Volkswagen Front Wheel Drive 1974-1989 Repair Guide



Repair Information for Volkswagen Front Wheel Drive vehicles is intended to help you learn more about your car (or pick-up) and save you money on its upkeep and operation. This guide also covers most aspects of the Quantum Syncro, Volkswagen's full-time 4 wheel drive model.

The first two sections will be the most used, since they contain basic maintenance procedures and tune-up information. Later sections deal with the more complex systems of your vehicle. Systems from the engine through the brakes are covered to the extent that the average do-it-yourselfer can perform seemingly difficult operations with confidence. It will give you detailed instructions to help you change your own brake pads and shoes, replace plugs, and do many more jobs that will save you money and help you avoid expensive problems.

This guide can also be used as a reference for owners who want to understand their vehicle and/or their mechanics better. Before undertaking any repair, read through the entire procedure. This will give you the overall view of what tools and supplies will be required. Read ahead and plan ahead. When overhauling a defective part is not considered practical, we tell you how to remove the part and how to install a new or rebuilt part. Rebuilt parts of excellent quality are, in many cases, readily available. These generally carry a guarantee similar to that of a new part. Since the price of these parts is usually much lower than that of a new part and the quality is often comparable, the option to purchase a rebuilt part should never be overlooked. When working on your vehicle, remember that whenever the left side is referred to, it is meant to specify the driver's side. Conversely, the right side refers to the passenger's side.

Safety is always the most important rule. Constantly be aware of the dangers involved in working on or underneath any automobile or truck and always take the proper precautions. (See the section on Servicing your Vehicle Safely and the SAFETY NOTICE on the acknowledgment page.)

Pay attention to the instructions provided. There are three common mistakes in mechanical work:

  1. Incorrect order of assembly, disassembly or adjustment. When taking something apart or putting it together, doing things in the wrong order often just costs you extra time, however it can break something. Read the entire procedure before beginning disassembly. Do everything in the order in which the instructions say you should do it, even if you can't immediately see a reason for it. When you're taking apart something that is very complex, you might want to make a drawing or take a picture of how it looks when assembled in order to make sure you get everything back in its proper position. We will supply exploded views whenever possible. When making adjustments, especially tune-up adjustments, do them in order. Occasionally one adjustment affects another and you cannot expect satisfactory results unless each adjustment is made only when it cannot be changed by any other.
  3. Overtorquing (or undertorquing). While it is more common for overtorquing to cause damage, undertorquing can cause a fastener to vibrate loose causing serious damage. Especially when dealing with aluminum parts, pay attention to torque specifications and utilize a torque wrench in assembly. If a torque figure is not available, remember that if you are using the right tool to do the job, you will probably not have to strain yourself to get a fastener tight enough. The pitch of most threads is so slight that the tension you put on the wrench will be multiplied many, many times in actual force on what you are tightening. A good example of how critical torque is can be seen in the case of spark plug installation, especially when you are putting the plug into an aluminum cylinder head. Too little torque can fail to crush the gasket, causing leakage of combustion gases and consequent loss of power and overheating of the plug and engine parts. Too much torque can damage the threads or distort the plug, which changes the spark gap. There are many commercial products available for ensuring that fasteners won't come loose, even if they are not torqued just right (a very common brand is Loctite®). If you're worried about getting something together tight enough to hold, but loose enough to avoid mechanical damage during assembly, one of these product might offer substantial insurance. Read the label on the package and make sure the product is compatible with the materials, fluids, etc. involved before choosing one.
  5. Crossthreading. This occurs when a part such as a bolt is screwed into a nut or casting at the wrong angle and forced. Crossthreading is more likely to occur if access is difficult. It helps to clean and lubricate fasteners, and to start threading with the part to be installed going straight in. Start the bolt, spark plug, etc. with your fingers. If you encounter resistance, unscrew the part and start over again, don't force it or resist a change in angle. Don't put a wrench on the part until it's been turned a couple of times by hand. If you suddenly encounter resistance, and the part has not seated fully, don't force it. Take it back out and make sure it's clean and threading properly. Always take your time and be patient; once you have some experience, working on your vehicle can become an enjoyable hobby.