Beetle Oil Change

In any work, what ever it is, Safety must come first. When changing the oil in a vehicle various safety points must be adhered to. Most of them are common sense but here are a few of the most important ones.

  1. Don’t attempt to drain oil until you are sure it has cooled sufficiently to avoid scalding you.
  2. Don’t grasp any part of the engine, exhaust or heat exchangers until you have made sure that it is sufficiently cool to avoid burning you.
  3. Don’t allow any spilt oil to remain on the floor, wipe it up before someone slips on it.
  4. Give yourself plenty of time to do the job; a rushed job usually ends in disaster.
  5. Always use the correct tools; ill fitting tools can damage nuts and bolts and cause the tool to slip, which may cause injury to you.
  6. If you must work on your own get some one to check that you are all right every so often.
  7. Keep your work area neat and tidy and try to keep the oil off your skin, the oil can cause skin problems, a good barrier cream and/or gloves will help. (I use Latex gloves similar to the ones Doctors use and at about þ 8.00 per box of 100 will last quite a while)
  8. Remember, oil is flammable and can sometimes contain traces of petrol, so keep naked flames away from the work area and don’t smoke.
  9. Do not start a job until you have made sure you have got all the parts you will need.
  10. Never start a job you do not feel that you can complete yourself, if in doubt get someone else who is more capable to do the job for you.

Please dispose of your oil responsibly.

Tools Required.

  • 10mm socket and ratchet or spanner
  • 19mm spanner
  • Strong paint scraper
  • Torque wrench (0 – 50 lb/ft)
  • An oil tight tray that will hold at least 2.5 litres (4.4 Pints) it must be able to fit under the engine. I use an old washing up bowl.
  • An oil change gasket set, available from most VW parts supplier.
  • An empty container to put the used oil into.
  • The engine oil of your choice.

The Process.

Ensure that the car is standing level to allow the oil to drain out and stop it gathering in the corners.

Run the engine for a few minutes to warm the old oil, remember not to get it too hot as to burn you. After turning the engine off remove the keys and make sure that no-one can start it again because running your engine after you have drained the oil will severely damage it.

Locate the oil drain plate underneath the engine; there are two types, one with a drain plug and one without. (See sketch fig 1) The drain cover is a round steel plate held onto the engine by six small nuts, the plate with the drain plug has a larger bolt in the centre of the plate.

To drain the oil put your oil tray under the drain cover plate, on the models that have a centre drain plug undo and remove this plug slowly, be careful when the plug comes out of the plate so as not to lose the plug or get oil on your clothes or skin. Let the oil drain out and then remove the cover by removing the six nuts with your 10mm socket or spanner. You may have to gently prise the plate away from the engine as the gasket usually sticks the two together and sometimes the oil strainer may come off with the plate.

If your engine does not have a drain plug the cover must be removed to drain the oil, again be careful not to get oil all over you.

After the oil has drained out, the oil strainer must be removed for cleaning, this is mounted between the engine case and the oil drain cover. Care must be taken in removing the oil strainer because the flange holding it in is very thin and the wire mesh is not very strong. I use a strong paint scraper to ease the flange away from the engine case, removing this may allow more oil to run out so be careful.

Once all the oil has drained out the sealing surfaces need to be cleaned up, for this you will need to remove all traces of the old gasket ready to accept the new gasket, be careful not to damage the soft alloy engine case. The oil strainer can be cleaned with petrol if care is taken in its use and all traces are washed off before refitting it in the engine case.

The oil strainer is put together rather like a sandwich with the gaskets, the gasket surfaces must be clean and oil free. Many people like to use a small amount of gasket cement on the surfaces to be joined to insure a good seal but if the faces are flat and clean this should not be needed, it’s up to you but remember that any excess gasket cement that squeezes out between the gasket and the sealing faces could get into the sump area and contaminate the oil, maybe blocking one of the oil drillings which would cause oil starvation and severe engine damage.

Fit one of the gaskets over the studs in the engine case, replace the oil strainer and fit the second gasket up to the oil strainers outer flange face. Fit the oil drain cover and secure with the nuts, make sure that the nuts have got their small seals under them otherwise oil may leak down the threads and cause a small leak. The small nuts are easily damaged so care must be taken when tightening them, a torque wrench is the best tool to use and if you can borrow one it will take all the worry out of the job. Tighten the six nuts to 5 lb/ft using the torque wrench and if your cover plate has a central oil drain plug fit this with a new copper washer and tighten to 33 lb/ft.

Now you are ready to re-fill your engine up with oil, the easiest way to do this is to use a funnel and pour a bit in at a time, checking the oil level with the dip stick after allowing the oil to settle in the crank case. Once the oil has been filled to the maximum, but not over filled and the filler cap and dipstick are replaced you can start the engine.

After the engine starts, the oil warning lamp should go out within a couple of seconds. After running the engine for a minute or so switch it off and allow the oil level to settle, go and have a cup of tea, recheck the oil level, then check for oil leaks around the drain cover. If the oil level is ok and there are no leaks you are ready to take your car out, if on the other hand you find a leak you may need to re-seal the cover plate but before you do this check the nuts again in case you missed one.

There are many types of oil recommended for the Beetle and a lot of arguments on which is best to use, so really it’s your personal preference but remember that the Beetle engine doesn’t have an oil filter and only a small oil capacity therefore the oil needs to be changed at least every 3000 miles

Please take note that this article is only a guide and is not meant to replace a workshop manual, check the data section in your workshop manual for the torque settings for your model Beetle as sometimes they differ, if you are not sure what you are doing, get professional help.