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15,000 mile trip over 5 months
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1961tbird
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2021 1:49 pm    Post subject: 15,000 mile trip over 5 months Reply with quote

Just got back a couple weeks ago from our long summer trip in our 95 EVC (5 speed) which now has 219,000 miles. In summary: Halifax to Detroit. Detroit to Atlanta. Then cross country to Santa Fe. North through the Rockies to Yellowstone. Pointed east to Northern Wisconsin, crossed the border back into Canada in the UP then eventually home here in Halifax.

I often see posts complaining about the reliability of these vans and while my trip did run into some hiccups, I think if you are willing to travel with some basic tools and parts, it is possible to take long term trips.

I always carry a reasonable toolbox, basic parts for a tune-up, and electrical supplies (meter and the like).

Below are the problems we ran into over the course of 5 months:

1. Driver door speaker quit after one week. What? No music? Removed rubber door elbow and repaired broken wire.

2. Indoor/outdoor therometer quit working in the Norcold. I like to monitor the inside temp of the Norcold without opening the door. $9.95 purchase at Walmart. Sidenote: The Norcold worked the entire trip with no problems whatsoever but it did struggle out West in the 90 F summer heat!

3. Lock ignition cylinder broke. Removed ignition switch and used a flat head screwdriver the balance of the trip.

4. Van stalled while going down a mountain pass. Bad ignition switch. I carry a spare thankfully.

5. Van was jerking at high speeds intermittently. Did a basic tune-up (plugs, distributor cap and rotor) and I noticed arching on the ignition wire to the distributor. Replaced ignition coil (again, I keep a spare). Problem solved.

Pre-trip I installed a new radiator and changed each and every one of the coolant hoses, flanges, O-rings and clamps. Probably the best thing I did!! We crossed over about a dozen mountain passes (11,000-12,000 feet) and while the temp gauge climbed quite high (and I did stop and pause on a few passes) the temp light never came on. I felt pretty confident that I was avoiding any coolant problems.

So, in summary, there's hope for everyone to travel long distances in these vans without any big problems if you are willing to handle some of the basic work yourself and be prepared with extra parts, etc. And I suppose a little luck doesn't hurt either.
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spacetiger
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2021 6:13 pm    Post subject: Re: 15,000 mile trip over 5 months Reply with quote

Awesome to hear the good news of a successful long trip + the ability to solve a few issues. We will never question what you carry as important parts on any trip.

What else do you do before a long outing besides the coolant/hoses changes?

Jerry
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Joshwa
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 6:16 am    Post subject: Re: 15,000 mile trip over 5 months Reply with quote

Maybe this will be helpful for your ignition cylinder break.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=743231&highlight=
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wannabecamper
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 7:46 am    Post subject: Re: 15,000 mile trip over 5 months Reply with quote

That must have been an epic trip! I am glad that someone is having fun with the van. I am jealous...

Unrelated question to the community regarding the temperature... You mentioned that your temp gauge rose pretty high. I know that our van are now 20 to 30 years old, but I never really had any cars from the 90s that had overheating issues unless there was something wrong with the cooling system. Is it considered normal for the temp gauge to climb that high when under load? I had similar experience passing Sonora Pass in Sierras/California. I know it was 11K feet high with crazy grade, but on up hill climb with 10+% grade seems to raise the temperature.

Let me know what you guys are experiencing with you vans.
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spacetiger
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 9:19 am    Post subject: Re: 15,000 mile trip over 5 months Reply with quote

put a scan guage in your vehicle the next time you clime a grade. You will see you the temp climbs when the vehicle is under a constant load for an extended duration.
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Abscate Premium Member
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 12:33 pm    Post subject: Re: 15,000 mile trip over 5 months Reply with quote

My T4 coolant temp doesnít change pulling 4000 pounds towed up a grade in VT. Itís got a thermostat.
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TheOneTrueQuux
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 1:06 pm    Post subject: Re: 15,000 mile trip over 5 months Reply with quote

Abscate wrote:
My T4 coolant temp doesnít change pulling 4000 pounds towed up a grade in VT. Itís got a thermostat.


Is this read from the dash gauge, or via scan tool? The dash gauges in newer cars lie in order to manage user anxiety. Basically what they do is show "normal" over a wide range of temperatures, and only once you start getting into truly outrageous extremes does the gauge show higher than normal.

I used to develop algorithms for automotive HVAC, and we did this sort of stuff all the time to keep people from freaking out over normal stuff.
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Abscate Premium Member
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 3:08 pm    Post subject: Re: 15,000 mile trip over 5 months Reply with quote

Monitored through OBD

The transmission temp varied a lot less than that claimed by all the people who hawk trans coolers, too.
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spacetiger
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 5:32 pm    Post subject: Re: 15,000 mile trip over 5 months Reply with quote

Abscate wrote:
My T4 coolant temp doesnít change pulling 4000 pounds towed up a grade in VT. Itís got a thermostat.


If you are reading temp through OBD, then you are reading the digital temp reading and not the gray matter smoothing analog guage reading.

That said, I am surprised you didn't see a temp change. It doesn't matter if you have a thermostat rated for a specific temp (say 190 F), if you generate enough heat you can easily go above the rated temp of the thermostat. This just means the thermostat is wide open. This would be especially true in the summer months. I have pulled a water ballast boat (Hunter H240) and saw increased temps. I have towed other items with other vehicles and see slightly increased temps above the rated temp of the thermostat. This is a normal thing. Its a potential problem when it is significantly higher than normal for sustained periods of time.

Just curious, what is your normal temp reading without pulling anything and what is it when pulling a 4,000 lb boat?

Jerry
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1961tbird
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2021 6:41 am    Post subject: Re: 15,000 mile trip over 5 months Reply with quote

Hi again,

Regarding other pre-trip preparations, I did check/adjust the brake system and flushed the brake lines and installed new fluid. I wanted to make sure the brakes would hold up going down those mountain passes.

I am no expert on cooling systems but also wanted to note a few things:

1. I also flushed my system and installed VW G13 fluid. I believe it has a lower boiling point.

2. Some of the mountain passes we did were crazy. I'm taking about +80F temp, 12,000 ft and a sustained load for miles with a full van! I suspect the thermostat was wide open. A few times I was in 2nd gear for a portion of the rise. Then going down these passes, the temp gauge went down to almost nothing. Otherwise, during the whole trip, the gauge did not fluctuate much at all.
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wannabecamper
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2021 2:14 pm    Post subject: Re: 15,000 mile trip over 5 months Reply with quote

Thanks for the info everyone. @Abscate, it is impressive that your van temp doesn't fluctuate at all. Based on the feed back from the others, my situation probably is considered normal.

@161tbird, yeah, my sonora pass trip https://goo.gl/maps/5TzZ7gXdboTNcjB19 was 90 degree+ temp at 11000 feet altitude with 24% grade. Maybe I was expecting too much out of the fully loaded EVC. At some point, I was in first gear crawling at 5 mph wondering I was going to roll backwards!
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