Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Car starts, but sputters and acts like it wants to stall

asked by on

Beetle would not start unless jumped so the alternator and battery were both tested and both were fine. Now car starts without a jump but will sputter, shake and act like it wants to stall.

My car has 153200 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: The first question I have for you is whethe...

The first question I have for you is whether it has had its timing belt replaced? The maintenance interval on your timing belt is 105,000 miles. A broken or failing timing belt can certainly display these sort of symptoms. There is also a timing chain that connects the two camshafts This has a tensioner that fails and can cause this. These conditions can be checked with a compression test or you can gently pull the top of the timing cover back to inspect the timing belt. Inspecting the chain requires the removal of the valve cover. If there is a cylinder or two that has significantly lower compression than the others, then this is an indication you have a timing belt issue.

Another possibility is the cylinders could be washed with fuel. When this occurs, you will need to run the motor at a high RPM until the cylinders establish a good seal at the piston rings again. This is often a confusing situation that may seem like much more than it is. Before you go revving the motor though, be sure the timing belt is in good condition. If you were to rev the motor with a timing belt ready to break, you would cause internal damage to the motor and a much larger repair will be needed. If the timing belt was replaced on schedule, I wouldn’t be to worried about it.

Next in line is low fuel pressure. You will need a fuel pressure gauge to test this. VW uses different motor designations mounted on the front of the timing cover. It will be a three digit code that you will need to look up the correct fuel pressure specifications for you specific vehicle.

These are the items I would begin with. If you should need help figuring this out, I recommend contacting a qualified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, to inspect why your engine is sputtering.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Steering wheel Issues - 2001 Hyundai Elantra

This problem is most likely caused by worn strut bearings. This component supports the weight of the vehicle at each front wheel, but also has to allowing turning of the wheels. When worn, the bearings tend to make noises when...

Q: Cant find the TDC mark or the flywheel.

If you cannot find TDC on the flywheel, try finding TDC on the lower belt cover with the vibration damper installed. There is a notch on the damper that should line up with a mark on the lower cover. If...

Q: Transmission sensor error

Hi. It would help me to determine the problem with your car if I knew which transmission error you were receiving. This car does not have many common transmission problems other than the transmission failing once it is worn out....

Related articles

How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
P2103 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle Actuator Control Motor Circuit High
P2103 means there is a fault with the throttle actuator control motor circuit, likely due to a defective electrical component or part.