Introduction: Exhaust Replacement - 1981 VW Rabbit Diesel

About: Married to Domestic_Engineer (but I call her Meghan).

Replace the exhaust system on a VW rabbit.  

I could not find much info on the details of installing a muffler.  Hopefully this will help if you have to do the same thing

This was physically difficult for me to do, a lot of being under the car, which I don't like.

Note: The red bentley manual as a good exploded view, it also has the torque spec for the pipe clamps ... although I seem to have lost it.... you can get them from amazon here

Step 1: Get the Parts

This is a complete replacement exhaust with accessories and tools.

Step 2: Document Part Numbers

I photograph all the labeling as soon as I open the boxes.  If you need a part number latter, it is easier to look at the pictures then at the top of a muffler that is under a car.

Step 3: Practice Assembly - Pipe Clamps

Step 4: Spring Clamps and Tool

Step 5: Rubber Hangers

Step 6: Gasket for Down Pipe 'toilet Bowl'

Step 7: Yikes - What a Big Thing

Step 8: Inspect the Pathway and Hangers Under the Car

Step 9: Remove the Old Down Pipe

Use the spring clip removal tool, to remove the spring clips.  I tightened it as much as possible and still could not remove the clips.  I oiled the area around the clips and was then able to remove them.

Will reuse the heat shields.

Not sure if there is a small crack in the exhaust manifold -- does not look like damage, but does not seem like it should be there.

Step 10: Jack Up the Back of the Car and Get a Light

Step 11: Install the Tail Pipe and Muffler -- Needs to Be Snaked Into Place

Step 12: Secure With Rubber Hangers

Step 13: Deal With Rust

Rust sucks.

Step 14: Chip and Cut Away All the Rust

Hitting the rust with a hammer will get rid of a lot of it.  Using a pointy hammer works well and helps you figure out where the edges of the rust are.

I used an angle grinder with a cut-off disc to cut back to good metal.

To weld you need a clean surface, so go around the edges with a wire  brush disc on the grinder.

Step 15: Patch the Hole With Sheet Metal

I used 22 gauge steel and a 90amp wire feed welder from Harbor Freight.

To get the right shape I first cut a scrap piece of aluminum (bottom of a 'catering tray') then traced the shape onto the steel.  I used nippers to cut out the shape, this is sort of a pain, but it does work.

Welder settings: MIN Power  and Wire Speed 2

Weld the new piece in place.  22 gauge is a bit thin, 18 gauge would have been better.  18 is the minimum thickness that should be used with this welder.  Had to patch a few holes after putting in the large piece.

Step 16: Transfer the Heat Shield to New Down Pipe

Step 17: Install Down Pipe With Spring Clips

Here is how I got it to work.
  • First installed passenger side clip from under the car.
    • Held up the downpipe with my knee while attaching the clip
  • Install driver side clip from above the car.
    • I was able to pull the bottom of the pipe towards the drivers side, stretching the passenger side clip.  This  made it possible to install clip.  
    • It was hard to get the clamp off
Here is a link to the socket set I have Stanley 97-126 11 Piece 1/2-Inch Drive Metric Deep Impact Socket Set

Step 18: Install Middle Muffler Part...

This was the easiest part.  The middle part of the exhaust hangs by one clip and attaches to the two other pieces.

Step 19: Seal Joints and Tighten Clamps

I'm worried I did this wrong, somehow.

The sealant was messy, most of it squeezed out of the joint.

Step 20: Straighten Everything Out

Probably should have done this before sealing and clamping the joints....

I was able to get everything lined up okay by twisting the muffler.  You want to get the pipes so they are close to the bottom of the car, not hanging down all over.

Step 21: Done for Now

Run the engine and check for leaks.... I guess.

As long as it doesn't fall off I'm happy for now.  In the end it will have to pass a 'smog test', should be fine.

Wheels Challenge

Participated in the
Wheels Challenge