Volkswagen Golf/Jetta/Cabriole 1990-1999

Engine Oil


Engine Oil Recommendations

Gasoline Engines

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Fig. Look for the API oil identification label when choosing your engine oil

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) grade number indicates the viscosity of the engine oil, and thus its ability to lubricate at a given temperature. The lower the SAE grade number, the lighter the oil. The lower the viscosity, the easier it is to crank the engine in cold weather. Oil viscosity's should be chosen from those oils recommended for the lowest anticipated temperatures during the oil change interval. Multi-viscosity oils (10W-30, 20W-50, etc.) offer the important advantage of being adaptable to temperature extremes. They allow easy starting at low temperatures, yet give good protection at high speeds and engine temperatures. This is a decided advantage in changeable climates or in long distance touring. The API (American Petroleum Institute) designation indicates the classification of engine oil for use under given operating conditions. Only oils designated for use Service SF or SG should be used. Oils of the SF or SG type perform a variety of functions inside the engine in addition to the basic function as a lubricant. Through a balanced system of metallic detergents and polymeric dispersants, the oil prevents the formation of high and low temperature deposits, and also keeps sludge and dirt particles in suspension. Acids, particularly sulfuric acid, as well as other by-products of combustion, are neutralized. Both the SAE grade number and the API designation can be found somewhere on the container.

Non-detergent or straight mineral oils must never be used.

Oil must be selected with regard to the anticipated temperatures during the period before the next oil change. Using the chart, select the oil viscosity prior to the next oil change for the lowest expected temperature and you will be assured of easy cold starting and sufficient engine protection.

Diesel Engines

Engine oils should be selected from the accompanying chart. The SAE viscosity number should be chosen for the lowest anticipated temperature at which the engine will be required to start, not for the temperature at the time the oil is changed. Use only oils designated by the API (American Petroleum Institute) for service "CC" or "CD". The letters should appear somewhere on the oil can for example "SF/CC" or "SG/CD". This indicates that the oil provides protection from rust, corrosion and high temperature deposits in diesel engines in moderate to severe service.


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Fig. Remove the engine oil dipstick to check the oil level

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Fig. Wipe the dipstick with a shop towel and then reinsert it into the tube

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Fig. The engine oil level should fall between the arrowed section of the stick

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Fig. Remove the oil filler cap by twisting it

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Fig. Use a funnel when adding oil to avoid any spills

Engine oil level should be checked weekly. Always check the oil with the car on level ground and after the engine has been shut off for about five minutes. The oil dipstick is either located on the front side of engine or on the driver's side near the fuel pump.

  1. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean.
  3. Reinsert the dipstick.
  5. Remove the dipstick again. The oil level should be between the two marks. On the flat rod type dipstick, the level between the MIN and MAX marks is approximately 0.75L (0.79 quart).
  7. Add oil through the capped opening on the top of the valve cover. Wipe up any spilled oil.

Oil & Filter Change

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Fig. Remove the drain plug

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Fig. Allow the oil to drain

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Fig. Install a new washer on the oil drain plug

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Fig. Remove the used oil filter and install a new one

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Fig. Before installing a new oil filter, lightly coat the rubber gasket with clean oil

Change the oil according to the maintenance interval chart in this Section. This interval is only for average driving. Change the oil and filter more frequently if your car is being used under dusty conditions or mostly stop and go city traffic, where acid and sludge buildup is a problem. When draining the oil, warm oil will flow easier and more contaminants will be removed. Dispose of use oil in accordance with state or local regulations.

  1. Run the engine until it reaches the normal operating temperature.
  3. Raise and safely support the front of the car on jack stands.
  5. If equipped, remove the splash/sound shield from beneath the vehicle.
  7. Slide a drain pan under the oil pan drain plug.
  9. Loosen the drain plug with a socket or box wrench, and then remove it by hand. Push in lightly on the plug as you turn it out, so that no oil escapes until the plug is completely removed.
  11. While the oil is draining, check the condition of the copper gasket on the plug. If it looks split or badly deformed, replace it to avoid an oil leak.
  13. After the oil is drained, install the plug and torque it to 22 ft. lbs.
  15. On 4 cylinder models, proceed as follows:
    1. Using a strap-type wrench, or other oil filter-removing tool of your choice, loosen the oil filter from its housing.
    3. Carefully lower the filter from its mounting, direct the filter into the oil pan and drain it before disposal.
    5. Clean the oil filter seating area with a clean rag.
    7. Lightly oil the rubber seal on the new filter and spin it on to the base. When the seal contacts the sealing surface, give it an additional 1 / 2 to 3 / 4 turn. Tightening the filter more than this will not improve sealing, but just make it harder to remove the next time.

  17. On VR6 models, proceed as follows:
    1. Remove the drain plug from the bottom of the oil filter housing, and drain the oil from the housing. Once the oil has drained from the filter housing, install the drain plug, using a new O-ring. Lightly lubricate the O-ring with clean engine oil before assembly. Tighten the drain plug to 89 inch lbs. (10 Nm).
    3. Using a large socket, unscrew the lower portion of the oil filter housing, and remove the oil filter element.
    5. Install the new oil filter element, using a new O-ring on the lower portion of the housing. Lightly lubricate the O-ring with clean engine oil before assembly. Tighten the lower housing to 22 ft. lbs. (30 Nm).

  19. Refill the engine with the proper (amount and viscosity) of new oil. The empty containers can be used to return the used oil for recycling.
  21. If equipped, install the splash/sound shield beneath the vehicle.
  23. Lower the front of the car.
  25. Run the engine and check for leaks.
  27. If necessary, add oil (in small increments to avoid overfilling) as necessary to obtain a proper dipstick reading.