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How do I break in my engine? ..and other good hints. ......VW Air-cooled models
Air-Cooled Volkswagen Engines and Porsche 914 Engines

These hints are directed to the VW Type I (Bugs, Beetles, Ghias, Convertibles, etc.)..VW Thing .. and Type II (Bus, Van and Westy thru 1971).
Other models .. 1972-1983 Westy, Van, Bus, Vanagon and Porsche 914 can vary. Get a manual if you are performing the installation on your own. Our 'Hints and Advice' from cannot replace the valuable information provided by an excellent manual.

After you've done all important engine compartment preparation: (Longblock installation)

  • DO NOT Rotate (turn) the crankshaft and/or flywheel without the distributor installed!
    You will most likely damage the internal brass crankshaft distributor drive gear!
    All of our longblocks are hot-run tested with distributor installed before releasing.
  • All parts that your are going to reuse..clean and inspect closely. Intake manifold(s), Carburetors(s), air cleaner(s), Fuel pump and fuel pump pushrod, Fuel pump bakelite insulator..(check closely for any cracks..or replace with a new one.
  • Clean and inspect Generator/Alternator stand, Crankshaft and Gen/Alt pulley.
  • Clean, prep and paint all engine tin, cylinder tin and fan shroud. It'll look good with your 'new' engine!
  • These parts should be near-new or replaced . . Oil cooler, Clutch pressure plate, disc and release bearing. Also.. Throttle cable, wiring, oil pressure sender, fuel filter..(If non-exsistant, install one!), air hoses, air filter, engine compartment seal, engine mounts, starter bushing, heating controls, etc. . .

    Let's prime your engine and get ready to start it!

  • First, let's build engine oil pressure (prime it). Put oil in the crankcase . . proper amount and do not overfill. Use any good brand 'SF' grade oil you prefer. Single or multi-grade is fine. Just get a case of your favorite good oil.
  • Use the starter without ignition hooked up to crank the engine. Crank the engine until the oil pressure warning light on the dashboard goes out, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Continue cranking for 15 seconds after the light has gone out. This will insure lubrication in all important areas.
  • If the oil pressure light doesn't go out . . Is the oil pressure sending unit connected? . . Is it working?

    Let's .. "Start Your Engine!"

  • After your engine is properly primed . . hook up the ignition and start it up. Immediately raise the idle to 2000 rpm and leave it there. Do not rev the engine or let it idle. Run it at 2000 rpm for 20 minutes . . not 10 but 20 minutes! Time it carefully.
  • You'll hear the engine making a little noise for a bit. This is good. This raises oil pressure and volume so all meshing parts in the engine are getting good lubrication . . especially the camshaft and lifters. Make certain your engine has all cooling functions operating perfect!
    '009' Distributor Timing.. VERY IMPORTANT!
  • Setting the timing, with '009' distributor, maximum advance: Set it between 28 and 32 degrees at 2800-3000 RPM.
  • Tools needed: Timing Light, dwell rpm Volt Meter, 10mm socket, Screw Driver. .. Time, 25 minutes and a beer!

    After your initial 20 minute engine run is done .. but NOT DRIVING YET!

  • Back off the idle screw until a normal 750 rpm is reached. Double-check the ignition timing. It has to be accurate for engine cooling! You have to use a professional timing light!!
  • An air-cooled VW engine timed in the driveway, with two guys and a six-pack, and distributor is rotated until it feels good or has the most 'power' . . is way too far advanced! It may not last 100 miles without overheating! You certainly do not want that.
  • Do your timing professionally and use a timing light. Remember, if you do not have the original vacuum advance distributor . . timing is not set the same . . example: the "009". Get accurate information for your application. (See '009' Distributor above)
  • Closely check for proper torque on all connections, fuel and vacuum hose connection and/or leaks, other fluid and air intake or oil leaks.

    Cool Down . Valve Adjustment . Trial Drive

  • Let engine cool down now . . for minimum two hours. Come on back and readjust the valves to .006" intake & .006" exhaust. ( Applies to 1600 based air-cooled engines ) . . This is very important!
  • If you are satisfied . . let's drive it!
  • After you have recorded the current odometer mileage accurately, take a short trip . . 5-10 miles. Do an accelerate/deccellerate sequence.
  • Go home and take a good look under the engine compartment lid. Check that there are no unusual leaks, no parts missing, any last minute repairs it may require, etc. Now you are ready!

    Regular driving the first 300 miles!

  • We prefer you drive regular after your trial drive. We also strongly suggest changing oil at 25 miles and readjust the valves (cold!).
  • Change oil and readjust the valves again at 300 miles!
  • This is good insurance that all break-in related metal particles from the new rings, cylinder walls, pistons, etc. are out of there!
    You may see small metal-colored particles in the drained oil..normal!
  • This may sound like 'overkill' . . but is great insurance you enjoy the longevity of a high quality remanufactured engine.

    You're "ON THE ROAD AGAIN" . . . . Regular driving . . Do your important services!

  • Change oil every 3,000 miles.
  • Readjust your valves every 3,000 miles . . 6,000 miles maximum.

    Hope This Helps!

    This page is to provide key points of importance for you.
  • We strongly suggest that you purchase.. "HOW to REBUILD your VOLKSWAGEN AIR-COOLED ENGINE"
    (HPBooks . . Tom Wilson, Author). We have it.

  • HPMX Carburetors .. Set-up and Tuning Video .. > Click HERE
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