Here's a letter from Down-Under about some interesting experiences with a VW.  Thanks for the note David!

Dear Bob,
Congrat's on your fantastic "Mr Fixit" web site. It has a lot of useful information I just haven't seen anywhere else.
I live in Australia, and I was amazed at the technology of your American automobiles - for example, ABS introduced in the 70's. You of course have GM & GMC (or are they the same?) and they seem to be really popular over there. It would appear that since the early 80's your cars in these model lines and others have all been fuel injected, and as such most of your readers' letters seem to revolve around problems with computer systems and sensors, injectors etc. which none of the cars I have ever had any close contact with have. So I though of writing you about the only car I can think of that doesn't have fuel injection & is still well-known and used enough to perhaps be of some use on your page - the (old) Volkswagen Beetle.
I know that there is a huge cult following of the Volkswagen Beetle on the 'net, but I thought I'd list just a couple of weird problems I encountered with a '64 Beetle I owned once (appologies in advance for the length):
Worn-out clutch release bearing (throw-out bearing)
I was about 17 at the time and well into working on my Beetle, which I had done a rather minor restoration job on since getting it in poor shape about 6 months earlier. I had pulled the motor at least once, and on both occasions observed the throw-out bearing to be in good condition. "What a heck of a job it would be to replace that bearing", I thought. I had read the manual through at least once and knew what to look for. One day after I changed the oil (hint), I started her up and went to drive off. On depressing the clutch pedal, I noticed a disturbing grating noise. Whoa. I tested it again and again, and there was definitely a noise there that only appeared when I worked the clutch. My father said it would go for a while making that noise, so I drove it around for a while, still pondering the arduous task of pulling the motor (again). When the time came, however, to get serious, I lifted the deck lid and inspected the engine carefully. I soon noticed that the lid off the oil filler was off. Looking for it, I discovered that it had fallen onto the tinware around the pulley on the engine. That was strange. But that couldn't be causing my problem, could it? I replaced the cap and started the motor, checking the action of the clutch. Sure enough, the noise was gone. Yay, I didn't have to pull the motor. But how come it only made the noise when I clutched in? Well, VW owners of old VW engines would probably have realised by now. You see, my motor had many, many K's (or miles rather) on it, and the crankshaft end float was well over the maximum of the 16 thou of an inch stated in the manual - it was about a quarter of an inch. The pulley would visibly move in and out considerably when you pushed/pulled it by hand. And, of course, the same thing happened when using the clutch pedal - the release bearing would press against the pressure plate at the other end of the crankshaft, and the whole lot slid towards the back of the motor, grinding the oil filler cap between the pulley and the tinware, making a very convincing bearing-wear sound. After that, when I put oil in (which was, as you can imagine, several times per week with that motor), I was more careful to remember to replace the filler cap!
The power problem
I had all sorts of troubles with the carby on the next motor I put in that bug. I ended up installing a recon-kit and spent quite some time replacing wires, carby bits, tubes and generally tidying the engine bay. Eventually, the engine ran smoothly, and continued to do so for about 12 months. Then one day, when driving in town, I encountered a bizarre problem wherein I could depress the accelerator to the floor and nothing would happen (not unusual for just about any stock beetle, really). The motor would rev high as you like with clutch in, but in gear there was just no throttle response. I could sort of rev it high in neutral and slip the clutch a bit and get it going for a little way, but this was very poor. I ended up driving it at real high revs for the rest of that day, frightening some people in a multi-story carpark (a VW with exhaust pipe baffles removed and 45 degree tips revved high is LOUD), until I could get it home. I just lifted the deck lid and looked at it. For the past month I had been crawling all over that damned car, hunting a myriad of little problems and replacing every bit of wire, every pipe, every cable I thought existed in a bug. In particular, I had replaced much of the engine bay, in which I was sure was the problem. Anyway, my dad came to look at it, and in no time, he had removed all the excess tape/ties/etc. from the main wiring harness (which in a VW like that is about 6 wires) and discovered a very well concealed break in the ignition wire to the coil. It was broken in half, completely, with just the two bare ends sort of held up against each other. On accellerating, the motor would twist on its rubber mounts (later replaced), and pull on the wire ever-so-slightly, breaking the ignition circuit. In less than an hour dad had replaced the wire and the car was running fine again... well, as good as ever it did run.
Sorry about the length of this email.




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