View original topic: VW Beetle Heaters?
[email protected] Tue Jun 24, 2003 8:54 pm

Can anybody point out a few heater ideas that can keep a VW Beetle Warm in the cold Montana climate? I have just bought my first Baja Beetle, but I am worried about freezing this winters. The stock heater functions as well as it ever has, but I think I want more.

Has anybody ever tried to use an oil cooler as a heater core? In a similar fashion to a water cooled heater, I was thinking about running a second set of oil cooler lines up to the trunk, and then useing the glove box as the heater vent. I would put an oil cooler behind the gove box door, with a small fan. Whent he oil is war, flip the switch, and a high powered heater should result.

I would plump the "heater" core oil lines so that for summer/warm weather you could isolate the system, useig only the stock oil cooler, or the roof mounted unit (If I keep it).

So, what do you think? Has anybody done this before? How did it work? Any instructions out there?


lotsavws Tue Jun 24, 2003 9:00 pm

Go to Home Depot. They carry a small gas heater that fits snuggly under the dash. We bought some and used them in VW Things.

Jeff H Tue Jun 24, 2003 9:11 pm

Howdy from Minnesota - the land of extreme temperature swings.

I drive my Bug year around with only moderate discomfort in the winter. Stock everything. The only problem is that sometimes I have trouble keeping the windshield clear. Other than that, the stock heater can cook you out - provided you have it working correctly.

Let me know if you want the whole load - other than that, I won't bore you with everything I do.


type34inKY Wed Jun 25, 2003 6:24 am

While there are people who do something similar, you shouldn't run it all the way up to the front of the car- If you must do it this way, mount it to the firewall. Remember, the longer the hoses- the more bends they have- the lower your oil pressure will be.

I'm setting up recirculating heat by using bilge blowers to pull interior air from the cabin, push it out through the heater boxes and up to the stock vents. If you need more than that, I'd run a gas heater.

bluepunchbuggy Wed Jun 25, 2003 6:31 am


Can you tell us something about those Home Depot gas heaters? What are they called? How much do they cost? What is the gas supply (gas tank, propane ??)
Possibly what department they are found in?

Thanks for your help.


Jeff H Wed Jun 25, 2003 7:11 am

Please let us know how you do that recirculation set up - and how it works. I'm very interested. I've been pondering doing something like that, and have some ideas, but haven't actually done it.


slackin' at work Wed Jun 25, 2003 8:34 am

I have to nix that Home Depot heater idea. Any use of extrememly flammable liquid (or gas) in a heater that is not specifically design for an automobile is just plain dangerous.

I am currently running a eberspacher B1L gas heater in my ghia. They are rated to be placed inside the car cabin (vented outside of course). Have all sorts of safety features and cutoff proceedures.

They STILL make these heaters ( for tractor trailer trucks and have increased safety and economy over those older 60s/70s versions. Plus they are super small and kick out 3500 BTUs.

I have mine hooked up in the trunk (because I have an A/C unit under my dash) with one hose going through the dash for general heat and one hose running to the stock defrost duct. I also made a selector that using the stock heat/defrost lever that can direct it either way.

they are expensive though, but worth the piece of mind that the shiat won't blow-up when you go over a speed bump too fast.

This is not a sales pitch post.... But I do have a working extra heater if you're interested. I was planning to heat my workshop with it this winter.

other than that. buy a nice Fleece blanket. That's what I used to do in northern New England.


Andrew Wed Jun 25, 2003 6:18 pm

Jeff is right, the stock heater will cook you. I know the one in my beetle will, anyway. I'll actually have to turn off the heat for a little bit on those 25/30 degree mornings. Just make sure everything is sealed properly.

'60 European Beetle
'67 Deluxe Bus

j.pickens Wed Jun 25, 2003 6:55 pm

My experience with a properly functional VW beetle heating system is that it works just great until about 5 degrees F. Below that, and you really start to get cold.
This is no big problem for New Jersey, where I live, but is a real concern for Montana, where subzero weather combined with high winds are very common.
I would get a rebuilt VW style Stewart Warner or Eberspacher from a reputable heater reseller and install that if I were planning on using my beetle in the Winter in Montana with any regularity.

Aussiebug Wed Jun 25, 2003 11:24 pm

The stock VW heater was designed to keep Herman warm when stepped out his front door in Bavaria, scraped the snow off his bug sitting in the street (not many garages in Germany in the 30-50s) and drove to work.

When it's all connected, and when you have the thermostat and cooling vanes installed, it provides about 2.5 kilowatts of heat inside the car - that's enough to heat a normal room in a house.

If you have any leaks in the system, or you run the engine without cooling flaps and thermostat, you'll have much less heat available.

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Repairs and maintenance for the home mechanic

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