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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just bought a '98 1.8t standard (coming from an old Chevy Blazer -- OMG this car is awesome).

I've been lurking around PassatWorld and VWVortex forum for YEARS reading about the problems, secrets, etc. and absolutely love the car so far.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to figure out what it takes to start the stupid thing. With the clutch to the floor and the car in Neutral, sometimes when I turn the key it will just do nothing.

By nothing, I mean the lights in the dash (check engine/ABS/EPC/etc.) will all turn on like they should, and the vent blower will turn on, but the car won't even attempt to crank.

Now, if I take the key out and let off the clutch and try again it will start like a champ. It seems to be completely random, but it doesn't want to start about half the time.

I don't have immobilizer or anything like that, so I'm wondering if it is something related to the car detecting if the clutch is pushed in or not? I figured it might be the infamous brake switch at first, but the car seems happy to start even without the brake depressed..

As a side note, my Cruise Control is very intermittent. I've searched and see other people also have this problem. I wonder if the starting problem (car thinks clutch isn't depressed?) and the cruise not wanting to come on (maybe the car things clutch IS depressed when it isn't?) could be related?

I have a warranty on the thing, so I'm not worried about repair costs, but I wonder where to start?

The car is awesome, though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hmm... got a call from the repair shop today and they said the clutch safety switch is fine. I asked what else might keep the car from starting half the time and keep the cruise from engaging most of the time and they said they'd keep looking into it. I bet it turns out to be the switch after all!

Wish I could go to a good indy, but my CarMax warranty is completely free, so I guess I'll put up with it for now!

Thanks again for your help, I'm sure I'll be posting back soon with news of a new clutch switch =)
 

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My 2001 1.8T with TIP started doing the same thing. Wife complained that she would turn the key to the ON position, everything on the dash lit up per normal, but then when she proceed to START, nothing happened - no crank, no attempt to turn over, no click, nothing. She then released the key after a couple seconds (back to the ON position), then returned it to the OFF position, repeated the operation, and it started just fine.

I was able to reproduce this problem twice today (out of more than 10 attempts). After the failure to start, it ALWAYS starts the 2nd time (at least so far). As info, the starter and battery were both replaced about 1 year ago, with no problems since (except for this weird starting glitch every once in a while that just began a few days ago).

Car runs just fine, but I am concerned that this little starting glitch (which is intermittent and just a slight annoyance presently) may turn into something more sinister (like stranding my wife 30 miles from home). That's what happened when the starter went out last year!

All ideas appreciated.
 

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Try experimenting with turning the key to different positions when you start it the first time.

Otherwise, all the car looks for is the clutch to be depressed before it'll start. But I thought even the '98-'00s had the key with the 'chip' that can cause the car not to start if it's glitchy.
 

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There are only a few things that will keep the car from cranking (assume battery, starter, and wiring are okay): bad ignition switch, starter interlock relay for clutch if manual (could be relay or clutch switch), starter interlock relay for alarm / immobilizer (could be relay or CCM related). As far as the cruise being intermittent, I would check the brake switch on the brake pedal assembly.
 

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Don't VWs also check the brake switch when starting? I've tried to push-start a couple of VWs in the past few years, and the car wouldn't start unless the brake pedal was pressed.
 

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Don't VWs also check the brake switch when starting? I've tried to push-start a couple of VWs in the past few years, and the car wouldn't start unless the brake pedal was pressed.
we dont need to use the brake to start it.
 

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Could be an issue w/ the alarm. I got my car back from an accident and the body shop didn't properly fix the wiring for the alarm sensor in my door which would cause the car to not start (the alarm was still armed). Make sure you unlock the car...try every stinkin keyhole if you have to (all 3) and see if it still does it.
 

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Followup to my earlier post:

I've noticed now that when the car doesn't start, if I'll jiggle the TIP lever around a bit and attempt a restart, it will work. I know the car must be firmly in PARK to start, so maybe the sensor that controls this is getting a little flaky.

Anyone know where this sensor on the TIP is, and how hard it is to replace one? TIA.
 

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I am sure this is not your issue but just something to keep in mind. You can only crank the engine once. If it does not run. You have to completely switch off and switch on the key again to crank it.

Your looks more related to the Park sensor where the car is not sure that it is in Park.
 

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I am sure this is not your issue but just something to keep in mind. You can only crank the engine once. If it does not run. You have to completely switch off and switch on the key again to crank it.

Your looks more related to the Park sensor where the car is not sure that it is in Park.
I'm aware that once you attempt to crank, and it fails to start, you must completely return the key to the OFF position before retrying. Most of the time I remove it from the ignition keyhole, reinsert, and then restart.

I'm going to monitor it closely over the next couple days, but am starting to feel sure it is something to do with the TIP shiftgate mechanism. As you say, the car is in in PARK (the Park light indicator is also on BTW), but "maybe" he thinks he ain't really in PARK. Jiggling the shift lever and retrying the start procedure has worked so far - just not sure how long that's going to last.

Hoping someone will chime in on how difficult this is to confirm, and fix. I don't have easy access to a VAGCOM anymore - just moved out of state and don't know any VW types around here. Nearest dealer is over 30 miles too.

Thanks for your response.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just an update for those having the same problems as me (seemingly random refusal to start) -- I came across a TSB for my '98 that basically says some manuals won't start unless the clutch is forced very hard to the floor -- every time I have tried this it has worked for me so far. I have to push it too hard for comfort, though, so I'm going to take it back in since it is under warranty.
 
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