Project VW Rabbit GTI: Fixing the Odometer

Our 1984 VW Rabbit GTI now ran properly thanks to a new turbo and a CIS injection tune-up.

But the odometer didn’t work. What the previous owner had told us was true as the mileage was stuck at about 127,000 miles. We had been told that it’s only been broken for a few months.

Most of these German cars from the ’80s–BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen–feature plastic gears in their odometers. After about 100,000 miles, somewhere near 100% of them seem to break from age and temperature changes.

Fortunately, there is a company called Odometer Gears that reproduces these tiny little gears and sells them at reasonable prices. We read the instructions on their site, choose the correct gears, and spent about $50 on the parts, figuring that we’d take a shot.

As the pictures show, the inner workings of the odometer can be a bit intimidating. To be honest, we wondered if we could get it all back together again.

The first step is to remove the gauge cluster from the dashboard.

Then you need to carefully remove the odometer/speedometer combo from that cluster.

To take apart the unit, the speedometer needle first needs to be gently pulled off.

Next you need to study the gears. Usually the primary gear gets a hairline crack and spins on the shaft, thus rendering the odometer inoperable.

Initially, we didn’t see anything wrong, but once we looked under a magnifying glass, we did in fact see the crack in the larger white gear. We gently (and we mean really gently) pulled off the old gear and pressed the new gear into place.

Within an hour, we had the cluster reassembled and back in the car. We had a working odometer again.

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sir_mike
sir_mike New Reader
10/9/20 6:55 p.m.

I've had my moms 81 Rabbit speedo apart a few times...odo works when it wants to....have to look closer now...thanks

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