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Dead in the garage

I have a 1976 Volkswagon Bus with automatic transmission and the 2000 cc engine. It was running fine one day, we pull it into the garage for the night, and the next morning it won’t start. There is a heavy smell of gasoline in the garage now. Any ideas if this is something easy that we could fix ourselves or is a mechanic in my near future?

Does it turn over? If it doesn’t turn over, does the starter click? Describe the no start more completely. The gas smell might be a flooded carburetor.

The starter works fine. It turns over easy. Just doesn’t seem to get enough fuel to run. Starts for about 1/2 second and then dies immediately.

I think a mechanic is in your future on this one. I expect you have a broken fuel line or fuel pump. I wouldn’t expect the fix to be overly expensive though. Be very careful to avoid combustion sources if there is gasoline leaking of course.

I agree that a fuel leak is likely but a stuck open needle valve or bad float in the carb could cause gas to overflow the carb also.

Thanks to all for the information!

Can you remove the air cleaner(s)? I believe that this is the last year for carbs on the air-cooled VWs but I may be off a year or two. If it’s carb’d and you can see the carb with the air box/cleaner off, try a little starting fluid in the throat of the carb, squirt it in and turn it over. If it runs briefly, you’ve helped with a possible diagnosis from this group. Post back! Rocketman Oh, one more thing . . . get a fire extinguisher and keep it handy. The smell of gas, use of starting fluid and possible sparking and electrical; shorts could cause a fire, so be calm and be ready.

Don’t Try Starting This Vehicle In The Garage. Get It Outside, Away From Buildings.


If the vehicle has a choke, it may just be stuck cloded. My remedy for that is to stick a comb in the carburetor to keep it open and then crank the engine to get rid of the rich mixture.

Go to for info on aircooled VWs. There are many people there that know these cars and buses inside out.

Take a screwdriver handle and tap the body of the carb to try and dislodge the float that is hanging up. Worked for me way back with my Pontiac.