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VW Technical FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Technical issues with Watercooled VWs

This FAQ about VW Technical issues was compiled and written by Jan Vandenbrande with numerous contributions by others.

Copyright Notice (c) -- 1994 - 1996: All Rights Reserved. The information contained here is collectively copyrighted by the authors. The right to reproduce this is hereby given, provided it is copied intact, with the copyright notice inclusive. However, the authors explicitly prohibit selling this document, any of its parts, or any document which contains parts of this document.

This FAQ is geared predominantly at the technical aspects of watercooled VWs based on the Golf Chassis (A1-A3: Golf I/Rabbit, Golf II & III, Sciroccos, Corrados, Jettas, Vento, Convertibles) using the original Audi "1600 type" engine block (now available up 2 liters) and the new VR6 2.8/2.9l engine aimed at the US/Canadian market. Not covered are the engines/fuel systems available outside North America such as the 1300 cc engines, carburetors/mono-throttle FI systems. These cars have many similarities with Dashers/Passats/Fox's. These are mostly mechanical, but not for the styling, suspension & exhausts.

These technical aspects handles issues that will help you maintain the car in near stock conditions. The perfomance FAQ discusses issues to improve upon the stock design. Quite often, to remain stock complient is as expensive as it is to upgrade to better after market (performance) parts. Shocks and tires are a good example of this.

-01 I have a problem with my car? What do I do? How should I go about fixing it?
-02 I want to work on my VW. What tools should I get?
-03 My A1 based VW sounds very buzzy and noisy, vibrations in the engine compartment. What's wrong?
-04 My odometer/trip odometer stopped working. How do I fix it?
-05 What is VWs part numbering scheme?
-06 What are some of the useful chemicals to have around?
-07 What should I do with Loctite Threadlocker (tm) and Anti Seize (tm)?
-08 What power steering fluid should I use?
-09 What do those "20W50" numbers mean for my engine oil?
-10 I have a very rough idle/stalling/hesitation/bucking problem when the car is cold (or warm in some cases). What can I do to fix it?
-11 Car starts fine but hessitates at cold. Runs fine when warm.
-12 What oil filter should I use on my VW?
-13 I seem to be running hot. What should I do?
-14 How do I flush my cooling system?
-15 I want to flush my cooling system. Where can I get phosphate free coolant other than at the overpriced dealer prices?
-16 What's the easiest way of removing a water pump (A1 & A2 VWs)?
-17 How often should I change my drive belt?
-18 I hear an intermittent high pitched chirping noise that comes and goes when I rev the engine?
-19 How do I know whether my water pump is going bad?
-20 Why the hole at the bottom of the impeller housing?
-21 Where are the timing marks on A1 & A2 VWs?
-22 My radiator leaks, what should I do?
-23 What causes engine knock/pinging/detonation?
-24 I have an A2 VW and I hear buzzing from the rear of the car?
-25 I seem to have lost power?
-26 What are the correct spark plugs for my car?
-27 What does the Bosch spark plug number mean?
-28 Why is the G60 plug 15US$? What's so special about it?
-29 Should I use Platinum plugs? [Note, Bosch & NGK & Others make them].
-30 How do I adjust the gap on Platinum sparkplugs?
-31 I need to replace my muffler. What should I get?
-32 How do I remove the oxygen sensor? It seems frozen.
-33 What does an engine compression test tell me about the health of my engine?
-34 How often should I adjust my valves (gas engines)?
-35 What's a CAM "saver" cover, alias CAM splash guard, alias CAM cover baffle?
-36 My valve cover gasket leaks oil?
-37 How do I remove bushings from a blind hole? (For example: small bushing on the right side of the clutch throwout shaft)
-38 How do I check (and remove) for the inline FI filter in early A2 cars, and how do I remove it if there.
-39 My exhaust bangs against the rear axle/my muffler hangers brake frequently.
-40 How do you remove the two oil pan bolts that are closest to the tranny?
-41 How do you remove/reattach the "rubber bands" that hold down the airbox in many VWs, my hands are too big to access it?
-42 On the electrical diagrams, do the circuit numbers have any meaning?
-43 My battery is not charging well, I am only showing 12V when charging rather than 13.4V. What is wrong?
-44 How do I check the Alternator?
-45 My charge light does not behave as expected. What is wrong?
-46 Starting problems (hot or cold).
-47 What do the H1, H2...H4 designations mean?
-48 What's that extra bright red light on some European cars?
-49 Why does my fog light switch have two positions that do not have any effect?
-50 Why should I use Dielectric grease, and on what?
-51 I lost the code for my radio. How can I get it back?
-52 My radio never locks up if I disconnect the battery eventhough it is claimed to be a coded radio?
-53 How often should I replace my spark plug wires? How can I check them?
-54 How can I install programmable wiper control in my car like the new cars have?
-55 What's this secret ignition switch I hear about? How do I close my electrical windows after I pull the key out?
-56 What shift mechanisms do VWs use over the years?
-57 What size clutches did VW use over the years?
-58 How can I improve shift effort/meshing of my gears? First gear feels like there is something blocking it?
-59 First gear grinds?
-60 How can you tell if your synchro is REALLY shot?
-61 What's a CV Joint?
-62 How do CV Joints go bad and how can I prevent it from happening?
-63 What tool should I use to remove my inner CV Joint (driveshaft-to-drive axle flange) bolts?
-64 How do I know my front wheel bearings are shot?
-65 What brakes do VWs come with? (Note the dates are +/- 1 yr).
-66 I need to change my brake pads, which should I get?
-67 Is it easy to change pads/shoes?
-68 Do I need to turn my rotors each time I change pads?
-69 How often should I bleed my brakes and change the fluid?
-70 What brake fluid should I use?
-71 How do I remove the screw that holds the front rotor in place?
-72 I hear a "clunk" each time I brake/start?
-73 How do I prevent my brakes from squealing?
-74 When standing on the brake pedal, my foot slowly sinks to the floor? What's wrong?
-75 Problems with rear drum brake lock up?
-76 What grease should I use on the rear axles of my VW.
-77 Maintenance
-78 How do I know whether my shocks are worn out?
-79 How do I know upper strut bearings are worn?
-80 What is the proper tire inflation for my car? Should I use the number printed on the side of the car?
-81 What shocks are interchangeable between cars?
-82 What do all those numbers mean on my tire.
-83 My door sags, how can I straighten it?
-84 How do I eliminate all the rattles, squeaks and buzzes in my car?
-85 Something in my dash rattles?
-86 My doors/hatch/vinyl squeak over bumpy roads, especially when cold?
-87 My suspension groans when I go over a speed bump/other bumps?
-88 Something in my door rattles?
-89 How should I take care of my car's exterior? What products to use?
-90 What are the best vinyl/rubber cleaners/enhancers/replenishers?
-91 How do I clean my rims and get rid of that nasty brake dust?
-92 How do I touch up little nicks and chips?
-93 How does paintless dent removal work?
-94 I need to repaint part of my car. What should I look for in a body shop?
-95 How do I fix rubber components such a bumpers and spoilers?
-96 I cracked my windshield, what should I do?
-97 My seat material has ripped, how do I fix it? This is mostly dedicated to those with 85-87 GTIs. :-<
-98 How do I treat my leather interior?
-99 How do I fix damaged undercoating?
-100 When my Corrado spoiler retracts, it squeaks. What do I do?
-101 Are those ventilation filters sold by APS any good?

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