Buyers Guide

What to look out for

It’s always important to make sure you know exactly what you’re buying when searching for your first VW Beetle. Hopefully a few of these tips will help you make the right decision to ensure you get exactly what you want out of this classic car.

There are literally millions out there so there’s no need to rush into buying the first one you see. The beetle could be the car of your dreams but have a think about how much you’re willing to pay and exactly what style of beetle you’re interested in. Beetles have buckets of character but as with any vintage car there are always things to look out for. As with most buyers guide we’re going to point out that rust is one of the most important factors in deciding which car deserves to part you with your hard earned cash.

Rust Never Sleeps

The best place to look on first inspection is the panel between the door and the rear fender. You need to know if there are signs of rust along the bottom of it. Rot here is a sign that the wheel arch has rotted through in front of the rear wheels, allowing water to enter through the sills.

Rust in this area gets into the rocker panels, heater channels and finally the floor pan as water enters the car. Make sure you have a look down between the running boards and the rocker panels for signs of the outer panel rusting through, Give the running board a little shake and listen for sounds of crumbling metal.

It’s very important the check under the front wing behind the wheel, again rust is very common here and if rusted through it can allow water to enter the vehicle through the heater channels. Carefully check the condition of the front beam, the spare wheel well is another weak spot and should be examined. Have a look at the rubber seal round the edge of the body work for signs of rust or rot.

At the rear of the car look at the rear bumper mountings, as they are prone to rust as dirt and salt are thrown up by the rear wheels. While you are under there look at the condition of the body mounting panels adjacent to the top of the rear shock absorbers for corrosion.

Open the doors and inspect the condition at the bottom of the door pillars (right) if there is signs of rot then this can be an expensive job to put right. Look under the carpet by the foot well and see if the floor is wet and if the heater channel is rotten.

Lifting up the rear seat and take a good hard look at the state of the body down in the corners near the heater channels (left) by the regulator on later cars is a good idea. You could also lift up the carpet under the rear window and take a look for signs of rust on the floor of the luggage area. One final check is underneath the battery as this is another favorite area as battery acid eats its way in to metal.

Listening to the exhaust while the car is running is also a good tip, see if you can hear evidence of the exhaust or the heat exchangers being holed, this might be something you can discuss with the owner to bring down the price a little the exhaust box itself is only about £30, but the heat exchangers will set you back about £50 each.

A test drive can be a good time to pick out any underlying problems the car might have. Check if the brakes are pulling to one side when you come to stop as well as checking the steering for play – check the horn and the lights properly. Then get out and check the body panels for evidence of filler, you can do this by taking a magnet with you, and trying to stick it to any suspect part, a magnet will stick to metal but of course not to body filler.

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