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Frank Condelli   & Associates

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Filling and Bleeding the cooling system on Waterboxer engined Vanagons


This procedure presumes that you have both drained and flushed out all the coolant or that some of the coolant and been lost for one reason or another and that the system is properly sealed from any leakage.  The van should be on a fairly level plane either on the ground or on a lift, it does not make much difference.  To begin remove the front grill, then remove the brass radiator bleed bolt.  If that bolt does not have an air escape slot cut in its threads lengthwise then you need to cut that slot with a die grinder, just close to the last top thread near the head of the bolt.  Now put that bolt back in, making sure the copper-sealing ring is in place and leave it about two turns from closed. Open both the front and rear heater valves so that coolant is able to circulate through both, if you were doing a flush and fill you should have already opened those two valves.  Now go to the engine compartment and open the bleeder on the thermostat housing.  Remove the caps from both the expansion tank and overflow tank.  Fill the expansion tank with coolant, 50/50 mix if refilling or whatever if you’re just topping up after some lose.  Once that tank is as full as you can get it, allow some time for the fluid to settle in, start the engine, let it warm up a minute or two.  Raise the engine speed to between 2000 ~ 3000 rpm either with the help of another person or by jamming a screwdriver in the throttle body linkage to keep it there, it MUST say there until your finished filling the tank.  Fill the expansion tank as full as you can, replace the cap, go to the front and when only coolant is coming out of the rad bleeder bolt, close it tight, go to the back and remove the expansion tank cap and fill the tank full, replace the cap and connect the overflow tank hose, then lower the engine speed to idle.  Fill the overflow tank to the MAX line.  Let the engine idle until the rad fan comes on and off a few times, check for leaks, EVERYWHERE.  Once your satisfied the rad fan is operating properly, shut off the engine and let cool, preferably overnight.  Once the engine is properly cold, close the bleeder valve on the thermostat housing and check and refill both tanks.  If the system is perfectly sealed and the cap on the expansion is working properly, the expansion tank WILL be full and the overflow tank WILL be missing some coolant.  Check both these tanks when the engine is COLD for the next few days, once you see that both tanks are staying at their proper levels, expansion tank full, overflow tank at MAX level, your done.  Please note that on the 2.1 water boxer engine this procedure works better than on the 1.9 due to the fact the 2.1 system is self bleeding because of that ring tube affair which has numerous connections to different parts of the cooling system, around the upper perimeter of the engine compartment, the 1.9 engines do no have this and it may take a few more heating~cooling cycles to get all the air out.  In both systems, if they are sealed properly and the expansion tank cap is operating properly, any air in the system will collect in the top of the expansion tank and eventually find it way over to the overflow tank and be expelled out to the atmosphere.




This page was last updated on February 13, 2016


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