How to Replace the Spark Plugs on a Beetle


Changing your own spark plugs can really improve your vehicle's performance, as well as increase your understanding of your car's operation and save you some money. Since Volkswagen Beetle owners are notorious for going above and beyond to keep their cars drivable long after other owners would have consigned them to the junkyard, changing the spark plugs can be a great way for the new Beetle handyman to begin to become familiar with the mechanics involved in a Volkswagen Beetle and keep their car running smoothly.

Things You'll Need

  • New spark plugs
  • 5/8th inch socket or spark plug socket
  • Socket wrench
  • Anti-seize compound
  • Locate your spark plugs. If you are unfamiliar with the layout of your Volkswagen Beetle's engine, refer to your owner's manual for a diagram of the engine and the spark plugs. If you do not have a manual, locate your spark plugs by finding the distributor cap on the rear of the engine, which will have four large wires leading from it. Trace these four wires outward, where they will connect to the four spark plugs in your vehicle.

  • Grab the end of the spark plug wire where it meets the spark plug. Pull in a straight vertical motion away from the engine, rather than at an angle. Be sure to pull on the end of the wire, rather than on the wire itself. This should expose the hole which contains the spark plug.

  • Attach the 5/8th inch socket or spark plug socket to the socket wrench, and lower it into the hole until it fits snugly around the spark plug. Rotate the socket wrench counter-clockwise until the spark plug comes free and can be withdrawn. Be careful not to hit the spark plug against the inside of the hole, or to strip the spark plug with the socket wrench.

  • Smear a small amount of anti-seize compound around the threads of the new spark plug. Insert the new spark plug into the spark plug socket, and lower it into the hole. Rotate the socket wrench clockwise until the spark plug tightens, then rotate an additional 1/8 of a turn to properly adjust the torque.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remove only one spark plug wire at a time to avoid mixing up the wires, which can severely damage your engine. After a spark plug has been completely replaced and the wire reattached, move on to the next wire.
  • If your spark plug wires are as old as your plugs, it would improve performance to replace them as well. Simply remove the wire from the distributor cap and reattach a new wire.
  • Never do this procedure while the engine is running. Always let the engine cool before beginning to change your spark plugs.

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  • Photo Credit yellow car image by JoLin from
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