Help, car won't start!


Feb 4, 2004
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Hi all, please offer your best suggestions...

I have a 3.0 petrol auto A4, I do quite a few miles (160 yesterday, 500+ so far this week) Car has 80k on clock and is 4.5k from next service.

So, car wouldn't start. I checked that I hadn't left anything switched on or plugged in, but there was no reason to suggest the battery had been flattened. I put an intelligent charger on it but within a few minutes it decided the battery was fully charged (all lights and auxillary equipment work fine). I did try jumping it in case it was a dead cell in the battery, but that didn't work either.

Symptoms: When I turn the key in the ignition the starter makes a loud ticking sound.

If its jammed, I have no idea how to release it as the car is automatic.

I read a few other threads on here with similar problems, but I'm absolutely confident that it isn't the battery, so I'm looking for other considered alternatives...

Your help and advice gents will be greatly appreciated.


BTW, the car is parked nose-in in my garage (with an unfavourable gradient on my driveway) so pushing it anywhere is going to be a big problem!
I'd say its not your battery as well if you can hear something from the starter motor! So does the engine turn over at all when you turn the key or nothing at all? Do you have vagcom to scan for fault codes? This will lead to any electrical faults that might be the cause. Is it tiptronic or multitronic? I know for instance the multitronic has a seperate ECU which is know to go up the spout sometimes, so you could be locked in gear effectively seizing the engine. You cant push start an auto so dont try that by the way!
Hi Nickynibbles!

The engine doesn't turn over at all, just the starter clicking. I don't have Vagcom unfortunately. It is the multitronic.

I'll pick up a Vagcom lead from ebay tonight - although I'm not sure how competent I will be with using it, nor how long it will take to arrive! I really have to get the car back on the road PDQ!

How would I unlock it if the gearbox is stuck in gear?

Thanks mate
From the clicking sound it sounds to me like the solenoid on the starter motor may have gone or become stuck. I am not sure how mechanically minded you are .... but this is a small cylinder on top of the starter motor typically 3-4" long and 2" diameter. I dont know where this is located on the 3.0 other than it will be against the engine flywheel.

If possible reach in with hammer/metal object and give it a good couple of hard taps, obviously dont lay 7 bells into it but do hit it quite hard!

If this doesnt work then try it as someone is trying to start the car as this may also shift it. As they turn the key you should hear/feel if the clicking is coming from the solenoid. Obviously keep fingers/loose clothing well clear while you do this :faint:
Thanks Quattrojames, I'll give that a go first thing tomorrow morning (it'll be too dark by the time I get home tonight)

No idea where the solenoid is but I'll have a rummage and see if I can find it!

I'll let you know how I get on!
QJ is spot on about the cause of the fault, just remember that the starter motor itself uses permanent cast magnets inside it so if you hit it hard, you will shatter the magnets and wreck the starter altogether, tap the solenoid progressively more while an assistant turns the key and holds it when it fires till it starts.

I would say either a loose engine earth strap, ******** solenoid or wiring to it, or the starter brushes have gone and it needs replaced or refurbished.

If it dims the dash lights out trying to start then its drawing a lot of current and the motor has a shunt or short circuit, if it doesnt then its the solenoid, cabling to it or the engine earth return strap.
Hi all,

Sadly I've been unable to rouse the starter :(

Have contacted local specialist who can fit new one this week. Just the minor problem of getting the car to him for Monday morning to tease over now...


Will report back on this thread if it turns out to be anything other than starter/solenoid.

Thanks again for the sound advice!