Oil Change & Filter
An oil change is one of the easiest things you can do to make sure your Vanagon is in tip-top shape.
- Approximately 5 quarts / 4.7 liters of 15w-50 fully synthetic motor oil. GoWesty recommends this oil; makes sense to me. If you live in an extreme environment this can vary. Oil types always seem to be a never-ending debate. If you feel strongly with something else, go for it.
- Oil filter
- Washer for drain plug
- 16 mm socket wrench
- Oil catch pan - make sure it's big enough!
- Paper towels or rags
- Oil filter wrench (optional)
- Rubber gloves (optional)
- Cardboard as a base for the catch pan - just in case of a spill / drip / mess
Skill Level: Easy
Before starting, please read our Disclaimer. By using this website you agree to these terms.
Position oil catch pan under the drain plug. Undo plug, allow to fully drain. My drain plug needed a 16 mm socket. I replaced it with a GoWesty plug that uses a 13 mm socket.
Once oil has fully drained from engine, position oil catch pan under the oil filter. Unscrew the oil filter with your hand or oil filter wrench. Let drain.
Install new oil filter. Make sure to lubricate the rubber seal with a nice coat of fresh oil. Hand tighten. For me, this is usually good enough. You may need to use an oil filter wrench to snug the last half turn or so.
Do not over tighten! The first time I changed mine, the previous owner definitely over tightened. I almost couldn't get it off, even with an oil filter wrench.
Install oil plug with new washer. Tighten till snug. Do not over tighten! You will cause more grief than you can imagine if you do!
Also, please use a metal washer. The first time I changed mine, the previous owner used a cheap plastic washer that did not seal properly and was slowly leaking oil. How cheap can you be?! The washer I used cost 50 cents and can be picked up at your local auto parts store.
Fill engine with oil, making sure not to overfill. Also, make sure you are on a level surface.
The listed oil capacity for a 1.9 liter engine in the manual is 4.8 quarts / 4.5 liters (4.2 quarts / 4.0 liters if only changing oil, no filter) However, I usually add about 3.5 quarts/liters and then start checking the dipstick. Fill till the oil is in-between the two marks on the dipstick. After this, start the engine and let it idle for a minute or so. Turn off engine. Check for leaks and the oil level again; add if needed.
Access to the oil filler spout is located behind the license plate. It's the black cap on the right. DO NOT put oil in the clear/white reservoir on the left. That is your coolant! The dipstick is located in-between the oil and the coolant reservoir.
You're done! Make sure to check the oil level again once you're gone on a drive. Just keep the level in-between the marks on the dipstick and you'll be good to go.