Routine Maintenance

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General Comments

(See the VW Maintenance Schedule below.)

It has been our experience that most problems experienced with the VW Beetle are a reflection of improper or inadequate maintenance. The VW will keep going for a long time without good maintenance, but it might be a "forever" car if the maintenance is kept up to snuff. Apart from the engine maintenance and normal tune-ups, etc., the car is about as bug-free as it's possible to be.

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Rob Boardman writes -- I've been amazed that I could depend as much as I do and did on the reliability of my 1970 Bug. As one example, the ball joints on the car lasted 200,000 hard miles, but on my Ford Falcon they lasted 120,000 easier miles. I'd jump in my 68 Bug tomorrow and drive to Sydney (from Adelaide) with nothing more than a top up of oil and quick tune, and checking the tyre pressures. And I'd be sure of getting there, as much as I would in a GM or Ford or Honda.

My secret is "stock" everything, since I've always thought that the VW engineers had probably worked out all the quirky stuff and it was all there for a reason.

Bob Hoover, the acknowledged VW Guru, wrote -- The fabled durability of the VW is just that -- a myth. It is a 1930's design meant to deliver 100,000 km of service before overhaul, with one valve job along the way.

One thing you're going to discover real quick is that providing all of the required maintenance to an antique vehicle is a big job. On an annual basis of approximately 12,000 miles traveled, the VW will require approximately 30 hours of SKILLED preventative maintenance.

To this Rob responded -- I think Bob may be overstating the case just a little bit. I drove my 1970 Bug for 248,000 miles over 27 years and found that it required no more maintenance than other more modern cars I've had at the same time, and I used that car HARD -- pulling loads, long distance driving etc.

When I got my 1968 Bug I knew it needed sorting out, but now it's running just fine, and I'm putting 500 miles a week on it with nothing more than the 3000 mile checkups, and checking the oil once a week (it uses and drips a little).

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VW Maintenance Schedule

Following are the minimum maintenance intervals recommended for Volkswagens that are driven daily. If you wish to keep your vehicle in peak condition at all times, you may wish to perform some of these procedures even more often. If you drive in dusty areas, idle or drive at low speeds for extended periods or drive for short distances (less than four miles) in below freezing temperatures, shorter maintenance intervals are also recommended.

Every 250 Miles or Weekly -

  • Check engine oil level
  • Check windshield washer fluid level
  • Check brake fluid level
  • Check tires and tire pressures

Every 3000 Miles or Three Months -

  • Check engine oil level
  • Check windshield washer fluid level
  • Check brake fluid level
  • Check tires and tire pressures
  • Change engine oil
  • Lubricate the chassis
  • Check and adjust engine drive belt

Every 6000 Miles or Six Months -

  • Check engine oil level
  • Check windshield washer fluid level
  • Check brake fluid level
  • Check tires and tire pressures
  • Change engine oil
  • Lubricate the chassis
  • Check and adjust engine drive belt
  • Inspect/replace wiper blades
  • Check clutch freeplay
  • Inspect underhood hoses
  • Rotate the tires
  • Adjust valves
  • Inspect brakes

Every 12,000 Miles or Twelve Months -

  • Check engine oil level
  • Check windshield washer fluid level
  • Check brake fluid level
  • Check tires and tire pressures
  • Change engine oil
  • Lubricate the chassis
  • Check and adjust engine drive belt
  • Inspect/replace wiper blades
  • Check clutch freeplay
  • Inspect underhood hoses
  • Rotate the tires
  • Adjust valves
  • Inspect brakes
  • Service air filter
  • Service fuel filter
  • Inspect fuel system
  • Check compression
  • Replace spark plugs
  • Replace ignition points & condenser
  • Inspect spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor
  • Check/adjust engine idle speed
  • Check/adjust ignition timing
  • Check transaxle lubricant level
  • Inspect suspension and steering
  • Inspect exhaust system

Every 30,000 Miles -

  • Check and repack wheel bearings
  • Change transaxle lubricant

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