Volkswagen Air-Cooled 1970-1981 Repair Guide

Breaker Points and Condenser


See Figure 1

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: Exploded view of typical breaker points and condenser mounting used on all 1970-81 Volkswagen models


  1. Release the spring clips which secure the distributor cap and lift the cap from the distributor. Pull the rotor from the distributor shaft.
  3. Disconnect the points wire from the condenser snap connection inside the distributor.
  5. Remove the locking screw from the stationary breaker point.
  7. To remove the condenser, which is located on the outside of the distributor, remove the screw which secures the condenser bracket and condenser connection to the distributor.
  9. Disconnect the condenser wire from the coil.
  11. With a clean rag, wipe the excess oil from the breaker plate.

Make sure that the new point contacts are clean and oil free.

  1. Installation of the point set and condenser is the reverse of the above; however, it will be necessary to adjust the point gap, also known as the dwell angle, and check the timing. Lubricate the point cam with a small amount of lithium or white grease. Set the dwell angle, or gap, before the ignition timing.


See Figure 2

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Fig. Fig. 2: It is vital that the surfaces of the breaker points are properly aligned to avoid premature wear

  1. Remove the distributor cap and rotor.
  3. Turn the engine by hand until the fiber rubbing block on the movable breaker point rests on a high point of the cam lobe. The point gap is the maximum distance between the points and must be set at the top of a cam lobe.
  5. Using a screwdriver, slightly loosen the locking screw. Make sure that the feeler gauge is clean. After tightening the screw, recheck the gap.
  7. Move the stationary point plate so that the gap is set as specified and then tighten the screw. Make sure that the feeler gauge is clean. After tightening the screw, recheck the gap.
  9. It is important to set the point gap before setting the timing.


Setting the dwell angle with a dwell meter achieves the same effect as setting the point gap but offers better accuracy.

The dwell must be set before setting the timing. Setting the dwell will alter the timing, but when the timing is set, the dwell will not change.

Attach the positive lead of the dwell meter to the coil terminal which has a wire leading to the distributor. The negative lead should be attached to a good ground.

Remove the distributor cap and rotor. Turn the ignition ON and turn the engine over using the starter or a remote starter switch. Read the dwell from the meter and open or close the points to adjust the dwell.

Increasing the gap decreases the dwell and decreasing the gap increases the dwell.

Dwell specifications are listed in the "Tune-Up Specifications" chart.

Reinstall the cap and rotor and start the engine.