Removing Engine from Beetle

by Robert Kuhn

Yoinking the Type-I engine

One of the beauties of the air cooled VW's is it's simplicity. No special tools are needed to remove the engine from the Type-I (AKA: The Bug/Beetle).

All you need:

  1. A floor jack (at least a 3/4 ton).
  2. A pair of jack stands (4 point rather than 3 point).
  3. Some wood blocks to chock the front tires.
  4. A drop light.
  5. Wrench and socket set (SAE and Metric).
  6. Screw drivers (both flat/slotted and phillips).
  7. Pliers, vice grips and a hammer.
  8. Torque wrench.
  9. Penetrating oils (ie: Liquid Wrench).
  10. Rags.
  11. Shoppe/Repair manuals (more the better!).
  12. Zippy bags and a permanet marker (I like to place small things in the bags and write on the bag so I know what they are and where they go).
  13. Patience ... take your time!

Whatever your reason for removing the engine, you'll be pleased to find that it's a snap. I feel that a true VW geek has to at least do an engine pull and an engine installation at least once in their life. It builds more confidence, more understanding about the VW, a better appreciation on it's simplicity and, of course, the pride and bragging rights that go into saying that *YOU* were the one that removed and then later re-installed said engine in the back of your pride and joy.

Though what's to follow will focus mostly on the stock Type-I (manual, automatic, carburetor and fuel injected), Ghia, Bus and other non Type-I's is basically the same.

One of the neat, and unique, thing about the air cooled VW's is that the engine is lowered out the bottom instead of the out the top like all other cars in the world. Since the engine is lowered out, all you need is a floor jack ... no engine hoist needed!

Make sure you're parked on a nice level surface and have ample room to move around. If you can enlist the help of a friend (or your spouse), it will make yanking your engine that much easier (bribing them with beer or lunch is usually all it takes).

You can drop the engine with the fan shroud still bolted in. I find that having the fan shroud still on the engnie makes it easier as I can hang on to the shroud as I pull the engine and lower it to the ground. I have to admit ... a Baja Bug was probably the easiest engine pull I have ever done!

In the steps to follow, I will try to make the task of engine removal as easy as possible by having you remove as few things as possible. I am also going to assume that you know a little bit about VW's in general (ie: you do your own tune-up and oil changes). As I stated earlier, removing the engine is not as hard of a task as it seems. If after reading this page you still don't feel confident, there's no shame in having a shoppe or someone else do it for you.


  1. I like to remove the engine compartment lid, but you don't have to.

  2. Drain the oil.

  3. Disconnect the battery cables (I like to remove the battery from the car and trickle charge it, but you don't have to).

  4. Chock the front tires and jack the rear up as high as high as the jack stands will allow.

  5. Put the tranny in neutral.

  6. Remove the air cleaner.

  7. Disconnect the wires from the generator/alternator as well as the from the ignition coil:

    • On 1961-1966, the voltage regulator is mounted on the generator (assuming that you're still running a 6V engine and have not converted to 12V with alternator); disconnect the small wire and mark it 61. Now disconnect the large wire(s) and mark it B+51. And finally, disconnect and mark the wires that are on the ignition coil.

    • On 1967 and later, disconnect the three (3) wires from the generator or alternator (assuming that you don't have an alternator with a built in voltage regualtor), be sure to mark where they were. Now disconnect and mark the wires that are on the ignition coil.

  8. Now disconnect the oil pressure switch (this is located on the crankcase under the distributor).

    Ok, the next three steps apply only to carburetted engines

  9. Disconnect the automatic choke wire and the cutoff jet solenoid on the carburetor. Mark them accordingly.

  10. Disconnect the throttle cable to the carb.

    If your engine is fitted with a throttle positioner (which is usually found on 1968 thru 1972 manual shift models), remove it. It's pretty easy to do; remove the vacuum hose(s) and the screws (usually 3) and it should "fall" off.

  11. Disconnect the fuel line off the copper tube leading to the fuel pump ... be sure to plug the line so it doesn't leak.

    The next two steps apply to the fuel injected models

  12. Disconnect and mark the electrical connections:

    • Throttle valve switch.
    • Intake air sensor potentiometer.
    • Injectors.
    • Cold start valve.
    • Cylinder head temperature sensor.
    • Auxiliary air regulator.

  13. Yoink the fuel return line off the pressure regulator and the injector distributor pipe and clamp the end to prevent any leakage.

  14. Now climb underneathe the car and pull off the flex heater hoses, disconnect the heater control cables (located near the two lower engine mounting bolts).

  15. On 1974 models, you will need to disconnect the push-on connector between the TDC sensor in the right crankcase half and computer diagnosis socket.

    The next five steps apply only to auto stick models

  16. Disconnect the electrical wires from the control valve mounted on the left side of the engine compartment; be sure to mark it!

  17. Disconnect the two (2) vacuum lines for the control valve from the carburetor and intake manifold, or intake air sensor (whichever your engine has).

  18. Disconnect the line between the fluid reserveoir, which can be found under the right rear fender, and the oil pump at the union nut. Be sure to seal the line with a spare union nut which has been blocked (ie: solder).

  19. Disconnect the oil pressure line between the oil pump and the torque converter at the union nut. Be sure to position the line so it doesn leak!

  20. Now remove the screws securing the torque converter to the drive plate. Hand turn the engine with the fan belt until each screw is accessible through one of the transmission case openings ... then remove the screw.

    The remaining steps apply to all models unless specified otherwise.

  21. On 1961-1966 models, remove the rear cover plate. Do this by disconnecting the hoses between the fan housing and heat exchanger, typically on 1963-1966 models, remove the fan pulley cover, and preheater pipe sealing plates ... remove the screws (six, I think) that secure the rear cover plate and then the plate.

  22. If you have the stock vacuum advanced distributor, you can either remove it or just loosen it and turn it inward to provide more clearance. In either case, be sure to mark it's setting with a chisle or punch. I just remove it (after marking it, of course).

  23. Remove the lower engine mounting nuts (17mm).

  24. Slide your floor jack under the engine and raise it so that it contacts the center bottom of the crankcase. I like to place a piece of 3/4 inch plywood board (about one feet square) between the case and the floor jack ... it helps me balance the case when it comes time to lower it, but this is up to you.

  25. Raise the jack up high enough so that there's slight pressure on the engine ... not too much, we don't want to tweak the mounting bolts/frame.

  26. Here's where your bud comes in handy (if you were fortunate enough to enlist one) ... have him/her hold the upper engine mounting nuts with a box wrench while you unscrew the bolt from underneathe the car. The nuts are behind the fan shroud; you will have to feel around as you can't really see them. But, they are the only 17mm nuts back in this area, so that will help in identifying them. If you're doing this solo, then you will have to get somewhat creative ... I tend to hold said nut with a vice grip.

  27. Roll the engine straight backward until the clutch release plate clears the main drive shaft (and you'll know when it does because you can *feel* it). Having the fan shroud still on the engine makes a nice thing to hold onto at this stage of the removal. Do not let the engine tilt when backing the engine out, you could bend the main drive shaft which would be a bad thing. For this reason, it's nice to have an extra set of hands to help balance the engine as you're backing it out.

  28. Now lower the engine slowly, making sure that the clutch release plate remains clear of the drive shaft.

  29. If your model is an automatic stick shift, secure the torque converter with a retainer plate. I believe you can get one from your local VW parts store.

Ok, your engine is now out! That wasn't so bad or hard! Installation is in the reverse order.

Here's the tightening torques:

foot-pounds mkg
Oil drain plug 25 3.5
Oil strainer nuts 5 0.7
Entine mounting bolts 22 3
Torque converter to drive plate 18 2.5
Crankshaft pulley 29-36 4-5
Generator/Alternator pulley 40-47 5.5-6.5

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