1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle -- Engine/Clutch Frozen/Seized?

Just got a 1974 Super Beetle 4-speed that had been stored for the last 5 years in a shed. It had never been run during that time, and, predictably, it won’t start. Battery has been replaced. When the key is turned (car in neutral or in gear w/the clutch pedal depressed), you can hear the starter engage to try to turn the engine over, but nothing happens – zero rotation. Seems like something(s) is(are) frozen.

Additional info that’s probably relevant: In neutral the car can be pushed. If the transmission is in gear with the clutch pedal depressed, the car cannot be pushed.

Any thoughts on where and how to start the unfreezing process? Thanks in advance.

Take out plugs and try to turn over motor, use hands or wrench on pully. If motor turns then try Putting it in 3rd gear and push it to try to break loose clutch.

Sounds like the clutch is not releasing.

Remove the spark plugs, squirt a small amount of oil into each cylinder, and see if you can turn the engine with a wrench on the crankshaft pulley bolt (the transmission in neutral). If you can turn the engine it’s not frozen.

Then put the transmission in first or reverse (spark plugs removed) and see if you can push the car. It should move without too much effort if the spark plugs are out. If it moves the transmission is free and the problem is the clutch.

Remember Marty McFly in Back to the Future. The scene where that bug cranks right up was great,too bad VW’s weren’t really that reliable.

That being said it would be odd for one to sieze up from the effects of storage.

These cars were very easy to get moving if you coud not operate the clutch (as in the cable or any other half dozen problems kept the clutch from operating) It was very common to put the car in second gear and with a clear path get moving on starter power and when the engine catches your on your way.

Perhaps the VW was put in storage with the engine locked up. If water got in the cylinders it could be locked up on the pistons(from rust or hydro,perhaps fuel). I don’t think a crankshaft lock up would happen from storage.

Use a socket and ratchet on the crankshaft bolt and apply some grunt to it.
If it does not rotate then remove the plugs, squirt some oil in the cylinders, and allow it to sit all night.

If it does not rotate the next day then it may be decision time about removing the engine.
If the engine is seized due to lack of oil, prior severe overheating due to a loose fan belt or frozen thermostatic flaps, or a swallowed valve (not that rare), then it will need an overhaul.

Is it claimed that the car was running fine when parked and if this claim is made how sure are you that the claim is the truth?

Thanks to hd72mm, mcparadise, oldschool and ok4450 for the inputs.

I’m sure that the car was running fine when it was put into storage. This is a vehicle that’s been in my extended family since it was new. At the time it was put away, long-term storage wasn’t the plan.

I probably won’t have a chance to try your suggestions until next weekend. I’ll post a reply and let you know how things turn out.

I second hs72mm but add that I would squirt some oil into the cylinders via the plug hole first. Leave the plugs out (mark the wires) and push it then pop the clutch. Rocketman

how does your clutch pedal feel? Does it move to the floor with little effort? It should take some effort. That will let you know if your clutch is engaging/disengaging. There should be between 10 and 20 mm. I recommend the bentley book (ISBN: 0-8376-0096-0) as you troubleshoot and fix your super. www.thesamba.com is also a great website as you can search their forums, purchase parts, and learn some neat tricks.