Testing for air leaks on a VW is pretty easy if you have a loose electric fuel pump. Put the Fuel pump in the line between the tank and the filter. Hook up the power to a switched circuit. Let the pump run until the fuel pressures up (usually about the same time as it takes to glow) then start.

The VW does not have a transfer pump. Anything that allows air into the fuel system causes first the hard to start/smoking symptom, then progresses to crank it for 2-3 minutes on cold start, then it sputters and smokes symptom on cold starts. Rubber parts or steel tubes with pinhole leaks will allow AIR IN before they will get wet or show fuel leakage. (Difference in molecule size.)

The alternative is to carefully replace all rubber parts and see if it helps. If so, you are done. If not, then you replace the steel lines.

At 02:21 PM 2/1/2006, you wrote:
Hi all,

My 1981 VW Dasher diesel (1.5L, mechanical lifters) has been getting
crankier on cold starts lately. I did a valve adjustment a few months
ago to get things in spec so that shouldn't be a problem. Power and
MPG is normal (42-45mpg). It's just the cold starts that are a

When the car sits overnight, I'll do 2-3 glow cycles when it's cold
(30-40F), and I have a rudimentary 'afterglow' setup as well. But when
I start it, it runs quite rough, and smokes terribly for a good 10-15
seconds. I need to keep my foot halfway down to keep it running at all
until it smooths out. And for the first 30-45 seconds, it may even
misfire at times. The afterglow doesn't change things, it acts the
same with or with the plugs on when cold. The smoke is
blueish/whitish, and smells of both engine oil and fuel, so I can't
pin down what the cause is.

Warm starts are fine, glow plugs are all good and verified with
ohmmeter AND current draw test, and the car doesn't smoke
significantly when warm.

Any ideas?


Dave M.
Boise, ID
1994 E500 - 95kmi  (Q-ship)
1987 300D - 261kmi (Sportline)

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