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1971 VW Superbeetle with the Shakes

I recently bought a 71 Super beetle that I lOVE! Except . . . when accelerating it tends to shake at about 45 mpg. When driving at a constant speed of 35-50 it can also develop a shake. Also, when braking even as low as 10 - 25 mph, the front end will shake. I do notice a pretty severe pumping feel to the brake peddle when I apply pressure and this seems to induce the low mph shake. I have checked the tightness of all the front end parts and everything looks pretty good. My wheel bearings are fine also. The one thing I have a question about is the play in my steering box, even after the wheel stops turning, when I turn them by hand, the steering shaft into the steering box rotates almost another full turn. Any Ideas. I am looking for some assistance nailing down the problem before I replace every part in the front end trying to find it. Thanks!

Check the steering dampner (I honestly can’t remember if Super Bettles had them, all the other Bugs did and it was a common failure,I can’t see why SB’s wouldn’t have one)

Super Bettles wenr through front struts (shocks) quickly, the first car I ever changed a McCpherson strut on.

The top of VW steering boxes liked to come loose (tighten up the bolts that hold the cover on)

71 Was The First Super Beetle
I bought one brand new for $2350 with sunroof.

Follow Old School’s advice. Those front-ends were a little sensitive. Front wheel balance is pretty critical. Balance and check the front wheels/tires for running true and being “round.” Steering dampers are necessary. They are fairly easy and should be inexpensive. Replace it, next.

I remember almost every one of the 71 Super Beetles having the same problems you describe. VW had to make new track arm bushings and warranty almost every original one. I would check those rubber insulated track arm bushings, one on each side, toward the center of the front end, and you might as well check the ball joints on the outboard ends, too. The track arm bushings press in (press required) after removing the track arm, unless some outfit now sells the whole thing. I’m not so sure you can tell by looking at at them if they’re good or bad.

Get that steering box looked at by an experienced VW person. It sounds dangerous. I think most of them have an adjusting screw with a locking nut to take out play.

Good Luck!

I forgot about those inner bushings,your addition was appreciated, the bushings were quite a problem.

The steering dampner can be frustrating to install, install it with the front wheels straight ahead.

No Problem, I Sold A lot Of Those!

It seems to me the part was #113 407 401D for the improved bushing. That could be it. I can’t remember where I set my coffee cup down, but those stupid part numbers are burned into my cranial “hard drive.”

To address the part about brake pedal pumping, that could be related to warped brake drums. This was a common problem with the old Bugs and Beetles due to the wide lug nut spacing and people overtightening the lugs.

Many a fresh brake job has been ruined when someone installed the wheels and got overzealous with an air wrench.

The proper method for machining the drums was to loosen the lugs, tighten them to specs, and machine the drum with the wheel in place. The car owner is then advised to use care in the future with wheel removal and replacement. (Ha. Like that will be remembered)

To determine if the rear drums are at fault run the car up to speed, shift into neutral, and stop the car with the park brake. If the problem persists it’s in the rear; if it’s gone away then it’s the front.

(I would also add that a shake can be caused by improperly adjusted brake shoes)

Yeah, the steering damper was a piece of Cake. I pulled it out and it was smooth throughout its entire range. I have decided to simply replace the entire front end: Tie Rods, Tie Rod ends, sway bar, struts, all bushings, pitman arms, damper, etc . . . I am also going to replace the steering box as I cannot tighten the adjustments in it any more than they are tightened already. I am intending a slow but complete restore on this car so new components will do the trick I think. I would rather nip the problem in the bud than not fix the problem and have the “shakes” ruin new components. FYI Middamericanmotorworks now sells a very nice very comprehensive front end rebuild kit. Thanks for your help

It is suppose to have resistance to movement (like a shock absorber)

That damper should be smooth, but it also should have a good deal of resistance. It is basically a shock absorber. At least with the 111’s (the original Beetle) were a common problem as the car aged.

In comparing the Dampers, I could detect no discernable difference between the new and old and so decided to save some money. I have bought and will soon intall new stuts in the front end. I am more and more certain of this being, at the least, having its source in the steering box. sometimes the steering is tight, sometimes loose. I have checked the cover, and there is NO PLAY in the adjustment screws for the box (I have done this before) and so I will just be replacing it next.(Thank you 1 for having the most expensive steering boxes in the VW family.) I hardly drive it right now because I am wary of having the steering box fail while going down the road. (thats the fast track to serious front end problems eh?)

oh, and a complete bushing replacement (urethane) is in store for the front end in March