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    Thread: Car randomly dies while driving on freeway

    1. Junior Member
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      07-26-2010 05:31 PM #1
      Within the past six months or so, I've had a problem that has randomly occurred twice that I have not been able to find an explanation for. I have an 03 GTI 20th with 115k mi.

      While cruising on the freeway (approx 70 mph), the car suddenly dies. The gas pedal suddenly does not work, the rpms fall down to zero, engine shuts off, red battery indicator light on instrument cluster turns on, power assisted steering doesnt work anymore, but all the electronics seem to work (radio, dashboard lights, etc are still lit up). After slowly pulling over to the side of the freeway, I am able to turn the ignition key to the off position and then start the car with no problems. So WEIRD!!

      Reading the forums, some people suggest fuel pump or MAF sensor but no definitive solution.

      A few months back, I took it to a shop to diagnose this issue with no results. They "inspected the electrical system" (which probably means they just checked to see if any CEL codes were thrown) and concluded everything was fine. I also took it to a dealer a few weeks back and they did a free "26 point" inspection and found nothing wrong with the car too.

      Anybody have any insight into what this might be?

    2. Member lilman1's Avatar
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      07-26-2010 05:41 PM #2
      whats done to the car?
      money can't buy you happiness but its a good downpayment

    3. Junior Member
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      07-26-2010 05:49 PM #3
      Car's completely stock.

    4. 07-27-2010 10:13 AM #4
      I know this!!! Its %100 your crank angle speed sensor is bad!!! It happened to me ages ago.. The sensor sits in the lower right block just below the oil filter housing.. Thank me later...

      Here's what it looks like...
      http://www.mjmautohaus.com/catalog/p...oducts_id=1367
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      07-27-2010 09:08 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by nivlag View Post
      Within the past six months or so, I've had a problem that has randomly occurred twice that I have not been able to find an explanation for. I have an 03 GTI 20th with 115k mi.

      While cruising on the freeway (approx 70 mph), the car suddenly dies. The gas pedal suddenly does not work, the rpms fall down to zero, engine shuts off, red battery indicator light on instrument cluster turns on, power assisted steering doesnt work anymore, but all the electronics seem to work (radio, dashboard lights, etc are still lit up). After slowly pulling over to the side of the freeway, I am able to turn the ignition key to the off position and then start the car with no problems. So WEIRD!!

      Reading the forums, some people suggest fuel pump or MAF sensor but no definitive solution.

      A few months back, I took it to a shop to diagnose this issue with no results. They "inspected the electrical system" (which probably means they just checked to see if any CEL codes were thrown) and concluded everything was fine. I also took it to a dealer a few weeks back and they did a free "26 point" inspection and found nothing wrong with the car too.

      Anybody have any insight into what this might be?
      dude this just happened to me on sunday.

      was cruising like at 60 and just shut off just like urs with battery light lite up, pulled over and didnt want to start the first time but the second time it turned on like nothing. extremely weird.
      SOFAKINGEURO

    6. Member DowNnOuTDubin's Avatar
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      07-27-2010 09:25 PM #6
      I've had the same thing happen to me. The first time I thought I ran out of gas and was able to coast to a gas station! It went away over time

    7. Junior Member
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      07-28-2010 02:47 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by EF9Si View Post
      I know this!!! Its %100 your crank angle speed sensor is bad!!! It happened to me ages ago.. The sensor sits in the lower right block just below the oil filter housing.. Thank me later...

      Here's what it looks like...
      http://www.mjmautohaus.com/catalog/p...oducts_id=1367
      thanks for the tip. can anybody else confirm that this problem is a failure of the crank angle speed sensor?

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      07-29-2010 02:10 PM #8
      Yeah man. This just happen to me Last week. I was Driving...battery light came on...after a 2 miles or so...lights started dimming then eventually went out so i pulled over and had to get it towed. It was My Speed Sensor and i also had a issue with the immobilzer

    9. Member jar_bond's Avatar
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      08-03-2010 02:20 AM #9
      this happned to me a couple months ago, and it turend out to be my fuel pump going bad.

    10. Junior Member
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      08-03-2010 02:47 AM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by jar_bond View Post
      this happned to me a couple months ago, and it turend out to be my fuel pump going bad.
      yeah...i've been suspecting the fuel pump too. i've been hearing abnormal/inconsistent sounds coming from under my rear seat (where the fuel pump is located) and figured i'd just order a new one. the symptoms seem to indicate a failing fuel pump. i'll let you guys know the results.

    11. Member Ryan E.'s Avatar
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      12-11-2010 10:37 PM #11
      Did you ever figure it out?
      Quote Originally Posted by nivlag View Post
      yeah...i've been suspecting the fuel pump too. i've been hearing abnormal/inconsistent sounds coming from under my rear seat (where the fuel pump is located) and figured i'd just order a new one. the symptoms seem to indicate a failing fuel pump. i'll let you guys know the results.
      Rigi Cola.


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    12. Junior Member
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      12-11-2010 10:43 PM #12
      It ended up being the fuel pump for me. Replaced it months ago. Weird noises from underneath the backseat disappeared. Random car dying stopped. Everything seems to be running great now. I hope it's the same fix for your situaton.

    13. Member Ryan E.'s Avatar
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      05-11-2011 03:05 PM #13
      I finally changed the engine speed sensor but am still having issues. There was no communication coming from the sensor, but now my fuel pump sounds like it's making a sound. The car still will die on the freeway, holding the gas down for about 5 seconds makes the car go again. Gonna try and find out how to test the fuel pump with VCDS.

      Quote Originally Posted by nivlag View Post
      It ended up being the fuel pump for me. Replaced it months ago. Weird noises from underneath the backseat disappeared. Random car dying stopped. Everything seems to be running great now. I hope it's the same fix for your situaton.
      Rigi Cola.


      "The VR6 was an orchestra of well-tuned cylindrical delights." - jalopnik.com

    14. Junior Member
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      05-11-2011 03:12 PM #14
      from what i remember, testing a fuel pump required doing a fuel pressure test with a gauge that you connect to the fuel line (not a ODBC/VAG test). i didnt have the proper tools to perform one and figured instead of paying a shop to diagnose/perform the test, it would be cheaper to just replace the fuel pump. fuel pump cost me $160 at MJM Autohaus. There are probably cheaper options, but i wanted OEM.

      Quote Originally Posted by Ryan E. View Post
      I finally changed the engine speed sensor but am still having issues. There was no communication coming from the sensor, but now my fuel pump sounds like it's making a sound. The car still will die on the freeway, holding the gas down for about 5 seconds makes the car go again. Gonna try and find out how to test the fuel pump with VCDS.

    15. Member Brimjolt's Avatar
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      05-11-2011 05:23 PM #15
      had that happen to my mk3 Jetta. Def the crank sensor.
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    16. Member SuckerPunch's Avatar
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      05-11-2011 06:08 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by Brimjolt View Post
      had that happen to my mk3 Jetta. Def the crank sensor.
      read the thread next time

    17. Member redsoxreturns's Avatar
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      05-11-2011 11:28 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by SuckerPunch View Post
      read the thread next time


      I think if it were me, I'd check all my grounds before throwing a pump at it. I seriously doubt a shops "electrical check" would cover that, and I know a XX point inspection won't either.

      just a thought.
      Big Bopper to March Hare..We're still in the game okay? Understand this, that scag, and his floozy....They're gonna die!

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      08-09-2013 11:51 AM #18
      I had my oil changed then shortly after my check engine light came on and the code was lean reading in bank one. I messed around with my maf and got the code before and used some maf cleaner and got rid of it. But now the car dies and the dash lights don't come on or anything turn the key nothing so what could cause that. I have fully power and acceleration when the car is running. Plz help with suggestion and by the way I think the car still has original fuel filter and the car has 85k

    19. Junior Member
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      08-09-2013 12:21 PM #19
      Sounds like a different problem than the original post based on the symptoms you are describing. I know this sounds ridiculous, but have you checked your battery terminals for corrosion? I've seen similar problems that make you scratch your head where power seems to get cut off unexpectedly caused simply by a bad connection to the battery.

      Quote Originally Posted by Zimm the Mkv racer View Post
      I had my oil changed then shortly after my check engine light came on and the code was lean reading in bank one. I messed around with my maf and got the code before and used some maf cleaner and got rid of it. But now the car dies and the dash lights don't come on or anything turn the key nothing so what could cause that. I have fully power and acceleration when the car is running. Plz help with suggestion and by the way I think the car still has original fuel filter and the car has 85k

    20. Junior Member
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      08-09-2013 02:29 PM #20
      I did have some corrosion and I cleaned it off which reset the car. The thing is I have all the normal power and accerlation that I usually have it will just shut off and there is nothing on the dash it goes black and the doors unlock I don't know what is going on. I have a short ram air intake and they sprayed something in the filter and then the check engine light came on

    21. 08-07-2014 09:28 PM #21
      I've replaced it all and I still randomly stall at quarter tank or less. I'd like to urge everyone who has this problem to file a safety complaint with the NHTSA at*http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/complaints/
      I'm tired of throwing money at an issue that is obviously so common and dangerous it should've been recalled by now. If enough of us complain to the NHTSA they might get the ball rolling for us and in the process actually figure out what's causing it once and for all. Have your VIN handy for filing the safety complaint.

    22. Senior Member 87vr6's Avatar
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      08-07-2014 10:00 PM #22
      Ummmw what

    23. 08-08-2014 07:53 PM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by 87vr6 View Post
      Ummmw what
      Thread title: Car randomly dies on freeway.
      Willing to bet everyone who is randomly stalling at highway speeds is at a quarter tank of gas or less. It's an epidemic, there are many threads on many sites for what seems to be the same problem. Seems like the car is starved for fuel then just comes back to life a few seconds later or whenever it wants. Replacing the fuel pump or crank sensor might seem to fix it for a minute, but the problem usually returns. It's dangerous if you're not ready for it, and sometimes even if you are. I thought reporting it to NHTSA would be the best way to try and get this problem solved and recalled on VWs dime instead of us throwing money at our cars replacing sensors and fuel pumps and crossing our fingers that it fixes it. Capiche?

    24. Senior Member 87vr6's Avatar
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      08-08-2014 09:17 PM #24
      good luck.

    25. Member Rockerchick's Avatar
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      08-08-2014 10:53 PM #25
      You could also not run your tank low if you know that causes it...

      And when you say you "replaced it all", what does that mean? What have you replaced? What troubleshooting did you do?
      Quote Originally Posted by TM87 View Post
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    26. Member bobbybrown's Avatar
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      08-09-2014 01:56 AM #26
      Same issue ...just changed my fuel filter ...commonly missed ...

    27. 08-09-2014 09:44 AM #27
      Quote Originally Posted by Rockerchick View Post
      You could also not run your tank low if you know that causes it...

      And when you say you "replaced it all", what does that mean? What have you replaced? What troubleshooting did you do?
      That's what everyone's doing, keeping it above a quarter tank, but it's annoying and shouldn't be necessary.
      Sorry if my post was confusing, I revived a bunch of old threads with similar titles/issues to try and get those that are still dealing with this issue to file an official complaint.
      I started my troubleshooting with the simple stuff like replacing the fuel filter, checking codes, inspecting the pump and pick up, pressure checks, cleaning the tank, eventually replacing the whole fuel pump and sending unit. When that at first seemed to work but then the problem resurfaced, I replaced my crank position sensor and pump relay too. I've been on sites and threads that other vw owners have been pulling their hair out over this issue, throwing money at the problem and it still persists. There are a few lucky ones that say they have replaced either the pump, crank sensor, or fuel filter and the problem went away for good. But for most, it comes back.
      It definitely seems like fuel starvation or when the pump isn't submerged above that certain level it overheats and shuts down. I'm pretty convinced at this point that it's a design flaw with the fuel pump set up.
      Anyway, thanks for listening, I've been dealing with this issue on and off since Christmas ...2012!!!!

    28. Member JJ2K1's Avatar
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      08-09-2014 11:46 AM #28
      I was having this problem intermittently for a couple years, then it got progressively more common. I thought it was the crank position sensor and swapped it out, and the problem persisted. Then the car died entirely one day and could not get it to start. It was the fuel pump. Changed it out and the problem never came back.

    29. 08-09-2014 01:08 PM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by JJ2K1 View Post
      I was having this problem intermittently for a couple years, then it got progressively more common. I thought it was the crank position sensor and swapped it out, and the problem persisted. Then the car died entirely one day and could not get it to start. It was the fuel pump. Changed it out and the problem never came back.
      Glad it worked for you. I thought for sure mine was fixed when I replaced my fuel pump, even spent the extra for a Bosch, but the problem came back a few months later. Same story for a bunch of others. If it is the pump, I can't believe the fail rate ...why? Do you know what brand pump you used? I'd just hate to drop more money on another pump, especially because another user posted that they replaced theirs twice and still have the issue. I'll check into the Bosch warranty though and maybe give the pump swap another try...

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      08-09-2014 03:31 PM #30
      If your car is stock, your best option is an oem pump. You don't have to buy it at a dealer if you don't want to, there are plenty of companies that will sell you one for cheaper. IF there is a design flaw with the delivery unit, aftermarket parts are likely going to have the same flaw. The oem part might be of an updated design since vw/audi proactively make updates even after a chassis is out of production. There's no guarantee that the oem part will be updated, but updates are common with oem parts. I don't know who makes the oem pump, it might be valeo, bosch, or some other random company, but aftermarket parts that are made by oem vendors aren't always the same thing.

      Sometimes a failing brake pedal or clutch pedal switch can cause this issue since the engine management software is programmed to ignore accelerator pedal input when the brake pedal is depressed, for safety reasons. The Delphi brake switches were crap so if your car still has one, then replacing it wouldn't be a bad idea since they can cause the brake lights to remain on at all times.

    31. Member JJ2K1's Avatar
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      08-10-2014 11:50 AM #31
      Quote Originally Posted by 03jettagli2 View Post
      Glad it worked for you. I thought for sure mine was fixed when I replaced my fuel pump, even spent the extra for a Bosch, but the problem came back a few months later. Same story for a bunch of others. If it is the pump, I can't believe the fail rate ...why? Do you know what brand pump you used? I'd just hate to drop more money on another pump, especially because another user posted that they replaced theirs twice and still have the issue. I'll check into the Bosch warranty though and maybe give the pump swap another try...
      I committed a sin and bought a cheapo Chinese fuel pump because I didn't want to spend and arm and a leg for an OEM bosch fuel pump, and used fuel pumps were pretty expensive . It even arrived damaged as the fuel level sender unit attached to the pump had the two plastic retaining clips broken that hold the spring in place because of the cheap and weaker plastic the unit is made of compared to OEM quality. I fixed it by swapping my VDO fuel level sender unit from the broken OEM fuel pump over. I figure it takes me 10-15 minutes to replace the fuel pump, if the low quality fuel pump breaks again within a couple of years I could purchase 10 of them for the prices I was seeing for just one OEM pump. I suppose if you want to do it right you always go OEM, but the value for the time it takes to replace it just wasn't worth it. Now if it took me an entire day to replace something like a clutch/slave master cylinder or even timing belt, then yes you always buy quality OEM replacement parts.

      An easy way to check to see if your OEM replacement fuel pump is working is to apply a 12 volt source to one of the pins (I forgot which one exactly) on top of the fuel pump and see if you can hear/feel it running. My dieing OEM fuel pump would be completely dead until I whacked it on top with the handle of a rubber screw driver, and it would run for a short amount of time before seizing again, which would explain why while driving the engine would cut out while all electronics were still on while driving. The fuel pump would shut off intermittently before unseizing and starting back up again, but eventually would not work as it should.

    32. Member IFlyGTI's Avatar
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      08-12-2014 05:22 PM #32
      Quote Originally Posted by jar_bond View Post
      this happned to me a couple months ago, and it turend out to be my fuel pump going bad.
      This. I had the same thing happening to mine a few years ago. First time, I pulled over to the side of the freeway (always seemed like it happened when I was doing a constant speed), shut off the key & it restarted just fine. Second time, I tried moving the accelerator pedal & after 4-5 seconds, it refired & kept going. Third time, I just turned off the car quickly, turned it back to on & it stared running again with nary a hiccup. In every instance, the only change I could see on the cluster was the RPMs slowly dropping as if I'd just let off the gas vs. turning off the car & putting in the clutch.

      Scanning the car gave no indication of any thing wrong (mine would happen every month or two) & the only way we determined that this was what was wrong was another car in the shop (I work at a dealer) that had been doing the same thing. His pump had finally given up the ghost completely & that was the smoking gun they were looking for. Installed a new pump & everything went back tom normal. Mileage was around the 80k mark. Hope some of that rambling helps.
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