How to Replace a Volkswagen Bug Master Cylinder

Written by thomas west
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How to Replace a Volkswagen Bug Master Cylinder
Replace your Bug's master cylinder to restore braking power. (yellow car image by JoLin from

Volkswagen is a German company that imported its small, rear-engine car to North America starting in the late 1940s. The car was nicknamed the "Bug," or "Beetle," because of its sloping front and rear design, but the official name of the car was the "Type 1" until 1968, after which the "Type 2" designation was used. Volkswagen phased the Bug out of the market in the late 1970s after selling millions of cars. The brakes on all four of the Bug's wheels are controlled by the brake master cylinder. The brake pedal is connected to a plunger in the master cylinder that sends fluid equally to each wheel when the pedal is depressed, activating the brakes.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stand
  • Lug wrench
  • Syringe
  • Container for used brake fluid
  • Tubing wrench
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Replacement master cylinder
  • Brake fluid

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  1. 1

    Raise the driver's side front wheel of your Bug with a floor jack and slide a jack stand under the frame rail. Lower the floor jack. Remove the lug nuts with a lug wrench turned in a counterclockwise direction. Remove the wheel and place it aside.

  2. 2

    Open the front bonnet and remove the cap from the master cylinder reservoir, located on the driver's side of the compartment. Siphon the brake fluid from the reservoir with a syringe. Place the fluid into a container for disposal or recycling.

  3. 3

    Look through the access hole on the driver's side wheel well and locate the master cylinder attached to the firewall. Disconnect the steel brake lines from the master cylinder with a tubing wrench turned in a counterclockwise direction. Pull the wires from the brake light switch located at the base of the master cylinder by hand. Pull the rubber hose from the top of the master cylinder that comes from the master cylinder reservoir above.

  4. 4

    Loosen and remove the two master cylinder holding bolts located in the passenger compartment behind the accelerator pedal with an adjustable wrench turned in a counterclockwise direction. Remove the master cylinder through the access hole in the driver's wheel well.

  5. 5

    Place the new master cylinder back through the access hole in the driver's wheel well. Line up the mounting holes in the cylinder to the threaded holes in the firewall. Replace the holding bolts, and tighten with an adjustable wrench in a clockwise direction from the passenger compartment behind the accelerator pedal.

  6. 6

    Reattach the brake lines to the master cylinder, and tighten with a tubing wrench in a clockwise direction. Plug the wires back into the brake light switch. Push the rubber hose back onto the top of the master cylinder.

  7. 7

    Refill the master cylinder reservoir with brake fluid and replace the cap. Pump the brake pedal a few times. Bleed the air from the system if necessary before driving the car.

  8. 8

    Replace the wheel and tighten the lug nuts. Raise the car and slide the jack stand from underneath. Lower the car.

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