Smokey Says, Only You Can Stop Fluid Leaks #2

Here’s another installment in this apparently all-too-necessary series, mostly based on experiences with my new-to-me Lancia Beta. While replacing my fuel pump, I noticed a pretty intense fuel smell in my car, and had problems with some oily goop dripping out from under the passenger compartment. I also had issues with the fuel getting to the electric fuel pump, and then from there to the engine. After finishing replacing the pump, I pulled up the carpeting in the car, and guess what, the metal fuel lines run inside the passenger compartment, under the carpet, next to the cotton-fiber-and-tar matting that acts as insulation and sound-proofing material. Apparently the matting had absorbed moisture at some point in in the car’s 30 years, which resulted in rusty fuel lines… or maybe the moisture was in the fuel lines from the long years of storage, since there was a plastic coating around them. In any event, the fuel lines from tank to pump and pump to engine were perforated and leaking as much fuel as they could into the matting.

Lancia Beta stripped interior

As you can see in this shot from the driver’s door opening, I had to pull out nearly the entire interior. Seats went, then the center console (including vents to the rear passengers that seemed to have disconnected from the HVAC system), and then the carpet. Unfortunately, the entire rear section of padding, as well as the front, had absorbed substantial amounts of fuel, to the point that the oily goop formed by the tar part had seeped through the carpet and made a gooey mess. Purple Power cleaned up most of that, except one patch which I’m still working on.

Lancia Beta rusty fuel lines

As you can see in this pic of the right rear passenger footwell, the tail end of the fuel line before going out the body to the fuel pump was completely rusted, and the section of fuel line immediately under the b-pillar that runs to the engine was also severely bubbled. The line to the engine was relatively easy to extract since it broke in half when I pulled it, but the line to the fuel tank was a major struggle to remove, thanks to the fuel lines being part of a design patched together for the US market. Mentioned in the factory manual? Not bloody likely…

My first attempt involved using urethane 1/4″ hose from Aircraft Spruce. Unfortunately, this apparently minor (to me) change in diameter from 5/16″ proved to be not insignificant to the car. It was driveable enough to get the car to the tire shop, but driving back home was a challenge. Next up, subsequent repair attempts involving 5/16″ metal fuel line, new underpadding, and interior reassembly.


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