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Swing Axle Boot Installation

One of the most overlooked maintenance items on a swing axle VW, whether
it is a Beetle, Ghia, or Bus is the axle boots.  7 out of 10 that I have serviced in
the past years need these replaced.  When the boot springs a leak, you will lose
at least half of the gear lube in the transmission. This causes a very noisy Trans
and much worse than that, greatly increased wear and possibly seizure! All of
the original equipment boots have most likely turned to dust many moons ago,
so if yours are ancient, cracked or damaged in any way, they need replacement.
This can be a rather messy job, so get your “grubbies” on, arm yourself
with rags, and let’s get dirty.

This article contains a few “tricks of the trade”. The first one needs to be done
before jacking up the car.

This little trick (above) keeps the axle from dropping as the car is jacked. This keeps
the axle straight, and greatly aids in the installation of the new boots. Just wedge
a large nut between the spring plate and its stop. As you jack up the car, the axle
will be in the same position as when it was on the ground.

Once the rear of the car is raised up and positioned securely on jack stands, climb
under with an old cookie sheet, small screwdriver, razor knife and a sharp pair of
side cutters. If the boots are the split type, remove the slotted bolts/nuts, unscrew
the clamps, remove the old boot and let the pan catch the drippings.

If for some strange reason you still have the solid boots (no seam), these must be
cut off. Snip the old clamps off with the side cutters, and cut the boot off.
Remember the cookie sheet!

Clean up the area around the boots with the rags, and prepare for the installation
of the new boots. The small screws, washers and nuts that are supplied with the kit
usually work just fine, but the off-roaders and drag racers ditch the stock nuts and
replace them with metric Ny-lock nuts. That decision is up to you and your
application. You will also notice that the new boots come supplied with
stainless band clamps. These clamps (Airheadparts.com carries only OE Febi) work
very well, if they are installed with the screw mechanism positioned at the seam.
This draws the seam together as the clamp is tightened.

Do not over-tighten the screws at the seam. This can distort the seam and
cause a leak.

Position the boots at 10:00 and 2:00 this keeps the gear lube from submersing
the seam, and still allows the boot to flex as it should.

Once everything is tightened, refill or change the transmission fluid with the
lube of your choice, let the car back down, remove the nuts from the spring
plate and be proud that you did it yourself!

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