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Thread: 3 times in the last two years, the power has faded to almost zero.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    9

    Default 3 times in the last two years, the power has faded to almost zero.

    This is a 1987 Westy Camper. The original 2.1 VW engine with a little over 300,000 kms. The engine runs fine....uses less than a quart per oil change and makes 20 to 25 mpg Canadian gal.

    3 times in the last two years, the power has faded to almost zero. The first time I pulled off the road and called for a tow truck to a shop. Sat for a while and waited....decided to try starting it after about 10 minutes....it started and never happened like that again....until lately it has happened twice. Not to the point of having to pull over, however. The last two times I was able to get to where I was going by furiously pumping the eccelerator and it finally got its power back and finished the day just fine. My mechanic that has done a lot of service and repair on this Westy has no idea what the problem is. Any suggestions anyone?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Toronto
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    2

    Default

    Was it raining or did you drive through a big puddle? I had this problem and will go through all the steps I have taken when I have some time but I am still not %100 sure the problem is gone. Mine is an '87, too.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by phonis View Post
    Was it raining or did you drive through a big puddle? I had this problem and will go through all the steps I have taken when I have some time but I am still not %100 sure the problem is gone. Mine is an '87, too.
    It was raining the first time but it has happened in dry weather too

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Toronto
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    Default

    I have had this bogging problem on mine 6 times, always when water was involved. It happened twice after a high-pressure car wash when I cleaned around the transmission area. I have not had the problem in 6 months since I removed the black plastic housing that was around the distributor.

    There is a Tech Bulletin to remove it since it causes carbon tracking around the area where the spark plug wire boots meet the nipples on the dist cap. One theory is that the carbon tracking marginalizes the spark and the humidity drops it to the point where the Digifant system can't keep it running. This is probably the easiest thing to try.

    If the van bogs way down and you shut off the van, wait a few minutes, and if it stars right up and runs OK for two minutes then bogs down again it is probably the same problem.

    I also installed the Tantalum capacitor in the AFM instead of using the auxiliary harness that sells for several hundred bucks now. The capacitor is about 7$. There is a Tech Bulletin on that AFM harness.

    Troubleshooting with a hose once seemed to indicate that after water got up around the thermostat housing it would stall. Cleaning and sealing the connector and wires may have eliminated part of the problem by keeping it from shorting out and "confusing" the temperature input. That's my theory anyway.

    Good luck!

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Snohomish, WA
    Posts
    112

    Default

    This seems to be a fairly common symptom on Vanagons, but I've yet to find a 'one-repair-fits-all' solution. As 'Phonis' suggests, there can be many root causes for the issue and determining which one is going to be the challenge. I read one thread that talked about cleaning all grounds to the engine and body and I feel that is the best first step as if it not your issue then it is a good maintenance item. It may eliminate future issues down the road. If you are familiar with an Ohmeter, you can check the grounds before removing and cleaning them and then you can do a voltage drop test once you are done.

    The best way (I've found) to figure this out is once the symptom is evident, shut the key off for 2 minutes then try again. If the van runs well for a period (could be minutes, could be years ) then it is probably the air flow sensor issue. If the engine starts and runs just as poorly as when you shut it off, then I would suspect a temperature sensor so note the temp of the engine and let it cool off and see if it happens again at the same temp.

    Let us know your progress.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    1

    Default 3 times in the last two years the power has faded to almost zero

    So I found what appear to be two piston squirters in the pan. How did they get there? And do I need to put them back? The engine ran fine, all the pistons and walls look good still.

    Also is the oil pump worth replacing or do they last forever?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Snohomish, WA
    Posts
    112

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Deebsigabe View Post
    So I found what appear to be two piston squirters in the pan. How did they get there? And do I need to put them back? The engine ran fine, all the pistons and walls look good still.

    Also is the oil pump worth replacing or do they last forever?
    I would find out the root cause for the squirters in the oil pan as this may influence other parts of your build. I would be less concerned with the pistons and cylinder bores and more concerned about your bearing surfaces. A 'squirter' will produce a restriction in the oil supply causing a pressure change. If the 'squirter' is gone then the pressure downstream may have been reduced causing other failures. Conversely, if the hole that fed the 'squirter' was blocked (for whatever reason) the pressure would be higher. A much less worry some concern but a concern none the less. If you are putting $$ into your engine these issues should be investigated to minimize your risk of future failures.

    The oil pump should be investigated and assessed. Obviously it supplies the life blood of your engine so should not be assumed good or bad.

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