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1973 VW Beetle motor seized?

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New User

Oct 26, 2012, 3:23 PM

Post #1 of 7 (4095 views)
1973 VW Beetle motor seized? Sign In

I recently bought a 1973 VW Beetle and it has driven really well until this morning. I will try to provide as much info as possible on what I know and experienced but I should admit I am brand new to the VW scene and don't have great depth of knowledge when it comes to vehicles. I live in Utah and recently it has gotten very cold. I started my bug this morning around 7 (still very cold from the night temps) and it started just fine. I was drove down the street and shifted from 1st to second w/ no problems, I then turned the corner and again shifted from first to second and was accelerating when all of a sudden my motor shut off. I coasted to a stop and tried to start it again but when I did, it clicked and makes a noise (only 1 time per time I try to start it) like it tries to turn over. I had to leave but came back about 4 hours later and tried to start it and got the same result. I tried putting it in a gear (3rd gear, i figured it would be easier to push in a higher gear..?) and pushing it (because I had the thought that it might be seized and this was the only way i knew how to check) and I can't push it forward or backward.

I have no idea what to do.. Any direction would be greatly appreciated. Also, if I have left some necessary pieces of information out, please let me know and I will post it.

Thank you for your time!


I just went out and put it in fourth and pushed in backward. It went backward a few feet but was really difficult...

Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Oct 26, 2012, 3:47 PM

Post #2 of 7 (4081 views)
Re: 1973 VW Beetle motor seized? Sign In

Put a wrench on the crankshaft bolt and see if you can turn the engine by hand.


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Oct 26, 2012, 3:49 PM

Post #3 of 7 (4077 views)
Re: 1973 VW Beetle motor seized? Sign In

No warnings of this ahead of time? OK - yes the higher gears will have more leverage to turn engine that way w pushing it. It did turn so unless clutch was slipping it's not totally locked up but unless in a strange situation where the car is shouldn't be that hard to push one of these.

Is oil up to mark on dipstick? Dang things only hold a few quarts so using some will be a disaster quickly - hope not but maybe.

I think all these had was a red oil light for oil pressure which should light up with just key in "run" position and may have blown the bulb out since 1973? That type warning would still work now with a seized engine just as a bulb check turning key or with ignition in run position without running = no oil pressure which happens if not running, out or way too low of oil or a pump failure.

Check oil now. If low add to full mark. Try turning engine again by pushing first then with starter but oil hasn't circulated yet in that scenario so may take some help to damn it as really seized or not. Good news is I bet the whole engine is available no problem - I'll let you check when and if that's the deal on how much and how fast you can get one. Easy installation as things go if car is nice enough to go to that extreme,


New User

Oct 26, 2012, 5:59 PM

Post #4 of 7 (4062 views)
Re: 1973 VW Beetle motor seized? Sign In

okay so i just got back in.. here's the update... I had a friend help me push it.. ( i don't have a wrench big enough to turn it by hand ) It pushed pretty good so I am leaning toward maybe an electrical problem. The fuel pump worked great, there is plenty of oil. No oil indicator lights were on other than the normal red light before it starts.
However, I can't fathom why it would have just quit like that while I was accelerating in 2nd. let me know what you think. I am going to go start doing some wire hunting and see if I can find a problem there.

Thanks so much!!

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Oct 26, 2012, 10:53 PM

Post #5 of 7 (4039 views)
Re: 1973 VW Beetle motor seized? Sign In

Slow down a bit. Fuel or not isn't the issue yet. It was a mechanical fuel pump requiring engine to crank and run (I think) so if not cranking or turning that couldn't pump fuel and doesn't matter yet.

That "red" light is probably the oil warning and no marking as to what it is as you are supposed to know. It's a bit before putting any standardized icons for much of anything. These were sold everywhere by the zillions w just a few changes for a particular destination. About 10 years earlier they didn't have fuel gauges but just a lever to get X # more miles on reserve!

I understand not having the socket or wrench to turn the crank bolt and no need if you can and have the space and help to watch it turn pushing in gear thing.

Smile, this is early for a front wheel drive vehicle that has FOUR gears in reverse and just switch which window you look out and steer from.

If you can see it turn the engine move on to jump starting the battery hopefully with a jumper box not another vehicle unless you really know the OTHER vehicle's electronic controls as one mistake you'll hurt the donor car. Your battery might be under back seat - that I can't recall. HEY - IF IT'S IN ANY ENCLOSED AREA INSIDE CAR OR UP FRONT IN TRUNK IT MUST HAVE VENTS ON IT HOOKED UP TO VENT GASSES OUTSIDE NOT INTO CAR! If you even think you smell anything anywhere near a battery don't go near it, vent it, take it out (neg cable off first and back on last) and get the battery checked. THOSE BATTERIES THAT ARE UNDER SEATS AND SUCH MUST BE SPECIAL WITH TUBES TO VENT OUTSIDE! That's highly explosive gas - no games with that.

Try to get to a cranking situation and if it doesn't start then let's chase down fuel delivery or spark problems if it cranks. No cranking you wont know much quite yet. May need help just to determine just what the root problem is as I don't know your abilities.

Simple car but like any needs the basics to run,


Things are inconclusive just yet without some more observations.

New User

Oct 27, 2012, 7:36 AM

Post #6 of 7 (4029 views)
Re: 1973 VW Beetle motor seized? Sign In

update: I found the issue!! there was a connector that was way old and halfway torn off the wire that connects the batter to the regulator. when i grabbed it to inspect it, it finished tearing (thats how fragile it was). there must have just been a small amount of juice to the starter because the instant I changed the connector and re-connected it. It fired right up. I feel somewhat sheepish for thinking it was something so complex as my motor having seized and for that I apologize. I am learning though and I'd like to thank you for your time spent helping me. It was a good place to land in a moment of panic. Thank you.

Veteran / Moderator
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Oct 27, 2012, 8:22 PM

Post #7 of 7 (4015 views)
Re: 1973 VW Beetle motor seized? Sign In

A word of caution.If memory serves me right ,,,,,,,,,,,what was the question? Oh yea . The 73 bug was rear engined rear wheel drive and was AIR COOLED. The alt/gen belt also drives the cooling fan . If the belt should break or slip badly the eng will really seize.


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