Whether your VW Bug is a stocker or a street terror, it is important for you to know basic maintenance procedures. If you do a fair amount of the mechanical work yourself, you should already have a good service/repair manual for your VW. However, if you don't have a manual or you'd like to know more about the different tune-up specifications for various aircooled VWs, read on.
The specifications chart included here is gleaned from information from Volkswagen's great "Without Guesswork" series of information booklets (which have been out of print for more than a few years).
The necessary tools for you to perform an oil change and tune-up include a 3/8-inch ratchet, 13/16-inch spark plug socket, 13mm box-end wrench, flat-bladed screwdriver,
10mm socket, feeler gauges in 0.006-inch and 0.016-inch, some type of spark plug gapping tool (or a 0.024-inch feeler gauge) and a compression tester.
You will also need a 3-inch extension for the 3/8-inch ratchet and a rather standard extension. Commonly known as a "wobbly," this handy little item comes in 1-, 3- and 6-inch lengths and allows whatever socket is fitted to it to wobble around, which makes installation and removal of certain items possible if you cannot get straight-line access for the socket and the extension.
For setting the ignition timing, you will also need a timing light, although a static test light will work for most early models.
From the factory, VWs are equipped with Bosch ignition equipment, and we would recommend that you stick with the factory example and purchase a Bosch ignition kit (points and condenser), rotor and distributor cap (if needed). For spark plugs, the factory recommends Bosch 145-1 plugs. Although 175-T1 plugs are a little cooler, they have less tendency for run-on or pre-ignition, and they transfer their heat to the cylinder head quicker; 145-T1s are listed as the correct plug to use.
Actually, the difference between the two plugs is very slight under normal circumstances.
Since we know you will change the oil when administering a tune-up, you will also need three quarts of detergent oil (your preference), valve cover gaskets and an oil strainer gasket kit. When looking for a strainer gasket kit, try to find one with the thick copper gaskets, as they have less of a tendency for leaking than the thinner brass-colored gaskets.
Volkswagen recommends you change the oil and clean the strainer, plus adjust the valves on your aircooled engines every 3,000 miles; do a tune-up and either clean or change the air filter every 6,000 miles, plus do a compression test at this time.
Follow along as we show you how to keep your aircooled VW in the best shape possible. Both you and your Bug will be better for it.
Specifications Through 1974
Type I Engine Code Letter Ignition Timing TDC
Aug. '60-July '65 D 10 degrees before
Aug. '65-July '65 F 7.5 degrees before
Aug. '66-July '69 H 7.5 degrees before
Aug. '69-July '70 B 0 degrees TDC
From Aug. '70 AE 5 degrees after*
From Aug. '71 AK 5 degrees after
From Oct. '72 AH 5 degrees after
From March '73 AM 5 degrees after
* (From April '73: 7.5 degrees; checked with vacuum hose off)
Type II Engine Code Letter Ignition Timing TDC
June '60-Dec. '62 D 10 degrees before
Jan. '63-July '65 G 10 degrees before
Aug. '65-July '67 H 7.5 degrees before
Aug. '67-July '70 B 0 degrees before
From Aug. '70 AE 5 degrees after
From Aug. '71 CB 5 degrees after*
From Aug. '72 CD 5 degrees after**
From Nov '73 AW 5 degrees after***
* (from Aug. '72: 10 degrees after)
** (autostick check: 900-1000rpm)
*** (automatic trans: 5 degrees after)
Type III Engine Code Letter Ignition Timing TDC
Through July '64 K 10 degrees before
Through July '65 R 10 degrees before
Aug.'65-July '67 T 7.5 degrees before
From Aug. '67 U 5 degrees before
From Aug. '71 X 5 degrees before
Depending upon the age of your VW, the strainer plate may, or may not, have a drain plug. Originally, all VW strainer plates had a drain plug, which made draining the oil easier. The problem was a lot of people didn't remove the plate to clean the screen, which is mandatory. Without a drain plug, you will need to remove five of the cap nuts and then loosen the last one. You may need to pry the plate down a bit, as shown, for oil drainage.
If you are using a gapping tool to check spark plug gap you will need to tap the plug end slightly to reduce the gap and use a thin screwdriver to open it up.
After the installation of the points, check to make sure the gap is at 0.016 when they are opened all the way. Next, install the new condenser, new rotor and distributor cap, if needed.
The small block on the points needs to be lubricated with some grease. With the Bosch points we are using grease. It is a good idea to keep a tube of this grease around. It lasts a long time and has many uses.