Head Gaskets and Valve Covers
VW New Beetle
Grand Am SE

How do you replace the head gasket located on a VW Beetle?

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2006-02-16 01:09:44
2006-02-16 01:09:44

I'm assuming you mean the old, air-cooled beetle. First, remove the engine: Disconnect the battery under the seat, ground wire first. Then remove the wires from the alternator (or generator if it's that old), marking them to know which one goes where when you put it all back together. Then remove the wire to the coil and choke heater (if it has one). Then remove and plug the fuel line using something that keeps fuel from running all over the place. Then disconnect the accelerator cable. To make things easier, drain the oil before actually removing the engine. Then with the rear of the vehicle raised about 2 ft. on jack stands or preferably ramps, put a floor jack under the engine to support it then pull the 4 nuts off that hold the engine in. There will be 2 bolts with nuts at the top, It's easiest to have someone reach behind the engine from the top to hold the inside while someone else gets underneath the vehicle to remove loosen the nuts. Then remove the nuts from the studs on the bottom. With all engine nuts removed, work the engine backwards angling slightly down to remove the engine. With the engine removed, remove the fan belt by first removing the center bolt of the alternator which allows the split pulley to come apart then remove the strap around the generator/alternator, then remove all of the "tin work" from around the engine, first the fan tower then the tin work over the heads. Note the position of the air diverters at the bottom of the cylinders and make sure you replace them when you put the engine back together. Remove the rocker covers by prying the large wire retainer down. Remove the rocker arms. Remove the 8 head bolts. Carefully work the heads off the cylinders, using caution to not break the seal between the cylinders and the crankcase. Now you have the heads off, examine the heads for erosion around the faulty head-gasket. If there is much damage it will be necessary to take the head to a machine shop that specializes in VW engine repair. A good shop will be able to mill the head to give you a good seating surface. While the head is out, especially if you have over 50,000 miles on the engine without a valve job, have the machine shop rebuild the heads with new guides and exhaust valves. Reassembly is just a reverse of the above process, but make certain that you have a well calibrated torque wrench and do not over-tighten the head studs, since they are notorious for pulling out of the crankcase. Also, make certain that you use new push-rod tube seals on both ends and make certain that you slightly stretch the push-rod tubes before replacing the heads. The machine shop can give you the correct torque specs for the head studs and give you the correct valve gap for setting up the rockers. VW engines work well when given the attention that they disserve, but are notoriously picky if you do it wrong. It's easy to mess one up, but it's a lot of fun when you put it back together and it runs well. BTW, if the engine has over 100,000 miles on it you will probably want to rebuild the lower end too. Make certain that any lower end rebuild includes a machinist checking the case to determin if it's necessary to have an align-bore and always have the rods re-conditioned, both little AND big end. Use all new parts when working the lower end, including new oil pump, new pistons and cylinders and a gasket set from a reputable manufacturer. Replacing the head gasket on any vehicle is a long and complicated process, however if you wish to see basic step-by-step instructions go to the related question on the right side of the page "How do you replace a head gasket?"

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User Avatar

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User Avatar

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