My does my VW Super Beetle die in the rain?
I love my 1972 VW Super Beetle and have had no problems with it except this one. After 17 years maybe you can tell my why it always stalls out in damp, rainy weather? I brought it back to the dealer several times in the mid 70s, but he was unable to correct it. It's a semi-automatic with no clutch, and I have learned to put it in neutral with my right foot on the gas pedal and my left foot on the brake when I come to a stop so it won't die. I have been reading your column, and hope you can help me.
RAY: Talk about patience! This has been bothering you for 17 years, and you wait until our column shows up in the paper to do something about it!
TOM: Stalling means that combustion has stopped. You need three things to cause combustion; Gas, air and spark. Spark is the component most likely to be affected by wet weather since water is a conductor, and the moisture in the air "steals" some of the electricity through leakage. So the first things I would check would be the spark plug wires for excessive leakage, and the distributor cap and coil tower for cracks.
RAY: If those check out (or if new ones don't solve the problem) I'd look at the gas/air mixture which is controlled by the choke and the idle mixture screw. Remember that the spark is weakened in wet weather anyway due to the some unavoidable leakage in the wires. If, in addition to that, too much gas is coming in--it can actually drown out what's left of the spark.
TOM: Have the mixture checked and adjusted if necessary. You should also check your mailbox more often. You probably have a service reminder postcard from Volkswagen that's been in there since 1975.