The Original Synthetic Motor Oil

Volkswagens and Air Cooled Engines

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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.


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 drive around!

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 this possible?

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!

Arthur Nesmith

More links

East Texas Vee Dub Club Website

East Texas Vee Dub Club 2012 Car Show

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