Volkswagen Air Cooled 1949-1969 Repair Guide

Brake Adjustments


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Fig. Fig. 1 The brake shoes are adjusted with a brake spoon by turning the star wheel

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Fig. Fig. 2 On models with 5 lug hubs, the brakes are adjusted through the brake drum ...

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Fig. Fig. 3 ... whereas, on vehicles with 4 lug wheels, the brakes are adjusted from the backing plate

All models are equipped with dual hydraulic brake systems in accordance with federal regulations. In case of a hydraulic system failure, 1 / 2 braking efficiency will be retained.

All type 1 models (except the Karmann Ghia), and type 2 models are equipped with front drum brakes. Discs are used at the front of 1967-69 type 1 Karmann Ghias and all type 3 models. All models use rear drum brakes.

Disc brakes are self-adjusting and cannot be adjusted by hand. As the pads wear, they will automatically compensate for the wear by moving closer to the disc, maintaining the proper operating clearance.

Drum brakes, however, must be manually adjusted to take up excess clearance as the shoes wear. To adjust drum brakes, both front and rear, it is necessary to jack up the car and support it on jackstands. The wheel must spin freely. On the backing plate there are four inspection holes with a rubber plug in each hole. Two of the holes are for checking the thickness of the brake lining and the other two are used for adjustment.

There is an adjustment for each brake shoe. That means that on each wheel it is necessary to make two adjustments: one for each shoe on that wheel.

The only equipment needed to adjust the drum brakes of the Volkswagen is a screwdriver. Pre-1966 Volkswagens have an adjuster hole in the outside of the brake drum for the purpose of adjustment. Models of 1966 and later have adjustment holes in the back plate.

Before adjusting the brakes press the pedal down several times to centralize the shoes in the drums. Turn the wheel so that an adjusting nut is visible through the adjustment hole. Using the screwdriver, turn the adjustment nut until a slight drag is felt when the wheel is rotated by hand. At this point, back off the adjusting nut until the wheel turns freely (about 3 or 4 teeth of the adjusting nut will pass the adjustment hole). Move on to the other adjusting nut of the wheel. The adjustment nuts on each wheel turn in opposite directions, so whichever direction of rotation was needed to tighten one shoe will loosen the adjustment of the other shoe. The handbrake is adjusted by means of adjusting nuts at the rear of the control lever inside the car. However, when the rear brakes are adjusted, the handbrake is automatically adjusted also. If this is not enough to hold the rear wheels at 4 notches, the hand brake should be adjusted by means of the adjusting nuts. When the brake lever is applied by 2 notches, both rear wheels should resist turning by an equal amount of force. If for some reason, it were necessary to use the handbrake to stop in an emergency, it could be dangerous if both rear wheels did not tend to lock equally.

One of the star wheels in each wheel has left-hand threads and the other star wheel has right-hand threads.

Repeat the above procedure on each wheel equipped with drum brakes.