Cary's Garage: VW Valve Adjustment

Cary Hubbard
by Cary Hubbard
cary s garage vw valve adjustment


I have a 1981 VW Caddy with a 1984 turbo Jetta engine and trans. I rebuilt it 20,000 miles ago. Do I need to adjust the valves? If you could give me some tips, I would appreciate it.

Thanks, Brian

Editor's Note: This is running a bit late thanks to the LA Auto Show madness last week.

Greetings Brian,

Thank you for sending in your question about your Volkswagen Pickup! Those are amazing little vehicles that really are multipurpose. Many years ago, I had a 1982 with the NA 1.6-liter diesel engine and have messed around with my fair share of these over the years, so thankfully I have some decent experience to be able to pull from for this one.

As with any engine that has been apart and rebuilt it is a good idea to keep an eye on things such as torque and lashes on items that you can check. I do remember that on the 85-86 they had a sticker in the engine bay that said to adjust the valves every 15K miles. From my personal experience and other people that I know in the VW diesel world, some of them have never had to adjust their valves over 100k+ miles, but always something to check.

My suggestion to you would be at that many miles since the rebuild it would be a great idea to pull the valve cover and at least check the valve clearance and see if it is within spec still.

On that engine it is best to check with the engine warm, the coolant temp should be at least 35C (95F), and with the engine warm the Valve Clearance should be:

Intake 0.20-0.30 mm (.008-.012 in)

Exhaust 0.40-.050 mm (.016-.020 in)

All this information is from a Bentley's manual that I have sitting on my shelf.

Best of luck with that one and again thank you!

Please email me at with any questions you might have!

[Image: CEPTAP/]

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  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Nov 21, 2022

    Wow. Rare and cool little truck.

  • FreedMike FreedMike on Nov 21, 2022

    On the subject of VWs, I'd suggest the next chapter be head gasket / water pump repair on the E888 motor. PLENTY of them to do...

  • MaintenanceCosts This truck could go plenty farther (assuming good basic maintenance) but the price:remaining life ratio still makes me gag a bit. The used truck market remains overheated and the price is probably market correct, but these are the sort of prices that would make me prefer to buy a new truck if I could afford it.
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  • GregLocock The predictable hysteria and repetition of talking points in the meeja is quite funny. it does not divide Oxford into six zones. it restricts access at 6 locations , one on each road, to reduce congestion in the town centre. Florence, which faces the same issue, traffic and narrow historic streets, lined with historic buildings, simply closed the entire town centre off. Don't see anybody whining about that.
  • Jeff S I have rented from Hertz before and never encountered this but if I had I would sue them. Would not want a gun pointed at me and thrown in jail for renting a car.
  • Arthur Dailey I did use a service pre COVID to get the pricing that the dealers were alleged to have paid the manufacturer. It also provided 'quotes' from multiple dealers .