Saturday, October 10, 2009

VW Transporter T2 Bus - Oil Change - 2.0L Type4 Engine

1978 VW Bus Oil ChangeIt is time to change the oil before winter gets here. I've been changing the oil in my 1978 VW Campmobile every six months, or about 1,500-2000 miles. According to the manual, the oil should be changed every 7,500 miles, but I don't drive that much each year. I am trying to be very liberal with the oil changes to keep engine wear to a minimum. I would like to get as many miles as I can with this original Volkswagen 2.0L Type4 engine.

Tools and Supplies I Use:
  • Castrol GTX 20W-50 Motor Oil
  • Mann/Mahle Oil Filter (021115351A)
  • Washer For Oil Drain Plug (N0138492)
  • Oil Strainer Gasket Set (021198031B)
  • Gumout Carb + Choke Cleaner (7559)
  • Craftsman Torque Wrench ft lbs (44596)
  • 19mm Socket
  • 13mm Socket
  • Funnel
  • Drain Pan

In order to heat up the oil before I change it, I like to run a short errand for any last minute parts or beer. This time I drove up the street to Pep Boys for the Castrol 20W-50. Once home, I let the bus rest for a few minutes. From under the engine, the drain plug is removed using a 19mm socket. The oil is then drained into a 15qt change pan so it can be recycled. After draining the oil, I removed the oil filter and oil strainer. The oil filter should be able to be removed by hand. The oil strainer is removed using a 13mm socket and cleaned using Gumout Carb + Choke Cleaner. Another tip from Colin that helped; the strainer cover plate can be cleaned with dish soap, to reduce the chance of leaking oil.

After the oil has sufficiently drained, install the drain plug and new washer, and then tighten with a 19mm socket (16 ft lbs). Install the new oil filter (coat rubber seal with oil) and hand tighten. Install the oil strainer with a new gasket set, and then tighten with a 13mm socket (9 ft lbs). Do not over tighten the oil strainer bolt.

I use Castrol GTX 20W-50 motor oil. I tried synthetic for a while, but learned it wasn’t worth the extra cost. Instead, I just change the motor oil on a regular basis. Remove the oil filler cap. Using a funnel, fill the bus with 3.7 quarts (with an oil filter change) or 3.2 quarts (without an oil filter change). Replace the oil filler cap and clean up any oil spills. I will wait a while and then check the oil level. If it looks good, I’ll let the engine run for a bit and then I’ll check the level again. If there aren’t any leaks, it is time to take the bus out.

Odometer: 144620


  1. Wilson,
    I found your twin, perfect condition, all original interior, everything, 105,000 miles on original engine, from 1978 and has been garaged all it's life. I love it. It even has pea green/mustard yellow plaid interior. I really want to buy it, however I have no idea how much it will cost me in the long run to keep it running. Is a new trans, engine, parts, etc. a lot more expensive than a "regular" car? I have wanted this bus since I was 15, (I'm now 33) and now that I have the chance I am hesitating due to lack of knowledge regarding upkeep. Please give me some advice!

  2. That sounds like my story. Wilson was the bus I wanted since the age of 10. It's been frustrating, and costly at times, but I don't regret the purchase at all. It is a rewarding experience. Do you have any photos? You didn't mention rust, but that is something to consider, even above the engine and transmission (IMHO). You must be willing to learn how to work on the bus yourself. I knew nothing when I purchased Wilson in 2006, but with the help of several repair manuals, the support from members at , and the yearly house calls from Colin, I know more about my bus than I ever expected. A good Type4 engine for the 78 may be more than a ‘regular” car engine, but this is a vehicle you can realistically maintain on your own. Go to and see if someone local would be willing to help you check out the bus, before you purchase. Here are a couple links with information that may be helpful:

  3. Hi there, was checking out the internet , looking for VW stories about VW Buses and came across your blog. site. Always interesting to check out other VW owners and their trials and tribulations of Volkswagen ownership. I currently have a 1974 VW Kombi..8 passenger,,imported from Germany, two owners ago. A bit of a work in progress. I tried uploading a picture of my bus, but it wouldn't take it for some reason.
    Enjoyed reading your blogs.
    Glen Schattner
    Sanford, Manitoba

  4. Wilson!
    Hi my names Tia and I'm 16 and i've been in love with these cars for awhile! I've been looking and looking but I can't seem to find one that is affordable. I was wondering if you had any friends near IL that were selling. I'm looking for one around or under $9000 and it would be extrememly helpfull if I could make monthly payments. I know for that price it isn't going to be all pristine but i'm prepared to give it love and hard work. I have people that can help me with some repairs and I myself dream to be an automotive mechanic. However, i have a limited budget. All my friends say I'm crazy and that I should just go with a cheap get around car but I just can't settle for anything else! If you have ideas I'd love it if you could email me at

  5. Hey Wilson,

    My name is Indy. I'm a '76 Westy now living in Arkansas since my new owner adopted me. My previous owner who lives outside Indianapolis, took great care of me and removed all of my rusted panels, had me painted inside and out, put new tires on me, and my interior already looked great. Now I'm in a warmer climate and I love living in Arkansas. My owner, too, has wanted to adopt someone like me since he was in college (over 30 yrs ago). He has had to do minimal mechanical work, but my owner is very happy. We get laughs and peace signs displayed to us everyday. It's been great. If you are interested in seeing pictures, let me know.

  6. Your blog about Volkswagen transporter is informative. It is really great work. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. We like Volkswagen transporter . I have bought Volkswagen transporter . It has high quality driving, good mileage, interior and exterior looks good. We really enjoyed driving this car .

  7. Just wanted to check recommended oil, my 78 Champagne Edition Westy needs an oil change. Thanks for Posting.

  8. I have a lovely 1976 bay window westy. I've had many VW's but my 76' is the cream of the crop. Sadly I sold a 1984 westy after college which I traveled the country in and loved. For years I have missed it dearly and always wanted a type 2. After purchasing land in Maine with a beautiful river and traveling to Georgia and Texas, we realized it was time for a bus again. These vehicles are by far the greatest choice for travelers and wandering souls. We named her Rose from a subtle grateful dead reference. My wife and I plan to have many wonderful adventures with Rose. We were so lucky to find her from Maine owned by fellow VW fans. For a mere 5500.00 we now have her in our family and she is a solid runner and driver. And she shows well. No major rust, perfect interior. So happy


  10. That's why your car is still on the road after all these years. I'm changing oil on my car every 5000 miles, when I'm visiting my car service - myzdegree. I don't think that my car will work after 20 years.


Talk to Wilson...