HOW-TO: Replace Starter Bushing PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vince Waldon   
Monday, 05 November 2007

This HOW-TO covers removing and replacing the starter bushing in the A1/A2/A3 VW and their air-cooled cousins.

 This is an important proceedure any time the starter is removed, replaced, or if the bushing makes noise.  In particular, most new Bosch starters come complete with a new bushing and a warning label that states the warrenty is void if the bushing is not replaced.


  • Use these instructions at your own risk
  • Read them through from beginning to end before starting
  • This is how I do things… it is not necessarily the right way nor the best way !
  • Using equipment,tools, and supplies incorrectly could result in serious injury to you or your property or even death


Please note:  You can click on any thumbnail below to see a larger version of the image.  After viewing the large image, you can click anywhere outside the white image border to return to your spot in the text.


Parts needed:

       1     new starter bushing  


Supplies needed:

  1. general purpose grease (I use Canadian Tire's finest)
  2. brake drum cleaner
  3. compressed air


Tools needed:

  1. 11mm tap (7/16" should work as well) if working on a water-cooled VW, 12mm if air-cooled.
  2. 1/4" socket and ratchet to drive the tap
  3. 7/16" bolt and nut... used as a drift
  4. hammer















Step 1: Disassembly


Start the tap in the bushing:










Use the 1/4" socket to to rotate the tap:









As you rotate the tap it will eventually bottom out and then drive out the bushing:









  Keep turning until you have completely removed the bushing:







  If you find that the tap turns and bottoms out but doesn't extract the bushing it may be that your bushing is so worn the threads are too thin with your current tap and you need to try the next size bigger.



Step 2   Reassembly:


Clean the hole with brake drum cleaner and compressed air:









Coat the new bushing with grease and place it in the hole:











Place the bolt/nut combination in the bushing:











Tap gently with a hammer:










This will completely seat the new bushing:









Add a bit more grease and it's ready for the starter:









  Tempting as it is, don't overdo it with the grease... too much and your starter will be surprisingly difficult to reinstall!


I like to seal the greased bushing with tape to keep crap out of the grease until the starter is ready to install.  A flap of  tape reminds me that it's there !! 









End of Proceedure 


Comments (30)Add Comment
written by chris zornes, October 09, 2016
I have installed a new bushing for my 6 volt starter. I now sits in slightly deeper than "flush" with the bushing hole. (Looking from the rear-engine out). The old bushing seemed to sit in the bore deeper than it is now. The starter mates up just fine, no gap between the starter and tranny hole. The engine is not in, so I haven't tried the starter function as things are. Do I need to get the bushing any deeper into the bore in the tranny ?
Thanks for any help, advice, etc.

Hi Chris... IMHO as long as the new bushing isn't protruding, and thus preventing the starter drive from extending all the way, I think you're good.

In this case it sounds like it's back a bit from flush... sounds good to me!


written by AL, October 26, 2015
Have a 6 volt '64 Beetle w/frame shortened by 14" with a Meyers Manx body. Had to use a (14mm) tap to remove old bushing and used the 7/16" bolt and nut as suggested. It was easy and worked perfectly! Saved spending $35 on a bushing removal tool! Thank you so very much. AL (Wisconsin)
written by Randy, August 12, 2015
Outstanding! Worked perfectly with a 12mm tap! Thank you for sharing this information!
written by Tim , August 07, 2014
This worked great I had to use a 12 mm tap I was really nervous since the engine is in the car a not much room to work and afraid it would get stuck but it came out really easy and it was in bad shape I almost did not attempt it but I did and the new one went in easy thanks I'm glad you provided this info smilies/grin.gif
written by Mike, August 03, 2013
Had a 'hogged' out bushing hole in the bell housing as well. Got a new bushing from Tony's Auto Calgary. Worked some JB Weld into 'out of round' in the bell housing and a little around bushing. Put a washer (spacer) on starter shaft then bushing. Starter was installed with spacer/bushing and left overnight. Spacer was removed next day & starter re-installed. One year later and still like new. "If I could do it, anybody could."
Don't forget to support the engine when pulling the starter!
written by Charles, November 05, 2012
I'm replacing the third or forth starter on my wife's 91 jetta turbo diesel. She seems to always be draining the battery with those short shopping trips. Turns out the bushing that should have been in there is gone. Now I know why so much juice was needed and why the starters had such a short life. There appears to be no easy fix to this problem because the hole in the transmission case is enlarged and perhaps not even round. Does anyone know of an oversize bushing with an 11 mm inside diameter?Thank you in advance for your help.

Hi Charles...

Hmmm...tough luck for sure. That bushing takes a pounding.. particularly when it's starting a diesel. :-(

If it was any other application one might be able to JB Weld a new bushing in place, but given the stresses involved I bet a JB Weld repair would not last long.

I've never seen an off-the-shelf oversized bushing, but I bet a machine shop could make one for you... it's just standard Oilite sintered brass alloy... pretty common stuff. You'd probably have to pull the tranny to drill out the hole accurately... if it gets off-centre the starter will bind or slip.

Otherwise you may need a new tranny from a wreckers etc.

Best of luck,

written by Richard Stelma, August 19, 2012
These images look like the engine is out. I have a 84 Vanagon, water cooled, not much room to work. Me and a friend got the starter out with engine in but with so little room to work we examined the bushing carefully and after considering our options, the bushing looked clean and smooth, decided to clean and re-grease the bushing.

The new starter is back in and seems to be working fine. Is this process of replacing the bushing an engine out only deal only?


Hi Richard...

The pictures are done with the tranny on a bench for clarity but I've done both aircooled and watercooled VW bushings in place.

I've never done a Vanagon however, so perhaps there's a clearance issue that doesn't exist on other VW platforms. Could very well be...there's a lot packed into that engine compartment!



written by Mike, August 18, 2012
Great DIY instruction. 68 vw with engine still in car and first starter replacement. First attempts revealed badly worn bushing would not come out with either tap configuration. Shavings would indicate I was scarring the bell housing a little so I abandoned. Most of bushing remained so took screw driver and cut window with gentle taps down 1 side of bushing. It collapsed a little and I levered out bushing from housing. Use sprays of WD 40 (or other lubricant) occasionally to assist. I have images but do not know how to add to post. New bushing and starter install went flawlessly. Thx again.
written by Adam, September 06, 2011
Nope, 85 watercooled. Thanks for staying on top of this thread and helping everone out.
written by Adam, September 05, 2011
Went up to a 12 mm tap and it worked like a charm. Bushing started to crack a bit, but it all came out.

Good to hear, Adam. You don't mention it...but are you working on an air-cooled VW?? Just did one of those myself and 12mm was the right size... just a wee bit bigger than their water-cooled brethren. I'll amend the instructions to discuss both sizes.

written by Adam, September 03, 2011
rotated the tap into the bushhing and it started cutting the thread, however it never bottomed out. it just gets toa point and then just turns...

Hi Adam...

Sounds like your bushing was extremely worn and so the threads left behind by the 7/16 tap are pretty thin.

I'd be inclined to (a) try a slightly bigger tap or (b) remove the tap, thread in a long 7/16 bolt, and then use a big Crecent wrench as a slide-hammer to pull the bushing out.

written by William Moorefield, August 02, 2011
Thanks for the "tap" procedure to remove the starter bushing. I didn't think it would work! A bushing puller bought for $35 didn't budge the bushing but your "7/16ths tap trick" pulled it right out. The bushing just worked its way up the tap after the tap bottomed out. Did this with tranny in bus, laying on the ground with wheel off, and using an electric drill on very slow speed. You saved me a tow and a flat rate book charge of who knows what. Thanks again!!
written by bjh, April 17, 2011
I've no idea how many hours this saved me, but it would be a lot, I had absolutely no idea how to get that bushing out and since I couldn't pull the whole engine out it was really cramped. I needed a pretty long bolt for putting in the new one because of the awkward contortions, 5" ended up working well. Also, a proper adjustable inspection mirror makes a big difference.

Thanks for the great writeup!
written by Louie, January 06, 2011
I just bought a rebuilt bouch starter for my vw sandrail, and what I noticed right away was that the Armature bushing that came with the starter is alot smaller then the one I took out and the only that came out with the old start was sitting on the end of the drive end, not in the housing.
I guess my question is does the bushing need to tight and secured to the case? And do you know when I can get a bushing that would fit.
First time replacing a starter for a vw.
Thanks Louie

Hi Louie...unfortunately I can't offer much definitive help as I've been away from aircooled starters for a while... but I'd say if the bushing you were given isn't tight there's a pretty good chance it's the wrong bushing/starter. All of the starter's torque pries against that bushing when the engine is being cranked.. so in my mind it needs to be snug. The water-cooled version of the same system taps in with a hammer.

written by Robert Henrickson, December 18, 2010
Thanks so much for sharing this!!! Trying to find a puller small enough to go through the bushing is futile. Starter still isn't turning my '85 diesel fast enough, so there's more to do. This design is disgraceful engineering on VW's part. Bob East Nassau, NY
written by danb, June 25, 2010
Nice,,, It did not go exactly as planned as I discovered there was not a bushing present. Not good since I am the only person that has worked on this car in the last 37 years. Still an elegant solution to a difficult task.
written by Snowwag, March 23, 2010
smilies/grin.gif worked like a charm with a 7/16th tap while under the bus. Nice DIY and thanks. PS if your going to replace your starter. Spend a few more bucks and get new Bosch or factory rebuild. Will save you a ton of time in the long run... Keep on Bussin' smilies/grin.gif
written by Tom, March 11, 2010
Vince, Sir you are a genius. Picked the new starter this morning, found a note about the bushing. Called back to Auto Zone to see if they had "the special" tool, course not, the guy actually told me not to bother changing it. I felt different so I did a google and came across this. Worked like a charm, thanks!
written by Bob, February 22, 2010
Thanks! Super solution. could not have been slicker. smilies/smiley.gif
written by Maggie B, December 11, 2009
Amazing! I live on the island of Oahu in Hawaii and nobody had a bushing remover tool! This was so simple and easy to do. Now, I just have to re-order the bushing because like David, I bent mine trying to get it in! Any ideas where to order new ones?

Hi Maggie... thanks for your comments. This should be a very cheap part at a VW dealer, but assuming one of those is a couple of islands over the WorldPac mailorder guys carry 'em cheap as well.

written by Gord McFarling, November 12, 2009
A little trick to save upo some cleaning time. Cut a plastic cup and insert it base first under the bushing, and tape it in place. The swarf will fall into it, and when you are done it saves a lot of extra cleaning.
written by tina, October 07, 2009
Awesome tutorial. Bushing came out with ease. Just don't forget to clean the metal shavings out. First time working on my bus by myself and I feel like a pro. On the 78 a 10mm by 50mm bolt works best.
written by Rally Eddie, June 23, 2009
Great write up. The procedure worked flawlessly. I used a 7/16 tap since they are easier to find around town. Cheers.

Hi Eddie... glad to hear it worked for you... I've never personally tried the 7/16 tap but the math said it should work... glad to hear it does!!
written by David in Seattle, May 23, 2009
Thanks for the insightful tutorial.

I was able to get the old bushing out of my '74 Ghia, but I can't get the new one in. I ruined the bushing that came with my new starter, so I've had to order a replacement (actually 3, just in case.) How easy/difficult should it be to get the bushing even an 1/8" into the hole, so I can tap it in with the nut/bolt combination? Mine didn't seem to want to go in at all.

BTW, I'm trying to install in a vehicle that's still assembled, so I'm under the car, contorting myself to get into a position to reinsert the bushing. Thanks in advance for any help!
written by Josh, May 01, 2009
This same basic procedure will also work when rebuilding a diesel van starter, which houses two bearings in pressfit holes at each end of the shaft. However, these holes go completely through their housings, providing no base against which a tap will bottom out and then provide a screw-like function to remove the copper bushing. Carefully striking the tap with a suitable hammer will drive the bushings out of their holes. Inspect the old bushing surfaces, and drive the old bushing out from the direction that appears most suitable. Then install it from that same direction.

written by Stefan, March 22, 2009
Thanks for the photos and description. Made the job a breeze.
written by Brittany, February 01, 2009
Thank you for the pictures and descriptions. I have just installed a new bushing and am having troubles getting the starter in. When I put the bushing in, it went in easily at first, but I could not get the last fraction of an inch in. With a couple good wacks, it eventually appeared pretty flush, but I'm worried that it bent the bushing because now I can't reinstall the starter. How easy is it to put the starter in? Does it need a whack with the hammer or will that destroy the starter?

Any insights would be helpful.


Hi Brittany:

The starter should slide in fairly easily. When it doesn't what I normally find is that I've over-done it with the grease on the new bushing... this forms a bit of a plug and because the grease is thick and the bearing clearances are small the extra grease keeps the starter shaft from going in all the way.

Have a look and see if there's a wad of grease at the bottom of your new starter bushing... if so, a q-tip will dig it out and I bet your starter will slide on home. ;-)

Let us know what you discover!!!

written by David Dixon, December 18, 2008
By far the simplest way!! Love Your stuff/lay men can follow everything You say, Not! New to VWs 35 yrs. Just ran across these different,
instructions==+++++ Good Stuff. David
written by Nick, October 20, 2008
How easy is it to do this with the engine in the car?

Hi Nick... no problem at all... I had the tranny out to make the pictures easier but the steps are exactly the same, once you remove the starter.

written by bill krupey, January 16, 2008
good job thank you

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