How To Replace a Vanagon Propane Tank Valve

The van life has its ups and downs, but as everything else in life, if you take it all with a grain of salt, it becomes a lot more palatable!

When we got BigBlu, she had a few issues.
One of the issues we DIDN’T know she had was that her propane tank valve malfunctioned.

Bummer…

We got her so we could save money on eating out, which requires a functional stove top, most days.
In fact, we found out she was leaky mid-meal-making, at which point we proceeded to panic, as is the normal reaction when one is responsible for releasing toxic gasses into the atmosphere which are completely transparent, heavier than air, and could make you explode at the slightest spark. (did we mention this was in the parking lot of a public library, yeah)

Thankfully it was after hours and it was really windy, and we were parked on  a hill, so we let BigBlu roll out to where it no longer smelled like propane and we started her up and drove off, without a clue as to what to do next. Technically you should burn the gas to safely dispose of it, but if it’s leaking from right next to the tank, well, that just sounds like a CRAZY idea!

We pass a fire station. Oh! oh! The firemen will know! Nope, turns out the Coupeville Fire Department is unmanned after hours. Do we call 911? Is this an emergency?

Now what?

After much back and forth and a suspiciously long time in front of the firehouse we decide to park and spend the night in the ocean-front parking lot where we’re to catch the ferry across the bay the next day, open up the valve as far as it would leak and hope it would all be gone by morning.

In our defense it was extremely windy that night.

The tank was empty by morning. Hoorah!

Now we had to get this bad boy back in working condition, and that’s where things got real fun.

Getting the parts

Firstly, the tank is as old as BigBlu, that’s 35 years, older than me, and I’m getting old! The tank is attached under the van, directly under the cabinetry. If the bolts that hold it in start spinning loose from inside the van, we have to take all the cabinetry out to get to them! Getting the professionals to handle this could get real pricey, real quick.

We take matters into our own hands.

Vdub doesn’t even make these valves anymore, I had to spend hours online to find the one and only person that seems to have any left.

But now we have everything we need (3 states later, in California) and when we go to get the tank off, miracle, the bolts stay right where they are supposed to. whew!

Now to take the damn thing off….

How To Replace a Vanagon Propane Tank Valve


So there you have it!

If you find yourself with a leaky gas valve, just get a new tank you’ll need these items:

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…as well as some pretty heavy duty tools, lots of patience, and a fondness for the kind of adrenaline rush you get from not knowing if you’re going to explode when you turn on your engine.

When you’re finished fiddling with the whole thing you’ll want to get the tank pressure tested by professionals to make sure you put everything back in place nice and tight and you’re not going to leak or explode.

We hope this was either helpful, entertaining, or both!

Feel free to use the box below to ask any questions you might have!

4 comments

  1. Replacing a valve like this does not seem like it would be an easy task. Whenever it comes to things like this I am at a loss as to how they work. It would be really nice to be able to learn how to replace valves one day. However, I am always afraid of making a mistake and making things worse. It seems like learning how to do something like this properly could take a lot of practice.

    1. Hey Hedley,

      I’m afraid of making mistakes too, that’s why we did this in the presence of professionals, kind of. :) Everyone told us we had to replace the tank, so that was our last resort, trying to replace the valve was this thing we’d hope would work, and it did. It was a lot of trial and error, but as it turns out, with the right tools, and enough tightening, it isn’t actually that difficult.

      :)

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to respond.
      Have a lovely day!
      Jade Adele recently posted…Touching Whales in Baja CaliforniaMy Profile

  2. Fun watching you guys. It would be nice if you could clearly tell people where to get the valve. I must have played the video audio back and forth several times and still can’t understand where you got the valve? All I could get was newworld..something? I tried Googling variations of what I could understand with no luck. My valve is still working, but it’s as old as yours and I thought I would replace it. I modified the tank and have actually installed it in my 2005 Toyota 4Runner to run my propane/12V/110V portable refrigerator. I’m sure I’ll eventually find the valve. LOL.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the video. We found it by googling and searching until we stumbled upon a personal website who was selling the exact one we needed. Only one though as the site was not a business site. Wish you the best! =D

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