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Is your van SAFE?
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cloudbaseracer
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 8:45 pm    Post subject: Is your van SAFE? Reply with quote

Moderator note, Aug. 5, 2015: This topic is now locked. Please use this crash topic for continued discussion: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=175672 .

************************

Ok, I know everyone on here, including myself, love their vans. There are so many things about them that I like compared to any other options such as SMB, GTRV, Safari etc.. Most notable would be the excellent stand-up height compared to overall outside height (top down), sliding side door, and rear lift gate. These are all access issues which I am very interested in.

I am however concerned about a few things and wanted to get everyone's feedback on these issues. The safety of a rear engine bus really concerns me. The seating position is cool and all but I am very carefull,eyes peeled, everytime I go through an intersection or someone stops/turns in front of me. I hate the thought of being the first one to the accident, if you know what I mean. Does anyone else have this concern? Also, the low power and the fact that mine is a stick shift, but I could always put in a suby engine for more power. I am not trying to bash the Westy, I love the concept just trying to get a handle on the safety issues. My girlfriend totalled my Grand Cherokee a month ago when she hit ice and although the air bags DID NOT go off she was only slightly bruised. I saw the vehicle and it looked very bad. Just knowing this and how accidents happen how do each of you address this concern or do you just ignore it and call it a neccesary evil?

Thanks,

James
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mightyart
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.vanagon.com/info/safety/
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TheBeast
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Or here:

http://www.251.org/volvocrash.html
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cloudbaseracer
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, mightyart. I had not seen this and it is very interesting. So your consensus is that the westy is safe enough? Didn't really get your opinion so just asking again.

James
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mightyart
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes very safe, you have a fighting chance against SUV's,
They may look top heavy but they have a good center of gravity.
gas tank is in a very protected place. excellent forward visability.
You could get killed in any vehical if you get hit right, but safety for these is one thing you don't have to worry much about.
Just make sure everything is working the way it should, and a rear third brake light may be a good Idea.
Since we are slow, you may hear about Vanagons getting rear ended, but that is always the other guys fault, and mostly requires the rear bumper be fixed.
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levi
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got rear-ended on the freeway by a loaded semi when the driver fell asleep. I estimated he was going at least 10 mph faster than me. (it may not sound like much, but thats a hell of a lot of energy) The impact lifted the rear end off the ground, and had it doing a big left right left dance, had me a little concerned for a bit.
I know most other vehicles would not have been able to drive away from this, but I still have not done anything in the way of repairs. Still my daily driver, just havent found a new bumper yet Very Happy .... No other damage to the westy. Man, but these things are tougher than I would have thought.
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scruffyboy
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 9:21 pm    Post subject: Sure your westy is safe..... Reply with quote

The usual rules apply however here's a few that apply especially to VW vans and Westys

1) don't drive like an idiot
2) make sure you have the CORRECT tires on your vehicle, PROPERLY INFLATED
3)keep heavy stuff out of the overhead cabinets (potentail missles)
4)maintain yer ride!

I know this is really over-simplifying and probably totally un-necesary post but if you've seen the condition of some of the vans I've seen!
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Dogpilot
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Accident tests do most accidents in rather unrealistic tests. Just watch a few episodes of car chase cop programs. Cars do weird things when hit at odd angles, like when the dimwit runs the red light and clips your rear quarter. You spin and roll. No crash test actually test these daynamics. The van is a Box, should roll well. Thats ok, if your strapped in, but deadly if you carry a lot of junk.

My dad rolled our original VW Squareback six times coming off the 405 freeway to the Laguna Canyon Road (where more USMC pilots died than in the Vietnam war, he was at the O club a bit late that night). Not a single scratch (no seatelt!), and he drove it home. The body was totaled. The squareback was not a very highly rated car for safety, so who knows. Circumstances rule.

Be Defensive,
James
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mightyart
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dogpilot wrote:
Just watch a few episodes of car chase cop programs.

http://faculty.ccp.edu/faculty/dreed/Campingart/videos/lowreschase.wmv
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HerrBGone
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ROFLMAO! Laughing Laughing Laughing

Gotta love those undercranked chase scene corners with the big sound effects! If you watch the old Get Smart movie originally titled The Nude Bomb there is a scene where Max is chasing someone with his flat-4 powered spy desk (that’s right – office desk!) that is so undercranked that a classic beetle in the background seems to take a corner at around 90.

BTW: That Vanagon has a rather air-cooled look to it. Unless I’m mistaken there was no lower grill for the radiator.

Edit: Thought of a couple things to add…
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HerrBGone
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wbx
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 6:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Is your van SAFE? Reply with quote

cloudbaseracer wrote:

I am however concerned about a few things and wanted to get everyone's feedback on these issues. The safety of a rear engine bus really concerns me.
Thanks,

James


I have kind of an unconventional opinion of this in the vanagon community. Personally, i think vanagons are not very safe at all in terms of crash protection - for exactly what you are concerned about. No crumple zone. To combat that, the chassis/frame is made incredibly stiff, which means in an impact you are going to feel a lot of force. More modern cars (not necessarily trucks and SUVs) do a lot to save your ass at the expense of the car. That crash result linked to above is kind of a false sense of security because you are using a volvo´s crumple zone to save your but... and likely kill the other driver. Not something i want to do. If they showed two vanagons hitting eachother, it wouldn´t look nearly so favorable.
That said, i think driving style is orders of magnitude more impòrtant than auto technology and i still love my van. It is just in an extreme situation, you will be worse off in a van than in other vehicles... depending on the situation...

It totally depends. So for me? Necessary evil.

-Damon
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cloudbaseracer
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Damon, I am surprised more people have not chimmed in on this. Maybe everyone is just not willing to admit what you have or they believe the "test" reports. I do not know what to think at this point. I was glad that one gentleman posted his actual experience.

As many have said, it all just depends on the situation. Which is unavoidable for the most part. I mean can you really control what the 70 year old grandmother does before impact or how fast the 19 year old runs the red light?

I do worry that you are more correct but I am open to ther real world situations.

James
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bljones
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cloudbaseracer wrote:

As many have said, it all just depends on the situation. Which is unavoidable for the most part. I mean can you really control what the 70 year old grandmother does before impact or how fast the 19 year old runs the red light?

.

James


you cannot control what other drivers do- but you can control what YOU do.

With awareness and competent driver skills, most crashes are avoidable. Learn what to do.

Some may think this is overkill, but sign up for a race school. Several years ago, in an effort to improve my track skills, i took a weekend course. The skills i picked up paid off on the track, and also paid off on the street. I learned to aniticipate what might happen, and learned how to a) avoid it, and/or b) how to handle it.

Skip Barber, Bob Bondurant and Jim Russell all have great programs, available at a number of sites throughout north america. It is not a ton of cash- a one-day course will cost less than your insurance deductible. Also, it is a hell of a lot of fun.

http://www.jimrussell.com/en/courses.cfm?cId=4

The most important safety feature in your car is the nut behind the wheel.
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ncwesty
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So here is my two cents. They really aren't that safe. I was involved in a head on collision in a 69 splitty and busted my foot up pretty bad. It was wedged between the floorboard and the front of the bus(what was left of It). Thank god I didn't have my seatbelt on. I watched the whole thing happen and was able to jump up a bit(I was the passenger) and save the rest of my legs. .This has not and will not stop me from driving my van(84westy).. Basically drive safe and watch out for all the other crazies.

Smile Mike
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istewart
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My grandfather survived two crashes in Vanagons:

The first was in an '82 diesel. He was sitting in a driveway, and a guy in a Mitsubishi pickup drove up the shoulder of the road trying to pass traffic. He hit the van at about 45mph, destroying the front end of his little truck. The van suffered a broken hubcap and a couple of dents in the door.

The next time, my grandfather was pulling away from a stop sign and some guy in a Suburban failed to stop, turned in front of him, and clipped the front of the van. The van was pretty screwed up but not unrecoverable, and the front-seat passenger suffered a broken thumb. That van is still on the road today, and anything wrong with it is the fault of the fly-by-night bodyshop my mom took it to.

Now I wouldn't want to run a Vanagon into a solid brick wall at 45mph, but I think I would notice if there was a wall in front of me. On top of that, if I did so in a modern SUV which all the soccer moms believe are safe, I'd risk winding up with the engine block in my lap. Plus the front end of the Vanagon is slightly more substantial than the 1st/2nd gen buses, which were essentially the floorpan, sheetmetal, and hope. It wouldn't pass today's more stringent safety standards, but it's far from being a rolling deathtrap. (And if VW can build that goddamn Bugatti without conceding aesthetics for aerodynamics, they could build a very crash-safe rear-engined van.)
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amtjk
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The safey factor was and still is a big concern to me. When we bought our 85 Westy, the first and formost thought was safety enhancement. No matter how you look at it, a van such as this, isnt the least safe vehical but isnt very high on the list. BTW, we own 2 Subarus and a Volvo so survival is of importance to us.

My 5 year old uses a Britax Husky seat, even though many kids are now using just boosters. He sits in the center of the rear seat. A 5-point seatbelt is as good as it gets for a child. As a former conehead (SCCA prepped 87 Saleen) I can agree with the above comments on performance driving as the best way of learning avoidance. We also have travel with no projectiles. All our crap goes into two big plastic boxes that are secured to the floor with tiedowns. And of course tires. We bought new Michelins right after the purchase. The previous owner had no-name passenger tires on it. Headlights on in the day and all running lights functional.

I drive it so defensively that I feel like an old lady but I think thats just what has to be done. And I think most people have come to that conclusion too. One thing to note. When I went to the junk yards looking for parts, not one of the vanagon was wrecked. Every other vehical type has a couple of crushed siblings, but not the vanagons. That somehow made me feel a bit better.

art
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HerrBGone
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had an older Subaru about six years ago that was made of compressed rust. I understand the newer ones are much better. That said even the new ones can only do so much to protect you in an accident. I live near a very bad curve and there are accidents out there all too often. One of the most recent was a one car crash that involved a couple year old Subaru wagon driven by a relatively inexperienced kid who lost control trying to avoid running over a fox that ran out in front of him. He spun across the road and went sideways into a phone pole. Hit just behind the front passenger side tire. If the kid in the passenger seat hadn’t seen it coming and squirmed sideways pulling his legs up over the center console and out of the foot well area he would have had serious leg injuries. There was major intrusion into the passenger compartment that just about eliminated the passenger foot well to within inches of the center console. As it was they were both wearing their seatbelts and they both walked away with barely a scratch. It all depends on how you get hit and by what. The variables are far too numerous to protect against every eventuality. I try to take it easy in my Westy, in all of my cars actually, realizing full well that all to many other drivers out there think they’re on the road course at Indy.
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mightyart
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cloudbaseracer wrote:
Thanks Damon, I am surprised more people have not chimmed in on this. Maybe everyone is just not willing to admit what you have or they believe the "test" reports. I do not know what to think at this point.

Do you think everyone is in denial or something.
Wbx is worried what the Vanagon will do to the other driver.
When you buy a new car what else to you have to go on but test results?
You also can't compare a Vanagon to earler buses they were totaly redesigned, your legs aren't the last line of defense in a head on.
You can get killed in anything you drive, nothing is going to hold up well against a fully loaded semi doing 70.
What makes you think they are so unsafe?
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our Subarus are an '04 Forrester XT and an '06 Imprezza . What makes them safe? How about crumple zones, Airbags/curtains, ABS braking, low center of gravity, and the awesome AWD. We live in the hills and the wet and the avoidance control is something truly stellar. If I had been only driving a Westy over the past couple years, Id at least have beat up front end from the deer I would have hit, since a panic swerve would have been impossible in it.

A Vanagon is simply less manuveurable, less sure footed and brakes and handles poorer than any of our other vehical, so I consider it less safe. Its all relative.

art
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mightyart
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

amtjk wrote:

A Vanagon is simply less manuveurable, less sure footed and brakes and handles poorer than any of our other vehical,

If it's that bad why do you even own one?
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