Volkswagen Air-Cooled 1970-1981 Repair Guide

Fluid Level Checks



See Figure 1

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Fig. Fig. 1: The oil dipstick is located near the right-hand side of the crankshaft pulley-upright 1600cc engine shown

To check the engine oil level, park the car on level ground and wait 5 minutes to allow all the oil in the engine to drain into the crankcase.

Check the oil level by withdrawing the dipstick and wiping it clean. Insert the dipstick into its hole and note the position of the oil level on the bottom of the stick. The level should be between the two marks on the bottom of the stick, preferably closer to the top mark. The distance between the two marks represents one quart of oil.

On upright fan engines, the dipstick is located directly beneath the generator or alternator; oil is added through the capped opening beside the generator/alternator support post. On Type 2 suitcase engines through 1979, the dipstick is located next to the alternator with the oil filler right beside it. On the 1980-81 Type 2 the dipstick is accessible by pulling down the hinged license plate holder: the filler cap is below it. On the Type 3 the dipstick and filler are located in the lower door jamb of the rear compartment lid. On Type 4 two door and four door models, the dipstick is located at the center of the engine next to the oil filler cap: on wagon models, it is under the rear door jamb.


Manual Transaxle

See Figure 2

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Fig. Fig. 2: On automatic stick shift equipped models, the transaxle fluid dipstick and fill tube are located on the right inner fender in the engine bay

The oil level is checked by removing the 17 mm socket head plug located on the driver's side of the transaxle. The oil level should be even with the hole when the vehicle is level. Check it with your finger.

Do not fill the transaxle too quickly because it may overflow from the filler hole and give the impression that the unit has been filled when it has not.

Top up as necessary with SAE 90 gear oil.

Automatic Stick Shift Transaxle


The automatic Stick Shift transaxle is checked by means of a dipstick. The oil level should be between two marks at the bottom of the stick. The engine should be warm when the transmission oil level is checked. Top up as necessary with DEXRONreg;.

The engine must be turned off when checking the transmission oil level.

TYPES 2, 3 AND 4

Automatic transaxles are checked in the same manner as Automatic Stick Shift transaxles, except that the engine should be running at an idle, transaxle in Neutral, and parking brake firmly applied. Top up as necessary with DEXRONreg; through the transaxle dipstick tube located above the distributor (Type 2) or above the air manifold pipes (Types 3 and 4). The difference between the two marks on the dipstick is less than one pint. On all Type 2 and 4 models and on Squareback Type 3 models, the dipstick is accessible through the hatch in the luggage compartment. On Fastback Type 3 models, the dipstick is reached through the rear engine lid.


See Figures 3 and 4

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Fig. Fig. 3: The brake master cylinder reservoir is located on the left inner fender in the luggage area-remove the cap ...

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Fig. Fig. 4: ... and fill the reservoir to the proper level with clean brake fluid

The brake fluid reservoir is located above the clutch pedal on 1970 Type 2 models, behind the drivers seat on 1971-72 Type 2 models, under the driver's seat on 1973-79 Type 2's and under the instrument cluster on 1980-81 Vanagons. It is located in the front luggage compartment on all other models. The fluid level in all vehicles should be above the upper seam of the reservoir. On 1973-79 Type 2 models, the fluid level is visible through a cutout beneath the seat. Fill the reservoir only with the new, clean heavy-duty brake fluid. If the vehicle is equipped with disc brakes make sure the fluid is marked for use with disc brakes. All fluid used should meet DOT 3, DOT 4, or SAE J1703 specifications.


Automatic Transaxle Only - All Types

The filler hole is in basically the same position as on the manual transaxle. Make sure the oil level is even with the bottom of the hole when the vehicle is level. Fill the differential housing with 90W hypoid oil.

The differential gears are lubricated by the transaxle oil on manual transaxle models.


The rack and pinion steering systems used on the 1975 and later Type 1 Super Beetle and Convertible and the 1980-81 Type 2 Vanagon are sealed systems which do not need regular maintenance.

Types 1 and 3 except the 1971-74 Super Beetle and 1971-74 Beetle Convertible, are filled with 5.4 ozs of gear oil which is added to a plug at the top of the gearbox. The 1971-74 Super Beetle and 1971-74 Convertible hold 5.9 ozs of steering gear oil. The Type 2 holds 9.4 ozs of gear oil in the steering gear box. Type 4 holds 9 ozs.

Unless the steering gear box has been rebuilt or is leaking severely, there is no reason to add or change gear box oil.