99 Passat - Battery is good, but car is completely dead.
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  1. #1
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    99 Passat - Battery is good, but car is completely dead.

    Hey guys, my buddy and I have been struggling with this for the past week. So here's the rundown of what happened:

    The night before my car died completely, it was having trouble starting up. I would turn the key and my dash lights would flicker as the engine attempts to turn over, after a few tries it would start up and run as normal. The morning after, I went out to start her up. It did the same thing, dash lights would flicker, the engine would try to turn over - then everything completely died. Dash lights, headlights, windows, locks - everything is dead.

    I tried jumping it, and that did nothing. The battery appears to be completely fine. As of this moment, everything is completely dead. No dash lights flickering, no power what so ever. My friend thought that it may be the ECM, so we bought a used one and that did nothing. I've heard so far that it may be the ignition control module or the starter, but I'm certainly no mechanic so I'm hoping to get some feedback from you guys.

    Thanks a LOT in advance!

    -1999 VW Passat 2.8l V6

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    What makes you think the battery is ok? I had the same symptoms and my battery was shot. It would jump start, but it may take a few minutes with the cables connected if your battery is really gone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by y2000passat View Post
    What makes you think the battery is ok? I had the same symptoms and my battery was shot. It would jump start, but it may take a few minutes with the cables connected if your battery is really gone.
    We tested the battery, it's still good. We let it sit with the cables connected for a good 15 minutes and nothing changed while attempting to jump it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kinebud View Post
    I tried jumping it, and that did nothing. The battery appears to be completely fine. As of this moment, everything is completely dead. No dash lights flickering, no power what so ever. My friend thought that it may be the ECM, so we bought a used one and that did nothing. I've heard so far that it may be the ignition control module or the starter, but I'm certainly no mechanic so I'm hoping to get some feedback from you guys.

    Thanks a LOT in advance!

    -1999 VW Passat 2.8l V6
    This sounds like a bad battery connection. When you tried jump-starting with cable, was the negative (black) one on the battery terminal, or another metal part such as the intake manifold? If so, and still no power to the rest of the car, check the smaller red cable at the positive battery clamp. This feeds all of the car's power needs except for the starter motor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ylwagon View Post
    This sounds like a bad battery connection. When you tried jump-starting with cable, was the negative (black) one on the battery terminal, or another metal part such as the intake manifold? If so, and still no power to the rest of the car, check the smaller red cable at the positive battery clamp. This feeds all of the car's power needs except for the starter motor.
    All of the wiring to the battery appears to be very secure on the battery itself.

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    there is nothing wrong with the ECU, and the V6 doesn't have an ICM - those functions are in the ECU, save for the coils (which are on the front of the motor).

    when a Passat V6 barely turns over, and then it gets to the point where the system just clicks rather than the motor turning over, there is not enough voltage to do the trick. the ECU checks to see if there is a minimum amount of voltage available from the battery - if not enough, you just hear the relays clicking.

    that being said, you don't know if it is the battery or the alternator (it can only be a battery cable besides those two items).

    if the battery takes enough of a charge to start the car, it is the alternator or a bad cable connection. I'd still loosen the battery connections, and then clean them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JayTheSnork View Post
    there is nothing wrong with the ECU, and the V6 doesn't have an ICM - those functions are in the ECU, save for the coils (which are on the front of the motor).

    when a Passat V6 barely turns over, and then it gets to the point where the system just clicks rather than the motor turning over, there is not enough voltage to do the trick. the ECU checks to see if there is a minimum amount of voltage available from the battery - if not enough, you just hear the relays clicking.

    that being said, you don't know if it is the battery or the alternator (it can only be a battery cable besides those two items).

    if the battery takes enough of a charge to start the car, it is the alternator or a bad cable connection. I'd still loosen the battery connections, and then clean them.
    At this point it's completely dead, no more relays clicking or nothing. I'll try cleaning the battery connections though and see what happens.

    Like I said I know virtually nothing about the mechanics of a car. My buddy said the battery itself was fine after attaching two jumper cables to the battery then clicking the other 2 cables together and getting sparks.

    Thanks again everybody for any and all advice, I'm doing my best to rep you all xD

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    Quote Originally Posted by kinebud View Post
    My buddy said the battery itself was fine after attaching two jumper cables to the battery then clicking the other 2 cables together and getting sparks.
    That's not how you want to check a battery. Use a voltmeter, or if you don't have that, at least a 12V light bulb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ylwagon View Post
    That's not how you want to check a battery. Use a voltmeter, or if you don't have that, at least a 12V light bulb.
    Nope. Either method will tell you if there's 12v, but neither method will tell you if the battery has sufficient capacity at 12v to run the starter or the car. (For example: two old-timey 6v lantern batteries in series would show 12v on a voltmeter or happily light a 12v bulb, but would do absolutely nothing if connected to the starter motor.) To make this determination, the battery needs to be load tested. Certainly an auto electric shop could do this; you may be able to have it done at one of the big autopart chain stores.

    And I'll add that sparks are evidence of transient current spikes, which are not healthy anywhere near sensitive electronics. The car is full of sensitive electronics. Don't make sparks.

    Even if the battery is in fact good, a bad connection can still prevent correct operation. Sometimes, connections are not good even though they appear clean on the outside and are tight to the touch. Jay's suggestion that you remove, clean, and reconnect the battery cables is a good one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dbrick View Post
    Nope. Either method will tell you if there's 12v, but neither method will tell you if the battery has sufficient capacity at 12v to run the starter or the car. (For example: two old-timey 6v lantern batteries in series would show 12v on a voltmeter or happily light a 12v bulb, but would do absolutely nothing if connected to the starter motor.) To make this determination, the battery needs to be load tested. Certainly an auto electric shop could do this; you may be able to have it done at one of the big autopart chain stores.
    That's true; a 12V camera battery would give the volts but not the current. I should have been more clear: Measuring the unloaded voltage with a DVM is a first step, then having someone attempt to start while you are still watching your DVM is the second step. If voltage drops seriously on the battery posts, the battery is defective. If there is no change, the circuit is broken somewhere.

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    pull the battery and take a ride over to autozone to get it tested. i imagine you'll be returning with a new battery, but if not, start checking the alternator. this should've been step #1... i know we often have more complex issues with our cars, but we still have to start with the basics.

    if you want to keep the glass half-full, then hey there, at least you've now got a backup ecu. this was a sign from the modding gods... they want you to chip that spare ecu.

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    Quote Originally Posted by koidragon1980 View Post
    pull the battery and take a ride over to autozone to get it tested.
    This. And be sure to get a ride from someone other than your buddy.

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    Highly doubt that the battery is your issue, things like the headlights would continue to function at least dimly unless the battery was completely flat. I'm betting you have a bad ignition switch, although it's good to test the main connections as already suggested. Also, check the fuses with a meter.

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