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How to Replace the Starter Motor on a 1999 VW Beetle TDI

The focus of this article is to explain in laymen’s language, the steps and procedures required to replace a defective starter motor on a VW Beetle TDI. The most effective way to illustrate this article is photos showing the hand model describing the steps necessary to remove the starter motor. Follow the steps below to replace your defective VW Beetle starter motor:

  • It is not necessary the use a lifting device to remove and replace the starter motor on this vehicle.
  • A memory keeper device should be inserted in the cigar socket to retain the original computer settings.
  • Using a 10mm nut driver or 1/4-inch 10mm square drive socket and 1/4-inch square drive ratchet, remove the nuts that secures the top engine cover.
  • Release the clamp on the back of the cover that secures the hose to the EGR valve.
  • Using a 10mm nut driver or combination wrench, remove the cable to the negative and positive terminals of the battery.
  • Remove the bolt that secures the battery hold down bracket.
  • Remove the battery from the vehicle.


Arcing caused by a wrench, can fry an expensive electronic component. Remove the negative cable first followed by the positive cable before removing the battery. When installing the battery, install the positive cable first followed by the negative cable.

  • Remove the bolts securing the battery tray to the body.
  • Remove the battery tray. Figure 2-1 shows the tray being removed from the vehicle. Figure 2-2 shows the battery tray removed.

Figure 2-1 Battery Tray Being Removed From Bettle TDI

Figure 2-2 Battery Tray Removed From Bettle TDI

Starter Motor Removal

  • Using a creeper on wheels remove the two (2) bolts underneath the vehicle that secures the starter motor to the engine block. An 18mm 3/8-inch square drive socket and a 3/8-inch square drive ratchet is required for removal of the starter motor. Figure 2-3 shows the starter motor being removed top-side from the Bettle TDI.

Figure 2-3 Starter Motor Being Removed From Bettle TDI

Starter Motor Bench Test

  • Electrical tests showed that the starter motor was defective. To confirm the diagnosis, it was bench tested using a battery booster pack and jumper wire.
  • Figure 2-4 shows the starter motor being bench tested. The red cable of the starter pack is connected to the B+ terminal of the starter motor. One (1) lead of the jumper wire is connected to the starter motor low-voltage exciter terminal. The other lead is touched to the starter motor B+ terminal. If the starter motor is good, the solenoid will lift and energize the pinion and ring gear. It spins at roughly 150 to 200-rpm’s.
  • The starter motor that the TDI Guy removed from the Bettle TDI was defective.

Figure 2-4 Starter Motor Being Bench Tested with Battery Starting Pack


Two tests should be made (no load and load) to check the full condition of the starter motor. The above test is termed a no-load test. It is tested on the bench out of the vehicle. The second test is a load test that is made with the starter motor installed in the vehicle. Both tests require the battery starting pack.

Cleaning Battery Cables

  • The battery posts, battery cables, and starter motor terminal wires were coated with corrosion. They were thoroughly cleaned with a battery post cleaning brush and sand paper. They were then coated with Vaseline for corrosion protection. Figure 2-5 shows wires that connect to the starter motor are corroded. Figure 2-6 shows the starter motor negative cable being cleaned with sand paper. Figure 2-7 shows the B+ cable installed on the replacement starter motor. Figure 2-8 shows the replacement starter motor installed in the Bettle TDI.

Figure 2-5 Corroded Starter Motor Wiring

Figure 2-6 Cleaning Cranking Battery Negative Cable

Figure 2-7 Cleaned Positive Cable Installed on Replacement Starter Motor

Figure 2-8 Replacement Starter Motor Installed in Bettle TDI

Finishing Up

Install the starter motor and cranking battery in the same order that they were removed.

  • Figure 2-9 shows the cranking battery installed in the Bettle TDI.

Figure 2-9 Cranking Battery Installed in Bettle TDI

  • Install top battery cover (Figure 2-10)

Figure 2-10 Installing Top Battery Cover on Bettle TDI

  • Install the top engine cover.
  • Start the car and take for a test drive to check for proper operation.

Tools, Parts and Equipment Needed

  • Memory keeper device
  • 10mm nut driver
  • 1/4-inch square drive 10mm socket
  • 1/4-inch square drive ratchet
  • Creeper on wheels
  • 3/8-inch square drive ratchet
  • 3/8-inch square drive 18mm deep socket
  • Battery booster starting pack
  • Sandpaper
  • Vaseline
  • Jumper wire

Darell L Rains is a technical writer, author, technician, and Webmaster of Darell’s VW Maintenance Page URL: WWW.VWTDIREPAIR.COM

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