Stop-start! Roy Craig recounts the long and frustrating saga of an intermittent non-starting problem on the #Audi
A2. More importantly, it’s a solution that could apply in many other cases…
AUDI A2 INTERMITTENT STARTING PROBLEM
Regular readers will have read occasional reports on my Audi A4 2.0 TDI, but my wife Brenda is also an Audi driver, having owned her Audi A2 since 2013. With its mileage now approaching 110,000, previous owners had not been very kind to it but regular servicing and some TLC by us has helped it along, although it is very much a second car. It is mainly used by Brenda for local journeys as the comfort and economy of our A4 is much more suited to the longer runs and the low-geared high revving nature of the A2 engine and gearbox can be obtrusive.
All seemed well, until April this year, when I was driving the A2 and the engine cut out suddenly and without warning, although it did then immediately restart. I must say that there had been times when the engine seemed to be misfiring, or missing a beat, but nothing more untoward and nothing definite enough to command attention.
Some time later, the engine stalled again but this time it was while manoeuvreing at home and it just would not re-start; even after several attempts, the engine was turning briskly but with no hint of it firing. I decided to leave it and wait for a new day to dawn, and when it did I duly inserted the key, turned it and the engine immediately fired up without a hint of a problem!
Brenda was not at all happy about the possibility of the engine stalling while she was out alone, but she did complete quite a few outings without a hint of the problem. It was, in fact, me who had that misfortune, having left home for a short journey to High Wycombe. I had only travelled a few hundred yards when the engine died, failed to restart, but then after five minutes of attempts it suddenly burst into life. My instinct was to return home and abort the journey, worried of getting stranded but this did not help Brenda’s reluctance to drive the car, rightly afraid that it would leave her stranded.
Having an unreliable car is not Something we are used to, having Owned Volkswagens since the early Seventies and then moving on to Audis since 2007, so the experience was a bit unnerving. I have no wish for this story to be too repetitive, but that is what this fault with the A2 was becoming…
Finally, Brenda was on a short Journey when it did indeed stall on her, this time taking 20 minutes of trying before it started. Amazingly, when it did restart, it drove fine and would then start repeatedly without any hint of trouble. It was very frustrating, to say the least.
Early May and we were due to have a family holiday in Portugal, which entailed an early start from Stansted. The plan was to leave the A2 at our daughter’s house some seven miles away, then we would all travel by her car and a cab to Stansted, but a couple of days before we were due to go the A2 stalled yet again while we were at home. This time it would not restart, so I called the RAC who could not get it started and reckoned it was the fuel pressure regulator valve, but could not rectify the fault.
I opted to leave the car on our drive, but arranged for our local village garage to collect it while we were away, told them the RAC’s diagnosis, and hoped that they would have the time to fix the fault while we were away.
After about a week I phoned the garage for a progress report, only to be told that the RAC’s diagnosis was incorrect, with no fault found with the pressure regulator; in fact, they could find no fault at all and the engine was running fine!
Unbeknown tome, they hadn’t needed to recover the car from home as when they arrived it had started without problem; they had spent a lot of time trying to find why the engine stalled, but with nothing being evident they could only return the car to my home.
We arrived home two weeks later and, of course, the first thing to do was try the A2. It started first time, much to Brenda’s delight and continued to do so for the next two weeks, until – yes you’ve guessed, it stalled again, luckily at home.
I again called the RAC who this time said that the fuel pump had failed, so I booked the car back in to the local garage for the following day and told them the fuel pump had failed. Yes, you’ve guessed right again. The next day it started without a problem; this was getting even more frustrating!
I think it’s time for me to cut this really long story a bit shorter, for fear of your attention waning. As the engine was now running without fault, it was deemed by the garage that the fuel pump was running fine, although they did find a hole in the EGR valve pipe and some residue in the fuel filter. The car was running fine after this, for about four weeks… and then, yes, it stalled yet again! Brenda was now getting annoyed with this little car to the point of just wanting to get rid of it, although we would not be happy selling the car to someone when it still had this most frustrating fault.
It was now time for its annual service, so I contacted a local Audi specialist who I had heard of, a young Audi-trained technician who had branched out on his own, Kyle Sagar whose company ‘On the Move’ is based in Great Kingshill, High Wycombe.
I booked the car in with Kyle and explained as best I could about the ongoing intermittent starting problem, giving him the task of trying to find out why an engine won’t start when it actually does! He gave the car a full service and a thorough check over – he also changed the four coil packs and the spark plugs, and reported that all seemed fine, with no obvious answer found and hoped the coil packs and plugs would be of benefit.
The A2 did indeed drive much better than previously and Brenda was happy again; well, in truth, she had never been entirely happy with the A2, not having been as keen as me that she should have one. In contrast, I did like the somewhat quirky look, the front end somehow resembling an early TT and the rear spoiler doing something for me!
Most of all, I loved the fact it was made of non-rusting aluminium, while Brenda enjoys its lively performance and I think she was starting to like it a bit more (as long as it was running, that is…) Although the Audi A2 does spend more time at home than on the road, it was at last behaving itself when used – for a while that is! Then came a calamity. I was driving and we were about to leave a car park, we’d just passed by the exit barrier and a few feet later the engine just cut out. I was giving it about a minute between attempting to restart and, sure enough after about 10 minutes it fired up as though it was new, with no hint of a problem!
I phoned Kyle to report the sad news that the problem still existed, as there was not much more to say… The date for Audi Driver International was fast approaching and with the A4 entered in the concours I was getting more excited than normal, as it would also be an opportunity to have a chat with members of the A2 Owners’ club about our ongoing problem.
We arrived at Castle Combe and while I hastily started to get the dirt off, Brenda took an early stroll to see if she could pick some brains at the Audi A2 Owners’ club. She did indeed succeed in doing so, but not with an actual solution to the stalling of her car, although one suggestion was that we should try changing the camshaft and the crankshaft sensors as they sometimes send out the wrong messages to the main ECU. Sadly, it was all a bit ‘double Dutch’ to me as when I was taught about car mechanics we had things like distributors, carburettors, ignition coils and definitely no ECUs!
We both loved our day at Audi Driver International, especially after the A4 came runner- up in the Concours, much to my surprise and maybe – just maybe – we had an answer to our A2’s problems.
I contacted Kyle Sagar and told him of the suggestion we had received and that I wished to go ahead and fit the two sensors, which he duly did. All seemed fine and Brenda was also feeling confident; although we kept our fingers crossed for now, we were hopeful her little car was cured.
Some weeks went by and we were both pleased that all seemed fine, but then it stalled… again… that was it for me, I reported the sad happening to Kyle and said I wanted him to fit a brand-new fuel pump as I had felt from early on that it seemed to be a fuel supply problem, even though it had checked out OK.
Kyle fitted the new pump, switched the ignition on…but nothing! He was puzzled and started to investigate why, so he lifted the passenger foot well floor plate that gave access to the relays, reached towards the fuel pump relay, gave it the merest touch and the pump whirred away!
After months of unexplained stalling and over £1000 spent on repair bills, it seemed that Kyle had found the problem – a simple bad connection in the relay board! I asked Kyle to also fit a new relay, just for good measure; he was as pleased as we were that at last he had found something positive that could explain why the engine had been cutting out, so you can imagine how I and Brenda felt!
Some weeks of happy driving went by and much to my delight the engine had also lost its desire to feel like a misfire and its inherent hesitations, which I can only put down to the relay’s dodgy connection and it giving an intermittent supply to the pump. I opted to keep the new pump fitted, as it could only be better.
Sorry, but this is not quite the end to this saga – there is a twist to this story. I was filling the Audi A2 with fuel at our local Shell garage and on leaving the engine cut out, and despite many turns on the starter it was lifeless, oh the despair. Ah! but at least this time I knew where to look. I lifted the floor plate, gently touched the relay, turned the key and whoosh – the engine fired.
So now I’d discovered that we had a relay that was tending to rise up away from the connections; I’m convinced this is because of the somewhat harsh ride in this Audi A2 that I blame on its very light weight construction and the diabolical state of our B-roads, which in turn serves to loosen the relay.
I hope I have now found a solution to this problem as I have fitted a section of sponge to the underside of the floor plate that gently presses on the top of the relay to stop it from rising out of its socket. So far, to date, we have had no recurrence of the stalling engine, and Brenda has a new-found confidence in her Audi A2.
My thanks go to Kyle Sagar for his expertise and the not insignificant fact that he discovered the fault, but I wonder if any other Audi A2 owners have had this problem?
On the Move
Tel: 07875 964 777
‘SO HE LIFTED THE PASSENGER FOOTWELL FLOOR PLATE THAT GAVE ACCESS TO THE RELAYS, REACHED TOWARDS THE FUEL PUMP RELAY, GAVE IT THE MEREST TOUCH AND THE PUMP WHIRRED AWAY!...’
‘ALL SEEMED WELL, UNTIL APRIL THIS YEAR, WHEN I WAS DRIVING THE A2 AND THE ENGINE CUT OUT SUDDENLY AND WITHOUT WARNING...’
‘A2 IS WELL-FAVOURED BY ROY AND BRENDA, APART FROM THE ELUSIVE STARTING PROBLEM THAT IS...
WHEN IT DID RESTART, IT DROVE FINE AND WOULD THEN START REPEATEDLY WITHOUT ANY HINT OF TROUBLE. IT WAS VERY FRUSTRATING, TO SAY THE LEAST...’