Bleeding the Vanagon 2.1L engine
2005 new notes:... after bleeding more than 50 is some new stuff, not that the lower portion of that page is not good, but this is a different and..... easier way...
NO real need to raise the 2.1 for bleeding...
To remove coolant:
open front rad and thermostat bleeder, remove exp. tank cap.
to get to those 2 drain plugs under the engine, you need to remove the lower protective tins under the engine, but that is sometime impossible due to rusted bolt... (drain plug location) 

That will get rid of about 6-8 liters.., unplug the heater line that connect to that big "bypass" metal coolant tube on the left, in front of this one... another 2 liters shoul comme out... now, most of the rear section of the van is empty.... remove the spare tire and disconnect the 2 main coolant line... this will empty the front rad and the 2 main line...

Most of the coolant is out....
Close everything...

To bleed, your choice:
Raise (or not) REAR of van for a faster result... (NOT THE FRONT!!!!!!!)
open all bleeder, including front rad, rear heater under the rear seat and thermostat bleeder...

Note:REMOVE the rear thermostat bleeder... pass the 2 small tabs and make sure it's not coroded!!!!! clean this one.. put it back.

pour coolant in the exp. thank, the rear heater will be the fist to drip... close this one after, the front one (if van is high enough) will be the second one, close it. fill the tank, squeese most line to get some air out, start engine at idle... let it run, you can give some rpm but it's not a must... wait until thermostat open up and look for some steady coolant flow at rear bleeder...

close all bleeder, put tank cap... bring a 13mm ratchet and go ride the van...once in a wile, open front rad bleeder...

You can also do the same for the rear bleeder... but that is only for peace of mind, the 2.1L will self bleed...


Remember that the rear portion of the Vanaon is self-bleeding (2.1L only) due to the ring around the rear engine hatch. The 2 bleeding screw are for bleeding the front radiator & 2 main line that goes to this one. (see my chart). The reason for revving the engine at 2000RPM is to force the coolant / pressure to the front. The vanagon as a lot more coolant & coolant line than a normal car. (with the other bleeding solution explain above, there is no need the raise RPM)

Step 1:
  • Get a friend or two, period.
  • Get plenty of phosphate free coolant ready (mix this one in advance at 50/50), no need for the expensive VW one. I use Prestone PF. Have more than needed ready.
  • have some old rag & plenty of towel paper just in case you need some.
  • have a 13mm key (for the front radiator bleeder screw)
  • have a funnel to put the coolant in the expansion tank.
  • Have 2 oil pan ready, one in the front and one in the rear near the thermostat.
  • You need 2 car ramp or a big jack to lift the front (and rear in my case)
  • If you replace Thermostat, test this one in boiling water before (mine was defective and NEW)
Step 2: (engine cold and van level)
  1. Set both heater control to maximum heating
  2. Open expansion cap (remove)
  3. Unscrew front radiator bleeding screw , rear heater bleeding screw & rear thermostat bleeding screw (mine was partially block, I had to remove this one completely for proper bleeding.
  4. Have a friend at the rear heater core, itís the only one that can overflow when the van is not working.
  5. Fill all you can until the expansion tank is almost full
  6. Close rear heater bleeding screw (if nothing came out!!! It will very soon)
  7. Close rear thermostat bleeding screw (that will help push the air pocket to the front rad)

Step 3: (Always monitor the engine temperature.)

  1. Get the 2 ramps ready or jack the front of the van (about 12/15inches
  2. Start van with expansion tank cap on and quickly and climb the ramp, shut down engine. (RAISE REAR OF VAN AS OPPOSE TO THE PICTURE BELOW)
  3. Secure rear wheel with something.
  4. Have one friend in the front near the bleeding screw, one inside at the rear heater.
  5. Slowly remove the expansion tank cap (no danger if you just started the car for a few second)
  6. Start van at idle for now, let it heat for a few minutes (if expansion tank overflow, rev the engine at 2000RPM)
  7. Open the rear heater bleeding screw and be ready to spill coolant
  8. Closely monitor the expansion tank, fill with coolant when needed. (if rear heater is flowing constantly for more than 5 sec close this one, this can be messy and itís not a must!!!)
  9. Have youíre rear heater friend in the front seat and be ready to get the engine to 2000/2500RPM. Expansion tank will now empty faster, be ready. (WARNING: NEVER LET GO OF THE GAZ PEDAL WITHOUT CLOSING THE EXPANSION CAP, IT WILL BLOW COOLANT IN YOUR FACE, IT HAPPENED TO ME!!! THE COOLANT IS NOW HOT SO BE CAREFULL)
  10. When the front bleeder is flowing constantly and you feel that the liquid is warmer, close this one. (i know, you will loose a lot...just put it back in the tank later)
  11. Fill the expansion tank up to the neck and put the expansion tank cap back.
  12. Drive the van to raise the rear (climb on ramp if you have)
  13. When the rear is raise open the thermostat bleeding screw slowly, pressure will come out with many bubble, there is you air pocket going out!!!!, always have an eye on the expansion tank. If she is getting to low shut the engine and wait until itís cold again before opening this one.
  14. When the rear bleeder is bubble free, close the screw and watch the engine temperature.
  15. Look if the front rad is hot and / or the front rad fan is going on (good sign)
  16. go for a ride with the 13mm key in hand. Try to find a road with hill or overpass and drive the van a few times on it.
  17. From time to time open the front rad bleeder screw and let some air go out, if there is not, youíre in business.
  18. Do the same for the rear bleeding screw a few time.


Some of you may not agree on different point but this is how I did my bleeding and it work fine. I would have skipped some step but I prefer to do every possible thing so I donít have to do it again and againÖ(O yes, I forgot, I did that alone!!!! Very messyÖ). If you think that I forgot some steps or something important just e-mail me.

Regards, Ben