Rebuilding the Beetle’s brakes

A car that drives is no good unless it stops.

In the case of the ’73 Beetle, it most definitely does not stop. After sitting for a while, the brakes were questionable. Once a firm push on the brake pedal happened, one of the wheel cylinders blew and puked fluid all over the place. What a mess.


After the 36mm castle nut on the rear drums were removed (with a big breaker bar…253 ft. lbs. of torque on them) the wheels could be removed. Once I got a look inside the drums, I knew it all had to be replaced. Everything was saturated in brake fluid and the drums were toast.


It’s a pretty easy set up, and the spring pliers only needed to be used for the top spring. I got “ok-ish” pads from the local parts store and found Raybestos drums online for about $35 each. A steal considering the VW sites wanted $80+. Everything was disassembled and new parts laid out.

Pro tip to anyone doing this at home…do NOT put your new front and rear brake parts together after disassembling the brakes. You will have no reference and you WILL have a bad time. It works currently so I think I got it figured out.

Everything was reassembled for both the front and rear brakes. The front shoes were replaced even though they looked OK because the replacements were $14 and why not. New shoes, hardware, and cylinders all the way around. The rears have new drums but the fronts don’t because they are fine. The lines also looked fine as they had been replaced a year or so before the car was taken off the road so no replacement.


Once that was done, it was time to replace the master cylinder which I cheaped out on…I went Brazilian instead of German. I’m sure it’s fine for my purposes…

The old cylinder came out easily. It was leaking at the base, so it was definitely time for a swap. The new one bolted right up and new blue braided line was attached. Then, instead of bench bleeding, we used a Motive Power Bleeder and it seemed to do the job. We also manually bled as I don’t think the power bleeder got all the air out. Probably operator error by yours truly.


The brakes seem to grab well for now. The pedal does go closer to the floor than I would like so I will have to check on that, but it’ll be fine for testing purposes (shoutout to Ike).

Now that it stops sorta-kinda-maybe, it’s time to get her running!

2 Comment

  1. PJ. says: Reply

    When you where having such a hard time starting your Poulan rider, next simply set the vavles. I gathered this from watching the first 5 min of part 1.
    P.s. love the show

  2. Josh Holloway says: Reply

    Hey Guys just found ya’ll on Facebook and been checking out your videos with my son. I had an idea for a drag bike setup. Instead of 1 big back wheel . 2half that size small connection axle for sprocket to set some what Center. To keep engine more center.

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