By Arthur Nesmith
The first car that I owned was a 1962 Volkswagen Transporter. I was so proud of its simplicity. It was called "Air
Cooled" which to me meant that there was no need to worry about overheating or cooling system problems.
BOY WAS I WRONG!
What I didn't know at the time was, unlike my lawn mower or 2 Stroke engines, this engine needed serious help. Air cooled
VW engines, like Porche air cooled engines, are actually oil cooled engines. It
wasn't until I saw my first Porche Bi-turbo engine with massive oil capacity, dual oil coolers, and oil filter that I began
to realize the why I had so many problems with my old Transporter.
That little motor had to push that big box around with little more than 2 quarts of engine oil and no oil filter! I
changed oil every 2,000 miles religiously, but to no avail. In short, it was a valve burning, piston cracking, rod slinging
machine. Add to this the ineptitude of the mechanical work being done on it by the local dealership, it was a nightmare to
My friends tried to tell me, but I wouldn't listen. In fact, I got downright mad! To me they were making fun of my neat
little VW Transporter, after all it was my first car. I remember once a friend went with me down to the VW dealership to
have a rear wheel bearing seal replaced for the 10th time because it was once again leaking (due to an improper installation
as we later found out). He commented to me, "When you go down to the Chevrolet or Oldsmobile place, the motors are still in
the car and they are changing alternators or water pumps. But every time we come here, the motors are out of every single
car in their shop and all apart on the floor! Doesn't that tell you something?" I remember that it made me mad to hear him
say that. He was ridiculing my car! But there was some logic in what he said.
After all the hell that Transporter gave me, I eventually sold it and swore to never own anything built by Volkswagen
again. Seeing others going through the same hell only reinforced my opinion, and seeing the amazing array of oil coolers on
air cooled Porches made me feel that we, VW owners, were cheated, since they sold us cars that ran around over heated and
maintained by dealerships that charged too much for substandard work. Who would have ever guessed that I would come around
to finding air cooled VW's appealing enough to actually go out and buy one. But I did.
I met someone who became an AMSOIL Dealer and had many years experience with air cooled VW engines. He drove an old VW
Square Back with an amazing amount of miles (Hundreds of thousands of miles. I don't remember the exact amount). I remember
in heavy stop and go traffic in one of Houston's hot summers, his oil temperature gauge read only about 180 degrees! How was
The reason his VW ran so long and cool was simple. He had installed an AMSOIL By-Pass oil filter, which kept his oil
clean and acted like an oil cooler. He used AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil in the engine and did not ever change it! He changed
the filter like required for water cooled engines, but as long as lube analysis showed the oil was in superior condition, he
saw no reason to change it. The AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil does a really good job of reducing engine heat and engine wear,
but I had been very reluctant to recommend AMSOIL products for VWs due to my low opinion of the engines. Now I had to come
to grips with some realities. Those motors were not so bad after all!
I am now the proud owner of a '67 and a "69 Beetle and I have a new respect for the little cars. With good lubrication
and proper oil filtration/cooling, they will take you anywhere. It makes sense when you think about it. In Europe motor oil
ratings have always been much higher than here in the USA due to the fact that in Europe the auto manufacturers set the oil
quality standards. Here the oil companies set the standards with little or no input from the auto manufacturers. Every air
cooled VW sent to this country was at a lubrication disadvantage when they got their first oil change. As far as the inept
mechanical work is concerned, the same friend who pointed out to me about how many VW engines seemed to be getting
overhauled at an alarming rate, also made another startling observation. He noticed that when the VW mechanics went home,
not a single one of them was driving a Volkswagen! I needed to have my head examined for taking my VW to that place in light
of the obvious problems.
I've met others who drove air cooled VWs using AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil, some of them driving Transporters. I've run
into other air cooled engines that were running AMSOIL such as Citroen 2 CVs. They were doing just fine. In fact, all
reported higher than advertised fuel mileage. One Citroen 2 CV, using AMSOIL throughout the vehicle, had won first place
several times in fuel mileage competitions.
In any four stroke engine, water or air cooled, the only thing that cools the pistons is the motor oil. In water cooled
engines the oil is responsible for about 40% of the engine cooling. In air cooled engines the amount of cooling from the
motor oil is 60% or higher. Using a high quality Synthetic Motor Oil such as AMSOIL, reducing friction and achieving a
higher level of cooling will help the engine achieve a better level of performance. AMSOIL is big on filtration, and
enhanced cleanliness of lubricant enables it to form better seal around pistons and prevents wear as well.
Sure wish I still had that old '62 Transporter! It would be interesting to see how it would be running these days on the
oil technology that currently exists. Well, live and learn I always say!