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Vangon Articles - The Vanagon Accelerator Cable.


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The Vanagon Accelerator Cable.

February 6, 2015 4 Comments Engine Ken Wilford

An often overlooked item on your Vanagon is the acclerator cable/linkage. These languish for years without inspection until one day you are driving along and “snap” you have no more “go-go”. I just had this happen to me last week so I know it can and does happen frequently. The best way to prevent this problem is to have a spare cable on hand (we sell them for not much money) and to inspect your cable once a year at the place where it always fails, right where the linkage attaches at the rear of the van.

Manual transmission.

Inspection is as simple as opening the engine cover and looking down at the accelerator cable from above. It comes out of the firewall at about the center of the engine (offset to the left a little) and connects to your throttle body. There should be a rubber boot that covers the short run from the firewall to the throttle linkage. If this is there, then your cable should be fine. Spray the throttle linkage with some silicon spray to lube it and you should be good to go. Do not use WD-40 or any other lubricant other than silicon spray. They will gum up your linkage after a short period of time.

If the boot is MIA or ripped then your cable is already on borrowed time. Water and dirt from the road is getting inside the cable housing and it will start to die over the next year or several months. Plan on replacing this at your earliest convenience with a new cable. There are no replacement boots that I am aware of so you have to replace the whole cable, but it is not that bad.

Automatic transmission.

These are a little more tricky because inspection involves getting the van up in the air so that you can see something. Trace the accelerator linkage back from the throttle body to the passenger side of the transmission. Here you will find the shift lever for the automatic transmission with the accelerator cable attached to it. Again you want to see no rust, free movement of the linkage parts, and a good boot on the cable end. If things are stiff then lube them with the silicon spray. If the cable end is a rusted gob or the boot is ripped then it needs replacing.

Replacing the cable.

Replacing the cable is pretty much the same on both vans. I start at the front and remove the plastic cover that is over the accelerator pedal linkage. If you drop the spare tire and look straight up you should see it. Some vans have a piece of sound deadening/heat insulation over it. Remove that and then you should have access. This end of the cable is just a piece of metal through a clamp. Loosen the clamp and release the end of the cable. Now go to the rear. On the manual vans you will need to loosen the nut that is on the clamp at the throttle linkage to remove the cable end from it. On the automatic version it just snaps on. Then trace the cable back a couple of inches and you will see that the end of the cable housing is held in place by a clip into a metal bracket. Remove the clip and pull the housing and old cable free. About eight inches in front of the transmission mount is a place where the cable housing is mounted to the frame with a 10mm bolt. Remove this bolt and separate the front part of the cable housing with the rear section. A new rear section along with the mount comes with your new cable, however you reuse the front section of housing. Once you have separated the two housings by just gently pulling them apart, pull the old cable out of the front housing (it looks like a black hard plastic hose that the cable is inside of). The cable should easily pull out. Now thread the new cable into the housing until it goes all the way up to the front (confirm this by looking up there to see if it came through). This should go easily. If not the housing could be damaged in some way. Push the new rear section of housing together with the old front section and remount this to the frame. Now thread your new cable end through the same bracket as the old one and reinstall the clip. The end now needs to be reattached either by putting it through the clamp (manual) or just snapping it into place (automatic). In the front there is a way to adjust the pedal travel by how much of the end bar goes through the clamp. I try to set this so that you have the least pedal travel before the throttle body is opened but there is no strain on the throttle body linkage when you are not pushing on the pedal. You want the pedal to return all of the way, but the tighter you have the pedal adjusted, the nicer throttle response you will have after you are done. Put the cover back in place and try out your new cable by starting the van and revving it a few times. Be sure that you didn’t take too much slop out of the pedal adjustment and now the throttle isn’t returning all of the way. A higher than normal idle would indicate this. If everything seems good then put your spare back in place (you checked to see if it was fully inflated first though right) and go for a spin. That is all there is to it.

Again this is another weak spot mainly due to age that can leave you stranded at a most inconvenient time or location. If you think you can let this one go without doing the PM, at least buy a spare cable and put it under the rear seat. Then if you are out in the boon docks, or it is on a weekend when this fails you won’t have to spend a bunch of time/money getting me to overnight you a new cable.

Copyright Van-Again 2015


Ken Wilford September 6, 2017

Thanks for the tip. Didn't think about the difference for installing in a Syncro. Everything is more complicated with a Syncro. :-) Ken

dan September 5, 2017

nice post.. thank you. I would suggest for someone who works on Syncro... - before removing the old cable at the throttle body end, be sure to tie a flexible wire or a string to it then pull the cable out with the string attached. Tie the new cable to the wire/string and pull it from throttle body side to fetch the new cable... This will save you a lot of time and grief if you don't do this wire/string trick... :-)

Ken Wilford August 17, 2016

It should. What I am familiar with is that the conversion used the stock cable and attached it to the accelerator pedal for the Subaru (electronic) near the engine bay. So when you are stepping on the gas pedal in the cab it is actually just moving an e-pedal back near the engine. If you can get in touch with the company that did the conversion, they should be able to confirm this. Ken

Alvin August 17, 2016

Thanks for the post. We have an '85 Westy with a '92 Subaru SVX conversion. I'm in the process of replacing the accelerator cable but was now curious if the cable I purchased (cable specific for my van) will work with the conversion? Any thoughts?

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