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Air-cooled Volkswagens are a breed apart. On a Beetle, it’s normal to remove the engine for jobs that don’t require such drastic treatment on most other cars.
This is often not a waste of time because it takes less than 10 minutes to remove the engine. I used to own a 412 Station Wagon, the last of the air-cooled Volks-wagens, and I realise now that I should never have sold it.
I happened to stand outside the workshop recently when one of these drove onto the forecourt. I could not restrain myself and felt drawn to it. My pace quickened when I saw the driver was a beautiful young woman. She returned my greeting and it didn’t take her long to complain that she was finding it difficult to get the fanbelt changed for a reasonable amount of money because all the work-shops claimed that the engine had to be removed before they could perform the job.
I explained that the workshop manual says that’s the only way, but that I knew a short-cut. Our workshop would take no more than 30 minutes. I invited her into my office for coffee and rusks while I went to show August how to go about it.
The reason why some workshops claim the engine needs to be taken out is because the crankshaft pulley is so close to a rear reinforcement member that there isn’t enough space in which to guide the belt over the pulley edge. I discovered on my own car that a small modification made to a bracket with a hacksaw allowed me to move the alternator more than the usual amount so that I could get in and change the belt.
August was back with the car plus a new belt in less than 25 minutes and said that the old belt had no reason to still be in one piece.