Fuel Tank Sender Replacement
by Phil Houtz and Dave Burgess
Phil Houtz writes:
I pulled the firewall out of my '74 & replaced the sender.
It wasn't the worst automotive experience I've had. When I inspected my old sender
I saw why it wasn't looking. There are a series of parallel contacts that the sensor
slides over as the float rises and falls. About half of the contacts were worn completely
My notes aren't in the archives yet, so here's my experience:
- As mentioned earlier, watch for two sheet metal screws accessible under the bus
that hold the lower part of the firewall in place.
- With all of the screws removed, pry the firewall out from the bottom. Once it
clears the engine tin (a squeeze & bend operation), you can free the top of the firewall
by applying downward pressure with a tire iron or pry bar. There's a 1/4'' lip that goes
straight up into a slot.
- It's a pretty tight maneuver to remove the old sender, but I did it with the
tank in place. I removed the tank to put the new one in...but wouldn't necessarily
recommend that. (Be careful loosening the hold-downs if you do. They're mild steel &
- Reinstalling the firewall was pretty simple. The hardest part is getting the bottom
to clear the tin. I used several wide-blade taping knives, wedged between the frame &
the tin and the firewall slipped right over them.
(Editor's note: While the above procedure works well for 1972-1979 buses, for
the 1969-1971 bus you must either pull the engine to remove the firewall
and gas tank to replace the tank sending unit, or cut a hole in the deck above the gas tank
exactly above the sending unit for access. 1968 buses typically have no firewall, so access is
simplified. The latter method was a VW authorized procedure, but obviously
requires caution when cutting and a suitable method of resealing the hole once the replacement
procedure is completed.)
Dave Burgess writes:
INSTRUCTIONS FOR ACCESS TO FUEL TANK SENDER WITHOUT REMOVAL OF ENGINE OR DRILLING OF ACCESS PANEL
('72-'79 Type 1 or Type IV Engine Bus)
- Raise van to suitable height, support engine.
- Remove 4 * 13 mm bolts from rear engine support bar.
- Remove 2 * 14 mm bolts from front engine support (on top of gearbox bell housing).
- Lower engine, about 4-5 inch gap between support bar and its mounts, careful not to damage throttle cable, it will come down enough without the need to disconnect.
- Remove insulation panel from engine compartment roof, a nice sharp wood chisel and a few taps with a hammer chops off the rivets without damage to the flimsey metal panel.
- Remove the 8 screws holding the panel in front of the engine, drop it down half an inch and lift it straight out.
- You now have access with the engine in the lowered position for any work on the fuel tank, sender unit, filler neck, overflow pipes.
- Reverse procedure for re-installing. The rivets that were knocked off can be drilled and tapped to allow fitting of screws for easier access next time.