Fuel Leaks & Engine Fires
Engine fires caused by fuel leaks in the engine compartment are an all too common occurrence to air-cooled Volkswagens. You should make a habit of inspecting the fuel lines every time you check the oil. It is also a good idea to replace all the fuel hoses whenever you purchase a car. Use only the correct braided 5mm German hose, seen here. SAE (American) hose, commonly available at local auto parts chains, should not be used on VWís. One meter should be enough.
STEPS TO REPLACE FUEL HOSES
(Instructions for Type 1 and 3 VWís. Type 2 is the same except for fuel tank location.)
1) Unhook the battery to help prevent any sparks from occurring, and keep a fire extinguisher within reach.
2) Remove the fuel tank. After removing the 4 bolts and clamps that hold the tank in place, lift the tank up and pinch off the fuel line close to the tank with needle nose vice grips. Remove the old hose where it enters the frame head, and lift the tank out of the car. Empty any fuel into a gas can, and set the tank aside. This is the perfect opportunity to check the tank for rust, varnish deposits, and also to change the in-tank screen. If necessary, a complete tank restoration can be done with Fuel Tank Sealer and Metal Ready from POR-15, or a new tank can be purchased, depending on year/model.
After the tank is checked, and the screen is replaced, install new fuel line with German ABA clamps (they look factory, and wonít pinch the hose like SAE clamps do), replace the fuel line grommet where the line enters the frame head, and bolt the tank back in place. A little grease or spit on the end of the rubber line, helps get them slide on easily. 1968 and later cars have an outside filler tube, so now is the time to replace that too. Itís available in our Fuel Fume Elimination Kit, and includes the filler tube seals, gas cap seal, and fuel sender seal (common sources of gasoline odor in the passenger compartment). These later models also came equipped with an evaporative emission system that adds double the amount of hose to be replaced. These ventilation hoses carry only fumes, but need to be replaced periodically, and doing this will keep your interior free from that smell of gas. Be careful when removing hoses from the plastic nipples on the evaporative components, they become brittle and tend to snap off. Carefully cut the hose from these areas to prevent breakage. Youíre done up front!
3) Remove the left rear tire and replace the piece of hose that connects the fuel line exiting the frame to the engine, using the same clamps as above. Be sure to route the hose far away from the exhaust! Replace the grommet (*IMPORTANT*) where the metal fuel line enters the engine compartment thru the front engine tin. Lack of this grommet is probably the #1 cause of fires in the VW. Picture this: The fuel line rubs against the sharp edge of the firewall tin, over the years it rubs thru, and Viola! You have gas dumping out directly over #3 exhaust pipe-- instant FIRE!
4) Replace the lines in the engine compartment (75-79 fuel injected models use a 7mm high pressure hose, with this clamp. Some aftermarket carbs use this 7mm hose not rated for fuel injection). One at a time, remove and replace each hose with new clamps. Keep in mind not to make any sharp bends, or run it too close to any sources of spark or heat. The fuel filter should be located far enough away from the distributor, coil or heat risers, so if it fails, it wonít dump fuel onto heat or spark sources. Some owners prefer to locate the fuel filter under the fuel tank. This will prevent a engine fire due to a broken filter, but makes replacement a little more difficult. Itís your choice. Make sure the brass fittings to the carburetor are nice and snug. Itís common for them to come loose and leak fuel.
Thatís all there is to it!As an added safety, keep a fire extinguisher in the car at all times! Some day, either you or some poor soul will need it. Always be prepared!