book review January 01, 1997
I remember the day I received "How to Keep your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step by Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot" by John Muir (and yes, it really is spelled "compleat!"). I was 16 years old and browsing around the local BAP in the books section while my dad was talking with the salesman about getting a new long block engine for my 70 beetle. Initially I was attracted to the cartoon on the cover, so I picked it up and started flipping through it. I quickly realized this was my kind of book... because it was aimed at the complete idiot! The cartoon drawings throughout the book were eye-catching and I loved the author's sarcastic undertone and snide jokes throughout.
The book starts off with detailed explainations of how an air-cooled Volkswagen engine works, complete with diagrams and illustrations. This is intended for people who know absolutely nothing about cars or Volkswagens. It is very straight-forward and easy to grasp. The next part was general maintanence procedures to do every so often on your air-cooled VW, don't worry, the author tells you exactly when to do them to keep your VW humming along. The book then goes on explaining how to fix your VW if it breaks. What to do if the engine doesn't start, if the brakes don't work, if the red light goes on, if the green light goes on, even how to overhaul the engine. The drawings were easy to follow and everything is laid out in layman's terms, none of that techy mechanic gibberish.
There are even fun sections to read, like the history of the air-cooled Volkswagen, what changes were made throughout the years, even engine codes for each model! This is just a fun book to read from beginning to end, it's that entertaining!
The only downside I see is for serious mechanics who wish to really delve into their VW and do customization work or modifications, this book doesn't do that. But if you are just a simpleton who wants to learn how air-cooled Volkswagens run and do simple procedures, this book is for you! Be sure to buy two copies, one for your garage while you are working on your VW, and one to keep nice and clean on your bookshelf. You'll be glad you did!
Now it's 15 years later and I still love this book! If I had to have only one repair manual "How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive" by John Muir would be it!