Vanagon – coolant temp sender wire repair and another broken hose

Is it good or bad luck I am having?

About the same time I discovered that leaking coolant hose I mentioned in this post, I noticed that my coolant temp gauge was not working – no needle movement nor did the warning LED flash upon start-up. I had been mucking around with the cluster a fair bit and I thought that I had either broken the circuit foil or had a bad connection at T14. But examining the dash did not reveal any problems. I finally tracked it down to a bad connection at the female spade connection to the temp sender back on the thermostat housing. The insulation on the wire was very brittle for about 2″ up from the spade, and the connector itself felt a little limp on the wire. It has been worked on before, that is not a stock spade connector.

The copper was corroded, and you can see the discoloured insulation which pretty well corresponds to the brittle section.

I cut back the wire to where it was flexible and spliced in a new length, plus a new spade connector (section of plastic insulation was cut out to allow the spade to slip on the temp sender).

Here is the brilliant location of the temp sender, exposed to heat and road splash.

And the new connection made.

So after that I was mucking around looking at things in the engine compartment, engine running, when I pushed on the hose that runs from the upper coolant crossover tube to the narrow steel tube that runs around 3 sides of the engine compartment. The hose split and coolant rapidly spat out. Yes, that is steam in the picture.

Te previous owner had used fuel line hose, and it was hard and brittle.

I had some spare hose to make the repair, and I think my van is really trying to tell me to go over all of the hoses and replace. I got the message with the previous leak, but nothing like another nudge in the ribs.

  1. #1 by oldfussbudget on April 24, 2012 - 2:39 pm

    That leaves you with the boinking light to solve, since that light if it’s working at all will blink for three seconds or so on power-up (bulb test). If it doesn’t, check the gauge ground (skinny terminal) since that’s only used for the blinker circuit.

    And thanks to whatever WordPress gods decided it was pointless and irritating to make everyone confirm comment followups. 🙂

    • #2 by albell on April 24, 2012 - 5:23 pm

      Blinky light now working after spade connection fixed. Yeah, really. I don’t know how the magic box works, but same thing happened to friend, same symptoms, same fix.


      • #3 by oldfussbudget on April 24, 2012 - 8:58 pm

        As I actually *do* know how the magic box works I regret to have to inform you that the reason is poor observation of the instrument panel in the first few seconds after turning the key on. You turn that key on, if the gauge has power and ground the light *is* going to blink. There could be a grizzly bear – or nothing – or a dead short – hooked to the back, it doesn’t care. 🙂

      • #4 by albell on April 24, 2012 - 10:00 pm

        I’ll double check by pulling the wire to sender.

        but no blinky before fix, blinky after fix


  2. #5 by oldfussbudget on April 24, 2012 - 2:41 pm

    You are in the rough but tender care of the Vanagon Guardian Angel, who makes nasty things happen in the driveway, and irritating things happen two inches away from where a nasty thing will be happening Real Soon Now. All Hail the VGA!

    • #6 by albell on April 24, 2012 - 5:24 pm

      What kind of offering should I make? A pyre of old coolant hoses after I put in new ones?


      • #7 by oldfussbudget on April 24, 2012 - 9:03 pm

        A bottle of Laphroaig sent to Providence RI could do the trick. You could do it at home but I’m afraid the appeasal rites are a bit complicated and technical, wouldn’t want some cack-handed Syncro driver to muck them all up. Since I like you so well I’d undertake to perform said rites with at most a nominal fee.

  3. #8 by Simon on April 24, 2012 - 8:46 pm

    Har de Har Har. Not to rub it in, but laughing seems appropriate somehow. What an unbelievable run of luck!

    (shhh wait, I think I might hear the VGA whispering something…

    Subie 2.2… Subie 2.2… Subie 2.2… 🙂

    • #9 by albell on April 24, 2012 - 9:57 pm

      better now than on the road though 🙂


  4. #10 by Pz on April 25, 2012 - 10:40 am

    The vanagon pantheon is teasing you AB… You are correct, the next big one will be miles from home. All Syncros become exactly what their owners think!

    Shoot, that Laphroaig single malt ol’ fussbudget is requesting is prince Charles’ fav… shoot, I’d the ablutions for a bottle of bar-scotch…

    I dunno what VW was thinking using fuel line in the coolant system? Original was the classic german fabric covered low-pressure fuel hose stuff. The temperature range of most fuel hose is way to low for coolant. Also, that particular hose gets cooked by the exhaust from #1 cyln. Over kill but ATF hose has higher temperature ratings and chemical resistances. Costs a bit more $$.


    • #11 by albell on April 26, 2012 - 8:30 am

      Well this hose was PO installed and even worse than what VW used. Hose was actually brittle, and it must have done its final hardening in the last few months as I know I have moved that hose around when pulling the filter box and AFM.

      I’m sure glad I consider this van a hobby rather than an appliance 🙂


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