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Author Topic: Noobie coolant questions  (Read 3769 times)

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Noobie coolant questions
« on: August 24, 2011, 04:40:05 PM »
Hi there folks,
We recently purchased an 87 vanagon (no camper) and have been loving it. We found out it had a significant coolant leak (we were told it was in the upper radiator hose. Since we're pretty handy (and broke) we decided to change it ourselves. My husband took the hose off (which didn't look old/torn or worn) and put a new one on.
Here comes the somewhat embarrassing question:
Where in the heck do you fill the coolant besides the overflow tank. We cannot seem to locate the radiator cap or any other place to fill it up. Also, it seems like we are supposed to bleed the system...can anyone provide some straight forward advice on that?

I know many of you are laughing and rolling your eyes...but I don't long as you tell me how do fill my coolant:)

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by mackeyvan »

Red Baron

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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2011, 04:31:18 PM »
There are specific instructions in the Bentley Official Factory Repair Manual on draining and re-filling the coolant systems on Vanagons from 1980 to 1991. See Section 19.16. It's not as easy as you think!

If you don't have the Bentley Manual, get one, it's got a wealth of information on Vanagons. Order from Bentley Publishers, Cambridge, MA

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Red Baron »


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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2011, 05:54:42 PM »
The coolant tank to the left rear of the engine compartment is where you fill the coolant.  The tank behind the license plate is the overflow and once you fill the coolant system properly, this is where you can check and keep the level up to proper spec.  

best thing to do is fill the bottle as best you can before starting the engine.  You'll need to lift the front engine of the vehicle slightly so the radiator is higher than the engine.  (in theory, it already is, but thats the way VW wants you to do it.)   Also make sure all of the heater temp controls are moved to the hot position.

Remove the upper radiator grill and at the top left side (as you look at it)  of the radiator you'll see a small screw.  Loosen it up, you don't have to remove it.

Start the engine and let it idle, adding coolant to keep the tank as full as possible.  I usually boost the idle a little so the engine warms faster and the coolant flows quicker.  After a little while, as the engine warms, you should first hear air coming out of that little screw in the radiator and then as the air is bled out, you should see coolant.  When the air is out, tighten the screw.  Fill the rear tank and replace the cap.  

What I usually do here is, put the van back on the ground, fill up the tank behind the license plate and then take the van for a ride.  Keep an eye on the temp gauge and blinking light. If the light comes on you may have to stop and put more coolant in.  Becareful, because now everything is hot!  Open the cap slowly.  Sometimes, just loosening the radiator cap on the tank is enough to bleed out the little bit of air built up.  

Once you've finished the drive around let the engine sit (up to a few hours) and check the coolant level in the two tanks.  At this point, the main tank inside the engine back should have no air in it. If it does, just top off.   Check the over flow and Top off the overflow to the proper level and you're good to go.  Over the course of a few days any leftover air should bleed itself out.  Just keep an eye on the overflow tank.

Good luck.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by MrLiMBO »
-MrLiMBO your friendly  LiMBO freak
67 Kombi Kamper (Tube Bus)
87 Vanagon GL (Daily Driver)
01 Jetta GL (Honey's car)
87 Mallard Class C motorhome. (the mighty duck)

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