Bathing in fuel, aka fuel line replacements

Part of the new old Volkswagen ownership required repair list is replacing ALL fuel lines. I ended up using GoWesty’s fuel line replacement kit, and metal fuel rails, fuel filter, and fuel pump [not shown below]. Also in the photo are spark plug wires, spark plugs, dizzy&dizzy cap, install process of the sparks and dizzies will be covered in another post.

NOTES: you must assemble the GoWesty Fuel Rails 24 hours before starting this process. Also GoWesty’s walk-through on those rails are more than sufficient, and I will not go other their assemblyIf at any point you feel unsure of a process or have any worries please stop and consult a mechanic, I am not a certified mechanic and am only giving this information out as informational purposes.

Under the Body:

First step is to clamp down your existing fuel line [as you are going to remove it it is okay to pinch it without worry of damaging the line]. If you do need to re-use the line, putting some cardboard between the clamp and the line [both sides] will help stop potential damage. However I always suggest replacing line any time you work with it, it is cheap and well worth the ease of mind.

The system is likely still full of fuel [and possibly pressurized] so expect some fuel spraying/ draining over the next step. Put down a oil drain tub/ cardboard for the spray. Wear some goggles/glasses, make sure the battery is unplugged, and that you are in a well ventilated area.

Remove the fuel line from the fuel pump [closest to the tank] and have the tub ready to catch fuel [note: pre-86 Vanagons may have 2 fuel filters one before the pump and one after].

Remove the fuel line attached to the filter [closest to engine bay] and drain the fuel from here as well.

As you remove these soft fuel lines put them aside so you can use them as references for cutting your replacement fuel line.

Using a Phillips head and a 10/13mm socket to remove the filter mount and the pump mount.The pump will have 2 electrical wires running to the pump, the pump will identify the +/- make note which is which while removing.

Leave the hard plastic fuel lines in place, but check for cracking/pinches and other wear and replace as needed.

There is still one line you need to replace outside of the engine bay but it is best to drain the rest of the system in the engine bay first [we will come back to this].

Moving to the engine bay:

Start off by removing the air box, there should be 1 retaining clip on the top [near the passenger side of engine bay], the airflow sensor’s plug, and the two air tubes running to the unit.

Next remove the lines from the two circled 3 way fuel ports [I suggest labeling at this point the left and right fuel rails as such and the fuel lines routing and where they plug in]. This is easiest with an exact-o knife and slicing up the side, as shown below.

Next is removing the fuel rail and injectors from the engine. This is done by removing the retaining bracket, but on our vanagon it was an allen bolt on one side and a 8mm hex bolt on the other so have a few tools handy/ check before starting repair. Make sure to label your injector wires otherwise you will have misfiring issues on reassembly.

Slowly pull that assembly out of the engine and verify the O-rings [shown in later photo] came out with the injector and isn’t still stuck in the engine.

Just to show the old vs the replaced/cleaned-up/fresh lines.^

 

The O-ring previously mentioned is right where my index finger is touching. The larger O-ring will be replaced as well as the littler ones, both need to be removed to replace the fuel lines between the injector and the rail.

Remove the retaining bracket and the fuel rail from the injector and start removing the very small fuel lines. these must be cut to be removed, and they must be cut in a very tedious way to remove them. You must cut them length wise into under the metal cap [see below] then you must twist and pull the line a bit to get it to release.

Note: this part is a pain… it takes forever.

Now at this point the fuel injectors are free, I took this time to clean them with a old toothbrush and gasoline. not sure this helped or was necessary, but in my opinion it was worth the small amount of time it took.

 

Back under the Vanagon:

Full disclosure… This next part sucked and there isn’t [as far as I know] a particularly great way of doing this. However doing this next step is a necessity. We are going to replace the firewall passthrough, aka the firemaker, aka burner of hopes and dreams, aka Sir Flames-a-lot. In all seriousness though, this little plastic bend that is in the firewall of the engine-bay, breaks and causes many many fires in the Vanagon.

Start by unbolting this from the firewall [I think it was 10mm bolts] and then head under the car. You will be looking for…..

 

You will need to be a bit of a contortionist to get a screwdriver up here to remove these. you may be able to do this by being above the engine bay and reaching around the firewall. Either way it really is a pain. Expect this to take a while and having a second set of hands reaching from the engine bay to hold those clamps while you unscrew it.

Take your time and understand I’ve done this a few times and this part takes an unreasonable amount to time to get done. Make sure you have a few different lengths of screwdrivers or 8mm [not always the case] sockets, some water, goggles/glasses, gloves, shop towels all within reach below.

Half Done!

The reality at this point is you have done the major steps!

You should have all of your old fuel line [besides the single one still attached to the tank]. Use these to cut the replacement length line and start assembling the fuel injectors and fuel rail assembly [make sure to keep all crimps and screws facing upwards to help if repairs are needed down the road].

Assemble the pump and filter assembly next and mount to the undercarriage, but don’t attach to the tank yet as the fuel system isn’t complete yet.

Next attach your two lines to the plastic hard lines behind the firewall [putting that rubber o-ring in place of the fire starting plastic elbow. This is far easier to do than removing them luckily.

Install the fuel-rail and injector assembly, and make sure you moved the old heat shields for the fuel lines onto the new lines.

Plug the fuel injectors back in [electronic controllers] and verify all clamps are tight on the fuel rail.

Connect all 6 lines to the 2 T connectors on top of engine.

Head back under the Vanagon and swap the tank line with the replaced fuel pump assembly’s line that should be there already, wear your goggles and have the gasoline tub ready to catch the spray [it will happen].

Re-install your airbox, airflow meter and reseal the two airlines to the air box.

You should be done!

But before try starting the engine, here is a checklist to verify you are ready for that step.

  • Follow the line from the tank, all the way to the injectors, check each connection that it is secure, tight and not leaking.
  • Verify fuel pump is plugged in and verify the +/- are correct
  • Fuel rails are secure and the injectors are well seated
  • Heat shields are on fuel lines in high wear/heat areas
  • Injector cables are plugged in and are in the correct locations
  • Firewall lines don’t have any sharp edges to catch on [causing rupture from wear]
  • No fuel lines have excessive tension
  • Battery is plugged in
  • Air box is plugged in and has no vacuum leaks
  • Take 30 min [lets any fuel vapors vacate prior to starting the engine]

Turn the key to accessory mode, repeat this 3 times to force the pump to prime the system. Now check under the car for fuel leaks and smell of fuel around the Vanagon. If there is anything walk through your whole system to find and fix it. If no smell and nothing on ground, go ahead and start the Vanagon it may take a few sets of trying to start the vanagon this is normal.

After all this your idle may be a little higher and may require adjustment after the engine warms up, this was the case for me due to the idle being adjusted for the failing fuel pump.

 

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