Tom's Baja Bug

VW Beetle Repair
and Photos



FAQ 139

Question: Andrew writes with a few questions (edited):

When I turn the key to turn the engine, all I get is very fast clicks.

If I have a charged battery and then I go for a drive and the battery is dead, I take it I have a problem with the alternator (the light comes on now and again but very dim), is there a quick fix for this or do I have to go and find myself a new alternator. Also, she is running very hot.

Another problem is that the idle is not steady. I think it has something to do with the fuel injection system but I am clueless when it comes to that side of the engine. I was talking to a bloke last night said he had the same problem with his vanagon and there is a little part under the control unit that he switched out and all was well. He also mentioned that you can take the control unit out altogether adn replace it with something very inexpensive (I was dubious about this, have you ever heard anything like this).

Is there an easy way to clean the carburator, is there a carb gasket set, do you clean the carburator with fuel or is there a special cleansing solution. Also, is there special cleansing solutions for other engine parts (obviously I dont want to clean all the engine parts with fuel).

Answer: We corresponded and Andrew determined that the battery was weak/dead.

Running hot and not charging could be as simple as a loose fan belt. The fan/alternator are both driven by that belt.

Pulling the fan is a huge headache, and there's almost certainly nothing wrong with the fan. To get the fan out, you have to remove the alternator as well.

The fuel injection (FI) used on the older VW Beetles is really solid, so rough idle is more likely points or spark plugs, or a vacuum leak. I had a cracked hose in part of the idle speed control system. It was making me crazy because sometimes the idle was too high, and then later too low. The main part of the idle control is that thing just above the pulley. It has an electrical connector on the end, and a couple of hoses attached. The cracked hose was actually one running from the air bypass to the idle speed controller, and up to some kind of vacuum switch up next to the engine cover hinge.

I would not change out the control unit.

There should be no need to "clean" the mass air flow sensor (which sits where the carb would is) or the injectors. With modern FI systems it is a fine idea to dump some "injector cleaner" into a full tank of gas a few times per year. Injector failure is rare. How many miles on your Beetle?

There are some non-petroleum base cleaners. Diesel or kerosene is a reasonably good cleaner. Cleaning with gasoline is strongly discouraged. Gasoline evaporates fast, is exposive, and causes cancer.

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