Great article, Jay. I’d have to agree, lack of care is the # 1 reason so many vintage VW fires happen. With some simple love and care, we can help keep these gems on the road for the next generation to enjoy. Keep an eye on those fuel lines! -ES
I continually receive questions and comments about Fuel Filter Placement. You will find a couple of Articles on 1967beetle.com regarding the subject.
The common warning is: Fuel Filter in the Engine Compartment? You are heading for a Fire!
So Beetle Owners hasten to place their Fuel Filters under the car near the back wheel or just under the Gas Tank.
And…we believe that we now are safe from an Engine Fire. Period!
This misconception is bound, sooner or later, to wreck havoc. Because we Beetle Owners become complacent.
Beetle Engine Fires generally have to do with a Lack of Maintenance. Here’s why:
Possibly the Number One contributor to an Engine Fire is:
Failure of Fuel Hose:
- Installation of the incorrect Fuel Hose. The stock metal fittings in our Beetles take a 5mm Inner Diameter Fuel Hose. American fuel hose has a larger than 5mm Inner Diameter. Thus, when a clamp is installed, the American hose can become “puckered”, giving rise to the possibility of leakage.
- Installation of correct Fuel Hose. The correct, stock Fuel Hose has an Inner Diameter of 5mm, which accommodates perfectly to the stock metal Fuel Lines of the Beetle. Fuel Hose should be clamped to the metal Fuel Lines, using care not to clamp so tightly that the Fuel Hose is distorted. The Clamp wants only to be firmly fixed so that the Fuel Hose cannot be pulled off the metal tubing and won’t leak.
- Regular Inspection of Fuel Hose. Here’s where most of us fall short. We do not regularly inspect the Fuel System of our cars. I hope that you are keeping a Written Maintenance Record of your car. This can be kept on a computer or in a notebook stored in the glove box. No matter the method—keep a meticulous Maintenance Record.
And one of the most important items on your check list should be the Fuel System. Especially Fuel Hose in the Engine compartment and especially Fuel Hose from the Fuel Pump to the Carburetor.
Know when Fuel Hose in the Engine compartment was installed. We forget these things. What may seem to be only a year, quickly turns into 3 years or 5 years. Fuel Hose weakens due to several factors: Age, Heat, Vibration, Chafing and Ethanol.
Fuel Hose that has been in the Engine Compartment for more than a year probably should be removed and new hose installed. This is so easy that most of us can do it in a half hour’s time.
Heat is the enemy of many automotive components—but especially of rubber. The Core of the Fuel Hose is rubber. Heat hardens rubber and causes eventual failure. Vibration contributes to the demise of hardened rubber.
Often, Fuel Hose comes into contact with other parts in the Engine Compartment. Rubbing, or chaffing, can cause even good Fuel Hose to wear prematurely. Mitigate losses by routing Fuel Hose so that there is a minimum of chaffing.
Now, we come to the Hidden Enemy—Ethanol in the Gasoline. Ethanol causes most rubber products in our Beetles’ Fuel Systems to deteriorate. Unfortunately, we cannot find truly Ethanol-resistant rubber products for most of our VW applications. It is up to us to monitor our Fuel Systems in order to avoid this Unseen Predator.