Volkswagen Restoration

Maintenance and vw resto tips, tricks & advice.

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Restoring your beloved Volkswagen? - We want to help!

The Classic, iconic volkswagens' have been popular for many years now; and it is an ever growing scene. With all the vw shows (click this link to see our show calendar) and festivals plus things like 'show and shine', the quality of the aircooled volkswagens that we see be they Beetle or Bus; is getting more and more impressive.

If you've finally managed to secure the financial resources, or happen to have some really good mates to help you out and now have an opportunity to make some simple or personal restoration work to your loved dub, then take note. We've sourced and noted down to pass on to you, the 'best in the business' and can refer you to the desired person or company to help you with whatever you need to finish off or delegate any aspect of restoration work on a classic volkswagen. If you own a vdub of any model and you're looking to restore it in some way; we'll either already have the information and contact you need - or do our best to find it.

Now we all know that being lucky enough (or determined enough) to happen to own a 40 something year old vehicle comes with a duty and desire to keep them in good shape, so we are not going to assume your level of competence, but instead we'll try to offer advice on basic to more extreme/advanced aspects of restoration work you are undertaking. We'll begin by looking at one of the absolute best but simplest and easiest things you could ever do to help restore your aircooled volkswagen to its' peak of performance and looks (unless you like being watched struggling on that is) by covering changing the engine oil. The information provided throughout our website is intended to be a guide; details on basic or advanced technical terms are provided by visiting our contact page and asking us by email.

If you prefer to 'ask the audience', then stop by our classic volks facebook page to post up your query. If you LIKE our page, you'll never have to worry about missing out on posts we make of discounted vw parts offers, savings on vw show tickets, new listings on affordable campervans for sale and so on. Now as promised, let's begin by looking at checking your aircooled oil levels.

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About our passion: Posted: March 8,2016 | Kate McCarthy Bedward

I've loved Volkswagens for as long as I can remember, owned a classic Beetle many years ago, sold it and always regretted it. Years later I managed to buy a 1969 Beetle, and named her 'Betsy'. I have a lot of work still to do on her. I've been lucky enough to also now own an original high-top Adventure Wagon (called 'Frank') which I love. My husband owns a Type 181 VW Trekker (or called a 'Thing' in America) and together we attend as many VW Shows as we can to promote Clasic Volks or simply 'hang out' with dub friends and enjoy the scene. I hope you find my website useful, entertaining and a constant source of information. Thank you for visiting. Hope to see you at a VW Event sometime - do say hi.

Battery - Maintenance & Inspection

credit: VW 1200 Beetle-Haynes.

VW Battery image. Battery maintenance consists of checking the electrolyte level (amount of liquid) of each cell to ensure that the separators are covered by ¼ inch of electrolyte. If the level has fallen, top up the battery using distilled water. Please don't use normal water and do not overfill. If a battery is overfilled or any electrolyte spilled, immediately wipe away the excess as it corrodes any metal it comes into contact with very quickly.

As well as keeping the terminals clean, the top of the battery and especially the top of the cells should be kept clean and dry. This helps prevent corrosion and ensures that the battery does not become partially discharged by leakage through dampness and dirt. Tip: - Once every three months, remove the battery and inspect the battery tray area (and leads) for corosion - look for white fluffy deposits on the metal which are brittle to touch. If any corrosion is found in the tray area, clean off the deposits with ammonia then clean and paint with an anti-rust / anti-acid paint. At the same time inspect the battery itself for cracks.

What does Aircooled & Watercooled mean?

credit: various sources.

Aircooled versus watercooled image. To be fair, all engines are technically air-cooled because even water-cooled engines use air to cool the fluid in the radiator but you're probably here because of an interest in Volkswagens and that being the case you're likely to have heard the term 'Aircooled' and or 'Watercooled' in conversations. Not sure what they mean? Well the simplest way to grasp the difference is to note that Air-cooled engines do not require a radiator, the Aircooled engine is designed so that air circulates over and around hot parts of the engine and keeps it 'cool' as you drive.

Most modern internal combustion engines are cooled by a closed circuit carrying water (get it; Watercooled) or now mainly liquid coolant through channels in the engine block and cylinder head, where the coolant absorbs heat, to a heat exchanger or radiator where the coolant releases heat into the air. Thus, while they are not ultimately cooled by the liquid, because of the liquid-coolant circuit they are known as water-cooled. In contrast, heat generated by an air-cooled engine is released directly into the air.

The air-cooled engine has had a long and well-loved history. At least if you're talking to us. In the 1960s and 1970s some car makers used air-cooled engines to power their vehicles. The 1964 Porsche 911 may be one of the fastest air-cooled engines, but the Volkswagen air-cooled engine may be one of the most beloved. It was used in the original Beetle. Now while you'd be hard-pressed to find an air-cooled engine rolling of the auto assembly line these days, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're anywhere near dead. If you hop on a motorcycle you're probably experiencing an air-cooled engine (although some motorcycles are liquid-cooled) but it's aircraft that have had the longest running air-cooled track record because many helicopters and small planes have remained air-cooled right from the beginning.

Changing the oil in your Aircooled volkswagen

Foreword The aircooled VW engine runs hotter than a water cooled engine, and so it gives the oil a harder workout and even greater significance in engine wear n tear. Changing the oil regularly is the best preventive maintenance you can give your VW engine given that over time, the oil becomes diluted and contaminated, leading to premature engine wear. If you pull that dipstick out to check the oil say every other you fill-up, then a low oil condition should never occur. If it does, you could have a serious leak from the crankcase/engine which will need your urgent attention.
  • A 10mm - ⅜"- drive ratchet and appropriate sockets.
  • New oil filter kit
  • Gearbox Sump plug socket (17mm) for VW Beetle 1946 to 1998)
  • Something suitable to drain off the oil into for disposal.
  • Oil filter & fitting kit for your year.
  • No more than about 2.5 litres of new Oil. Do not over fill.
There's nothing like being prepared for a job. So why not have a look first at the nuts and type of sump plate on your dub first as there are variations depending of the age of your Volkswagen and you may need other tools not listed above. Our 1969 Beetle has a round plate with six bolts around the outside - a larger bolt in the middle. Check yours out. Pre 1973 Volkswagens are a dream for oil changes. So you've got the tools you need, the engine isn't cold, then the first step to an oil change is draining the old oil out.

Crawl under your car if it's still not far off stock height, or raise it up a little if not, but not to such an angle that the oil won't completely drain out (when you get to that stage). Look at the bottom of the engine case, right in the center, and you should (model depending) see a round metal plate. This is the oil sump plate. It is held to the engine case with a number of very small nuts. Your car may or may not have a large bolt in the middle of the plate (pre 1973 models are a dream for oil changes). If it does, you're lucky -- the large plug in the middle of the sump plate makes it easier to drain the oil.

Get ready with the container to catch the oil, then Loosen the centre nut, a little at first, then all the way out when you have everything in place as the oil begins to drain out. It will probably take about 15minutes for all the oil to drain fully; maybe get it going and make a quick brew? If after 15 minutes there's still oil draining out - give it a little more time. The more of the old dirty oil that drains out the better. With the oil drained (keep some newspaper or cardboard for drips) and the container it's in out of the way, unscrew the 6 bolts around the filter plate. There's a good chance that the filter plate will be stuck so carefully pry it off - the plate may bring the old filter out with it, if not, pull it out. If there isn't a filter in there, quietly sigh at the previous owner while stroking and promising your dub that you won't neglect it in this way.

You'll by now have a good understanding of the parts you are looking at, and if you review the items in the new kit you'll see what you are replacing in parts before the end when you replace the oil itself.

Ever heard of a Type 3 Volkswagen?

You could be lucky enough to already own one; on that note, if you do, then we'd love to hear from you - pictures too please. For this article, we're using terms and associations common to the UK market. The Type 3 diversified Volkswagen's range of products. The Type 1 (or Beetle) you probably already know, the Type 2 (known often as the 'Microbus', informally as a 'Bus' or 'Camper') you are also likely to have seen or heard of. Well the Type 3 was manufactured and marketed by Volkswagen from around 1961 to 1973. Some know it as the Volkswagen 1500 (later 1600) and comes in three body styles: the VW Type 3 'Notchback' (1961 onwards), the Type 3 'Fastback' (1965 onwards) and the Type 3 'Squareback' (or station wagon - 1963 onwards). All three retain their engineering principles i.e. the air-cooled engine, rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout. A notable change from the Type 1 however, was the front suspension.

How to check your aircooled oil levels

One of the absolute best and easiest thing you could ever do to help restore and keep your aircooled volkswagen at its optimal running condition, is to often check the oil level so that you never run the engine with too little or too much oil in it. On this topic, be sure to change the oil at intervals no greater than every 3000 miles driven. We want to leave nothing to chance, so below we have listed six straight-forward steps on how to check the oil level.

  • 1. Run your aircooled VW engine until its 'warmed up' and then turn of the engine.
  • 2. Wait for about 5 minutes after switching off to allow the majority of the oil to drain down to the crank case.
  • 3. Pull out the dipstick and clean with a rag - be careful, it may be hot!
  • 4. Insert the dipstick back in - all the way.
  • 5. Remove the dipstick again and look at where the oil level is up to. There should be 2 marks on the dipstick, the oil should be between the two, the bottom one is the minimum level and the top one is the maximum.
  • 6. If the oil level is less than halfway, add some oil to bring the level up - being careful not to spill any, if you do, be sure to clean them. Also DO NOT OVERFILL.

Classic Volkswagen engine | Ignition Coil

The ignition coil (also called a spark coil) is a type of induction coil - meaning it's a type of electrical transformer which can produce high-voltage, from a low-voltage supply. The ignition coil in an automobile's ignition system, such as that of your beloved aircooled volkswagen, transforms the battery's low voltage to the thousands of volts needed to create an electric spark in the spark plugs to ignite the fuel.

Here's a bit of trivia: There is one ignition coil in the older VW models that sends the spark to a distributer, (which then sends the spark to the waiting spark plug). Newer Volkswagen cars, however, have one ignition coil for every spark plug. Look out for: - problems during startup, engine hesitation, backfires as possible indicators of a faulty ignition coil. Get your local experienced dubber or trusted mechanic to fully diagnose the fault.

Top 3 Symptoms of an Ignition Coil Failure

Ignition coils are very rugged and reliable but they can of course fail - for a variety of reasons. One of the number one reasons that ignition coils fail is voltage overload, caused by bad spark plugs and/or plug wires/leads. You'll need a more indepth test done to know for sure, but a faulty coil can cause any or all of these symptoms.

  • Backfiring - or Misfiring can indicate early symptoms of an ignition coil failure. A faulty ignition coil causes the spark plug to partially ignite, leaving extra air and fuel in the system...excess or unused fuel seeps through the exhaust system. If you do not address the issue, you can also do serious damage to your exhaust. Your exhaust may emit a black smoke and you may even detect the smell of gasoline.
  • Startup Problems Difficulty starting the car is a huge indicator of a faulty ignition coil. When the ignition coil is not working properly, it may not supply enough power to the spark plug.
  • Stalling Although vehicles occasionally stall, frequent stalling is a tell-tale sign of ignition coil failure. A faulty ignition coil causes the spark plug to ignite irregularly, which can cause the car to shut down when it stops.

Aircooled VW Engine Codes | *M240 = Optional Low Compression Engine, a reference to the type of pistons installed

Code Size VW Model Vehicle Year Referenced Notes | Extra info
A 1200 Type 1 up to July 1965 (1192cc 30hp)
B 1600 Type 2 August 1967 - July 1970 .
1600 Type 1 August 1968 - July 1970 (USA)
C 1600 Type 2 August 1967 - July 1970 (M240)
D 1200 Type 2 from May 1959 (1192cc 34hp)
1200 Type 1 August 1965 (1192cc 34hp)
E 1300 Type 1 August 1965 - July 1970
F 1300 Type 1 August 1965 - July 1970
G 1500 Type 1 August 1965 - July 1970
H 1500 Type 2 August 1965 - July 1968
1500 Type 1 August 1965 - July 1970
1500 Type 181 August 1969 - February 1971 aka Kurierwagen, Trekker, Thing
K 1500 Type 3 August 1965 - October 1973 notchback, fastback & station wagon
L 1500 Type 2 from November 1965
1500 Type 1 August 1966 - July 1970 M240
M 1500 Type 3 August 1965 - July 1973
N 1500 Type 3 August 1965 - July 1973 M240
P 1600 Type 3 August 1965 - July 1973 M240
R 1500 Type 3 August 1963 - July 1965 1500S
T 1600 Type 3 August 1965 - July 1973
U 1600 Type 3 from August 1965 fuel injection
UO 1600 Type 3 from August 1967 - July 1973
AB 1300 Type 1 August 1970 - July 1973
AC 1300 Type 1 August 1970 - July 1975 M240
AD 1600 Type 1 August 1970 - July 1973
1600 Type 2 August 1970 - July 1973
AE 1600 Type 1 August 1970 - July 1971 USA
AF 1600 Type 1 August 1970 - January 1980 M240
1600 Type 2 August 1970 - July 1979 M240
1600 Type 181 January 1974 - January 1982 M240
AG 1600 Type 181 August 1970 - July 1976
AH 1600 Type 1 August 1971 - January 1976 USA
AJ 1600 Type 1 August 1974 - December 1980 USA & Japan | fuel injection
AK 1600 Type 1 August 1972 - July 1973 USA
AL 1600 Type 181 March 1973 - July 1979 USA
AR 1300 Type 1 August 1973 - July 1973
AS 1600 Type 1 August 1973 - July 1980
1600 Type 2 August 1973 - July 1979