The 3rd generation VW Golf remains a classic car for several reasons. For one, it helped launch the diesel craze that swept through Europe in the late 90s. It also won the 1993 European Car of the Year award, a prize it proved itself worthy of until 2001, when the 4th generation was released. Perhaps most importantly, the Golf introduced the general automotive market to the powerful GTI engine previously only seen in sports cars. A not uncommon problem with the third generation GTI is a jerky idle, and intermittent stalling.
When the car isn’t running, it flips into idle mode. The idle should hold the engine at a steady, low RPM until the accelerator is depressed, manually raising the RPM. When the idle malfunctions, it will fluctuate between high and low RPMs without warning, and it often cuts out all together, making the car stall. Usually, such stalling happens when the engine is cold, and if the driver holds the RPM at a higher rate for a few minutes the idle kicks back in.
Due to the almost limitless number of potential causes, the malfunction is hard to diagnose. It could be a problem with the spark plugs or a leak in the vacuum lines running from the Idle Stability Valve (ISV). It could also lie in the ISV, a component that does the most to maintain idle speed.
Accurate pinpointing of the issue becomes tricky as this glitch can stem from many different systems in the car. Rather than spend countless frustrating hours trying to identify the exact area yourself, take your VW to an independent German auto service shop. These folks have the tools and the expertise to solve the idling mystery and return your car to its former glory.
Search for a local, independent Volkswagen repair shop with Volkswagen mechanics that have dealer-level expertise at a fraction of the expense.