12 years I’ve owned my ’67 Beetle. I only recently learned about front beam lubrication. Who knows the last time it was properly done. Like an oil change, this is just one of those things you have to keep an eye on.
Marius and I had been going back and forth about the process, so I thought it would be a good idea to document it. Lubrication helps protect the steering components from rubbing against each other and causing unnecessary wear. It’s a very simple job. According to the Bentley manual, it only needs to be done every 6,000 miles or once a year.
The Reluctant Mechanic has done a fantastic job of documenting this process. Without repeating his steps entirely, I’ll simply point out what you need and how to get it done.
Items you’ll need
- A good quality grease gun. I picked up a Lincoln Lubrication 1334 Heavy Duty Pistol Grip Grease Gun and it’s worth every penny. Thanks Marius for the suggestion.
- Grease. 2 units of Red Line 80402 Synthetic Grease does just the trick.
- A wire brush to clean up the zerks on the front of your beam.
- Newspaper to catch dripping grease. There will be a lot of it.
- Gloves to keep your hands clean.
- Some good music. I enjoyed Pandora through my iPhone. :)
- Cold ice tea waiting when you finish the job. I’d say sweet tea, but I no longer live in the South.
Let’s get to work
- Jack your Beetle up in the front. Another comment from the Bentley manual, the car needs to in fact be off the ground and not under load. Remember to use stands so the area is safe to work.
- Look for the zerks on the front of the beam. There are 4 of them, 2 on each side.
- Clean the zerks.
- Using your grease gun, attach it to the zerks, and start pumping grease. Do this until you see it oozing out of the arms of the beam. You’ll want to do this until ALL of the old grease is out. This isn’t a fill up, it’s a replacement of grease.
- Once finished and all zerks have had grease added, you can clean up the area and lower the car back to the ground.
Now, give Paul Silver’s article (The Reluctant Mechanic) a read for a much more detailed description with photos of this process. You’ll feel better cruising down the road in your freshly greased ’67 Beetle’s beam, knowing you did it all yourself.
Thanks for writing this article. I had been wondering what those zerks were for!
I lube my torsion bars every other oil change. Or about 3000 miles. My 67 Bug and Bus both have about a quartere illion miles and these parst are all original. They are biullit proof, practically a life time unit.
Speaking of oil, I hope everuone is paying attention to the subject of oil, that is the lack of ZDDP in many of our favorite brands. After 40 years of Castrol GTX 20/50 I have switched to Valvoline Racing 20/50 and put a half a can of Lubrimoly oil additive.
Some guys are running Diesel oil, some are running Cartrol 4T motocycle oil. All these have the sufficient quantities of ZDDP. Research it for yourself, this is important.
Good ZDDP quantities are especially important in the Flat-Four VW engine design. On the subject of oils, I love the forums over at BobIsTheOilGuy.com. There’s guys (and gals, probably!) there that buy oils and have them sent off for chemical analysis. Newer oils with later API specifications (the SM/SN targets you see) typically have *less* ZDDP than older oils that are SL labeled. It’s good to research and know what you’re putting in your car.
Also, on the subject of viscosity choice, a lot of it depends on the ambient temperatures where you’re driving.
Eric, great info. Thanks for the tip on lubricating the front end!
Share the southern”sweet tea” in your community, it rates up there with VW’s.
Great article Eric! Especially “The Reluctant Mechanic” link; I am downloading some of the technical topics I am interested in for my reference manual. I have somehow missed this author!
I live in Southern California and the climate here is pretty stable temperature-wise. I don’t use the multigrade oils for my ’67, but have been using Castrol 30 weight since I have owned the car based on a recommendation from the “John Muir” manual speaking to multigrade vs monograde oils! Of course having said this I have come across a variety of other opinions of oil grades and brands! I have come to my own opinion that what oil one person uses, does not necessarily mean someone else’s choice is entirely wrong! But I am open minded and I still listen and weigh everything I read and hear about caring for these cars! Especially information I get from the articles and conversations with 1967beetle.com!
Love those Zerk fittings! Makes me feel like a “real” mechanic when I put on my coveralls, gloves and put the Harbor Freight grease gun in my hand! I do them every 3,000 miles while I am already in my garb changing my oil!-Dick
Comments regarding lubricating the front suspension are heartening. I believe that this is a neglected aspect of VW maintenance. My practice has been to do it every 3K miles when I adjusted valves, checked points, condenser and timing, changed the oil and adjusted the carburetor and cleaned the air cleaner. The “health” of these cars depends upon the owners. A poorly maintained VW is one that is going to be found by the side of the road–if it even gets that far.
I used Quaker State 30 Wt. HD oil from when I was a big kid because my father used it. I have become convinced that multi-grade oils are not only “safe” but excellent choices. At my VW engine-builder friend’s studied advice, I use Valvoline 20-50 Racing oil. It supplies what my engines need plus the “shear-factor” is excellent.
It’s difficult for an old guy to change–but I did. For the sake of my cars.
Thanks, everyone! This is an older article that I took a look over again. Now that the site has sorta exploded, some of these great gems are buried 500 articles deep. Enjoy!
Another nugget! Love seeing this kind of thing in the “inbox”. Some of these points have never been attended to by me. I saved that photo….pronto! BTW…..a big glass of ice cold Sweet Tea is nectar of the gods!!
Also. Yes, so many people forget to check the zerks. Get under your car ASAP and make it happen. You’ll ooze with joy.
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