Engines, Mechanics, And Eurovan Brains – Oh My…

Anyone traveling along with us on this journey, might remember last year around this time, we were having some problems with Dear Ms. Keevan abruptly dying on us in inconvenient locations after heavy rainstorms. At least it seemed to happen after the rains, and it was nice to blame it on Something!

One time she died going up a hill. She just quit. No sputtering or grumblings to warn us.  The other time was at a stop sign, again with no warnings.

Both times, because of very inconvenient locations and less than superb settings, we had to have her towed. Both times it was a Saturday or Sunday. You do know there are VERY FEW if any garages open on weekends, right?

Both times by the time Monday morning came around, she started up again. Both times we spent copious amounts of money trouble-shooting the issue. Oh my, it’s so difficult to troubleshoot issues that disappear when threatened with wrenches and power tools!

It seemed like something was shorting out after getting wet. But we could never find anything either shorted out or wet.

So why bring all this up now??? 

Because not one, but a few different people have asked us what we did to fix the problem. Seems Ms. Keevan is not the only 95 Eurovan that prefers sunnier weather.

It’s so simple and crazy, but the most practical and immediate remedy seemed to be the fact that we started covering up her brain (that main computer component that controls all her signals, aka the ECU / ECM) with a plastic bag inside the engine compartment whenever a big rain was forecast. Don’t laugh!!! It worked! If we didn’t do this, she would jump around unhappily in the mornings, like she didn’t want to get going.

There were other issues along the way.

When a person lives in their vehicle, when a person drives that vehicle every single day, when its pressed to go 40,000 miles, when it goes between sea level and 12,000 feet in elevation, over mountain passes and down gravel roads, when that vehicle has now over 200,000 miles on it’s engine…there are always Other Issues.

We’ve replaced the air filter and fuel filter, changed the oil, changed out the spark plugs and wires, put in a new distributer cap and rotor, …all the normal stuff.

Then we put in a new motor mount, after one of our mechanics noticed one was broken. This definitely helped the van to run smoother and shift better.  We replaced the oxygen sensor. We tried to replace the EGR valve, but can’t find one that fits, so Fred took out the old one, and cleaned it up – it was badly clogged with carbon. He submersed it in boiling water with tongs for a few minutes, then dropped it in a can of cold water, then repeated this procedure again a few more times, and finally blew out any remaining loose material left over. We replaced two water temperature sensors, and a coolant temperature sensor. (Who knew there were so many sensors?) We replaced the EGR solenoid, which we neglected back when we cleaned the EGR valve up. We cleaned up the throttle, (which was very very dirty, and plugged with lots of carbons), we replaced some fuses, including one that went to the ECU. And finally, we cleaned up all the contacts on the infamous ECU, some of them being slightly corroded and rusty. A Volkswagen dealer at one point told us we needed a new $1,000,00 brain. *Never take a Volkswagen to a Volkswagen dealer, if possible.

I have to add in here, that once this last round of work was done, and the van was actually running fantastic, we were on the way home and the headlights went out. Honest! Somehow a wire had gotten torn loose! That one was an easier fix!

For those of you driving older VW Vanagons with the engines in the back. OK, please quit laughing now. We know, we know. They are easy to work on. These Eurovans, on the other hand, with the bigger more powerful engine in the front, which actually go up hills without pushing, and having their engines in front, therefore putting a little space between you and the highway and other high speed cruising vehicles, making you feel a bit safer, are notorious for being fickle to work on. Especially famous for being fickle is the 95 Eurovan with the 5 cylinder Audi engine, which is what Ms. Keevan is draped in. Mechanics love them and mechanics hate them.

Did I say mechanics?

Speaking of mechanics…if you can find a good one, hang on to them, don’t let them go away, offer to take them along for the trip, tie them on top, bake them cakes, do whatever possible to keep them around. Bad mechanics are easy to come by, good ones, not so much.

So what actually fixed our Rainy Day Problem?

Not sure. This is just what we did. It seems like a lot of work and expense. But this is our home. Just like a brick and mortar home, we have to keep it up, and we want it to be reliable. It’s where we sleep, eat, read, work on this blog, and so many other home type jobs.

Most importantly, during this process, we’ve cleaned up some of our other ongoing issues, especially the van running rough, it having too fast of an idle, it running too rich, and getting poor gas mileage. The running rich and bad mileage thing was due to among other things, a little lesser know  EGR valve solenoid, which was making the EGR valve become stuck open, causing too much fuel to be burned, thus the poor gas mileage, and the reason our engine light was coming on and off. When that solenoid was replaced, life got a whole lot better!

Whew! Hopefully we can get back to more pretty pictures and hidden away travel destinations soon. In the meantime, I hope this can help others trying to make sense of complicated Eurovan diagnostics!

We’d love to hear if any of the above tricks has helped anyone else in solving their problems.

 

 

 

 

 

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