Friday, April 30, 2010


The Beetle gearbox is very long-lived provided that it is not abused. In time, though, even this robust unit can develop annoying noises when under way. Gearbox noises do not necessarily indicate serious problems, and many people learn to live with them as long as they don't become too loudl A noisy gearbox can last for years. Some gearbox problems, however, are more terminal and, after you have gone to the trouble of restoring your Beetle, it would be heartbreaking to have to remove the engine and transaxle because of some developing fault. Stripping, inspecting and rebuilding a gearbox is no task for a novice, and there are some convincing arguments for opting instead for a complete exchange reconditioned unit.
The individual gears in a gearbox mesh with the laygear cluster, and excess or uneven wear in just one gear in time wears the laygear teeth out of true. If you replace a noisy (damaged) gear, then you should really also replace the laygear cluster because this meshes and has worn with it, which means replacing all of the other gears as well, because the laygear teeth wilt have worn in concert with the teeth of each of the gears! In short, a complete rebuild using all-new components is required, which is always more expensive (assuming that you can obtain the components) than an exchange reconditioned unit. The lower cost alternative is to fit another gearbox salvaged from a scrap Beetle. Buying such a unit privately from a classified advertisTent is risky, buying from a general breaker's gives a guarantee of replacement if the 'box turns out to be faulty: the best option is buy to from a specialist Beetle restorer or breaker.
Whilst replacing the gearbox, consideration should be given to fitting urethane axle gaiters and a urethane gearshift coupling. These are more robust and long-lived than the original rubber items. The starter motor support bush is located in the transaxle casing and, if worn, the starter can become at first noisy and later it may jam. Offer the starter front spigot into this bush and feel for excess play. It may prove necessary to replace the bush – work best undertaken by an automotive engineer. The differential shares the transaxle housing with the gear assembly and again it is recommended that any problems be dealt with by a transmission specialist: These businesses can be found in many large towns and, although some will refuse to work on the Beetle transaxle, the better ones will be happy to inspect your transaxle and undertake any necessary repairs. When you come to box up your Beetle, pay especial attention to the condition of the plate which sits on the spine around the gearshift lever aperture. The two folded protrusions must point upwards and the pressing must be replaced if these are worn. One of the two lugs prevents the driver from shifting into reverse unless the lever is pressed firmly downwards: when the lugs arc worn it is ail too easy when changing down from third gear to inadvertently go straight across the gate to reverse – not only embarrassing but also hard on the gear teeth!

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