Vanagon – cooling system leak

Bloody vans eh? No sooner than I fixed that wheel bearing than another problem bites me. Last couple of days I had been noticing a slight whiff of coolant when I got out of the van. I couldn’t see any leaks, inside or out. Then yesterday I noticed that my coolant overflow tank was empty and even I could not ignore the fact that I had a real live leak somewhere. I topped up the tank and fretted about expensive repairs. Today after a short drive, the smell was much more pronounced and I did find the leak. Thank the Vanagon gods that it was a hose leak, short section that runs from the thermostat to the lower of the two crossover pipes at the front end of the engine.

This pic from above does not show any wetness (the bad hose is the lower, thick one). Update: I think it is this hose featured at Van Cafe.

But from below, you can see the marks of a leak.

I had to remove a bracket that holds the remnants of the Webasto coolant heater system to get at the short hose, and remove the bell housing vent to get it out of harm’s way (syncro bell housings are sealed to the motor and a vent is provided that leads up somewhere above the gas tank). No surprise I suppose when I broke the plastic elbow when removing the bracket, so it goes.

With the bracket out of the way, I could get at the hose. Off it came and time to look at it closely.

Just a pinhole really, but big enough to piss away 1 litre of coolant in about 30 minutes of driving. I had some used hose that I took the chance with, and I got it back in place. I had a closer look at the broken vent elbow, it was plugged solid with some sort of crap.

Then I made a jury rigged repair to the vent elbow using some silicone tubing, stainless tubing, and a bit of stainless wire wrap.

Yeah, I know, this hose leak is a not so gentle reminder that all of the cooling hoses on the van are old and tired. The thing is, I have it in mind to swap in a different motor so I’m being a bit cavalier with this old wasserboxer.


  1. #1 by Simon on April 20, 2012 - 8:10 pm

    At least there was a silver lining to the leak… looks like the venting system got improved as a byproduct of the job.

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