View original topic: Front heater flaps fixed in 15 minutes.
Yellow Rabbit Sat Dec 30, 2006 7:11 pm

Since I've had my van, I've always had air blowing out of the heater box near my feet. In the summer it makes the A/C work harder and in the winter cold air blows in until the engine warms up. The problem is that the foam VW used to seal the vents has long since rotted away. Everything I read indicated that the dash had to be removed to fix the situation. I finally got around to checking it out.

I pulled off the cover in front of the shifter and looking up into the vents I saw the offending flaps. They are only 1" or so inside the duct. I simply used some adhesive backed weather stripping foam I had in the garage to replace the old VW foam. Perhaps there are additional vents inside the heater box that could also be fixed, but this fix was free and took less than 15 minutes. Now I can move the dash lever and turn the vents on and off. Even with the blower on high, no air comes through. With them closed, I can now also feel air coming out of the vents above the sliding door.

I thought I'd pass along the info in case there are others out there thinking that they have to remove the dash. My van is an 86. I'm not sure earlier vans are the same or not.

0to60in6min Sat Dec 30, 2006 8:15 pm

thanks for the tip...

I will look into it...


Alan Brase Sat Dec 30, 2006 8:55 pm

Sorry, but fixing these will NOT keep hot air out of the car in the summer. You mean outside air or inside air?
It's a really dumb system and the outside air never shuts off. If you mean hot air from the heater, the heater core should not be hot with the coolant flow shut off.
The ones you fixed direct the air to the defroster ducts.
The ones above the sliding door are cool air only and flow should shut off with the blue lever to the right.
A pity, but the heater and some other interior stuff is certainly not up to the engineering standards of the chassis.

Yellow Rabbit Sat Dec 30, 2006 9:08 pm

The ones I fixed are for the footwell circulation. These are the ones right in front of the shifter. They never sealed before, now they do. I'm sure outside air will still get to the flaps, but it will no longer get to the cabin. Previously, air would come in at a rate proprtional to the vehicle's speed. The 'hot' summer air was never heated, it was ambient temperature. The relationship to the rear vents has to do with the fact that these leaky flaps would not allow enough pressure to the rear of the vehicle.

Alan Brase Sat Dec 30, 2006 11:53 pm

Pretty sure that when you close them it forces the air thru the defroster vents. Probably would increase the supply to the upper rear vents.
If there is a write-up of how this works someplace, I'd like to find it. I've often got kinked cables or misadjusted ones.

Yellow Rabbit Mon Jan 01, 2007 10:24 am

You are right. I double checked it. Now that the bottom vents work as they were designed, the excess air does get forced to the defrost vents (also with bad foam gaskets). I think I am still better off. By moving the third lever, I can in effect get back to where I was before. The defroster works much better now also. One of these days I'm going to have to fix the defrost vent flaps.

backcountrymedic Mon Jan 01, 2007 6:52 pm

Yellow Rabbit-

How'd you remove the cover from in front of the shifter? I've been stumped on that one for a while now, and wanted to pull it when I put the new carpet kit in.

Thanks in advance!

Yellow Rabbit Mon Jan 01, 2007 8:10 pm

I just grabbed it at approximate height of the vents and pulled straight back.

vwmaniaman Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:59 am

I did that fix on mine too but when I found the air just moved to the defrost vents, I found some Beanie Baby dogs at a flea market and laid them over the defrost vents. Finally found a use for those dumb Beanie Babies. Also plugged those little side vents. Helps the air conditioner up front.

Yellow Rabbit Wed Jan 03, 2007 6:28 am

The Beanie Babies may look a little better than the duct tape I was thinking about.

danfromsyr Wed Jan 03, 2007 7:21 am

some heater boxes have differant configurations..

only helps if you do the whole dash removal thingie.

my 1980 ASI camper (transporter body) had a weird 2 part distribution for the air cooled heat..
it now has one from a 1985 w/heater core and 'abbreviated' slider controls.

I had a 1981 westfalia parts van that had a 'dummy' H2o box w/o heater core and BLANKED off air to the 'knee bar tube' that feeds the rear overhead vents (blanked on westys anyways.

I put a 1985 H2o with core into my 1980 TD conversion camper and 'blocked off' the air to the 'knee bar duct'
I abbreviated the control cables as my AC sliders were in a differant configuration then my H2o cables & flaps.
now what I did was to hook 1 slider to 2 cables that simultaneously open defrosters and close floor heat (or vice versa) and I can slide it in the middle to allow heat to both..
now I do still get a TREMENDOUS amount of forced air from the nose.. and I'm rethinking the sliders to goto 2 one to open/close the floor and one for the defrost..
with the kneebar blocked, and GOOD seals (will tip below) I should be able to close the defrost & floor and have NO forced outside ambient air enter the cabin.. unless I open the side fresh vents.

to repair the dissolved VW foam on the flappers I used FELT window seal material from the hardware store.. it's ina big roll and is 1.5" wide.
the old VW foam was held to the flaps by a plastic 'retainer' that snaps into the metal flap. use needle nose pliers to release the tabs/locks.
cut the felt to fit snug in the width of the flapper channel.. it needs to seal on the sides, and can drag some, but not bind the movement..
place the felt onto the metal flap and w/sharpie poke thru the retainer holes to mark.
cut a slit upto & include the marked location so the retainer passes thru the felt (this slit will be on the inside of the box and be irrevelant.
snap the retainer captureing the new felt seal, repaet as necessary.

for the $.25 of felt you will use VW should NEVER have used degradeable foam.

if you think ivanagons are difficult to correct poor VW heater distribution foam, you should take a look at the MKII crowd.. that was a LOUSEY job, and involved duct tape and no removal of the dash.. because it was TOO FRIGGIN COMPLICATED

in contrast the vanagons are rather easy.

?Waldo? Wed Jan 03, 2007 7:22 am

Yellow Rabbit wrote: The Beanie Babies may look a little better than the duct tape I was thinking about.

I'd prefer the duct tape.


mordeaux Wed Jan 03, 2007 10:14 am

Quote: Finally found a use for those dumb Beanie Babies.

Ha! The inventor of Beanie Babies has found a great use for them - getting seriously wealthy. He's building what is currently the most expensive private residence in the US, right on the PCH in Sata Barbara. Amazing house.

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