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Is your van SAFE?
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amtjk
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I said, its all relative. We cant sleep and cook in our Forester, so we are living life on the edge and driving a Vanagon to recreate in Smile We drive slow and in the right lane.

art
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mightyart
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

amtjk wrote:
so we are living life on the edge


Your definition of life on the edge is a bit different from mine.
I feel alot safer in my Westy then I ever did in my new Honda, with the airbags and ABS.
I drive it daily in rush hour traffic. I am alot more visible and I can look even the biggest SUV driver right in the eye.
I also feel alot better strapping my kid in the back of the Westy, there is a hell of alot more car around him then there was before.
Yes safety is relative , There were some cars that were designed poorly like the corvair, pinto, or crown victoria.
The Vanagon is what it is but it is not a poorly designed deathtrap.
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amtjk
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Never said it was a deathtrap. If I didnt think that it was reasonably safe, I wouldnt have bought it. But I sure dont feel that its safer than my other vehicals. Survivability is not solely based on mass and height. My opinion is simply that a 20 year old van is likely, not as safe as a highly manuvuerable, modern, AWD vehical, which has been designed with safty as a focal point.

Feeling safe and statistically being safe are two different things.

art
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HerrBGone
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donít get me wrongÖ I like modern Subaruís. They look like nice cars and have all the safety features you mentioned. My old Subaru was a POS. I bought it very used and in rough shape. Paid $450- for it. It got me to and from work for 6 months after my 20 year old Suburbanís motor blew up like something going down the back straight at Daytona. I couldnít afford to fix it at the time, so I settled for what I could afford. That particular car was a piece of junk. The front end was worn out, the body had cancer that got covered over with metal tape to get it to pass inspection and the whole car was a crumple zone. It was too old to have had air bags. It was the closest thing to a death trap I have ever owned. It served its purpose while I owned it, and I moved on as soon as finances would allow. I am six feet tall and I weighed 275lbs back then. I also have back problems. Just getting in was painful because of the twisting motion I had to put my back through to maneuver in through that small drivers door.

With all that going against it, I donít hate that car. Like I said, it served its purpose. It even saved my life one day!

* slow dissolve to a rainy day about 6 Ĺ years ago on Rout 128 south in Waltham Massachusetts *

There I was going down the second lane of four or five roughly keeping pace with traffic in my lane when the sky just opens up. ďAnd for forty days and forty nightsÖĒ It was a cloudburst of seemingly Biblical proportions. I had a Class A motorhome to my right and a semi was passing me to my left. We were all going around seventy. The semi a little more, the motorhome a little less. And there I was trapped between them in my beat up old Subaru. As the rain pounded on the windshield with the wipers going as fast as they could to try to let me see the road at least in momentary swipes, the ruts in the pavement filled with two or three inches of water. I was boxed in. I couldnít move to either side to get to higher ground. Then the front wheels started hydroplaning. The car was skipping from tire to tire, first the left was off the ground then the right then back again. There was no place to go. If I slow down Iíll get run over from behind by the SUV thatís tailgating me. If I spin Iím dead. As the first pangs of panic started to creep into my conciseness I had a flash of inspiration and yanked up on the handle to engage the shift-on-the-fly four wheel drive. The got the front end to settle down. The car became controllable again and I was able to finish passing the motorhome and get out of that lane. After a couple minutes the rain died down to a normal August thunderstorm and we all continued on our way Ė me in four wheel drive.

If the old Subaru hadnít had shift-on-the-fly four wheel drive I might not be here to regale you with this story. I may have ended up as part of a crumple zone.
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Paintedbus
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

imho, safety in a vanagon depends largely on how you drive.

I personally drive like an old lady... If you compared me to anyone else on the road around here, i am by far the slowest, most cautious driver out there, usually topping out at 65 on highways and always under the speed limit elsewhere. Because of this, i have been able to avoid countless accidents with people in brand new awd luxury cars who could easily buy another after they wreck themselves.

i am proud to say that at 20 years old, i have a perfect driving record (no accidents ever/ never been pulled over) even though i only have owned vw busses (71,78, 82,87) two of which were hand painted. (everyone says that attracts cops?!?)

every single one of my friends have gotten into accidents both older and younger than me. both my dad and step mother have gotten into accidents recently, along with my step sister and brother (he consistantly drives his honda pos off the road)

however, i live by the saying that you have to "expect the unexpected." So everytime someone has thier turn signal on, or waves me on etc, i think twice about it before i act. and in doing so have saved my ass many times. as someone said before, the most important safty feature is the nut behind the wheel...


but what do i know? i am just a kid. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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mikegoode
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vanagons DO have a crush zone. So do 1973 and up Buses. VW really went all out when it came to safety on the Vanagon. As for handling and manuvering, Road and Track even in the early 90s declared it to be the best handling van on the market, one that is fun to push through the twisties
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wbx
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mightyart wrote:

I drive it daily in rush hour traffic. I am alot more visible and I can look even the biggest SUV driver right in the eye.
I also feel alot better strapping my kid in the back of the Westy, there is a hell of alot more car around him then there was before..


Mightyart - at the risk of offending a moderator Wink This kind of rationale is exactly why there are tons of huge SUVs and pickups on the road for people who absolutely do NOT need them. Bigger is safer, so i need to be the biggest. I understand the reasoning, but i'm not one to sign up for it.

mightyart wrote:

The Vanagon is what it is but it is not a poorly designed deathtrap.


And i absolutely agree with you here.
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Dogpilot
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The SUV is a myth on safety. The automakers perpetuated it, quietly. Every friend I have, who has been in an accident in an SUV has been injured, much more than expected. Personally I have watched a Mercedes M500 making a left turn at a light (sneaking by as the light changed) get clipped on the rear by car going through the light. It flipped and rolled once, and came to rest on its side. The fire deptarment had to use the jaws of life to get them out. All were injured.

This was a 20 -25 mph accident. I got to watch the entire drama, trapped as I was in the left turn lane, for about 45 minutes. I just love it when our law engorcement, get into a little coffee clutch, and stare at the accident, while the highway just backs up. Somehow, the art of traffic direction seems to have been lost.

If you look at the cut away diagrams of the Vanagon, VW did some nice engineering on beefing up the floor and front. It is kind of like a rolling batttering ram. It is a versitle design that allows itself to be modified, like the westy and syncro or this:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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psych-illogical
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Love that cartoon Dogpilot Cool .

Just chiming in here on the defensive driving part of the equation. As someone who puts a minimum of 10,000 miles a year on my motorcycles, I've learned to be a very attentive and cautious driver. I've put nearly 100,000 miles on my BMWs (fingers crossed and knocking on wood here) without a single accident. I definitely carry this mentallity over to driving in cars. Avoidance is the best safety feature. There are never any guarantees but we can all do things to significantly reduce the possibility of an accident.
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levi
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As coincidence would have it, late last night (about midnight), I avoided a hell of a wreck. I was in the left lane at an intersection waiting for the light to turn green. As it did, I happened to be looking at the approaching traffic on my left, and a dark suburban that was still coming pretty fast. So....I didn't go.
The car in the right lane DID go, and the people behing me laid on the horn. That suburban came through the intersection, 40-50, without touching the brakes, and clipped the left rear of the vehicle in the right lane pretty solid. Shocked The girls behing me must have said they were sorry for honking at me 10 times....could have been a really unpleasant night for me Sad Sad
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Joe VW
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had an accident with my 86 vanagon. Going around 40mph An old man in a 4 door Lincoln or Ford ltd pulled right in front of me and stopped- No where to go. I hit his rear quarter and spun him around facing the other direction, he was ok,his car was totaled and had to be towed. I was wearing a seat belt and was uninjured. I expected to see my front end destroyed, but it wasn't. I was able to drive home, no leaks and my alignment was still ok.
The insurance co. considered it a total though, due to age. So I took the money and bought it back, replaced 3/4 of the front end from a junk donor. I was amazed at the difference between the vanagon and the early buses I have owned. The used front end took 4 of us to load on a trailer with much effort.
There are multiple boxed impact tubes that run across the front end. One is used for ventilation duct and the others are attached to the front body work. The frame has diagnal beams to the integrated impact bumper behind the outer one. It was a lot of work and a lot of welds.
While the later buses have some protection behind the dash there is just one layer of sheetmetal between the headlights. That said; I still miss my old bus Sad
If you have good tires, your vanagon handles better than most people think they do- even at high speed.
I don't think twice about doing 80 on the highway in my vanagon . Just wear your seat belt, watch out for cops, and keep a safe distance. If you live and drive in a city, well that just sucks Smile
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DanJReed
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 8:37 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, so I consider it less safe. Its all relative.

art


And its not a 911 Turbo Either... Whats your point? It handles better than a Explorer of the same vintage...
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getset
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This has been an enjoyable post to read. I believe the vanagon to be quite safe. The high visibility and inability to drive recklessly seems to be a beneficial contributing factor.
I have never come close to an accident in mine, but I had a friend get hit very hard in his 78 westy. Unlike Levi my pal Rick didn't notice the approacing 40mph vehicle and pressed the accelerator when the light turned green. He was hit just about the knees. The oncomming car spun the van 180 degrees and just mangled the front end of his beautifully restored westy. Giving it a huge shiner. When I saw the bus afterwards I was amazed that the damage wasn't more severe. I expected the whole front left to be caved in, but it wasn't. The insurance estimated the damage and considered it totaled. Luckily he had all the reciepts of the work performed which saved him from an estimate of $2000 and gave him something more resonable.
His accident eased my mind a little. I figured if his 78 faired that well my ten years newer syncro has a little more engineering behind it. So now I drive really really fast everywhere I go....Oh wait, I can't do that.
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pitbovver
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

it really helps to be on two wheels for a while as mentioned earlier you learn to keep your head on swivel and read traffic alot farther down the road, being surrounded by German steel can give some sense of security but you should all know what your vans strong and weak points are. ultimately it doesnt matter if your van is safe, safety resides in the hands and ears and eyes of the operator and knowlegde of his/her machine--------keep on truckin
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jkbrown
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 10:53 am    Post subject: Vanagon Safety Reply with quote

For me, the greatest dangers of a Vanagon are (1) Goodyear (or other cheap off-brand) tyres, and (2) underinflation at highway speed.

In those two situations, not only are Vanagons prone to wallowing like a river barge, but in an emergency avoidance situation at speed, you can very easily loose complete control.

It is imperative that you check the inflation before EVERY highway trip. Underpower is not really a concern (I have an 83 with an '87 2.1 litre engine and automatic gearbox). It runs like a 'raped ape' on the highway (I usually maintain 70-80 mph on the road) with no problem (unless the wind's agin me).

The greatest dangers on Texas highways are unconscious 'small-penised macho-yuppies' in their Hummers and Lincoln 'Masturbaters'!
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:28 am    Post subject: my two cents Reply with quote

I've grown up with vw's. I feel the safest in my vanagon (85 westy).

Things I did to help: new tires (hankook), new shocks (kyb). I had to swerve from across two lanes the other night at 40ish. I was very surprised how well it handled. Not bad for a 5000 lb beauty.
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wbx
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Is your van SAFE? Reply with quote

wbx wrote:
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.


Digging up an old thread here (linked to from a much later thread)... FWIW, the samba has largely changed my mind on this. After seeing some of the unfortunate crash results of people's loved vans, I am amazed at how well they protect the occupants. Those german engineers really did their due diligence to make a relatively short front end as safe and effective as possible - and the real life photos and stories here are a true testament to that.

Be safe,
-Damon
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sambalayne
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:11 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, so I consider it less safe. Its all relative.

well if you are comparing it to a honda civic then yes. but if youre comparing it to any other van out there then i disagree.take my moms current van for example. she has a GMC safari. its NOT maneuverable AT ALL! the only reason it feels slightly more sure footed is because it weighs as much as a small house. and as for not safe. my 84' vanagon is actually safer then her 92' safari. so yes it is all relative. but not if you compare it to something in its class

just say'in


EDIT: didnt see that i was bumping this sorry!
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tschroeder0
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Safety is mostly in the hands of the user in my opinion.

I recently was t-boned in my 1993 subaru (with airbags) I was thinking after the accident how close I came to being really hurt and how if I was in my van I would have been up much higher and not in any danger of having the engine of the other vehicle in my lap.

Also check out Pete's (GWTWTLW) accident pics when he rolled his synchro. I think he rolled 5 times! No injuries!

I have only ever been in 2 accidents, neither of them were my fault and in both cases the other driver was ticketed. I ride around all the time with people who talk of how "safe" their cars are but the can't drive for shite!

Give me any vehicle out there (I even owned a Yugo once) and I will be a safe/defensive driver...BTW I don't text, I don't eat, I rarely talk(on the phone), I'm not worried about a baby in the backseat and I keep my eyes peeled no matter what I drive. I am safe, the car has little to do with it.
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randywebb
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

how many of you have replaced the 25+ year old seatbelts??
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