Syncro fuel filter replacement, Part I

The design team responsible for the fuel supply system in the Vanagon Syncro was led by a descendant of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. No? Well how do you explain the location of the fuel filter then?

In camperizing the syncro I came upon the problem of screwing down the folding bed/rear bench brackets to the rear deck. I mentioned in a previous post how I drilled and tapped holes, but the rear deck is not thick enough to get more than one complete thread in it, so I went about making some little backing plates to build it up. On the passenger side it is no problem, the area is in the wheel well. But on the drivers side you have to reach up in wheel well, past the carbon filter and behind/above the gas tank. While doing that I decided to change the fuel filter which is located in that region.

Actually the fuel filter is attached to the inboard side of the spring tower. But you wouldn’t know it from this diagram (its #25, oh and the charcoal filter which is part of the emission control system is not shown here).

I did not take an “establishing shot” type pic, but here is a close up of the front side of the spring tower and the charcoal canister (I had removed the gear clamp that holds the canister to its bracket, which in turn is screwed to spring tower).

With the canister moved out the way a bit, you can see the filter, inlet end.

And if you peer around the rear of the spring tower, you can see the filter outlet end.

See that screw end sticking out? its one of two 10 mm hex headed screws that holds the filter bracket to the spring tower. I took both out, the “other one” near the front side of the tower is a bit awkward to get at, but I was lucky in that they were not rusted in. By the way, I did squirt all the fasteners with some rust busting stuff before starting. Hello bracket end!

I clamped the inlet and outlet fuel lines at this point too. I could get at the gear clamp at the outlet side so I removed that hose from the filter.

Then I struggled with pulling the filter forward, towards front of van, and down to get it out.

The above picture shows how it doesn’t come out. The charcoal canister, like an annoying relative, kept getting in the way, and the canister’s bracket to the right prevented the filter from coming out… oh wait, why not remove that dammed bracket, doh. Again, two 10 mm hex head screws, and the bracket is off and the filter and its bracket comes out.

I removed the filter from the bracket, sent the bracket and the charcoal canister bracket into a wash of naval jelly in preparation for painting. Here is the filter still in its bracket and beside it, the charcoal canister bracket.

Part number for the fuel filter is 450 905 030. Its used an a number of VW vehicles from the 80’s/90’s, should cost around 10 – 15 bucks.

Freed from its bracket, the filter underwent surgery.

The exposed paper filter elements were incised then retracted.

Yuck. I bet its the original filter.

The brackets are painted and now drying, tomorrow the new filter goes in. See that in Part II

  1. #1 by joel Salter on April 21, 2012 - 9:26 am

    Thank you for the wonderful write up. I’m doing something different, but the reference to the gas tank bought me here. Do you have any experience replacing seals on the gas tank and then reinstalling the tank? I’m finding reattaching the hoses is difficult i.e. access and getting the new cross over tube to insert on either end into the holes on top of the tank. I tried putting a light film of grease on the nipples but no luck yet. So just curious about your experience if any?


    • #2 by albell on April 21, 2012 - 9:36 am

      Hi Joel,

      I’m glad that you found the write up useful. I’ve not dropped a syncro tank yet, it is something I ought to do, I bet I need to replace lines and check for rust back there. I have read descriptions of the process and it does seem like the tubes up top are a bit of a fiddle. Some have taped the lines to the tank to keep them in place during install. I do have some experience in getting tubing on to and into fittings. It is a case of “easy on then easy off” so greasing the connection may not be the best approach (and it makes the fittings hard to grip). I like to use ethanol to lube the connection. In the lab I’ve used 95% ethanol, but at home rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol) might be a good substitute. The alcohol lubes but then evaporates and the connection is more secure. Having things warm also helps, use a hair dryer to warm things up (I bet you have tried this).

      I’m sorry I can’t be of more help. It’s often frustrating working alone isn’t it? Some procedures really make you wonder.

      good luck


  2. #5 by Micky Aldridge on May 15, 2012 - 10:13 am

    Superb post my friend, and very informative too. I have been struggling to locate this fuel filter for days now, and no wonder I couldn’t find it. So I need to extract the carbon canister, and its bracket, then I should be able to get to it.

    I noticed you did all this with the wheel still fitted, would you say it would make the job easier with the wheel removed?

    Im just about to check out your part 2 now.

    How long did the removal take?

    Thanks again


    • #6 by albell on May 15, 2012 - 6:00 pm

      hi Mickey,

      I’m glad the post helped you. The filter is a coy beast ins’t it? I bet it would be a tad easier with wheel off, wasn’t that bad with it on (can’t recall if I jacked van up a bit though).

      Took me about 30 min to take all the stuff off. Most of the time was spent wondering rather than doing 🙂

      good luck


  3. #7 by Chris 86syncro on September 23, 2016 - 7:44 am

    Thank you very much for great description.Maybe an old one , but so still precious. hope you still riding the beast. 🙂

    • #8 by albell on September 24, 2016 - 8:21 am

      Still riding the beast and still behind on all the things it needs doing 🙂


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