Monday, September 1, 2008

It's that time of year. . .

Back to school? Leaves changing? Labor day holiday? Nope.

It's Vanagon Cooling System Leak season!!! YAY!


During the warm summer months, Totoro's cooling system and all associated metal parts are nice and toasty. Either the ambient air temperature is really hot, or we just don't stop taking Totoro on adventures. Whichever it is, metal parts never cool down much. Now that we've had a couple nights down to freezing or near it, Totoro's little engine and cooling system gets a bit weepy as all that warm metal gets a chill and contracts.

The place I don't see a leak and don't want to see one is at the big (stupid) rubber gasket between the head and water jacket. What's that? A head gasket? No no no, my friend. Instead of a traditional head gasket design, VW took and air-cooled engine design and wrapped a water jacket around the cylinders where the air-cooling fins should be. Instead of a flat normal looking head gasket set-up, we have a large rubber band that fits over the edge of the water jacket and, with some goopy black sealant, gets sandwiched between the case and the head.

This morning and last, I've notice a small drip from the passenger's side of the radiator, where the lower hose connects. I'll tighten the clamp and it'll stop. The other place I see a seep is at the odd thermostat housing set-up on Totoro's engine. It has various places it's bolted together/various places for gaskets to leak. I'll tighten the bolts to the right torque, but they are small little bolts and don't get need much. If that doesn't stop it, I'll need to take it all apart, replacing the water pump and thermostat at the same time. Opening a Vanagon cooling system is not something one should do often, bleeding ALL the air out is a pain. Totoro is running very well, cooling system is doing it's job flawlessly, so I want to avoid draining/refilling/bleeding it.