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VW Transporter T4 Not Starting? Possible Causes and Fixes

VW Transporter T4 Not Starting? Possible Causes and Fixes

The Volkswagen Transporter series started in 1949 with the T1 (Type 2). Over the years, it has transformed into a modern van, with the T7 being the latest model. This article will focus on starting issues surrounding the fourth generation of the transporter series, the T4. 

The T4 debuted in 1990 and was marketed in North America under the “EuroVan” moniker. Having been around for over 30 years, you can only buy it at second-hand value. If you’ve owned older vehicles, you’d agree they cost a lot to maintain because they are prone to faults and starting issues. That’s usually because of depreciation and worn parts. The 30+-year-old Transporter T4 is no different.

Is your VW Transporter T4 not starting or experiencing hard-starting? This article will explain why it happens and how to fix every T4 starting problem.

Reasons for VW Transponder T4 not Starting, and Fixes

Credits: Unsplash

Failed Battery Terminals

The starting issue could result from the battery’s terminal head if you’ve turned the ignition and the van makes no sound, no lights on, or any sign of the vehicle coming alive. Head over to the front bonnet and check if the battery terminals are connected. Clean the terminals if they look corroded or contain a whitish substance.

Connect the terminals if they aren’t, or hit the battery cable heads to make good contact with the battery. If the terminals are in place, your Transporter T4 should crank up or at least show some light on the dashboard. Except the battery is dead.

Dead or Weak Battery

Your T4 van won’t start if the batteries are dead or weak. A bad alternator could lead to weak batteries or even dead batteries. Run some tests on your alternator to ensure it’s working fine. If you’ve checked the battery terminals and the alternators are working fine, the batteries are likely weak or dead. 

Charging the batteries might get you back on the road. If the battery refuses to charge, it’s likely dead. Go for a replacement. A typical T4 12-volt battery will cost around $100, depending on your vehicle’s engine type. This YouTube video will show you how to remove and replace a T4 battery.

Engine Related Problems

If you’ve determined that the battery is in good shape or have fixed the battery issue and the engine cranks but won’t start, your engine likely has a fault. Check your dashboard to know if the check engine light is on. That can indicate something is wrong. Run an OBD2 scan check to determine the exact issue. Find the Transporter’s OBD2 port below the steering compartment. Engine-related issues can stem from low oil or these places:

Fuel System: The engine won’t start if it’s not receiving enough fuel from the fuel system. That may be due to a bad fuel filter, a faulty fuel injector, or a bad fuel pump. If that’s the case, hire a mechanic to inspect the combustion chamber and ensure the fuel system is in order. A bad throttle position sensor (TPS) may also cause this issue.

The spark plugs or cylinder issues: When the spark plugs aren’t igniting or sparking, the engine won’t start. You can handle this by changing the spark plugs or checking their cables. When the issue stems from a misfiring cylinder, your OBD2 scanner should return a p0300 or p0301 error code.

Engine Timing: Is your VW Transporter T4 not starting after checking out with the above fixes? It may be due to a failed engine timing. Valve timing is achieved in the Transporter engine by connecting the camshaft and the crankshaft with the timing chain. 

Your T4s engine won’t start if the timing chain brakes or skips; that causes the crankshaft to lose sync with the camshaft. That can lead to serious engine damage affecting the piston and the valve. A bad engine timing could return a p0013 or p0017 error code.

First, inspect the timing chain to ensure it is not broken or cut. If that’s the case, hire a mechanic to fix it and address every issue that could result from bad engine timing. If you know your way around the engine, you can check this out to fix it yourself.

A Failed Ignition Switch or Coil

If you’ve checked battery terminals, fuel system, and other engine-related issues, and your T4 is not starting, the next thing to check is the ignition switch and coil. Ignition switch failure could be why your VW Transporter T4 is not starting. Unscrew the ignition switch (It’s hard to take out, but a screwdriver can get the job done) and check if the cables are corroding at any point. Replace it if necessary; it doesn’t cost much, just about $13. 

If that doesn’t work, check the ignition coil to see if it has failed. It is located below the battery. Your van will not start if the ignition coil fails. Fix it, and you should be fine.

What to Do When T4 Is Not Starting

mechanic inspecting car
Credits: Unsplash

Is your VW Transporter T4 not starting? Do this to get it fixed:

Hit the Solenoid with a Harmer

This is a temporary, crude way of cranking your T4 back to life if it stops you halfway and refuses to start. A starter solenoid empowers the starter motor to spin the crankshaft and start the engine. The starter will not crank the starter motor if the brushes that make contact with the commutator are rusted or not in good shape. 

Older vehicles like the Transporter T4 usually suffer from this because of what they have weathered through the years. Hit the solenoid with a harmer or hard metal to free up the rusty brushes and get the commutator to make contact with them. That may get you back to the road. However, you may have to explore other possible fixes if tapping the solenoid doesn’t start your T4.

Visit The Mechanic

This is probably the last option, or the first if you don’t know your way around a transporter’s engine. Hire a mechanic to fix every issue related to starting. That won’t cost you a fortune, but it’s your best bet to get your Transporter T4 in good shape after you’ve tried every possible fix.

Last Words

Credits: Unsplash

The VW Transporter is a classic van that has been around for decades and is prone to many starting issues. That may result from battery issues, a faulty fuel system, or a misfiring cylinder. It could also result from a faulty ignition system. 

Hopefully, we’ve simplified the process of spotting and fixing the Transporters’ starting issues. Why is your VW Transporter T4 not starting? Have you tried any of these fixes mentioned above? If you owned a VW T4 and experienced starting issues, let us know how you fixed it. Please share your experience with us in the comment section below. Cheers!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my VW Transporter Engine Not Starting?

There are many reasons why your transporter T4 starter cranks, but the engine won’t start. Your engine won’t start if the combustion system is not getting enough fuel to crank the engine. The fault may result from a bad fuel pump, faulty fuel filter, or injection system.

When to know if your VW T4 has a Problem?

Your VW T4 has a problem when it is not starting or experiencing a hard start. It should fire up quickly if it’s in good shape. Check the dashboard to know the state of the check engine light. If the check engine light switches on, something could be wrong with your engine or a sensor. Run it through an OBD2 scanner to detect the possible cause.

Are T4 Transporters Reliable?

VW T4 transporters are reliable vans that have been around for decades. They are also easily repairable, and their parts won’t cost you a fortune.