Volkswagen Air-Cooled 1970-1981 Repair Guide

Wheel Cylinder



WARNING Clean, high quality brake fluid is essential to the safe and proper operation of the brake system. You should always buy the highest quality brake fluid that is available. If the brake fluid becomes contaminated, drain and flush the system, then refill the master cylinder with new fluid. Never reuse any brake fluid. Any brake fluid that is removed from the system should be discarded.

1. Remove the brake shoes.

  1. On Type 1 models, disconnect the brake line from the rear of the cylinder. On Type 2 models, disconnect the brake line from the rear of the cylinder and transfer line from the front of the cylinder.
  3. Remove the bolts which secure the cylinder to the backing plate and remove the cylinder from the vehicle.
  5. Installation is the reverse of the removal procedure. Bleed the brakes.


See Figures 1 and 2

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: Exploded view of the wheel cylinder used on the front of Type 1 models and on the rear of Types 1, 3 and 4 models

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 2: Exploded view of the front wheel cylinder used on Type 2 models

  1. Remove the wheel cylinder.
  3. Remove the brake adjusters and remove the rubber boot from each end.

The Type 2 cylinder has only one rubber boot, piston, and cup. The rebuilding procedures are the same.

  1. On Type 1 models, push in on one of the pistons to force out the opposite piston and rubber cup. On Type 2 models, remove the piston and cup by blowing compressed air into the brake hose hole.
  3. Wash the pistons and cylinder in clean brake fluid or alcohol.
  5. Inspect the cylinder bore for signs of pitting, scoring, and excessive wear. If it is badly scored or pitted, the whole cylinder should be replaced. It is possible to remove the glaze and light scores with crocus cloth or a brake cylinder hone. Before rebuilding the cylinder, make sure the bleeder screw is free. If the bleeder is rusted shut or broken off, replace the entire cylinder.
  7. Dip the new pistons and rubber cups in brake fluid. Place the spring in the bore and insert the rubber cups into the bore against the spring. The concave side of the rubber cup should face inward.
  9. Place the pistons in the bore and install the rubber boot.
  11. Install the cylinder and bleed the brakes after the shoes and drum are in place. Make sure that the brakes are adjusted.