1973 Super Beetle Won't Start -- Need Help

Asked by Aug 26, 2008 at 11:04 PM about the 1973 Volkswagen Beetle

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I just took my beetle (Little Greta) to a mechanic and had a new shifter put in and the brakes fixed. And I was able to master the manual transmission (yeah!)...so I can now drive her. Problem, though, she is having some problem where she refuses to start. I jump started the battery yesterday and she ran good for about twenty minutes. Then, today I went to start her again, but the engine just clicks and won't fire. The kill switch is turning on, though, reflecting that the battery appears to be working some and the lights plus radio work. So I jump started the battery again today and let it run; same thing once the engine is shut off; it won't turn back on..it just clicks when I press on the gas. As the car is parked in my driveway, and I don't trust the car to drive it to a mechanic; does anyone have any ideas what might be causing this? I thought it could be the battery, but now I'm curious if it isn't the fuel lines (she was having some symptoms of overheating prior) or if it isn't the starter or something. I would love any feedback you could give me along with the names of any good mechanics in Los Angeles area preferably on the west side or valley. Thanks! :)

9 Answers


So the radio and dash lights will work but the starter won't? Are you just hearing a clicking sound when you try the key? That could mean a low battery charge, which if pursistent could mean a bad charging system. I suggest taking the battery out and having it charged fully then returned to the car. If it starts and runs fine, then drive it to a place to have the charging system inspected.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Hello Just had a simular problem on my wifes 73 beetle. 1. try running a jump wire from the positive side of the battery to the spade connector on the starter making sure the ignition is on if the motor turns over you might have a bad ignition switch or the wire heading back from the ignition is bad both are easy fixes but a little time consuming. hopefully this helps

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

if you can jump start it and everything works it is most likely either a bad battery or charging system problem. you can take the battery to a parts store and they can load test it to see if it's bad. or you can test it yourself if you have a volt meter. put volt meter on battery and read voltage. should be 12-12.5 volts. now try to start car while watching meter. if voltage drops lower than 10.2 volts you either have a bad battery, or it's not fully charged. either way, i would replace battery. if voltage does NOT drop, then your problem is somewhere in the ignition. jump start car and with it running (idle) put volt meter on battery and check voltage. should be between 12-12.5 volts. if it's lower, your charging system is bad. if higher then your regulator is bad. now rev the car up to around 2500rpm and check voltage. at that rpm your voltage should be 13-14.5. if it's low, either regulator or generator/alternator is bad. if higher than 14.5 volts, your regulator is bad.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

if it starts with a jump it is the battery.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

I have a vw bug super beetle 1973 new coil and distributor ran great But just rebuilt the carb fired then quit? What's going on?

13 out of 13 people think this is helpful.

I have a 73 super. The other day I was backing it out of my shop when it stalled. I cranked it and continued backing out when it just shut off and wouldn't start back. I turn the key and nothing, no light, no clicking no nothing. Checked the fuses at the console and all are find. Battery was tested and is good. Anyone seen or maybe know what the problem might be? Thank you

14 out of 14 people think this is helpful.

I have a 73buggy that has been sitting for 10 years, ran great when parked , I changed the oil, fuel filter and just put a new battery in and it turns on and makes a buzzing sound when I put the key in the ignition but it won't turn over

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.

There's some sort of 1st gen safety switch type thing in the crank circuit on my 1974 vw super. If I unplug the oil pressure switch,it cranks right up. With the switch wire plugged in, I get nothing. Once it is running, I can plug back in the oil pressure switch and it works correctly.

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.

I've found out why my 1974 Super Beetle won't start. There's a seatbelt safety relay. It is supposed to ensure that everyone is buckled up or it will buzzer you and turn on a warning light. Many other lights and warnings also are plugged into this relay. I don't know why. But, the wires to the seatbelt contact switches were disconnected from the harness, causing a short, sometimes. So, when the relay was powered and the key turned to start, all the juice would just pump into the relay and through the short and not power the solenoid like it's supposed to. I'm debating on whether I should bypass the starter switch directly to the solenoid, or just fix the seatbelt buzzer.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

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