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Re: Reliability of air cooled vw's? (Valthar)

Depends on how much preventive work you do. Changing ignition systems and some other weatherproofing drastically improves the reliability. Any particular car you're looking at?
BTW, half the fun of owning an air-cooled is doing all the work yourself. That is not a joke...I had the most fun with my car when I was wrenching on it or modding it.
 

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Re: Reliability of air cooled vw's? (Valthar)

What kind is it? Type 1, 2, 3 or 4? If it's an automatic stickshift I'd steer clear though the regular 4 speeds and regular auto's wern't bad, though the auto was way slow at least on my type 3.
Rust will be a problem most likely especialy under the battery, and be prepared to either do regular tweaks or have it done by someone, they require more regular maintenance than watercooled. That said, if you take care of an aircooled VW it will run forever
 

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Re: Reliability of air cooled vw's? (Valthar)

The answer to your question depends on how you define "reliability".

Some define it as "Here's my Toyota Pickup - haven't done a thing to it in 30,000 miles- haven't even changed the oil! Still runs great!". That "reliability" attitude will KILL an air-cooled VW.


Others define it as "I'm going on vacation- 2000 miles round trip. Would I hesitate to take the VW?" - in that sense, the air cooled cars are VERY reliable. http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif

BUT- they are ONLY reliable if they are maintained! If you take care of the regular maintenance items every 1,500-2000 miles (oil change, valve adjustment, points, etc...), then they'll go forever. Start skipping the valve adjustments, or set the timing wrong, and they can die in a hurry. There are known "common problems" that the mechanicals face when they age, and almost every one of them will be spotted during normal maintenance. (Examples: overheating & stretching valve stems will be noticed during the valve adjustment. Case bearing wear will be noticeable when setting the timing. Etc...)

Another thing to consider- these cars are OLD. Do yourself a favor, and do as much preventative maintenance as you can. So the carb is fine? Take it apart anyway. That rubber diaphragm on the accelerator pump could be 30+ years old. Replace it. Same with the fuel pump diaphragm. Replace ALL the fuel lines, and replace the brake lines as well. The rotor, cap, points, and coil for good measure. Inspect EVERYTHING. Replace anything worn or suspicious. And keep some basic tools, an extra fan belt, and a fire extinguisher with you when you drive.

I've been making my way with almost exclusively ACVWs for 9 years now... Rain or shine, summer or 8 inches of snow. There's nothing I'd rather be driving.


- David
 

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Re: (LelloBeetle)

I would look for a solid body above all. If you are mechanically inclined, parts are readily available. Just my opinion. Good luck.
 

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Re: (LelloBeetle)

Quote, originally posted by LelloBeetle »

That may be impossible, but I have seen beetles on the side of the road with the engine in flames...
 

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Re: Reliability of air cooled vw's? (Valthar)

Vapour Lock
I'm Joe Namath
Vapour Lock
 

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Re: Reliability of air cooled vw's? (Valthar)

My dad misses his 1971 Superbeetle. It got totaled in 1988 because some ass tried to beat traffic across a major street and lost. We still have the Coors beer keg he used for a replacement fuel tank for it though. http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif


Modified by RatRedux at 5:39 AM 1-20-2006
 

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You'll not likely experience the reliability that I did with say, my '72 Squareback, while wandering all over the United States for tens of thousands of miles without the slightest problem. Why? I did this in 1974, when my Type 3 was only two years old. As mentioned previously, these cars are now decades-old, and you will be obligated to attend to their needs as automotive senior citizens. If you accept this responsibility (and as mentioned above, tinkering with and maintaining an aircooled VW can be one of life's truly rewarding man/machine experiences) with a vintage aircooler, and own a solid car in its own right, you'll find these cars to be reliable and trustworthy.
Just don't expect a "drive it and forget it" car from one of these machines. German automobiles, traditionally, reward attentive owners, and punish neglectful ones severely.
 

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Re: (WhitePoloCT)

Quote, originally posted by WhitePoloCT »
That may be impossible, but I have seen beetles on the side of the road with the engine in flames...

I have seen 3 bugs with the engine on fire since my childhood, first, the black smoke, then Fire!!!, after the next day, fellow neighbor owners were fixing them with a basic set of tools, and they were working fine again.
 

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Re: Reliability of air cooled vw's? (vwlarry)

Recollecting some commong problem areas which are usually discovered AFTER the purchase:
voltage regulator/battery/generator -- often it's hard to pinpoint the cause of that dead battery, and often one of these parts can cause the others to fail later (don't ask me why). I usually ended up replacing all three. *note, these cars can run for days or weeks on just the battery, adding to the difficulty of diagnosing a charging problem*
clogged fuel tank and lines -- if the car has been sitting, there can be gunk clogging up the fuel system, particularly in the tank. Blocking the pickup tube intermittently can be a maddening experience! You're on the side of the road tearing into the carb when the problem is at the tank.
starter soleinoid -- they are located in different places depending on the year of the car, and depending on whether the car is 6 volt converted to 12, or had previous repair work, you can scratch your head for hours trying to compare the wiring diagram vs. reality. I once had a bug with two starter soleinoids wired in parallel; one wasn't working and the P.O. just never removed it
.
aftermarket parts -- BEWARE of aftermarket parts on the engine, they are often the source of trouble down the road. Chrome distributor hold-downs that don't fit, aftermarket fan shrouds that don't fit, carbeuretors that leak air, degree pulleys that aren't degreed right. The aftermarket industry can be surprisingly shoddy, and I've learned with aircooled to stick with only the best in aftermarket stuff, or OEM.
cooling -- Almost anything can make the engine run hotter than it was meant to, such as: missing engine tin, missing engine tin seals, missing heater hoses, leaky exhaust, dirt-caked cylinder fins, wrong fan shroud / oil cooler combination, wrong timing advance. Check for tell-tale signs like an oil light that comes on after a while. Use the best oil, change it frequently, and consider a Berg oil cooler.
clutch cable -- Once they stretch, they need very frequent adjusting. If the seller says 'oh the clutch needs to be adjusted', assume it's because he just adjusted it last week and it has stretched already. Figure on replacing it.
 

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Re: Reliability of air cooled vw's? (RabbitsKin)

^^^^ i think he hit every point i was going to. My old beetle had a chronic problem where the distributor would jump out of the engine. Later discovered it was due to the chrome distributor clamp. Chrome engine pieces are crap, avoid them at all costs. Chrome alternator pulley? bury it, bury it deep, it will warp and destroy your alternator. Chrome tins are ok, but tend to not fit properly.
As for fires in the engine bay, dont trust that the little lip on your fuel pump or filter will actually hold that hose on, clamp that sumbitch down. Most engine fires are because people got lazy and didnt properly clamp something down, and gas spewed forth upon the engine. Matter of fact, the 71 super my brother just finished up we got cheap because of an engine fire.
If you do decide to buy a bug, the first thing i would suggest is to find a ghia and steal the front brakes. Putting disk brakes on a bug is one of the best things you can do. Hell for about 400 bucks you can even get lowered spindles with disk brakes.
I really miss my old bug. I remember my younger and stupider days of drifting down the street sideways just because i could
 

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Re: (LelloBeetle)

Quote, originally posted by LelloBeetle »
Another trick is to take a magnet to check body panels

Right. Better yet go out and buy the book "How to keep your VW alive".
 

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Re: (Silly_me)

good info here.
 

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Re: (icedmocha)

My bug ran fine all summer, I just stopped driving it when I had to go to school again. Great thing about a bug is that no matter how detrimental of a problem occurs, at most its gonna cost about 200 bucks to fix. It may break down often, but when you have to replace a broken pulley that costs about 4 dollars and takes half an hour to replace, you dont have much to complain about.
 
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