stalls. I know some other manufacturers have that too but I'm not familiar with using them.

There should also be diagnostic fault codes set related to the stalling if it is the result of a sensor problem. Usually the fuel supply system is not monitored so that would be the place to start looking if there's no fault codes.

Since you can restart the engine right away, you could also have nothing more than a low idle speed. Observe if you get a nice "idle flare-up" to 1500 rpm when you start the engine. If you do not, the Engine Computer is not controlling idle speed.

Look at the fresh air tube between the mass air flow sensor and the throttle body. If there's a leak that allows outside air to enter the engine without going through the mass air flow sensor, that air won't get measured and the computer won't command enough fuel to go with it. If the engine rocks when coasting, it can tug on hoses and wiring harnesses and cause intermittent problems.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Monday, October 14th, 2013 AT 9:45 PM
Tiny
OWEN M. THOMAS
  • MEMBER
This problem haunted my beetle forever. Everyone and his brother had a recommendation. I changed the fuel pump, filters, fuel pressure regulator, the MAF sensor, engine speed sensor, replaced the factory airbox with a K&N, kept stalling. Turns out the problem was something that not a single mechanic thought of, and that no diagnostic tool hooked up to your computer would find: sludge in the gas tank. Over time, the lining in the gas tank wears, creating a sludge. This is usually not a problem until you run below a certain level. For me, this is when the gas gauge goes below half. The solution would be to have the entire fuel system cleaned, which I did, but you have to get the tank pumped and cleaned too. Otherwise, the sludge remains. The temporary fix is to never let it go below half. I hope that helps!
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
+2
Thursday, January 19th, 2017 AT 5:58 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Thanks for the reply. There's more to the story though because this can happen to any car. The pickup for the fuel pump lies on the bottom of the tank, so if sludge was blocking it, the fuel level would not be a factor. The more common cause is using ethanol in the gas. Mold grows on that alcohol and it can plug the pickup screen. I've had to replace those screens three times on two cars. They become plugged about every 200,000 miles. When you have an engine that uses a fuel pressure regulator on the fuel rail on the engine, the clue is the stalling occurs after the first ten to fifteen miles of driving, and when the highest volume of fuel is being pumped, ... Which is during coasting. The flow draws the mold in the tank to the screen and blocks it. The second clue is if you wait for about five minutes, the blockage will clear up enough for the engine to run fine for another mile or two. In my cases, the second vehicle this happened to had fuel injection. Once I figured out what was causing the stalling, the additional clue was to disconnect the vacuum hose at the fuel pressure regulator, and plug it. That caused pressure to be too high, but it greatly reduced the amount of fuel being pumped. The only fuel that had to make it through the screen was what the engine was using. That is far less that what is normally flowing.

A similar problem occurred on Chrysler products, but it affected their fuel pumps. Their pumps are uncommonly quiet, but that is because they are built to very close tolerances and clearances. The mold, and other debris, causes the rotor to lock up. The dead pump causes a crank / no-start. People replace the pump four or five times over a period of months with ones from an auto parts store, then get frustrated and buy one from the dealer's parts department, then never have another problem. Their assumption was the aftermarket pumps are junk, but that is not the case. Each replacement pump collects some of that debris, and by the time the Chrysler pump is installed, there's no gunk left to lock up that one. Also, if you buy a replacement pump from NAPA, (and probably from some other stores), you're getting the same pump as from the dealer. Some of the auto parts stores get their pumps from the same suppliers that sold them to Chrysler.

The proper fix, when you know about it, is to have the tank steam-cleaned at a radiator repair shop, and replace the pickup screen when a new pump is needed.

Also, most fuel pumps sit inside a little bowl in the middle of the tank. That insures the engine won't stall from lack of fuel when going around a corner and fuel runs away from the pickup. The pickup is always sitting in about five inches of gas, even when the tank is almost empty, and more when the level is higher than that bowl. The only thing that might cause fuel level to be a factor is the debris suspended in it will be more concentrated and more likely to fully block the screen.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Thursday, January 19th, 2017 AT 3:23 PM

Please login or register to post a reply.

Recommended Guides