Technical Articles

Changing the oil

The 912E Owner’s Manual recommends changing the oil every 5,000 miles or at least every 6 months, and also changing the oil filter regularly.

The first step of an oil change is draining the old oil. Make sure your engine is warm so that the old oil will drain out more easily. Lay down an old towel or a piece of cardboard under the engine - no matter how careful you are, some oil usually spills onto your garage floor or driveway. Crawl under your engine and locate the two possible oil drain locations. One is the sump plate, held to the engine case with a 13mm nut in the center. The other is off to the side of the plate and is usually either a regular hex-head drain plug or an allen head drain plug. That’s the one you want to remove, if possible. Sometimes the main drain plug is on too tight and then you have to remove the nut that holds the sump plate on.

If you can get the main drain plug out, do so and let the oil drain into your drain pan.

If you have to get the sump plate out instead, simply undo the 13mm nut in the middle. Sometimes it will fall out, sometimes you will have to coax the plate out. At any rate, the sump plate hides an oil screen, much like the Type 1 VW engine, except it attaches differently. You should probably remove the plate anyway, but it’s easier and less messy with the oil already drained. When you get the screen out, clean it as well as the sump plate. Mineral spirits is good, with an old rag or paper towel.

Then move on to the oil filter. You will see it on the driver’s side of the engine (left), hanging straight down and in a tight spot. You will probably need a cup-type oil filter wrench if you can’t get it off with your hands. Tip: while you’re at your auto parts store buying the filter, find a cup-type wrench that will fit over the replacement filter and buy that. Get a good quality replacement filter - Mann, Knecht, or Mahle brand. Avoid anything else. Loosen the filter, with wrench or hands, and get the drain pan under it. The filter holds about a half a quart of oil and there will be drips from the filter mount.

Once all the oil has drained out, prep the new filter by opening one of your new oil bottles and sticking your finger in. Get a little oil on your fingertip, and spread it around the rubber gasket on the filter. It helps make the seal. Then wipe off the filter mount with a paper towel and screw the new filter on, hand tight only. Do not use the filter wrench to tighten the filter. Now, you can put the screen back in, preferably with new gaskets. Put the whole assembly back in the way it came out, and then start the 13mm (M8) nut. WARNING: DO NOT overtighten this nut. The torque spec. is 12.7 Nm or 9.4 lb-ft.

Now you can also put the main drain plug back in, and torque it to 21.6 Nm or 15.9 lb-ft. Replace the washer here too, if possible.

Back up to the engine bay, open the oil filler cap and add the appropriate amount of engine oil. The Owner’s Manual recommends a premium grade HD oil according to API classification SD or SE, viscosity SAE 30 for summer and SAE 20 for winter. For constant temperatures between +5° F and +32° F, use SAE 20 W 20, and for constant temperatures below +5° F, use SAE 10 W. The engine capacity is 3.7 U.S. qts / 3.5 liters with filter change, 3.17 U.S. qts / 3.0 liters without filter change. Take the opportunity to check the rubber seal on the oil filler cap, and make sure to tighten the cap well.

Check the oil level on the dipstick. It may seem high initially, but the oil needs time to settle, especially in these engines, where about 1/2 a quart will stay in the oil filter after starting. Start the engine and check for leaks and also check to make sure the oil pressure light goes out when it’s supposed to.

That’s it, you’re done your oil change. Take the old oil and put it in some kind of container, gallon milk jugs are good. Then take it to your local oil recycling place (most auto parts stores will recycle it too).

DISCLAIMER: These procedures are presented as guidelines ONLY. They reflect particular jobs that were performed by 912E enthusiasts and are offered here as a guide to others who might need to do the same procedure. No representations as to the accuracy of the information contained here is made. The procedures were written to help other 912E owners. These guidelines should always be used in conjunction with a good set of repair manuals, such as those listed above.