This page is an attempt to empower you to fix your own VW and do it correctly. Unfortunately, there are not many mechanics that are familiar with the VW air-cooled engines anymore, and there are some that claim to be VW experts who are really just hacks. Also, since the price of labor to have your car fixed is not affordable to many, it makes good economic sense to learn how to do the work on your Volkswagen yourself.
This page is updated fairly often, and I will try to add as many articles as possible. I've been taking pictures of work I've done on my van so as soon as they get scanned, this will be like a mini-manual. I'm sure it will be nowhere near complete, but it will cover the more common and basic problems that can be easily fixed by the shadetree mechanic.
The first thing you need if you want to work on your own Volkswagen is a good set of manuals. I highly recommend those listed below.
In addition to those above, if you have a '75 or later Beetle or Super Beetle, a '75 or later Bus, or a '67 and later Type 3, you should have fuel injection (assuming a US-spec model). In that case, a manual you will find very helpful is "How To Understand, Service and Modify Bosch Fuel Injection and Engine Management" by Charles O. Probst. It's also put out by Robert Bentley Publishers, the same publisher as the official VW repair manuals. It covers all Bosch fuel injection systems, including the D-Jetronic system found on Type 3s and the L-Jetronic system found on Beetles, Super Beetles, and Buses.
Finally, before you begin wrenching, see this informative tool guide.
DISCLAIMER: Unfortunately, in these litigious times, some moron would probably try to sue me for something regarding the information on this page, so here's the disclaimer. The procedures on this page are presented as guidelines ONLY. They reflect particular jobs that were done by myself or by another author and were written down from memory as a guide to others who might need to do the same procedure. I make no representations as to the accuracy of the information contained here (please remember that I am not a professional mechanic and that free advice is worth every cent). What you do to your car is what YOU do to your car. I take no responsibility for the results of YOUR actions, lack of common sense, or stupidity. The procedures below were written to help VW owners. They should always be used in conjunction with a good set of repair manuals, such as those mentioned above. Have a nice day.
Replacing rear brake shoes and wheel cylinders on a Bus.
Replacing the front brake pads on a Karmann Ghia.
Replacing the rear brake shoes on a Vanagon.
Replacing the parking brake cables on a Vanagon.
Replacing the master cylinder on a Karmann Ghia.
Replacing the clutch master cylinder on a Vanagon.
Replacing the clutch slave cylinder in a Vanagon.
Replacing the clutch in an early Vanagon or late Bus (with Type 4 air-cooled engine).
Removing and replacing the alternator on a '72-'79 Bus.
Removing and replacing the starter on an air-cooled Volkswagen.
Starter troubleshooting procedure.
Replacing the points and condenser on an air-cooled Volkswagen engine.
Replacing the spark plugs on an air-cooled Volkswagen engine.
Hot-start relay installation instructions.
Ignition timing instructions for air-cooled Volkswagens.
Carburetor removal/replacement on a 1600cc dual port Type 1 engine (Beetle, Karmann Ghia, Thing, Super Beetle).
Engine and transmission removal/installation in an air-cooled, manual transmission Vanagon (1980-1983).
Thermostat replacement/installation on late Buses and early Vanagons with the Type 4 air-cooled engine.
Valve adjustment on a Type 1 engine.
Changing the oil on an air-cooled Volkswagen engine.
Replacing the pushrod tube oil seals on late Buses and early Vanagons with the Type 4 air-cooled engine.
Adjusting the automatic choke on carbureted air-cooled Volkswagen engines.
Adjusting the fan belt on the Type 1 engine.
Replacing the heater cables on an air-cooled Vanagon.
Installation of an Eberspacher BA6 gas heater into a Vanagon.
Installation of an Eberspacher BN4 gas heater into an air-cooled Volkswagen Bus.
Removing/replacing the front axle beam on a late Bus.
CV joint maintenance.
Troubleshooting the Late '70s Westy fridge.
Removing/reinstalling the Westy fridge from a Vanagon Westfalia.
Removing/reinstalling the propane tank from a Vanagon Westfalia.
Engine code interpretation.
What kind of gas should you be buying?
Removing/installing window glass on an air-cooled Volkswagen.
How to torque the rear axle nut without a torque wrench.
A lot of people dislike the Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system fitted to the Beetle, Super Beetle, and Bus in 1975. Most of the complaints seem to stem from the fear of the unknown. Unfortunately, this fear results in the removal of a superior system from the engine and usually winds up with the owner replacing it with an inferior aftermarket carburetor setup.
In reality, the L-Jetronic system is very simple, very reliable, and easy to diagnose. All you need for diagnostic tools is a fuel pressure gauge, a multimeter, and a manual. The Bentley manual does an excellent job of explaining FI diagnostic procedures. Most people blame ignition system problems on the fuel injection and go on a parts-replacing spree, unnecessarily wasting money. So it is imperative that before diagnosing the fuel injection system, the ignition system must be in tip-top shape and the engine must be free of vacuum leaks.
This part of the Tech Page endeavors to explain the functions of the various fuel injection parts so that the seemingly mysterious fuel injection system will be revealed for what it is: a bunch of simple parts working together.
For detailed troubleshooting information on your Bosch L-Jetronic system, check out the Bosch FI manual online, which is a scanned in Bosch L-Jetronic manual with great flow-charts for troubleshooting.