John Muir is regarded as the expert in the field as far as aircooled VW's. This book is extremely easy to read. It makes capable mechanics out of "compleat idiot"s with its easy going style.For a complete collection, buy the VW service manual by Robert Bentley to complement the Muir book. With these two references, available through amazon.com, you have everything you need to perform any and all repairs on your aircooled VW.
I've had three or four copies of this book over the years. If you buy it, take your book to the printer and get them to trim off the binding and three-hole-drill it for you. Keep it in a binder. The book is an excellent introduction to aircooled VWs, but it is slightly flawed and has a bias towards OLDER VWs... I have a '76 bus and the margins are full of notes correcting slight inaccuracies... such as today, I needed to replace my brake light switches, the book says "remove splash pan," I did that... sure didn't see any master cylinder revealed. Damn. 100 degree heat today. DEFINITELY get a Bentley shop manual reprint AND READ AND COMPARE BOTH OF THEM... get a parallax that'll help you figure out what to do. The tone of the Idiot Book is perfect, however, it's a truly empowering experience to realize that you can work on your own vehicle -- keep it running forever. It's a heck of a change from the "disposable car" attitude today. [...] You really need this book. There's nothing like it.
I have owned 5 VW's in my life time and wouldn't be with out this book. I have overhauled several bug engines and a bus engines following this book with great success. I have had everything from a '63 bus to a '75 bus with a few bugs in between (a friend and I even put together a 2 cylinder bug engine) with each vehicle I would purchase a copy of " How to Keep your VW Alive" and when I sold the Vehicle I would offer the book to the new owner. I have given copies of the book to friends with VWs and a copy to my son when he bought a '74 bug several years ago. In the summer 1973 my sister, her child of 5, and husband left the USA for a tour of Europe by VW bus. I gave them a copy of Muirs book and it helped keep them "Keep on Trucking" on thier merry way.
Anyone who sets out to buy an old Volkswagen will hear this book mentioned again and again, usually with great reverence and a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. Well folks, it is simply not all that. Don't get me wrong -- I'm happy I bought this book, and I refer to it often -- but like other reviewers here have pointed out, it's awfully overrated within VW circles. The instructions are biased towards pre-68 cars and often gloss over details; it's very hard to track down specific solutions when all you know are the symptoms; and the diagrams, though extremely well-drawn, aren't always as effective as real photographs of the car and its parts. When I'm trying to learn how to repair something on my Beetle, I read this book first to get a friendly introduction to the work involved... but the other manuals are the ones I actually take outside to the car.So if you've just bought a "new" Beetle or Bus that needs a lot of repair, buy this book -- but get the Bentley shop manual for your model and year at the same time as you will need to refer to it a lot. I recommend the Haynes manuals, too; they give the same procedures but in a highly effective "steps + pictures" format.
If you own an aircooled Volkswagen, you *need* the famous Idiot's Guide. Even if you've never worked on a car in your life, the Idiot's Guide can have you performing your own repairs and maintenance before you know it. Everything from the simplest routine maintenance task to a major engine overhaul is explained clearly, step by step, in plain English. Even if you plan to outsource your VW's repair needs, I still recommend this book, because it can give you enough knowledge about how your VW operates to help keep you from getting ripped off by an unscrupulous repair shop.