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    Thread: 1989 VW cabriolet fuel tank replacement. HELP

    1. 01-08-2011 09:24 AM #1
      My daughters fuel tank has developed a small leak at the rear drivers side of the tank. I am assuming that the leak is in the tank as I do not see any connections on that side of the tank. If anyone has a procedure, tips or experience with a leak like I described I would appreciate the assistance.

      My book says to remove the two straps however, I do not see any straps simply two clamps at the very rear of the tank.

      The tank is above the rear axle, I am wondering if the axle needs to be lowered or removed it seems quite tight in there.

      Thank you!!!

    2. Member briano1234's Avatar
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      90, 92, 93 Cabriolet
      01-08-2011 09:42 AM #2
      You have to remove or drop the axle, be mindful of the rubber brake lines, and Soak the Axle bolts with Pb-Blaster or CRC-Freeze off a day prior to allow it to work, then Spray it with in 30 minutes of working.

      Use 6pt sockets and the axle bolts have been known to break, a impact wrench may be a good thing as the hammering action and torque will break the nuts loose.

      There is a recall on those model years for the fuel tank, so you might want to have it looked at a vw dealer and if it qualifies as it hasn't been replaced yet you might get it done for free.

      Build Years/Makes/Models: 1987 - 1989 VOLKSWAGEN CABRIOLET
      UNits affected: 7500
      Recall Number: 94V065000

      Summary: A CRACK CAN DEVELOP IN THE FUEL TANK ADJACENT TO A SEAM WELD IN THE REAR OF THE TANK.

      Consequence: FUEL CAN LEAK FROM THE CRACKED FUEL TANK WHICH COULD CATCH FIRE IN THE PRESENCE OF A SOURCE OF IGNITION.

      Remedy: DEALERS WILL CHECK THE VEHICLE WITH A SPECIALLY DESIGNED TOOL FOR THE PRESENCE OF A TANK CRACK, AND REPLACE THE FUEL TANK IF THE DEFECT IS PRESENT.

      Notes:
      SYSTEM: FUEL; FUEL TANK.VEHICLE DESCRIPTION: PASSENGER VEHICLES.NOTE: IF YOUR VEHICLE IS PRESENTED TO AN AUTHORIZED DEALER ON AN AGREED UPON SERVICE DATE AND THE REMEDY IS NOT PROVIDED WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME AND FREE OF CHARGE, OR THE REMEDY DOES NOT CORRECT THE DEFECT OR NONCOMPLIANCE, PLEASE CONTACT VOLKSWAGEN AT 1-800-822-8987. ALSO, CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S AUTO SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-800-424-9393.
      Last edited by briano1234; 01-08-2011 at 10:13 AM.
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    3. Member tinker6468's Avatar
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      2001 A4 1.8TQ, 1990 Cabriolet
      01-08-2011 11:51 AM #3
      Briano1234 is spot on.

      I just did this same thing last weekend on my 1990 Cabriolet, so I assume it will be similar

      Beyond typical tools, I purchased the following
      From Home Depot
      2 small hose clamps
      4 medium hose clamps (next size up from the smallest)
      From local auto store
      6 inches of new fuel line hose

      While the car is still on the ground, remove the rear seat, unscrew the 3 screws covering the sending unit and disconnect the wires for the sending unit. Leave the other hoses connected.

      1. Soak the axle bolt, 2 on each side
      2. Remove E-brake cable from small hook on both side of car
      3. Remove rear wheels and support drum brakes and remove shock bolts on both sides
      **Don't remove brake lines from drums - I made this mistake and lost a bunch of fluid and now I have to flush the brakes. The fluid was old so I guess it was needed anyway, but it was a mess
      4. Support axle beam securely and remove axle bolts, 4 total
      5. Slowly lower axle being aware of the flexible brakes lines trying not to kink or damage them. Support axle in a secure manner out of the way
      6. Remove hangers from exhaust and lower exhaust down.

      You now have most everything out of the way to access the gas tank for removal. Hopefully you don't have a full tank of gas. I would advise draining the tank as much as possible at this point. If you have a manual consult it for draining instructions, if not, I had a bucket ready and removed the large filler hose from the tank and let it drain. The tank has a small flap you can open with a screwdriver so it flows quicker.

      Chances are you won't get all the gas out this way and will have to drain it again as you wrestle the tank out.

      Removal
      1. On the passengers side you need to disconnect the line to the fuel pump and fuel line to the front of the car. Have a can ready as you will need to catch some fuel.
      2. In the passenger rear fender well, remove the trim piece, should be 2 screws and 2 nuts.
      3. You have two hoses that need to be loosened, one if the larger hoses going up to the filler neck, the other connects to a valve unit (not sure what the thing is). Trace the lines and you will figure it out. These will pass through the small opening in the body as the tank is pulled out.
      4. Now that everything is disconnected you are ready to remove the 5 bolts and plates holding the tank to the body, 3 at the rear and one near each axle. As the tank drops be ready to catch more fuel from the filler tube.
      5. Removing the tank is like wrestling a slimy pig, you need to drop the tank and rotate it out as the muffler gets in the way. I pulled the passenger side out and rotated clockwise until it was past the axle and clear

      I will probably get flamed for this, but I dropped my axle all the way down, but it did put a lot of stress on the rubber brake lines. I have checked and nothing was damaged. I don't suggest this as I was worried I would have to do a brake job when done.

      Install is the reverse for the most part. Before and after removal I taped up all the loose hoses to make sure no dirt, junk or anything else got in them. Use the hose clamps in replace of the band clamps you removed, the one time use types that get destroyed when removed.

      I hope I covered all the steps, I should have taken pictured and did a write up. If anyone see anything wrong, let me know and I will edit this post. Thanks, hope this helps a little.

    4. 01-08-2011 02:49 PM #4
      Thanks all I was hoping the axle did not have to come out but I guess I didn't get so lucky. Incidentally I just so happen to have new flexible hoses on hand because the car was getting air into the rear brakes. I just replaced the rear wheel cylinders as I found the source of the leak; left rear wheel cylinder. I was when the car was jacked up on the passenger side that I noticed gas leaking out of the rear left corner of the tank. I checked the recall and according to cabby-info the VINs affected are from H-000001 thru L-000678. My daughters VIN ends in K016339 I am assuming this is an affected car.

      Build dates affected are from 1986-08-01 - 1989-08-01 How do I determine the build date of her car? The entire VIN is WVWCA0152KK016339

    5. 01-08-2011 03:27 PM #5
      Build date is 1/89

    6. Member kamzcab86's Avatar
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      1986 Cabriolet Best Seller; 2000 Jetta VR6; 1990 Vanagon Westfalia
      01-08-2011 03:39 PM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by Chumlord View Post
      I was when the car was jacked up on the passenger side that I noticed gas leaking out of the rear left corner of the tank. I checked the recall and according to cabby-info the VINs affected are from H-000001 thru L-000678. My daughters VIN ends in K016339 I am assuming this is an affected car.

      Build dates affected are from 1986-08-01 - 1989-08-01 How do I determine the build date of her car? The entire VIN is WVWCA0152KK016339
      In your case, the build date doesn't matter; all 1989 MY Cabriolets are subject to recall. Call VWoA, or visit your local VW dealer to see if your car has undergone tank replacement. If it hasn't, have it inspected at the dealer. It's a specific location for the leak, so if they find the leak is not along that rear seam weld, you'll be replacing it yourself, unfortunately.
      Cabby-Info.com -- Your online guide to the VW Cabriolets
      Old Blue's Blog -- The adventures of a 1990 Westfalia
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    7. 01-09-2011 07:20 AM #7
      I will be calling the dealership Monday morning. I cannot determine 100% where the leak is coming from but the top of the rear seam (where the two halves of the tank are joined) is wet and the seam is where I initially thought the leak was coming from before I knew about the recall. Keeping my fingers crossed and going to soak the axle bolts just incase I have another weekend of wrenching in my near future.

      P.S. can someone post a pic of these axle bolts, thanks again.

    8. Member dubdaze68's Avatar
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      '81 Sportruck
      01-10-2011 12:28 AM #8
      Some dealers try to weasel out of that recall, some still remember the multitude of cabbies and Sciroccos that came in with it. Even if the recall was already done, and it's leaking in the same place, I'd bitch and see if they'll do it again.

      I know the same things happen with the heater core recall on the later cabbies/roccos/golf II's.

    9. 01-10-2011 05:54 PM #9
      The recall was performed on May 14th 1996.

      Here is where I am at with this: After letting the car sit for two days on jack stands it did not leak a drop additionally, I did not realize my daughter had just filled up the tank. So, the car leaked a teaspoon of fuel with a 100% full tank and when the car was jacked up on the passenger side about 18" to 20" while I was working on the water pump.

      At this point I am not going to do anything and I am wondering if the fuel could be coming from an overflow or expansion hose or something similar where the fuel would show up at the rear drivers corner of the tank under the jacked up condition ... the front of the car was higher that the rear while working on the water pump.

      I will fill up the tank on Friday and let the car sit the weekend and see if it leaks, I may have been overreacting considering the awkward position the car was in with a full tank ... your thoughts ...

    10. Member briano1234's Avatar
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      90, 92, 93 Cabriolet
      01-10-2011 06:13 PM #10
      That would then be my thing I would suspect that a hose is weeping, or that the tank sender seal is leaking a wee bit. You can pull the back seat and cover plate and inspect the sender slide seal.
      Grounds, Grounds, Grounds Replace them things.
      Divorces, Great Coffee, and Electrics, all start with GOOD Grounds.

      Where are my grounds ?
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    11. 01-10-2011 07:52 PM #11
      My thoughts exactly. I replaced the in tank pump twice and I am always paranoid I will never get the lock ring off again so I never tighten it ... perhaps as tight as it should be ... will update after the weekend. Thanks again for the help!!!!

    12. Member dubdaze68's Avatar
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      '81 Sportruck
      01-11-2011 04:54 PM #12
      Check the u shaped line going into the CIS pump right by the right rear wheel. Sometimes they rust through.

    13. 01-12-2011 07:04 PM #13
      I will do that. Thanks

    14. 01-14-2011 02:30 PM #14
      I had a leaky tank and as long as it aint that bad just clean it realy well rough it with some sand paper clean it again with some carb cleaner and Jb stick weld it works perfect and alot cheaper than replacing the tank. As well used tanks at the junk yard usaly have a nice size hole punched in them from the douch bags at the yard.

    15. 02-12-2011 06:01 PM #15
      This is the worst fuel tank job I've ever done. It seems like the car is built around the tank, which is practically a maintenance item on this car. Mine is my wife's '89 Cabby that already had the recall performed in 1992. It has 125K on it, and this will be its third gas tank. Also I can say that the recall work was shoddy. The axle nuts were not very tight at all, removed them all with one hand. One of the tank bolts on the front was missing. I'm thinking after this that I don't like this car any more.

      I found that you do not need to remove the coil-overs. It is easier to leave them in place. I also found that I did have to remove the exhaust from the cat back, which was aftermarket, but a stock equivalent, as well as the brake lines to get it to clear. Of course the exhaust was rusty so I will have to couple it back together after some minor mutilation.

      So I removed the wheels, the axle, the brake lines, the exhaust, the fuel pump/ lines, and then was able to get to the tank. Then bleed both rear brakes. I'm sure if I'd payed someone else do it, the cost would be more than the car is worth, substantially more. The car is in very good condition otherwise.

    16. n00b
      Join Date
      Apr 24th, 2012
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      85 Volkswagen Cabriolet
      05-04-2012 07:43 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by tinker6468 View Post
      Briano1234 is spot on.

      I just did this same thing last weekend on my 1990 Cabriolet, so I assume it will be similar

      Beyond typical tools, I purchased the following
      From Home Depot
      2 small hose clamps
      4 medium hose clamps (next size up from the smallest)
      From local auto store
      6 inches of new fuel line hose

      While the car is still on the ground, remove the rear seat, unscrew the 3 screws covering the sending unit and disconnect the wires for the sending unit. Leave the other hoses connected.

      1. Soak the axle bolt, 2 on each side
      2. Remove E-brake cable from small hook on both side of car
      3. Remove rear wheels and support drum brakes and remove shock bolts on both sides
      **Don't remove brake lines from drums - I made this mistake and lost a bunch of fluid and now I have to flush the brakes. The fluid was old so I guess it was needed anyway, but it was a mess
      4. Support axle beam securely and remove axle bolts, 4 total
      5. Slowly lower axle being aware of the flexible brakes lines trying not to kink or damage them. Support axle in a secure manner out of the way
      6. Remove hangers from exhaust and lower exhaust down.

      You now have most everything out of the way to access the gas tank for removal. Hopefully you don't have a full tank of gas. I would advise draining the tank as much as possible at this point. If you have a manual consult it for draining instructions, if not, I had a bucket ready and removed the large filler hose from the tank and let it drain. The tank has a small flap you can open with a screwdriver so it flows quicker.

      Chances are you won't get all the gas out this way and will have to drain it again as you wrestle the tank out.

      Removal
      1. On the passengers side you need to disconnect the line to the fuel pump and fuel line to the front of the car. Have a can ready as you will need to catch some fuel.
      2. In the passenger rear fender well, remove the trim piece, should be 2 screws and 2 nuts.
      3. You have two hoses that need to be loosened, one if the larger hoses going up to the filler neck, the other connects to a valve unit (not sure what the thing is). Trace the lines and you will figure it out. These will pass through the small opening in the body as the tank is pulled out.
      4. Now that everything is disconnected you are ready to remove the 5 bolts and plates holding the tank to the body, 3 at the rear and one near each axle. As the tank drops be ready to catch more fuel from the filler tube.
      5. Removing the tank is like wrestling a slimy pig, you need to drop the tank and rotate it out as the muffler gets in the way. I pulled the passenger side out and rotated clockwise until it was past the axle and clear

      I will probably get flamed for this, but I dropped my axle all the way down, but it did put a lot of stress on the rubber brake lines. I have checked and nothing was damaged. I don't suggest this as I was worried I would have to do a brake job when done.

      Install is the reverse for the most part. Before and after removal I taped up all the loose hoses to make sure no dirt, junk or anything else got in them. Use the hose clamps in replace of the band clamps you removed, the one time use types that get destroyed when removed.

      I hope I covered all the steps, I should have taken pictured and did a write up. If anyone see anything wrong, let me know and I will edit this post. Thanks, hope this helps a little.
      This was a great post, i pulled it out, now i hope i can fix it back together with everything going where its suppose to go.

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