Engine removal and installation are easier on the Beetle than just
about any other car. However, it is still a big job.
Since I converted my Bug into a Baja Bug, I cut off the rear
car. This makes it much easier to get to the engine.
You must disconnect the battery.
You'll have to jack up your Bug, and use large, strong jack
stands to support the car since it has to be a couple feet
off the ground in the rear. Removing the rear wheels
simplifies the process.
You'll need to remove the fuel line where it goes through
the firewall tin at the front of the engine. When I did this
gasoline started pouring out. I shoved the fuel line back
together. Luckily I was wearing latex gloves. The gloves
almost immediately shrivelled, but they kept the gas off my
hands (mostly). Based on more recent experience, nitrile
gloves are superior. After making a big mess, I figured out
a better way to do this. I used my hand operated brake line
and vacuum system testing pump to draw a vacuum on the gas
tank. Let me stress that I used a non-electrical, hand pump
called a "Mity Vac". It is intended for automotive use,
however, you must not let liquid gasoline get in the pump,
or the pump will (probably) be ruined. You must never use
electrical pumps with gasoline or gasoline vapors, unless
the pumps are specifically for gasoline. I've got a 1973
Bug, and the tank has a extra small connections that are
handy for attaching to the vacuum pump. With a vacuum at the
tank, only a few drops of gasoline leaked out of the fuel
line in the rear. I blocked the rubber tubing with a 1/4
inch drill bit (smooth end into the tube, of course). The
drill bit is cheezy, but it works ok. There are special
smooth-jawed clamps specifically for clamping fuel lines.
Given the hazards and headaches of gasoline, it is probably
wise to drain the fuel tank. However, then you are faced
with where to store as much as 10 gallons of gas. This could
be good time to make sure there's no water in the bottom of
the fuel tank.
All the wires have to be disconnected. Label each one, or
you'll spend hours sorting them out. The list (roughly) is:
coil, oil temp and pressure senders, alternator/generator
The throttle cable end clamp comes off. Save that barrel nut
and it's bolt somewhere. It would be a good idea to attach
it to the carb with a wire tie or cable tie.
Remove the breastplate at the rear of the engine. This is
the cooling tin between the pulley and the rear body
apron. You may have to remove the heat riser covers.
Support the engine with a jack. A rolling floor jack is
very, very useful at this point. I have a $50 jack (3 ton?)
from Sears. I put 5/8 plywood under the car if I'm in the
back yard so I have a smooth surface to work on. The floor
jack and plywood are great!
I like to put a sturdy board across the bottom of the engine
case, and put the jack under that. There are 4 little
"feet" cast into the engine case. It seems like a
bad idea to support the engine on a jack that is only under
the oil drain plate.
Loosen the 4 bolts/nuts between the engine and
transaxle. Start with the two on the bottom.
When removing the top two, make sure the jack is high enough
that the engine isn't hanging on the bolts. With the bolts
1/2 off (about 5 mm or 1/4 inch) you should be able to see
the engine separate from the tranny. Ideally, that
separation is parallel. You don't want the engine too high
or too low since that bends the tranny input shaft.
Even with the top bolts out, the engine can still be supported at the
bottom. You'll have to raise it, and when you do the weight of the engine
comes off the suspension. If you are on jack stands, the car stays put.
If you still have the rear wheels on the ground, the rear of the car
raises up, so you have to raise the engine more. With a Baja Bug it
isn't necessary to jack up the car. Normal Bug owners will already have
their car on jack stands.
Wiggle the engine (on the jack). The idea is to pull it back a couple
of inches. Once the clutch clears the input shaft of the transmission,
you can tilt the back of the engine down. Tilt down, move the engine
back. Once you clear the lower engine mounting studs (bolts fixed in
the tranny), you can lower the engine, and roll it our from under the
At this point, it is good to have a U shaped, 8 inch tall wooden stand
for the engine. (I'll post photos or a diagram). I lowered the engine
onto the wooden stand, and then removed the jack. Otherwise, you have
to lift the engine off the jack. I've seen photos where a person working
alone lowers the jack as much as possible, then tilts the engine forward
onto the ground. I was worried about dropping the engine, so I didn't
I borrowed a heavy duty 4 wheel dolly from a friend. Two people can
pick up the engine and put it on the dolly.
Installation is the reverse of this procedure. It often take some wiggling
to get the lower studs and tranny input shaft to all align. Make sure
that the front (towards the front of the car) face of the engine and
the rear face of the tranny are parallel. If the engine is cocked, it
won't go in.
To "wiggle" the engine, grasp the fan shroud firmly, and
move side to side, back and forth, and up and down.