Changing the Oil

'67 Volkswagen Beetle — Changing the Oil

That oil change comes due one time or another and this was “another!” I made a date with my ’67 and he cooperated.

I backed him out of his space but still under the shading cover. I put a jack under one side to level the car; our driveway slopes ever so gently. Then I carried the tools particular to an oil change to the work area. I slid a nice big sheet of cardboard under my ’67 and was set to drain the oil.

After it had drained, I removed the cover plate and began scraping the old gaskets off the screen, the plate and the bottom of the engine. Heavy on “scrape” and no gouging on the bottom of that engine! Once cleaned, I was set to install new gaskets. I always use some oil to coat and allow to soak into each gasket–both sides. Sort of gives them a better seal when the nuts are tightened and makes them easier to remove at the next oil change. Something that the mechanics at a refrigeration shop taught me way back in my college years.

Once the oil plate was cleaned, I reinstalled the drain bolt and tightened it as well as I could. I’d get back to it once the plate was secured by the 6 nuts. I got 6 new small copper-coated washers for the studs but chose to reuse the crush washer-gasket on the drain plug. It had been used but once and was still good for another go at it. But probably not for a third time; gets too flattened! The nuts and drain plug and plate and screen were immaculate by the time I had used the naptha, wire wheel and a rag to clean everything; spotless!

I washed the oil plate separately and saved the washings. Once they had settled, I drained the naptha and looked at the contents; a speck here and there that was shiny but nothing to worry about. Had there been a lot of that sort of stuff, I’d be having nightmares!

I never use anything larger than a quarter-inch drive and socket when tightening oil plate nuts. Using a larger wrench is bound one time or another to break one of the studs and “there you are!” You can better feel those nuts tightening with the smaller tool. I always tighten going from one side to the other, back and forth, rather than ’round the perimeter. I want to be sure not to get the plate tightened unevenly. A few last pulls at the wrench and done.

Then, to tighten the drain plug.

Time to introduce the oil. Knowing that I will not be driving much this Summer, I’ll keep using the HD 30 Wt. HD oil. More driving and I’d probably use 40 Wt. I’m old-school. I grew up that way and can’t get past it. It has worked for me for all these many years and for as long as I can get the single viscosity oil I’ll likely continue in my old pattern of doing things. I use a nice large funnel with a hose on the nether end that extends into the filler neck. That way I’ll not be dripping oil onto my clean surfaces. *

The oil pressure came up quickly with that new oil. The little engine likes it. Very satisfying!

*Note: Two experts in the field, in Dallas, Texas, tested different brands for sheer factor. They found Valvoline 20-50 Racing Oil (in their estimation) to be best suited for application to air cooled Volkswagen unfiltered engines, whether high-performance or stock. The Valvoline 20-50 Racing Oil also has more Zinc additive, which thing is very good for our engines. I know that there are a thousand opinions about oils for these engines, but this is what a studied and controlled set of experiments revealed for these two experts. Oils have changed greatly from when I was a young guy and I accept that these changes are for the better. Old habits die slowly but I’m not as change-challenged as I once was, I’m happy to say. LOL

Here’s a coherent but easily understood explanation of “sheering” which I gleaned from an online source:

“Shear stability is a measure of the amount of viscosity an oil may lose during operation. Oil experiences very high stresses in certain areas of the engine such as in the oil pump, camshaft area , piston rings, and any other areas where two mating surface areas squeeze the oil film momentarily. Most multi-grade engine oils contain special types of additives, called Viscosity Index Improvers, which are composed of very large, viscosity-controlling molecules. As the oil passes through the engine, these molecules are permanently sheared or torn apart over time, causing the additive to lose its viscosity-contributing advantages which reduces the oil’s ability to maintain its higher number…ie… 10w30, etc.

The shear stability of an oil is measured by using both ASTM test methods D445 and D5275. First, the viscosity of an engine oil is measured. Then, the oil is exposed to severe shearing conditions by repeatedly pumping it through a specially-sized diesel fuel injection nozzle at high pressure. After shearing the oil, its viscosity is measured again. The percentage of viscosity lost is determined by comparing the second viscosity measurement with the original viscosity measurement.

Although there are no specifications indicating required levels of shear stability for engine oils, lower percentages mean that an oil is more shear-stable and will retain its viscosity better during operation.”

Posted by Jay Salser

My wife, Neva, and I have been driving and working on VWs since 1976. In fact, we raised our family in these cars. Now, we are retired and enjoy VWs as a hobby. The ’67 Beetle always has been our favorite year. We own a '67 Beetle and a '68 Karmann Ghia.

  1. Nice post Jay. I’m the same as you, “old school”, but I did purchase the oil drain plate silicone seals from Wolfsburg West.

    I can tell you that they are awesome. I use them on all my cars. They are 100% reusable and are guaranteed not to leak. I also now use their silicone valve cover gaskets. I would suggest these items to any aircooled owner.

  2. Hi, Jody…I have heard others remark about the oil drain plate silicone seals. One of these days, I’ll have to purchase a set. Until then, I have so many new paper sets that I may never run short! Ha, ha! Happy Motoring! jay

    1. Jody, Jay,
      Agreed. I need to try them. I sorta feel like they would leak over time. Hmm.

  3. I use the same oil as the author for the same reasons plus add a few oz’ s of the German product Molylube for extra measure.

  4. John Muir’s manual states on page 341 that the Oil drain plug should be torqued to 25 ft. Lbs. and the oil screen nuts to 5 ft. lbs.
    I heard that it is illegal in CA for a Jiffy Lube type place to replace oil in an aircooled VW engine becaused they are required by law to replace the oil filter and we don’t have one. Not that I’d want those clowns touching Luna in her personal areas anyway…………

    1. It’s totally true. Long long ago, I drove my ’67 into one back in Atlanta. I quickly heard someone in the oil changing bay, “oh no no no. We don’t do those.” Idiots. Little do they know what they are missing.

  5. So straight 30W or the 20-50?

    1. I use Valvoline Racing 20/50 in my two ’67’s, Bus and Bug, and two 356 Porsches. Has sufficient amounts of ZDDP in it, and the one brand does all my cars.
      Portland Oregon

      1. Hello, Todd…Thanks for chiming into And, thank you also for confirming with data from your personal experience. This is valuable to all of us!


        1. Agreed! Thanks, Todd.

    2. Jeff (and to all others)…I now use 20-50 for my geographic area due to our predominate climate. Check your Owner’s Manual for the weight of oil to use in your geographic area. I’ve turned the page since I wrote the above Article and now use multiple viscosity oil (Valvoline Racing Oil 20-50). See how adaptable I’ve become! LOL jay

  6. Just wanted to say hey! I just inherited from my father a 61 VW with a 67 engine . It has a dune buggy body. Poor thing has been under a tarp for 8 years but low and behold, a new battery and added some gas and she fired right up. Added a little brake fluid and I was off. Now time for some much needed preventive maintenance. Embarrassed to say I spent 20 minutes looking for the oil filter that the guy at Pepboys sold me. Last time going there. Looking forward to learning more from your posts in the future!

    1. Mark,
      Welcome!!! Sure, we are here to help.

    2. Hello, Mark…Good to hear from you! Find yourself a bona fide VW parts house and/or VW mechanic. That way, you are more likely to get better advice. You also might enjoy the company to be found in a Volkswagen club.

      Yes…stay tuned to read some good stories, get some good advice and be in the company of some really nice ’67 People!


  7. I have heard much about the parts for the 67 in my searches. Is it true that if the car was purchased early in the year that most parts will be from a 66 and if a later purchase in the year it is more than likely a part from a 68? May be a stupid question, but I am having trouble finding some parts.


    1. Hello, Lann…Thanks for stopping to read! Lann…for every year of Beetle there were over-lapping parts. That’s what kept people coming back for more. A “new” model for the Beetle wasn’t really all that “new”. Volkswagen camped on that theme, reminding people, year-after-year, that the Beetle WAS the same! In the United States, when a person purchased a Beetle August of 1966 (when production of the ’67 Beetle began), he got a 1967 Beetle with all of the advances and new parts for 1967. It IS true that the seat-style was the same as for 1966; it WAS true that the rear bumper over rider was the same as for 1966 and earlier; it WAS true that the horn ring and steering wheel were the same as for 1966; and so on and so forth. But the 1967 Beetle was truly a different vehicle in so many ways. To my knowledge, there was nothing of any consequence which was installed onto the ’67 Beetle late into the production year that spoke of the 1968 Beetle. I know of one thing which was “transitional” but it is not a part which most people even would recognize if they saw it. 1968 Beetle, in fact, saw a transitional year by itself. So many changes happened in 1968 for the Beetle.

      In conclusion–when a person purchased a Deluxe 1967 Beetle in the USA, he got just that.

      If you already do not know about, I suggest that you avail yourself of that resource.

      You can feel free to e-message Eric Shoemaker (owner of and we will do our very best to help you to define and to locate the necessary parts for your Beetle. So…let us hear from you!

      Please read from this Link:


  8. Eugene Schneider March 22, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Oil: here is a mixture of personal experience and a lot of reading on the subject.
    Experience. Mine is a ’73 Super B. Goes cross-country once a year. Last trip filled with Valvoline VR-1 20-50 racing oil, which does have the ZDDP. Total consumption cross-country, 3200 miles: 5/8 quart! Doesn’t get much better than that.
    Alternative would be any good 20-50, Valvoline conventional for example, then adding the ZDDP. I know of two reasonably inexpensive ways to do this.
    First is Red Line Synthetic Oil Engine Oil Break-in Additive. About an ounce to an ounce and a half for each Beetle oil change. Second is STP 4-Cylinder Oil Treatment in the 15 oz red bottle. This one is good for two changes – half a bottle in each change. Using either of these two brands might be less expensive than the Valvoline VR-! as that tends to be more expensive than the conventional 20-50s.
    One advantage to the Red Line product is that it is less expensive and perhaps easier to find. The STP red bottles don’t show up too often. Do not get the STP blue bottles, they are not the same.
    Non-oil comments; Convert to electronic ignition. Much nicer running. Do not forget to regularly adjust the tappets, as these valves have a habit of stretching, which can play havoc on starting. This gets unnoticed because if you are waiting for tappet noise to adjust them, well, you will wait forever. I also installed cruise control which makes the long trip much easier than it otherwise would be.

    1. Hello, Eugene…thanks for the comments. That was exceptionally low oil consumption! I would caution the use of synthetic oils UNLESS there is a filtration system. Synthetics allow particulate matter to remain suspended. This means that any particulate matter is pumped through the oil ports over and over again–doing damage to bearings, etc. The strainer mesh is not nearly fine enough to filter out these particles. Mineral oils, on the other hand, allow particulate matter to settle–we see it as that gunk on the drain plate when we change the oil. jay

      1. Eugene Schneider March 22, 2015 at 4:38 pm

        I agree. No synthetics in mine, ever. The VR-1 is not synthetic, either blend or otherwise, so it works.

  9. James Johnson June 9, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Can you tell me how to get in contact with the Speedo rrepair man?

    1. Hello, James…I have recommended Orange Empire Speedometer before with good results. I suggest that you call them to ask questions about your particular speedometer. Once you have the facts in hand and know what they can do and they know what you want, you can make your decision:

      Orange Empire Speedometer, 1416 Normandy Ter, Corona, CA 92882. Tel 951-833-2563.



  10. [* WordPress Simple Firewall plugin marked this comment as “trash”. Reason: Failed GASP Bot Filter Test (checkbox) *]
    Hello. My brother bought a 1967 VW right before going to Vietnam and I was happy to use it while he was gone (and gas was 25 cents/gallon). Lots of trips to the beach! Anyway, he continued to use it when he returned and subsequently let his kids use it also (big mistake). Then it sat in his garage for 10 years until I offered to have it shipped to me up North. (it came from South Carolina).
    I didn’t drive it much in the beginning – kept having people work on it to get it in good running condition. I am now retired and have been using it quite a bit around town and enjoying my “toy”. However, I ordered some new sun visors (the sawdust was coming out of the original ones), but they were too short and couldn’t fit into the holder. I have since gone to a VW shop specializing in Bug parts, and they have the same sun visor which says it’s for 1967 VW. But again, it’s too short. Is there a special sun visor that I should be ordering?

    1. Hello, Sally…Are the Sun Visors which you just bought just like the ones which were in the car originally?
      Perhaps they are poor reproduction Visors. Can you tell us where you bought them? Also, I wonder about your Visor Clips. Did you also buy new clips at the same time? There are two types of Clips. Can you send photos of the old Visors and the new ones and the Clips to: This may help to solve the mystery. Thanks for contacting! jay

  11. 1966 Beetle – 1600 SP – Chevron Delo 30w or Rotella HD 30w since rebuilt every 1500 miles – 211,000 miles… ;)

    Remember VW specifies a HD oil which speaks to the ZDDP and Moly package needed. I think CF rated oils are key.

    My brother, similar habits as me and same engine builder (1967 Beetle), but running Valvoline 20w-50 Racing Oil only made 152,000 miles on his.

    My previous engine went 118,000 on Castrol GTX 20w-50.

    1. Warren…this certainly is some interesting information. There is a lot hinging upon the type of usage, the climate, engine specs, highway miles/city driving, etc. On the one that went 211K–did you have the cylinder heads serviced during those miles? Keep doing what you are doing! A lot of us prob. won’t get such high mileage because we do not drive our collector vehicles sufficiently to get them even to operating temperature! jay

      1. Yes Jay there were two valve jobs done during those 211,000. This is is East County San Diego, CA temps 40F-110F – Primarily 80 mile commute a day highway at 60mph year-round.

  12. Todd Sloan, Portland October 2, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    North Hollywood Speedo and clock service does a great job too. Where the 356 guys go.
    Interesting comparisons on those oil options. I ran Castrol all my life in all cars, until just recently with all the discussion on ZDDP. I am now using the Valvoline racing as mentioned earlier, but also am noticing one of the better 356 engine builders in Portland are using Rotella, not sure of the weight.
    My personal experience with my ’67 Beetle, is that I am on the third rebuild of the original engine to the car. The first one went 88k, and the second just over 100k, and the current one is at 70k. I may never see it hit over 100,000 due to my age, and the four or five k I put on it a year these days.

    1. Todd…thanks for contributing! I think that regular maintenance is a huge factor in obtaining top performance with these air-cooled engines. I knew one guy who never changed his oil–just added oil as needed. Obviously he wasn’t going to achieve the Mileage “hall-of-fame”! LOL. I just told someone (see above) that prob. a lot of us never will see high mileage simply because we do not drive our vintage vehicles that often and that far. Which has its detrimental effects upon engine life. Todd…I’m pressing 77 years of age. I want to challenge you to keep driving that Beetle and let’s you and I try for some high mileage despite our ages! jay

      1. Todd Sloan, Portland October 2, 2015 at 3:18 pm

        Jay, I want to be doing exactly what you are doing when I hit 77. My biggest concern about our cars is if we can even get them on the road 15 years from now, or do we have to take them to special tracks where we can drive them around. I doubt I will be converting my cars to electric power with Google navigation on board. Nor will I put them in a museum. So a future rebuild doesnt seem likely the way I drive my cars.
        Did anyone in this group read about that elderly couple that drove their Bug around the world? Maybe that should be the last roundup for mine.

        1. Todd…Your wonderments about automobile traffic 15 years from now echoes mine. With the way things are going, I sometimes wonder. I’ll just keep on putt–putting along.for as long as I can. About that couple going around the World—-I think that Eric is supposed to receive up-dates. I don’t know how that is going. Maybe we’ll hear soon. Going back to engine mileage–there’s another factor that leads to longer or shorter engine life–that’s the way the car is driven. These engines will last longer if driven as intended and not driven like race-cars. That’s, of course, a personal preference but it is a factor to be considered. Our family always had good success with engines but the way that my family drives isn’t just “luck”–I can guarantee that! LOL..jay

          1. Todd Sloan, Portland October 2, 2015 at 4:47 pm

            All cars have a sweet spot. You know when you are pushing a VW Bug, and even more so with a bus. I have always been gentle and kind to mine, even when I first go it. Since i can do the maintenance easily, the only other factor is how it is run. Warming it up technique helps, keeping revs where they belong when cold, being careful of the hot summer days, shifting according to the ticks on the speedo, drive something else if you are in a hurry,
            ie: Porsches, and never lend it to a friend.
            Driving from Denver to Portland a few years ago, driving very sanely and visiting lots of National Parks, I was getting an amazing 36 to 38 MPG. Mostly due to the altitude and the higher octane gas than in Oregon, plus the putt putting on all those back roads contributed to that economy.

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