photo by Antonio Batiquin Jr.
Summer is upon us and as temperatures rise your VW will need seasonal care to keep it running smoothly. All car owners, whether they are classic or not, have the looming uncertainty that their cars will overheat at one point or another. Whether they are on a road trip or just stuck in rush hour traffic, cars can overheat if they are not properly maintained. JBugs would like to help you prepare your car for the summer months.
Inspect for Rodent Activity
If your car has been sitting for a while this is an important step you won't want to skip. Look for chewed hoses and wires and any signs of nests including droppings, areas of gathered debris, and snail shells, a common food source for rodents.
Check Oil Level
To check your oil remove the dipstick from the engine slowly, clean with a towel, and replace. Now withdraw it and look closely, it should have oil on it. If the level of the oil is between the two lines, your vehicle has enough oil to be within running range. If it's at the low mark, nearest the end of the dipstick or below, it's time to add a quart. Repeat until oil level is at the line furthest from the end of the dipstick.
Check Charging System
Examine the battery case. Make sure it’s free of corrosion, and wipe any dust or dirt off. If you see cracks or wetness at the top of the battery case, it may be time to replace the battery.
Examine the battery mount. If it is highly corroded or missing, this can cause an electrical short on the rear seat frame on a Beetle. Make sure it holds the battery firmly. A vibrating battery will have a much shorter life and may damage other components.
Check the battery terminals and posts for signs of corrosion. Corroded ground connections are a leading cause of misperceived starter failure.
Tighten and clean any loose cables.
Make sure the fan belt isn’t loose. A loose fan belt can hamper a battery’s ability to recharge. Replace the fan belt if it is frayed or cracked.
If you have a voltmeter, check for running voltage. The voltage should be approximately 14.7 volts when the engine is running and 12 volts when the engine and accessories are turned off.
Inspect Your Tires
Check your tires for cracks and tire pressure. Correct the tire pressure to adjust for warmer temperatures. Check the tire manufacturer's recommended tire pressure which is typically listed on the tire sidewall. Don't for get to check your spare tire too!
Check Your Engine Tin
VW Engine Tin consists of the front and rear engine tin, fan shroud, cylinder shrouds, valve covers, alternator/generator stand, pulley, and backing plate, distributor clamp, air filter, breast plate, crank pulley, firewall, and heater channel tin. Engine Tin is crucial to ensuring your engine runs cool. The tin directs air from the top portion of the engine compartment through the oil cooler, cylinder heads and cylinders. It also keeps that same hot air from re-entering the engine compartment which would increase the engine temperature. It is very important that all the engine tin be in place to keep your engine running properly. Replace any missing engine tin components.
Get Rid of Old Gas
If the gas in your car is old, it can cause a number of issues that can damage your engine. If your gas is less than six months old you can recondition it by adding fresh high octane gas plus some carburetor cleaner. Recondition the old gas at a ratio of at least 4 to 1 (4 parts new gas to 1 part old gas). Be sure to do this BEFORE you drive the car!
If your gas is over six months old we recommend that you drain the fuel and give it fresh gas to avoid any problems.
Test Your Brakes
Test your brake pedal for firmness. If there is a soft or spongy feel to the brake pedal, you most likely need to bleed your brakes. Follow our guide How to Bleed Your VW Brakes for step by step instructions.
This is a great time to also check your brake lights to be sure they are in working condition.
Inspect Coolant Hoses (if water-cooled)
Coolant hoses should be flexible. The resistance of the fluid should be noticeable when squeezed.
Be Ready for Summer Rain
Check your window seals and door seals for correct fit. Look for any gaps in the rubber that can leave your car open to the elements and check for seals that are dry and cracking. Don't forget to check your wiper blades too! Replace them if they are dry and cracked.
Editor's Note: Originally published 6/6/2017. Updated 5/26/2023.