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Tech Tips


Vent Window Tip

My 1980 rabbit is one of those with the “glued” vent window pivots and locks. The glue has deteriorated and the glass was loose in the seals. I called around to various glass shops and to VW and they all basically laughed at me and told me to live with it. One day I was rummaging around on the tool bench and found a roll of 3M double-sided body emblem and rub strip tape. I cleaned the glass and the pivot at the point where it makes contact with the glass with a razor blade and Windex and applied the tape, cutting as necessary. I closed the glass against the seal and pushed the pivots onto the glass, holding that position for a minute or two. It’s been two years of Maine weather and everything still works well. HINT keep the pivot joints lubed.



Restarting the diesel engine after running out of fuel.

This is my method I used, to help out a college from my workplace. I sold him my 84 Rabbit Diesel (regret :-() and warned never run out of fuel or he will have a major problem. Anyway, he did run out of fuel a week later. He asked for help after draining the battery several times. Since the battery was not fully charged, I decided to try a different approach. First make sure there is plenty of diesel fuel in the tank. Then I opened the small bleeding screw on top of the injection pump and filled the pump with clean, I mean clean diesel fuel until it overflows. Replace and tighten the screw. Next loosen all injector lines at the injectors. Now a towing vehicle is needed. He had an old Chevy pick-up handy, which was perfect. First, put the car in third gear; turn on ignition (important), so the injection pump is turned on. Glow plugs will be turned on for a moment but we don't need them at this time. Now let a helper tow you. In the beginning depress the clutch until you gain speed then let it go slowly. While the engine turns over depress the gas pedal to the floor. The injector pump will now deliver maximum amounts of fuel into the injector lines and eliminate all remaining air from the lines. After a quarter mile or so, stop and check whether fuel came out of the loosened injector lines. If so, retighten them to specification. Another short pull is needed to start the engine. First shift into third gear again and depress the clutch. While you are towed turn on ignition and wait for the glow light to go out. Now let the clutch go slowly and depress gas pedal slightly. Engine should start shortly. This method will prevent discharging completely the battery and shortening the live of you starter. Chris, Portland OR.


Water Pump Pulley Removal

An easy way to remove the bolts from the VW water pump
(especially if you don't have the water pump belt on) is to
wrap a piece of an old belt around the V groove on the
pulley and use an adjustable oil filter wrench around the
old belt and pulley. I used part of an old "B" size belt
that was wider than the groove, and a $6.00 oil filter
wrench that had a partial flat piece and a chain. The oil
filter wrench will hold the pulley still while you remove
the bolts. My bolts were rusted in, but I was able to take
them out quite easily without damaging the pulley.

Brad Alheim


Temporary Fix for Cracked "Mechanic's Hands"

With working on my Jetta outdoors this freezing cold winter,
I developed a couple of nasty painful cracks on my fingers.
Quite by accident I discovered a good fix that instantly
relieves the hurt and prevents further cracking of the
affected area. One well known "feature" of the Cyanoacrylate
"instant crazy glues" is that they will bond skin INSTANTLY!
This can be put to use to provide a temporary "patch" for
that cracked finger by cautiously applying a drop to the
cracked area and immediately closing up the crack. The skin
will bond and the crack will heal up before the glue
dissolves, and any excess glue will hold the skin surface
together and prevent further cracks from developing. Be sure
that the skin is scrubbed "surgically clean" and dry, and
that the wound is only a superficial crack in the skin and
that it is not deep into the flesh. Also DO NOT USE ANY
ACCELERATORS as they will cause rapid heating of the glue
and burns! (I've learned this by experience!) I've found
that the best glues to use are the thickened slower curing
glues available in model hobby stores, and the ones I used
did not cause any stinging of the skin. I've used "Slow Zap"
and a thickened glue made by Pacer with good results.

Emergency Radiator Cooling Fan Switch

I had a problem with my Jetta radiator fan thermostat that
caused the engine to start to overheat. As Jack had
suggested, I was going to install an "emergency switch" to
bypass the thermostat "just in case". I discovered that if
your car has air conditioning (at least in the A2 models)
the radiator fan will be switched on high whenever the
heat/cool lever is put into the air conditioning position.
Just flip the lever and disconnect the air conditioner fan
clutch wire from the compressor, and you're good to go until
you can do a proper repair! If you want heat, just move the
temperature (blend) lever to the hot position. Be sure to
shut off the engine and be careful of the fan when
disconnecting the clutch wire. Don't leave the clutch wire
disconnected for a long time, though, as the compressor seal
depends on a film of oil to keep the refrigerant in the
system (the compressor is cycled occasionally when in the
defrost position even in the winter cold)

Brad Alheim
Chicopee, Massachusetts


Fix For Sticky Doorlocks.

For those sticky VW door handles. Simply remove the two screws that
hold the doorhandle in place and dunk it in engine coolant. I learned
this trick from a locksmith in Texas and it sure works good up here in
Canada. The coolant acts both as a lubricant and an antifreeze.
Grease tends to stiffen up in the cold north but the coolant does
the job really well. I usually do this as part of my pre-winter

George Craft

Removing The Driveshaft Bolt

For removing your front half-shafts. I use the standard 30 mm socket
with a large breaker bar and a piece of pipe for extra leverage but
sometimes there is no one around to help keep the tire from turning
especially at the wrecking yard where not everything is available.
I use a piece of chain with a hook on either end. One end to the
square hole in the VW rim and the other to the bumper. The chain
acts as an excellent method of stopping the tire from turning while
you remove the driveshaft nut.

George Craft

Tip For Rust.

If you have a small portion of your car that is rusty and you don't
have time to fix it properly. Simply rub in a small amount of
petroleum jelly. This seals the oxidized part from the air and
stops it from rusting any further. Dirt and road salt will stick
to this grease spot and make it black in color but it will not rust
any further until you have time to do a professional job of fixing it.

George Craft

Cold, Cold Starting Tip.

This tip is for guys who really know what they are doing.
If you live in the really cold, cold climates and want to run
your diesel and there is no place to plug it in. I use a gasoline
VW heater from the old air cooled beetle or bus. I have it designed
as a portable unit that I hook onto the bumper. It is a great
little unit for getting everyone else started as well. I have
a piece of flexible exhaust hose to channel the hot air where
I want it. I've noticed that the AMA is now using something
similar for starting cold cars. Hmmm... I wonder if they saw
me using mine?

George Craft


I have found that when I take the lug nuts off of the front of the car,
they are a pain to get off(Because the front disk’s heat up so much) I have
found that applying a small amount grease helps them go in and out easier.

(The following applies to A2 vehicles)

Have you ever went to open your drivers door and it wouldn’t open
from the outside or inside? Well you can get it open by taking the inside
weather-stripping off and pushing the small notch in the door mechanism.

Applies to all vw's

One way to keep your doors opening and closing correctly is to
take the door mechanism off and grease it up heavily. (I have not
had a problem with my doors in 2 years)

Chris Carroll
red hook NY

Injection Pump Locking Tool

I use this all the time to improvise the correct tool to lock your
diesel injector pump

Its a craftsman 1/4"drive,,1/2"deep socket (mines a 6 point)
cost ya a buck or 2 unless you have one laying in the bottom
of your box.

Well till then, happy dubbin' diesel style.

Blake MacPherson

Low Power, Poor Fuel Economy

At about 160,000 miles my 84 rabbit was seriously down on power and mileage was down to 30MPG. I feared the worst, I decided I had nothing to lose by trying some used injectors I had laying around. When I removed the injectors I found that the heat shields were carboned so badly that there was barely a hole left for fuel. I cleaned the heat shields and reinstalled the injectors and yeeee-ha power was back!



Candle Wax

This tip has been written up else ware but it bears repeating!

After struggling through a complete strut overhall on our Turbo
S/W I could Not get the strut housing cap to break loose ( tried
the heat, taping, more heat etc.) at that point I remembered what
my machine shop does on stubborn bolts!

Heat the part as hot as you can with a propane torch. Then take
a common ordinary candle and apply it to the threads! The heat
sucks the wax in and coats the threads. You will be able to take
things apart immediately!

Above works for broken bolts (head, water neck etc.) it's a great tip
try it!


I used to have to replace my C/V Boots about once (1) a year. Sometimes both outer each year.
Until a friend passed on a tip he had always used. Each And Every Oil Change He
Sprayed Silicone On The Boots ( all the rubber under the car is a good idea) I have not changed a Boot in 4 years.
If you have an older VW it leaks water in someware. A lot of problems come from the Radio Antenna Lead Wire. Water seems to run right down and onto the floor. In the process it Also Drips on the Fuse Box -Not Good- Take some RTV Silicone and smear around where the Antenna Lead goes thru the firewall into the car. That will get rid of at least one of the leaks!
Cold weather causes all kinds of problems.I have gone over the tires (aired up) and in the morning found a flat tire for no reason. What can happen is the moisture in the tires can cause the valve to stick partially open (by freezing on the way in or out) . A good solution is to use a common hair drier on all of the valves after adding air. The drier warms up the valve and allows it to close. A ha no leaks.
You go out one morning after a rainey drizzley night. Turn the key and the car starts but dash lights and other lights act crazy. Suspect the Ground Wire. Check both the wire from the battery AND the wire Strap from motor to body.Take them off one end at a time. Clean both wire end & end where it attaches.
It is a good idea after you car is 3 years old to make sure that the battery wires are good and clean. You can buy a wire tooth brush at any hardware or auto. store for this job. After cleaning use regular petrolium jelly to coat the bare ends of the wires.
Frozen Bolts: I'll bet anyone who has Ever worked on a car has had to deal with a Bolt that WILL Not come out.Here is something I learned from My machine shop. Heat the bolt and surrounding area with a Tourch (Propane will work but takes longer) after the area is HOT apply a house hold Candle to the area. The heat draws in the wax, and surrounds the threads, after (Important) the area is Cold to the touch. You will be able to back out that stubborn bolt !
If you should be working on a car that the Spark (I know, I know) plugs are a bit hard to get at. Use a short length of vacumn tubing pushed over the end of the plug. The tubing will act as an extension and can be easilly pulled off after the Plug has been started.

Radiator Story
If your, Like me then you tend to collect spare parts, As far as that goes I have a expensive lesson to tell. I needed a new radiator for my rabbit turbo diesel, so to save money i decided to install a rad that was lying beside one of my parts cars (yes I have more than one parts car) after flushing it out with water to remove all dirt I installed it on my car.

Two weeks later I was driving to town when I herd a thump! I thought it was a lump of ice falling off the body. Two miles down the road I had to shut the car off because it was running hot.

The block heater blew out of the block the reservoir cracked, the lower rad hose split and the head gasket blew because the head warped. All of this was caused because there was a foreign object stuck in the rad cap which caused the system to over pressurize and something had to let go. The object that plugged the cap appeared to be a slug that was stuck in th rad that was lying outside.

Ever since I have been more careful when I install used parts on my car.

Hard Shifting Rabbit
At 173,000 miles my rabbit began to become difficult to shift.
1st gear was the hardest. The source of the problem was a part called
the relay shaft, which is part of the shift linkage attached to the body through the
relay shaft bracket.

You can get two new bushings for the relay shaft bracket for about $1.50,
but they only helped partially. Inspection of the relay shaft itself showed
that grooves had been worn in the metal itself.

The shaft could be built up either with brazing or welding material, but I
opted for the easy way using epoxy material that claims to harden "like
The epoxy went on to the clean shaft and could be shaped with the
fingers so that minimal grinding or sanding was required to bring it into
conformance with the diameter of the bushings.

After fearing that I had faced expensive transmission work I was
delighted to find that the transmission then shifted like butter. The total
repair used material costing less than $3.00.

Hope this can be of use to some one.

Bruce Barbour

General Up Keep Tip.
From an owner who has 245,000 miles on a vw diesel engine.
Change the timing belt every 75, 000 miles or there will be hell to pay!

I find that STP Diesel Fuel Treatment works extremely well. It keeps the
injectors open and prevents the fuel pump from becoming a victim of low
sulphur fuel.

If you'r diesel becomes hard starting, check the glow-plugs.
It's the only thing I've had to replace.

From :

Restoring Rubber Trim.

The tip is from an old timer and I have found it quite helpful to
restore hard rubber such as window rubber:

First you want to thoroughly clean the rubber to be restored with a
detergent and a rag, be sure to scrub hard which removes lots of that
black oxidized rubber, then let dry.

Next, get some regular petroleum jelly (vaseline) and now using a small
rag apply it to the rubber being sure to rub it into the rubber real good.
If you re-apply the jelly 2-3 times over a period of a month or two you will
find that the rubber will actually swell up quite nicely towards it's original size.

Works especially nice on wind wing rubber etc.
Door seals are another favorite, it will help reduce those lovely high-speed whistling
sounds we all love so much .

Brian Burke
Roseburg, Oregon

Here's how to add delay wipers to older VWs:

Take off the steering wheel and column covers.

If you look at the opposite side of the wiper handle,
directly above it (about 11:00 on the column) you will see a
little white plastic plug. It prevents the handle from moving DOWN
from the off position.

Pop it out and reassemble the steering column.

Then go down to the fuse box and remove the metal bridge and replace
it with a intermittent wiper relay. Now you can move the wiper handle down
for intermittent wipers.

John Van Vuren

Fuel System Cleaner Upper!
I was in my local auto parts store and saw a can of
I read the back of the can and it said the following.

1.Reduce emissions in half.
2. Keeps all fuel components clean.
3. Reduce hard starting.
4. More power.
5. Quicker starts.
6. Gets rid of all water in lines ETC.
7. Stops diesel from gelling in cold weather.
8. Increase cetane numbers. (OCTANE BOOSTER FOR DIESEL FUEL)

So I paid the $10 CAN for the can, to see what it would actually do. Well let me say that It made my Golf run like a baby. It did all that they said it would. And I noticed a huge increase in power, especially up long hills. So I would highly recommend this product it made a hell of a difference. And the can will treat up to 100 GALLONS.


Notes on Freeze Plug Replacement & Coolant System Upkeep.

1. They cause a very hard to find coolant leak, The freeze plugs
are on the rear of the block, just below the head gasket. There are
three plugs ( or two if you have the block heater ). Look for
anti-freeze stains below the freeze plugs.

2. To obtain working room to remove/install the plugs I found it necessary
to pull the RH drive shaft and disconnect the exhaust pipe.
They do not come out easily !

3. Get the right freeze plugs. I had to get mine form the local VW
dealer. Two products to avoid:

A. Expanding rubber freeze plugs, They will NOT stay in place.
The reason is that the freeze plug hole is not a constant diameter,
but rather is a "stepped" bore. The rubber freeze plug must go all the
way through the cylinder block wall and into water jacket, where it is
expanded to hold it in.

B. Local auto parts stores show a DORMAN #555-103. The
correct size is 36.5 mm, The VW part measures 36.7 at the
middle of the plug and it can be driven in with no problem. The
DORMAN 555-103 measures 36.95 and it cannot be driven in.
( It's like trying to put a 0.010 OS piston in a standard bore.)

The above observations are from a 1981 Diesel Rabbit (1600cc).

*Note* Local VW dealer shows block heater available at about $30.00.

Just as an "aside"........

It looks like the tiny VW cooling system leaves little margin for error.
The designed pressure is near 20 psi. That 20 psi will put close
to 40 pounds on the freeze plug !!

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SCALE - I found a stuck pressure relief
valve on my rabbit after I replaced a cracked plastic expansion tank.
The pressure relief valve in the filler cap opened at 60 psi using air
hose and regulator to check it. The problem here is that the spring
loaded ball which is the relief valve is about 1 -1.5 mm in diameter.
The small area gives a low opening force at the design point of 20 psi.
The result is that crud in the valve will prevent it from opening, You
need an air hose to check it. If the valve doesn't open - something
else will!

The above offers a good case in point to change your coolant every year.
Using a 50 - 50 Mix of VW Aproved Anti - Freeze and Distilled Water !

( Some or all of what is noted above may have been changed in later
editions of the engine)
Bill Hogan

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