How can I learn how to work on my new 30-year-old VW Rabbit (Diesel)?
August 17, 2012 1:42 PM   Subscribe

Best shop manuals and online forums for vintage VW Diesel Rabbit owners?

I'm the next recent owner of a 30-year-old Volkswagen Diesel Rabbit. Are there any passionate VW drivers out there who can point me towards the best books (especially shop manuals) and online resources? I'm looking for something like brickboard but for older VWs, not Volvos obviously. Or good blogs about working on cars, or learning to be a shade-tree diesel monkey, or even good website recommendations for parts. I'm excited to try and learn the basics for this vehicle, although I've heard that German cars are a pain in the neck to work on. "Everything is upside down and backwards and wired up funny and if you think the job will take an afternoon, it will probably take four days," seems to be the consensus so far. If it matters, I'm in the USA's Pacific Northwest. Most of my mechanical tinkering has been in the military, so now I'm excited to do this finally for fun. The vehicle in question is a 1983 four-door model, with the 1.6L diesel engine. This is a four-door hatchback, but mechanically very similar to the "Caddy" truck that VW produced, so I expect a lot of resources for the two would overlap. Thanks for your help!
posted by seasparrow to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The best service manuals for VWs are the Bentley manuals.

For watercooled VW forums, is the big one, but they tend to be more fanboy than repair and maintenance.
posted by hwyengr at 1:59 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Correction, this is the right link for the diesel manual.
posted by hwyengr at 2:01 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: TDIClub has some older diesel discussion in the forums.
posted by disaster77 at 2:10 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There's actually a book in the series starting with John Muir's classic VW bible that is for rabbits and sciroccos. (Link for available texts.) For a mech new to VWs, this will be GREAT guidance. (Feels like you have an old grey-beard mentor in the garage with you.) That's probably the best advice I can give.

FWIW, german cars are awesome to work on. They're beautifully engineered. Funny military connection too; there are quite a few of these on the NAS where I work. Older Navy aviators and maintainers LOVE these things. Once you get it right and get into a regular maintenance cycle, these suckers last forever.

Good luck and have fun! (Feel free to memail me if you ever get stuck.)
posted by snsranch at 4:34 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Came in to recommend, now second, the Bentley manuals.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:50 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Based on your recommendation, I just bought the Bentley manual, and wow, you are right-- it is good. Thanks for all of the help! Now the real fun starts.
posted by seasparrow at 5:25 PM on August 24, 2012

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