20 things not to do
to your baja

Recently, Hot VW's magazine came up with this article: 20 things not to do to your VW. And they were right on the money - one should NOT jack up their VW with the floorboards, since they're only sheetmetal.

As usual, baja people have this extra viewpoint, so in addition to the Hot VW's list of things not to do to your VW, here's the list of 20 things not to do to your baja.

- lower it.

- let it sit, broken down, for ungodly periods of time. C'mon, most of your breakdowns are only a $20 part and a few hours labor! It's a baja, it's easy to fix! Even a new motor is only a few hundred dollars! ("ONLY a few hundred dollars" is relative, I admit - but check into the price of ford motors)

- set the timing until it sounds good, and lock it down. You can get away with this on many water-cooled motors, but not an air-cooled! Maybe I should expand this to: run your VW with timing set incorrectly for conditions. I'll bet that more baja motors have been lost to this reason than any other.

- fail to work on your baja. I wonder how many accidents could have been prevented by a 20-minute brake-bleed & adjust.

- release the torsion bar into your leg.

- cut the body mounts off while installing baja kit

- put super deep-dish rims on it. The rest of your VW is simply not strong enough to turn that kind of weight & resistance for long periods of time.

- let a chevyman work on your VW

- put a V-8 in it. Too many people ask me if this is possible. Yes, it is, but think: the motor hangs behind the rear axle. V8's weigh a few hundred pounds and produce a whole lotta horsepower. Can you say wheelie-your-long-motor-into-the-ground? Don't forget that the nosecone is magnesium alloy - not known for its strength.

- put the throwout bearing in backwards. I mention this because bajas eat a lot more clutches & throwout bearings than your average vehicle, thus this happens more than you'd think.

- back into fenceposts. Well, OK, you could use a baja as a fencepost-removal-tool if you want.

- drive into cliffs. Believe me, you won't remove it. You might strip a $100 steering box. Or bend tie rods. Don't drive off of cliffs, either - that's even worse.

- take it out rompin' without a sufficient emergency kit. You can never have everything, granted - but when I met the broke-down guy in the desert who didn't even have a quart of oil, I felt no forgiveness.

- stick tinfoil or .22 bullets into the fuse holders instead of fuses. (or for that matter, wire up unfused components). Fire potential is no laughing matter! Someday, try tossing a piece of broken nosecone into a really hot campfire & see the magnesium flare. Imagine that under your vehicle.

- use crescent wrenches & pliers instead of real wrenches. Granted, these tools have their place, but used too often, they make life miserable for the next mechanic in line. Included here are standard tools on metric bolts.

- crossthread bolts.

- run heaterhose instead of oil line for your external oil cooler. It works for awhile. Then it breaks down & ruptures. All your oil leaks out. And you hope the oil light comes on before the motor fries.

- torque your wheel lugs too tight. This usually happens at the tire shop with the happy guy & big air-tools. Then, you're trying to fix a flat or something and lugs won't come out, or break off. Sucks.

- see if VW's really float. They do, for a little while....

- and the final thing not to do to your baja - get rid of it!