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Idler Arm Bushing Servicing & Replacement, Super Beetle 71-74

Idler Arm Bushing Servicing & Replacement, Super Beetle 71-74

By Jim Thompson

Question from Customer:  What’s involved in servicing Steering Idler Bushing on my 71-74 Super Beetle?

Answer:  This requires the removal of the Idler Arm Bracket and the Idler Arm from the Bracket itself.

It’s best to note that there are two different bushings depending on the year of the Super Beetle:

71-Early 72 - Up to VIN 1x2 2125 326
Late 72-74 - Fr VIN 1x2 2125 327

Be sure to check your VIN before ordering so that you get the correct bushing.  A bonded rubber bushing with an inner and outer sleeve were originally installed.  71-Early 72 bushings of this type are no longer available, but have been replaced with a solid bronze bushing, which is actually superior for wear and longevity.  Late 72-74 models still use the bonded rubber bushing with inner and outer sleeves.  It is important to note that a press will be needed to extract and install either style of bushing.  A machine shop is best suited to do this particular action.

On a level surface, raise the front of the vehicle.  Be sure to apply the handbrake, place the shifter in first gear and chock the rear wheels/tires.  Use jack stands to hold the vehicle in the raised position, never the let jack do this job as it is unsafe.

Remove the cotter pin and castellated nut that attaches the Idler Arm to the Center Tie Rod.

Remove the Center Tie Rod from the Idler Arm.  A special puller is usually necessary for this.  See Figure 9-7, Section 8, and Page 21 of the Robert Bentley 70-79 Type 1 Official Service Manual for what this special puller looks like.   If you otherwise use a "Pickle Fork", you can damage the Tie Rod Boot which would have to be replaced as well.  Do not hammer out the tie rod end, otherwise you will ruin the threads and will have to replace the entire Center Tie Rod.

Inside the right front fender well, remove the bolts that hold the Idler Arm Assembly to the vehicle. Start with the upper then lower right bolt.  Support the assembly while removing the last (lower left bolt).

To remove the Idler Arm from the bracket, remove the self-locking nut and washer, then use a puller to remove the Idler Arm off of the splined shaft. Sometimes a puller-press is needed to do this, but not always. Note on one section of the shaft and the Idler Arm there are several wider splines from the rest of the shaft and Idler Arm. These are used to re-center the Idler Arm back into its correct position.

Press the bonded rubber bushing along with its inner metal sleeve out of the Idler Arm Bracket, and then press the outer metal sleeve out of the Idler Arm Bracket.  Make sure the new bushing and bracket are clean, and then press the new bushing into the bracket.

Reinstall the Idler Arm onto the splined shaft making sure you align the wider splines of the shaft and arm.  Reinstall the washer and a NEW self-locking nut and torque to 29 foot pounds.  NOTE:  The self-locking nut on 71-Early 72 models has 14mm x 1.5 thread pitch (VW # N0221501) and Late 73-74 has 12mm x1.5 thread pitch (VW # 411-513-481).

Reinstall the Idler Arm Assembly on the body.  Torque the mounting bolts to 22 foot pounds.

Reinstall the Center Tie Rod end onto the Idler Arm.  Torque the nut to 22 foot pounds.  If the nut is castellated, after reaching 22 foot pounds and the cotter pin hole is NOT visible, slightly torque the nut until the hole is visible, insert the split cotter pin and lock that into place.  If using a self locking nut (VW # 411-513-481), torque only to 22 foot pounds.

With the jack back in place, remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle.

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