When finding your perfect VW bug for sale, here are some general items to look for and a few specific ones.
A list of things to look for include engine condition, brakes, shocks, rust, electrical system condition, suspension and exhaust. There are many others, but these are the highlights.
Some surfers that land on this page could rebuild a bug in their sleep no matter what the condition but I’ll assume you’re just getting started.
When finding a used beetle for sale online, these could be things to ask the owner if you can't check it out in person.
When looking at the engine, take off the oil filler cap and put your hand where the cap was. If you can feel a lot of pulsing, the rings have probably seen better days. What this tells you is that the pulses (felt by your hand) are not being caught by the rings. The pulses are created by the engine's compression stroke.
Look under the engine for oil leaks. There is not a VW on the planet that doesn't lose a little oil out of the seam of the 2 halves of the motor case. What you are looking for is an oil leak that's big or comes from an unusual spot. Oil that seaps from the passenger side pistons probably means that the oil cooler is compromised. It's above the passenger side pistons.
A really dirty motor means it probably runs hot. Too much dirt inhibits the motor's ability to shed heat. A very bad thing for a Volkswagon beetle (air cooled) motor.
A good rule of thumb on the engine is it needs to run smoothly. It should idle and accelerate smoothly and with no hesitation. Unless of course you’re ready to go to work and fix this.
When looking at the brakes, the car should stop smoothly without making noise. Grinding or squealing is not normal.
When checking the shock absorbers, none should leak oil and if you were to step on the bumper and quickly jump off, the car should not bounce. One bounce is acceptable, but also realize the shocks on that end of the car are not that good.
The car should have no rust but practically there's going to be some in the floor under the passenger's rear seat (where the car's battery lives).
Anywhere there's a seam is a candidate for rust. The floor, toward the center of the car and the place that holds your weight as you step into the car, below the doors is another place to check.
If there are any spots of fresh paint or undercoating, look out! Fresh paint can hide all sorts of incorrectly treated rust. The same reasoning applies to tires. New tires means you don't get to see what wear pattern the suspension imparts onto the tires. New tires usually means the suspension system is whacked.
As far as the electrical system, check all the lights and the wipers. On older 6 volt models, you may not be able to run the lights, wipers and the radio at the same time. This is normal. What you are looking for is frayed or melted wires and blown fuses.
If the exhaust sounds like it has a leak, it probably does. Stuffing a rag into the exhaust pipe will cause the exhaust to build up and ideally to stall the engine. Other holes in the exhaust pipes will become apparent. On cars with 2 exhaust pipes, do the rag trick on both at the same time.
Getting the best car for your hard earned money is the goal here. So remember when buying online see if the owner has pictures posted or even a movie on youtube. Also a lot of the online places will have feedback of the seller that you can check to see if there are other satisfied customers.
Most of the times people are on the up and up. And like I said above, the VW Bug is an easy car to work on and even if you get one that needs a lot of work, this can be half the fun sometimes.
Taking a diamond in the rough and turning it into a nice vw beetle is a great feeling!
I mainly focus on vw beetle's in the states but bugs can be found all round the globe in just about any country. Sometimes it's a matter of just looking around at the local junk yards, talking to friends and Craigslist to name a few.
Also if you want even more information on what to look for when buying a used beetle there are a lot of terrific websites. Usually it's just a matter of putting the correct search term in google, bing or whatever your search engine is.
Ebay has a very good guide on buying a used vw. It's a very good read contributed by users of eBay.
Just spend a little time reading and gathering notes and by the time you're ready to purchase your new project bug, you'll definitely get the most out of every dollar you spend.
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