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Oil - The Life Blood of Your VW Beetle

      The VW Beetle is an air cooled vehicle, there is no cooling system other than the air passing over the engine and keeping your oil cool.  Therefore oil is the life blood of your engine.  There is nothing that will ruin an engine faster than low oil or no oil in the engine, the only exception perhaps being a tight valve.  The oil in your engine must be changed every 3000 miles without fail, and the level checked more often.

      As in the case with valve adjustments and other mechanical procedures, there are many great books out on the market that can guide you through the oil change procedure, the best being John Muir's "How to keep your Volkswagen alive" manual.   I highly recommend that you get this book before starting your oil change.   There are other books on the market as well that detail the oil change procedure.  Back in the 70's I had a small hard cover Haynes or Chilton air cooled repair manual as well as John Muir's book.  While it is not an overly complicated procedure, there are steps you need to take that are different than an oil change on a water cooled vehicle (like removing the filter/screen from the engine sump area).

     To perform the oil change the tools you will need are available at your local hardware store.

1)  An Oil Pan for catching and disposing of your old engine oil.

2)  A complete gasket kit for VW Oil Changes.

3) A cleaner for the oil screen ( I use an engine degreaser spray)

4)  Three quarts of oil.

5)  10mm Wrench

6)  Large flat bladed screwdriver

Oil Change Tools


     I have done this procedure many times and it usually takes me about a thirty minutes or so minutes for the oil change.  The hardest part of the oil change is just the laying on the ground for the procedure.

     This is a brief introduction to performing the operation:

1) The Engine needs to be warm, so take it for a quick spin around the block.  The oil being warm is essential for proper draining from the crankcase.

2)  Lay on your back under the rear of the car.  You will see a round plate with six 10mm nuts holding it in place.  In the center of that plate is a large nut; this is your oil plug.  Remove the Oil plug with your oil pan ready to catch the oil as it runs out of the engine.  Let it drain until the oil is no longer dripping into your pan.

Oil Pan Draining

3)  Next, remove the six nuts from the round plate.  The round plate holds the oil screen up inside the engine.  This oil screen is the only oil filter that your VW engine has.  Set the screen and plate to the side for cleaning in solvent.  Remove the old paper gaskets from the plate and the bottom of the engine (sump) where you removed it.

Oil Screen Removal

4)  Clean the screen and plate with solvent and blow out or let dry.

5) Install new paper gaskets on both sides of the oil screen and push it into place with the plate working it up into the studs.

Gaskets on filter and pan

6) Replace the nuts and washers onto the studs tightening them in a star pattern, DO NOT over tighten these nuts or you will strip them, a gentle tightening is all that they need.

7) Replace the large oil plug in the center of the oil pan.

Oil Pan Installed

8) Go to the engine compartment and open the oil filler cap and pour 2.5 quarts of oil into the engine and check for any oil leakage.

9) Replace Oil Filler Cap.

10) Wait for five minutes for all the oil to seep to the bottom of the crankcase

11)  Check the level of the Oil on the dipstick.  If oil level should be between the two marks (Low and High) on the dipstick, if it is low then add a little more oil.

12)  Use a large screwdriver to loosen the clamp on the air filter oil bath. Remove and air hoses attached to the air filter.  Gently remove the filter, unclip the top and drain the oil into your recycle oil pan.  Clean your filter and  add oil up to the line on the inside of the filter and replace reversing the steps used to remove it.

All wrapped up

13)  Remove any wrenches from the engine compartment

14) Start your engine - and again make sure there are no oil leaks.


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