After having some work done on the car for an MOT, namely a plate
fitted behind the fuel tank because the MOT man was complaining of the
rust up there, I suffered a breakdown when I was in town one day, of
course it had to happen at the busiest part of town where everyone could
see, which was most embarrassing. I could start the car up, drive a few
hundred yards, then it would die on me and refuse to start again right away.
Eventually I had to call the breakdown service, which luckily for me I had
chosen as one of my insurance options; I'd never needed it until this point,
and I've never needed it since.
Once back home we could look into the problem - I started by examining
the fuel system (we'd already eliminated things like the condensor and electrics
at the road side). I discovered that the fuel pump rod was shorter than the
specifications in the workshop manual, and I firmly suspected this was the
fault; I went along to my local VW specialist garage (who had done the
work for me recently) and asked them for advice, they said it was very
unlikely to be the cause but didn't offer any alternative, I bought a
fuel pump and rod from them anyway but this didn't fix the
problem. In the picture below you can see where the rod pushes up and
activates the fuel pump (in between the two bolts, the fuel pump is removed):
After much investigation and scratching of heads later we discovered
where the problem lay - it was the main fuel pipe from the fuel tank that
had been nipped against the body work. When they had done the work on
the panel behind the fuel tank they had re-routed the fuel pipe, and in doing
so had made it quite tricky to put the fuel tank back in without nipping the
fuel pipe. Eventually we managed to get the tank back in OK so that the fuel
system was clear. I can only assume that it was a tiny piece of dirt that
had blocked up the already small opening in the semi-squashed fuel pipe that
had caused the car to stall, or maybe going over a bump in the road, who knows?
It was while the car was parked up that my father suggested we work
on the brakes too, which is when the suspension collapsed and the car was
effectively taken off the road, so I never
did discover if the fuel system was really working properly.