How to check and change the starter on the VW Golf 3

The VW Golf 3 was an excellent car for its price. It is still competitive in its price range, but with the proviso that it is more and more difficult to find a copy in good condition. As any old car in Golf III has problems with attachments which have exhausted their resource. In particular, the starter of Golf III can bring several surprises at once.

Golf 3 Starter Faults

стартер Гольф 3
Third Golf starter, rebuilt

At the service station, the price to repair the starter in the Golf 3 may be commensurate with the cost of a new unit, in the range of $ 90-120. In order to save money, it is advisable, if you have a garage and tools, to make the repair yourself. For self-diagnosis it is necessary, at least in general terms, to know the principle of operation and device start system.

Principle of operation of the starter Volkswagen Golf 3

starter motor golf
Principle of operation of the starter Volkswagen Golf 3

When the ignition key is turned to the position responsible for starting the engine, voltage is applied to the solenoid switch located at the top of the starter. The retracting lever moves the pinion gear wheel of the starter along the circular threads of the anchor shaft into the toothed crown of the engine flywheel.

схема стартера
Specification for the Golf Mk3 starter

When the pinion is actuated, the electromagnetic switch turns on the full battery current. After the pinion enters the grooves, the starter cranks the engine powerfully.

The starter motor and the pinion gear in the 1.8 and 2.0 liter engines are connected by a planetary gear. Therefore, the electric motor rotates much faster than the pinion. Due to this, the electric starter has more kinetic energy. After the engine has started, the pinion comes out of the flywheel again.

How to check the starter Golf Mk3

клеммы стартера
For a preliminary check, short-circuit the power and signal terminals

To test the unit on the Golf Mk3, you need to short the large starter terminal and the cable next to the terminal. If the engine starts, then the starter is good. If there is no reaction – check the cables going to the starter. If there is no reaction to the connection of contacts – dismantle the electric starter assembly and perform further troubleshooting.

Removing the starter on the Volkswagen Golf III

крепление стартера
Left starter mounting bolt
  • Remove the terminals from the battery. Remove the wires from the brackets holding them in place. Disconnect the wire from the solenoid switch.
  • On 1.4L and 1.6L engines, you will need a ratchet wrench. On 1.8 and 2.0 liter engines, jack up the engine and transmission to prevent them from shifting when removing the starter.
    стартер крепления
    You can clearly see the upper mounting bolt
  • Unscrew the mounting bolts on the top and bottom of the starter.
  • Dismantle the starter.

Diagnosing and replacing the retractor relay

При попытке завести двигатель слышно, что стартер крутит, но не проворачивает двигатель. Дополнительный признак – подача на контакты реле и стартера напряжения от аккумулятора и отсутствие щелчков в области реле.

реле гольф 3
Starter solenoid, in the photo on the left

Replacement with the unit removed is very simple – the relay is attached to the housing with 3 bolts, by unscrewing which you can disconnect the part.

Checking the starter armature Volkswagen Golf 3

якорь гольф 3
Armature burned out, can’t be repaired

To check the armature, apply voltage from the battery bypassing the relay directly to the starter. If the starter does not work, the problem is in the armature or brushes. To check for no contact with the housing, place the stylus of the multimeter to the armature winding and the other stylus to the housing. The multimeter should indicate a breakage in the test mode. Otherwise it is a short to ground. The rest of the armature checks are not available with the normal tool kit.

якорь вал
Check the wear of the armature shaft and the bendix pinion

The rest of the starter motor malfunctions of the Golf 3

  • If you hear clicking noises from under the hood when you turn the ignition key to start the engine, the battery may be undercharged. The battery needs to be checked.
  • If the starter works but does not crank the engine, the retractor lever may be jammed. It is worth trying to move the car with the gear engaged.
  • Starter continues to work when the key is released – the electromagnetic switch is faulty. You must turn off the ignition and replace the solenoid switch.
  • If there is no positive result in the self-diagnosis of the electric starter can be taken to the diagnostics at a car service center, or to replace.
Pay attention to the bushing in the gearbox crankcase. If it is critically worn, it must be replaced

Which starter is better for Golf 3, make a choice

The easiest option would be to replace it with a new one. Prices at parts stores are quite high and start at $57 for a Chinese no-name. The best option will be the original VAG starter (036 911023 SV). A good quality will be a replacement part from the manufacturer Bosch (0 986 016 800), Delta autotechnik (A 16 290).

You can consider buying a starter from the manufacturer Valeo (726023). The price of these parts ranges from $64 to $77. Chinese parts can have the most unpredictable quality and are not recommended for purchase.

стартер гольф 3
New VAG starter

Let’s summarize

The starter, by virtue of its complex design, can fail for several reasons, not all of which can be diagnosed independently. Dismantling is quite easy, which makes it cheaper to repair when you go to the car service.

The best option would be to replace the node with a new one, but it is also the most expensive option when choosing a quality manufacturer. Choose the starter for Golf correctly and have a nice work!

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