5 years, 6 months ago 0
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About me


Expert Air Cooled Volkswagen Repair

Bob Hays

831 402 2266

Monterey, worth the trip, by appointment or I come to you and evaluate, possibly repair at your location




I make air cooled Volkswagens viable transportation


I make handbrakes work and I do excellent brake work


I repair steering and suspension


I make front hoods open with the cable like they’re supposed to


I make horns work, like in your  68 to 74 bay window bus


I make gas fumes go away


Just because you bought a rebuilt engine from a far away place put together will all brand new parts assembled by someone with ten million years of experience doesn’t mean the engine was worth giving money for.


Not so with me. I build beautiful engines, both type 1 and type 4


I can fix major things and minor things. But given the age of most of these vehicles is around 40 plus years old, they need pretty much everything. In this long lifetime, many people have had their hands all over a given vehicle. Some of these people do good things; others – not so good.


There are zillions of ads on the internet with zillions of parts for sale. Some of these parts are good, some are bad. But most of the ads imply that fixing an old VW is easy – buy this, put it on, your done. Well, Volkswagens my be easy to work on but they’re also easy to fck up. I see mostly the latter. Much of the work I do is cleaning up other people’s messes.


People don’t restore cars to do anyone a favor or make the world a better place. Often a restored car is nothing more than a FISHING LURE – looks flawless everywhere, and nothing works.


Example – 66 type 3 sold to someone in Santa Cruz, California. Shipped to Santa Cruz from Las Vegas, Nevada. Owner receives car – undriveable. Seller agrees to have car shipped back to Vegas to be fixed. After “fixing”, Santa Cruz owner is assured vehicle is fixed. Owner receives car, nothing has changed …


It will only go into third and fourth gear, barely runs. Pass door hanging so low, it must be slammed very har to shut, almost touches the paint when it is shut. Roll up windows only go up and down with massive effort. This will lead to breaking winder handles, which were original and in really nice condition. Door locks don’t work, even though key is correct. Turn signals don’t work, switch moves around on steering column. Windshield wipers park in the middle of windshield. New repro vinyl dash cover unattached – just laying on the dash although the grab handle above the glove box was keeping it from dropping to the floor.. I had to remove the windshield to fix that. Handbrake useless. Cooling air intake boot for engine fan halfway installed. It was perfect original but deformed due to incomplete installation. Made it real hard to put on correctly. New repros – they shouldn’t be used – too soft, they try to collapse as engine rpm is increased and restrict the flow of cooling air for the engine – they make the engine run hotter. Rear hatch had to  be slammed to shut. Drain pans for vent at front of windshield (found under top part of dash) were held in with 2 screws each, should be three. As effective as a 2 legged bar stool. Sealing rubber for both are new, ineffective. both are ineffective. This will lead to a floor full of water when washing or in the rain. The original, NOS outta the box stock PDSIT carbs were jetted entirely wrong for the dual port engine in the car. That’s the main reason the vehicle couldn’t even be driven along with the fact that the accelerator pumps delivered no fuel because the return springs found at the diaphragm were too long. That was a shock. NOS ? Right rear axle seal leaked 90 weight oil onto brake shoes making them unusable – likely the spacer was installed after the seal with retainer was installed. You can’t do that. All brake drums had been turned way over the limit. Gas gauge float was bad. No lights in dash at speedometer or gas gauge. Had a bug dome light – they don’t fit. Rear one was broken. Ft passenger side turn signal lens badly cracked – only held in by one screw. Needs 2. The crack made it so there was no place to put the second screw. Horn was present, wiring into steering column was not. The bolts and nuts that connect the steering column to the steering box were loose. True.Shift bushing was new, shift coupling retainer was old and worn – as most of them are since replacing the retainer requires removal of spot welds and much more, and it’s a really dirty job. The shift coupling was wrong thus it wouldn’t go into 1st or 2nd gear. Even though every parts list you see says type 3 shift couplings are the same as later bug and bus, they’re not. The set screw is oriented on a slightly different angle than all other models. Really. And the new owner had a transmission put in before it came to me. Why? But I made it shift perfectly.  Maybe the trans it came with was ok? Pop out windows wouldn’t shut all the way – massive water leak. Bad aftermarket seals. Lotta work to change these. One wiper arm was the wrong one – it was rigged to make it stay put but was useless if the wipers were being used. There’s more. The engine? I was decent. But there’s a lot more to a car than an engine. The carbs – well, engine can’t work too good if everything attached to it isn’t working right. There’s plenty more. I fixed it all. I’d drive it to New York no problem. And back.


This is how I build an engine  …




I can make any air cooled Volkswagen pass smog. I have an emissions tester. If your vehicle won’t pass, I can make repairs, take it to my preferred smog shop, and have it done. Evidence of a passed smog check is electronically sent to the DMV and your sticker is mailed to you or you can pick it up at the DMV in person before they have a chance to mail it. However, if registration fees have already been paid, in the event of you being pulled over, law enforcement will have online evidence that registration fees have been paid and the vehicle passed smog. Thus, no ticket.


I’m expert in all stock forms of fuel injection – bug, bus, and type 3


I can make the original, stock  Solex PDSIT carburetors work on any engine from 1500 all the way up to a 2 liter type 4 engine in a late bus. No need for Weber ICT’s when PDSIT’s are superior in every way. Thus, I can make your squareback run like it’s supposed to run.


I make door locks work like new, often with no parts required


I fix windows. The aforementioned type 3 – the first thing I looked for was a pair of NOS vent wing latches. Old ones were pretty wiggly. I now NOS is nice. Repro? The question is, how long before the fall apart or break? Then there’s the wind whistle issue if they don’t shut the window completely.


I make sliding doors work like new. Usually, at the most, need a spring. However, bay from 74 and up is more likely than earlier years to need the front latch replaced.


I fix windshield wipers


I make Volkswagens QUIET. The official volkswagen term for muffler is “silencer”.


I make glove compartments behave


I make vent wings work like they’re supposed to


I fix charging systems and intermittent starting problems related to the starter.


I fix pretty much anything on an old Volkswagen and my repairs last


I can make the heater work like it’s supposed to. VW’s have excellent heaters. It’s more of just a misconception that they don’t. Or maybe just an old wives; tale. I can make your bus defrost – 200 Fahrenheit plus at the dash, and plenty of it. Great for a Yellowstone morning in November.


If I tune up your vehicle, I guarantee it’ll run better in a way you can actually feel.


An example of what I do …


The best way to fix the heater in a bay window bus it to remove the housing that contains the speedometer and the gas gauge. There’s 2 reasons for this. One, it makes it easy to access the heater cables. Two, it gives one the opportunity to fix all questionable wiring (where it can be anywhere from 40 to 50 years since the push-on connectors were installed on the switches), clean the contacts of every single dash warning and illumination bub, and fix up any questionable added on wiring that can cause a problem. Typically, I’ll end up pulling out 20 feet of needless original wiring


It’s not unheard of for the emergency flasher switch to literally come apart – due to age, not from use – since they hardly ever get used. Since this switch has a large wire connected to it that comes directly from the battery so it can be used with the key in your pocket as you walk to the nearest exit for a can of gas, if the switch comes apart and that wire or it’s terminal on the switch touches metal, smoke will begin pouring out of the dash because that wire’s insulation is melting due to the electrical short. This is easy to prevent by simply cinching a plastic tie around the switch before it comes apart. There’s plenty of other wires – both big and small – that can cause the same thing.


Pulling each female connector off of every terminal and squeezing gently with a pair of wire cutters often results in a “snap” as the connector breaks along the length of the looped part along the side. They’re really old. Some won’t break, some will. Just replacing the ones that snap seems to be enough – judgement. The same can and should be done at the fuse box. It’s not uncommon to pull the fuse box away from it’s installed position to fix one thing only to find that couple of headlights stopped working because a couple of the same connectors were already cracked but still installed but the stress of pulling the fuse box away caused them to wiggle and loose all continuity. So the squeeze test is also applicable to the fuse box. They’ve been on there 50 years too. Wiring harness replacement? Seldom, seldom, seldom, seldom, seldom, seldom, seldom needed. Did I say hardly ever?


The heater – cables are often broken at the front due to the “push a rope” design. When you turn the heater off, you’re pushing on the cable. This often causes them to kink at the front and eventually break so some need to be replaced. This is because there’s too much friction in the cable within it’s bowden tube (analogous to the plastic covered sheath found on most bicycle cables). If the old ones are ok, I leave them installed but disconnected from the lever mechanism and place a piece of rubber tubing over the end of the flexible tube the cable resides in and secure with a hose clamp. The hose is long enough to  protrude a couple inches past the end of the cable itself. Then I fill the tube with WD-40, let it empty, then add engine oil. Repeating, eventually it starts dripping at the rear from the end of the cable. Now there’s minimal friction and the “push a rope” design works flawlessly. I do the same with new cables but before installation. And I do the same with the defrost cable, which on later bay buses is a botched design on VW’s behalf in that the cable, when pulled, won’t do anything. No kidding, it’s impossible for it to work. I’d have to show you. No joke, VW blew it here. Anyway, if the heater boxes are there and intact, and the fan and it’s hoses are present and reasonably attached, once the cables are connected, you’ll experience real heat.


On of the things that’s often beneficial for a fuel injected VW is to remove the intake manifolds and replace the gaskets. It’s more than just not uncommon that many vehicles leak here causing poor idle and a subtly poor running that becomes obvious after air leaks are fixed. Air leaks cause a lean running condition which causes higher operating temperatures and higher operating temperatures cause burned valves. Leakage at these gaskets can very often be the cause of a failed attempt at getting the vehicle smogged.


This is common with Porsche 914 4 cylinder vehicles too. Early 914’s have the same fuel system as early VW squarebacks. Later ones have the same system as 1975 and up VW buses. I know both systems intimately.


Actually, if you own a vehicle as just described, it’s a good idea to replace those gaskets just so you know. Use sealant – 3m Yellow or Gaskacinch (liberally)


So a “tune up” on these vehicles is often more than the typical “go through the motions” of replacing the plugs (which I very often find are loose but still quite useable and simply need removal, lubrication of the threads, then reinstallation) and the points, adjusting the valves and setting the timing.


This is a tune up (basically for an fuel injected bay. But it just depends on whether said vehicle has stock carb, dual carbs – there’s variables):


Bulletproof sealing of the intake manifolds and replacement of all questionable air hoses, injector seals, sealing the ancient EGR valve, etc, etc

Replacing (if needed) and lubricating and properly tightening the spark plugs

Checking each plug wire and plug connector with an ohm meter

Visual check of distributor cap and rotor

Removal of each plug connector and screwing it into the plug wire properly (often not screwed in at all, even with new wires from any manufacturer)

Removing the distributor and lubricating the mechanical advance and between the two shafts

Replacing the points

Setting the timing

Installing a coil wire that really has wire in vs the carbon core found in many sets of new plug wires, including Bosch

Tightening the lower cylinder head studs, usually on type 1 engines

Do all of the above all at the same time results in a very long lasting condition of excellent running and starting and minimal maintenance and assures maximum life of the engine – $$. Adjusting the valves every four or five thousand miles, and even less  if the vehicle is often taken on long trips on the freeway. Bosch plugs last 10,000 miles. Properly installed points 5000 easy. Change the oil as often – or not – as you wish. Removal of the mechanical distributor and lubricating the advance mechanism is one those things you do maybe once or twice in the lifetime of an engine.  Many vehicles display the timing mark jumping around when checking the timing with a strobe timing light. This is often caused by a poorly lubricated distributor and poorly installed points (dry rubbing block on points) – one or both.


One of the reasons electronic ignition is so common these days if because the art of installing a set of points has been lost. But I like points. They’re primitive. They can be adjusted. You can do it with a rock. Like when you’re stranded out in the middle of nowhere with no spark. Electronic ignition cannot be adjusted. Which is also a good reason to convert an injected vehicle to carbs if it’s legal in your state (PDSIT’s recommended above all others). However, if you sell the vehicle to someone in a state where it’s illegal to convert, you’ll be selling them a vehicle they can’t register unless they change it back – a real headache for them.




I do mobile repair. I’ll come to wherever you are. I’ll evaluate. Address your concerns. Dependent on the needs of the vehicle and your wishes, I can work at my location. All the work I do, I do in the same fashion as the examples above. I’m thorough and I guarantee results.


So, if you’ve been dragging your VW from one repair shop to another and still not getting what you want, let me take care of it. I’ll give you what you expect, not what you end up with.


I’ll turn that troublemaker into viable transportation. If you wanna drive it anywhere – all the way to Point Barrow, Alaska,  for instance, I’m your guy. Nobody does it like me. Because it’s not the shop. It’s not the coffee lounge. It’s not the antique Coca Cola ice chests on the walls and the fancy floor. It’s the guy doing the work. That’s me – Bob Hays


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