VW Maintenance Toolkit

by Richard Atwell
(c) Copyright 2004-2011

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Thinking about doing your own maintenance? It's a very good idea because good VW mechanics are hard to come by and monkeys are everywhere who will throw away your NLA parts, lose metric nuts and washers, convert your FI to carbs, strip the spark plug threads, over-torque fasteners and worse.

Lucky for us, VW designed a people's car that was mechanically accessible to the owner. They are dead simple to work on and you only need a few inexpensive tools to get started. These are the list of tools that VW recommended in 1973. Obviously the toolkit isn't available anymore but you can cobble together the necessary tools separately.


Factory Toolbag:

vw toolkit

My comments:

1. Allen wrench, 17mm - Get a 3/8" socket made by EMPI from your local VW parts dealer. You can still get the original style tool but you'll get more leverage from a ratchet and be able to torque up the socket on the transmission more easily.

2. A 13/16" spark plug socket is what you're really looking for.

Here's a color version of the ZVW 117 101 toolkit from the 1973 accessories catalog. See page 18 and another photo I found at Montie's website (sadly, he passed away recently):

vw rollup

Tune-up Tools:

vw extras

Comments:

1. I can't think of what you'll need a 9mm socket for except for the bolt that holds the throwout bearing guide onto the bell housing.

2. This is only for the dual carb linkage. Holding the FI throttle open is harder.

3. Get something with a bleeding valve (dial based, not digital).

4. This is for removing the brake pads. Get a straight punch, not tapered as shown.

5. Get one with a wide opening and longer neck so the thick oil doesn't back up and overflow

6. Oil doesn't come in cans anymore. Skip this tool.

7. I prefer an eye dropper.

8. Get the piston grip variety so you can hold the hose on the zerk with your other hand while you pump.

9. Get a real mans torque wrench not the "dork wrench" type with the needle.

10. Get a pair of jack stands from Sears rated for 3 tons.

11. Get a Sunpro CP767 Dwell/Tach meter from eBay for $15. They are getting harder to find, but they are the best deal out there.

12. Sears makes a durable timing light for $49. I'd avoid the plastic cased ones.

13. You don't need this. Tighten the oil filter hand tight only.

14. You only need a Unisyn if you have dual carbs. The STE sycrometer works better.

15. Get some vice grips in addition to an adjustable wrench.

Specialty Tools:

It's obvious from the recommended tool selection VW didn't want you doing your own brakes, suspension and steering work. Don't let that stop you.

xzn tool 1. CV joint tool. This is an XZN or "triple-square" bit. It's not a Torx and essential. Some older cv joint bolts use hex (allen) head so be sure not to mix the two.

Get this from any VW vendor. If you think you will be helping out friends, I recommend getting a better quality version like the Hazet 990Lg-8.

lockring pliers 2. Lock ring pliers for removing CV joints. Not as beefy as the factory tool VW 161A.

Find this at any auto parts store.

plug gapper 3. I prefer using a spark pug gapping tool to a feeler gauge so I can bend the electrode carefully. Many styles of this tool exist.

NLA.

tie rod puller 3. Tie-rod puller. You must have this special tool or you will struggle endlessly vs. 15s to pop them out.

Search the web for Sir Tools 1014.

cv joint puller 4. Sears Puller for CV joints. Some CV joints slip off and others require a puller. This is a 2-arm puller and not the best to use.

See the Kukko catalog.

ramps 5. A pair of ramps. Very handy for oil changes. I made my own but you can buy inexpensive "Rhino" ramps these days.

Any auto parts store.

lube pump 6. Gear lube pump for manual transmissions. Very hard to refill otherwise because of the location of the fill plug.

Any auto parts store.

vac gauge 7. Vacuum gauge. Extremely useful for diagnosing engine problems and vacuum leaks (especially for fuel injected engines). Also useful for adjusting EGR valve.

Any auto parts store.

compression tester 8. Compression tester. The easiest way to test the health of the engine.

Any auto parts store.

brake bleeder 9. Pressurized brake bleeder. Way easier than trying to do it with two people by pumping the brake pedal.

$45 at Pelican Parts

fuel line clamp 10. Fuel line clamps. Until you've tried them, don't knock them next time you have to change your fuel filter.

Search the web for SF12975 (by Stahlwille).

hose 11. Some 3/16" hose for bleeding the brakes.

Any hardware store.

flywheel lock 12. Flywheel lock needed for changing the clutch. This universal unit doesn't fit 228mm flywheel without some help from a box wrench or nut.

Look for factory tool VW 215C.

remote starter 13. Remote starter switch. Very handy for compression tests.

Any auto parts store.

leakdown tester 14. Leak-down tester. If you have access to a compressed air source this is a more thorough test than a compression test.

I recommend getting E2A from Eastern Technology.

infrared gun 15. Infrared temp gun. Kinda frivolous but useful for determining what kind of exhaust paint you need, oil temps etc.

Many companies sell these online (this brand is Raytek which is now part of Fluke).

pressure gauge 16. FI pressure tester. You must have a 60psi gauge for testing the fuel pressure if you have a FI bus. You only need some fuel line and a clamp in order to attach it to the fuel rail (no special adapters needed).

I bought a suitable gauge and made the rest myself.

axle tools 17. 46mm socket and 3/4" sliding t-handle to remove rear axle nut.

Sears.

floor jack 18. Floor jack is pretty handy. An ATV jack is even handier for engine removal.

Sears (look for a sale that included two jack stands).

flarenut wrench 19. 11mm flare nut wrenches to change the brake hoses.

Your favorite tool company.


Traveling Items:

Having tools on the road isn't much good unless you also have part when you break down. Always carry the following so you don't get stranded over $5-10 in parts.


My Setup:

I check the tune of my engine every 6 months. This is what I use and what the VW dealer used although using far more expensive versions.

my setp

09/07/11: The LM-1 is no longer available. It has been replaced by the more capable LM-2 for $349

05/07/09: The best price for the Innovate LM-1 AFR meter is currently $279 at Titan Motorsports.


References:

History:

04/08/04 - Created
06/27/06 - Added some more comments to each photo.
09/07/11 - Fixed broken photos, added translate button, updated footer