Repair: Assembling a toolbox

What’s in your toolbox?  That’s probably a very personal question to some folks.  Over the years people amass a pile of tools for working on modern cars.  I know this to be true because I have a lot of fairly specialized tools for vehicles I own or have owned.  Yes, I even own a cam belt tensioner adjustment tool for a MKIV vintage Jetta 2.0 Litre.

MKIV (Jetta/Golf) timing belt wrench. Yes, you really need one of these for a timing belt job…

The beetle is  different though.  Elegant simplicity.  Only a few hand tools are really required to work on them.  I’m going to start a list below for those folks that are just getting started in the hobby, or want to do a spot check on their bug toolbox and mention some spare parts that you might like to have while traveling.

I’m not the first guy to come up with this idea, and some of the fathers of Volkswagens like John Muir have even suggested to build a  Phase 1, 2, or 3 toolbox depending on what job was in front of you.

A handy place to buy metric tools these days are closeout sales.   The metric sets sell less often at retail than SAE tools, so the metric tools are often re-sold by the liquidators. Thats good for us German car lovers.  Other good places to look are surplus shops.  Some surplus shops actually continuously retail off-brand tools that may not be as high of quality that I would use for some jobs, but allow you to purchase odd ball sized wrenches and sockets at fractions of what you may normally pay.

On my late-model bug, I’m including my list of workshop hand tools.  I carry a subset of these with me in my small tool box in the bug.  If you have an earlier bug, you may need to advise me of the tools you need.  If you have a Type 2, 3 or a 4 – again – I’d be happy to know about your list too. Send them along and I’ll post them.

I don’t differentiate here if you should use a socket or a wrench – sometimes you may want either or both.

Here goes (by type, size and example uses):


6 mm – late-model front drum locking bolt
8 mm – front beam control arms and torsion bar retainer
17 mm – transmission oil filler and drain plugs, IRS trailing arm bolts

Triple Square

8mm – CV Joint bolts


7 mm hex – brake bleeder nipples
8 mm hex – heater cable nuts, accelerator cable nuts
10 mm hex – various including –  sump plate, distributor clamp, coil
13 mm hex – various – including carb, fuel pump, intake, exhaust – to name a few
14 mm hex – brake hoses, carb needle & seat
15 mm hex –  cylinder heads
17 mm hex – engine attachment nuts, steering damper
19 mm hex – some shock absorber mounts, stock lug bolts
13/16 – Spark Plug socket (…but if you insist we can call this a 21 mm)
21 mm hex – Fan pulley
24 mm hex – Late model steering wheel nut
27 mm hex – Rear transmission bracket, steering wheel nuts
30 mm hex – Crankshaft pulley
36 mm hex – Flywheel gland nut, rear wheel gland nuts, cooling fan nut


A small assortment of small/medium/large phillips and flat head style.  Perhaps even a thin shoulder flat for carb adjustment.


Slipjoint, linesmans, side cutter, small/large vicegrip and some waterpump pliers (the irony!)

Test equipment

Basic 6/12 Volt test lamp
Volt/Ohm Meter


S-wrench – Handy for a carburetor or fuel pump
Line wrenches – for brake lines and hoses

13 mm “S” wrench
11 mm line wrench (of good quality)
14 mm line wrench (of good quality)
3/8 Drive Torque Wrench
1/2 Drive Torque Wrench
Feeler Gauges

Spare Parts

The obvious parts for me are:

  • Points
  • Condenser
  • Rotor
  • Cap
  • Fuel Filter
  • Section of fuel line & a couple of clamps
  • Section of wire and some crimp on terminals
  • Electrical tape  & duct tape
  • Couple of 6mm & 8mm nuts
  • Fuses
  • Fan-Alt/Gen Belt
  • Valve cover gasket
  • Litre of oil

What else do you keep in your tool box or emergency kit?  Send us a message or log-in to post a comment.