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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
1999 AEB B5 Fridgid temps and failing to start (SOLVED)

I know it's been a looooooooooooong time since I've visited. Okay, stupid me forgot to plug in my car. It is -27C (-17F) out right now, car is now plugged in (been plugged in for a full day), double checked battery charge. But the car won't start. Turns over, I can hear it catch a few times, and that's it. I've had no issues with the car at all... Well, okay I had to replace the MAF sensor early Dec, but outside that, it's been running problem free for the entire time I've owned it. I have double checked to ensure the motor isn't flooded, and I have attempted to use Quick Start, but it just turns over with some stumbling (aka it really is trying to start - just won't fully catch - doesn't matter if I use Quick start or not). It ran fine Christmas day when it was -25C, but as I said, car wouldn't start yesterday (-31C) and still not starting today (-27). Any suggestions on what to look for?
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hmmm.... If that's the case, I need to change gas stations... LOL But it wouldn't fully surprise me, if memory serves ethanol likes to collect water. Hmm... Well, it's a long shot, I shouldn't have to do this, and I certainly don't want to do this with it so blasted cold out, but I'll pull and possibly change the plugs (only three years old with 15,000km on them, they should be fine). I'll also throw some fuel anti freeze in the tank - it couldn't hurt.
 

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That's some pretty damn cold weather. I've experienced it back in WI plenty of times. When it gets that cold, if there is any moisture in the fuel it will be very hard for the car to start.
Oil in the crankcase plays a huge role at this point time also.
If you're using regular oil (dinosaur oil) that stuff gets SO thick it actually keeps the engine from turning it's normal speed for starting. Synthetic oil is king in this type environment. I remember when I switched to full synthetic, it was a world of difference.
If you have any moisture in the oil, that will be frozen causing even more resistance to turn the engine over.
And that poor battery. At 0°C (32°F) your battery is about 20% less in starting capacity. At -30°C (-22°F) your battery is around 50% less capable in it's starting capacity.

FYI
A standard car battery (lead/acid plate type) is near its maximum optimum capacity at about 49°C (120°F).
Conversely, extreme heat causes major damage to your battery.

My guess is your car will start when it warms up a few degrees. This a symptom of a battery that is loosing its capacity.

Something to check when weather permits, check the condition of your battery. A decent local battery place should be able to test the liquid acid in side the battery cells. This is simular to testing anti-freeze. The specific gravity of the acid is measured with a Hydrometer. This test is actually more concise than just checking voltage. it actually shows or tells you what condition your battery is in.
When the forecast calls for stupid cold temps, put some gas line anti-freeze in the tank before the temps drop.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yep, I know - dangers of living in northern Alberta and our deep freezes. ;-) I also don't have a standard lead acid battery - I have one of those spiral cell glass mat types (Exide, not an Ultima yellow top) that are supposed to be a bit more resistant to our extreme weather.

So this is messed up... I installed the plugs 3 years ago (yea, I don't drive much), and I know I gaped them to .032" prior to installing them. They were well in excess of .053" (that was the best of the 4, worst was .062")... How the hell.... No one else drives the car, and I 99.9% of the time drive like a 90 year old (.1% of the time I get spirited, but even then I drive smoothly and don't tend to beat on my car's). So I got the plugs all dried out (a little wet would be an understatement), regaped them to .032" and it fired right up on it's own (with out Quick Start).
 

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Holy crap, yeah that'll make a difference. Don't know what kind plugs you have installed, but depending on brand and construction of the plug, that electrode will burn away after a while.
Depending on type of fuel used will also cause plug electrode wear.
The reformulated gas in WI is hard on some various engine parts and seals.

Good to hear you got it going though. :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
They are Bosch platinum's (not from VW, but I know that's the OEM plug). I wouldn't expect it to burn away overly much over that little kilometers, esp being platinum tipped. I only use 91+ octane fuel (which I know contains *upto 10% Ethanol - unless they changed specs recently) and generally go to Esso just because they are conveniently located. But I do use Shell on occasion - car seems happiest with non-blended fuel in terms of fuel economy (I wouldn't call it a night and day difference, but there's an ever so slight difference), and they are the only company offering non-blended fuel in Canada. Hmmm - perhaps I should try harder to use Shell more often. But yes, I'm happy it's running fine, and I'm also happy that the plugs where clean (despite being drenched in fuel and having huge gaps). But still scratching my head on why I wasn't having any drivability issues until now - I always thought the ignition was one of the weaker point's of the 1.8T (esp the coil packs used in the later B5.5, unless I've mistaken). That size of gap would have been awfully hard on the poor coil packs. I'm not going to worry too much about it at the moment - but I will keep a closer eye on the plugs (make it a must check at the end of every summer).
 

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I have only heard to use NGK plugs. I have also heard from others that they had issues with Bosch early on after replacing them.
 
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