Hello! Log in or Register   |  Help  |  Donate  |  Buy Shirts  See all banner ads | Advertise on TheSamba.com  
TheSamba.com
 
Bay vs. Vanagon - which is more reliable?
Page: 1, 2  Next
Forum Index -> Bay Window Bus Share: Facebook Twitter
Reply to topic
Print View
Quick sort: Show newest posts on top | Show oldest posts on top View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Baja Uber Alles
Samba Member


Joined: August 26, 2004
Posts: 161

Baja Uber Alles is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 3:38 pm    Post subject: Bay vs. Vanagon - which is more reliable? Reply with quote

I'm toying the idea of getting a Westy, and I'm undecided between a Vanagon or Bay.

Which would be more reliable for road trips? Obviously the Vanagon would have more modern suspension, braking, etc., and water-cooled engines tend to be more reliable in my experience. (BTW, what year did vanagons start using water cooling - or are they all watercooled?) Bays have the advantage of greater mechanical simplicity.

For some reason I have the impression that vanagons would have more electrical gremlins and expensive hard to find parts than bays. Is this true?

As far as smog goes (I'm in CA), which would have worse emissions equipment (i.e. smog pumps and miles and miles of pointless valves and vacuum hoses) Are there any years to shy away from?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
mightyart
Samba Member


Joined: March 24, 2004
Posts: 6179
Location: Portland, Oregon
mightyart is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depends on your budget. they are both old models, past their prime.
You have to take them on a vehical by vehical basis.
a well maintained Bay will be more reliable then a tired old Vanagon,
or vice versa.
_________________
My Art:
http://www.gordonflynn.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Deep_Blue
Samba Member


Joined: November 16, 2005
Posts: 161
Location: Oregon
Deep_Blue is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've owned a 76 bay, 81 Vanagon L, and 85 GL, and by far the 85 is the best of them all.

Vanagons from 80 to 83.5 were air cooled, and had the worst reliability of all buses/vanagons. After 83.5 they were water cooled. Electrical gremlins come from overzealous cutting/splicing, I have found that a good electrical system tends to stay that way...headlight switches aside.

If you want reliability and gas mileage, comfy captains chairs, air conditioning, power steering, REAL HEAT, and low noise, get a watercooled Vanagon. If you want more waves and honks while people pass you, or zoom by while you're stranded, get a Bay. That's going to get some people mad, but hey...I've been there.

IMHO, the 83.5 and up Vanagons were the best bus that VW could, or did, build. It had 30 years of know-how and upgrades. Styling is personal preference...bays look more like classic vee-dubs.

But that rear engine hatch could have been added to the Vanagons. My only beef.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Baja Uber Alles
Samba Member


Joined: August 26, 2004
Posts: 161

Baja Uber Alles is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mightyart wrote:
a well maintained Bay will be more reliable then a tired old Vanagon,
or vice versa.


Definitely agree. But given a Bay and Vanagon that have been equally well maintained, which would tend to be less problematic?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
mightyart
Samba Member


Joined: March 24, 2004
Posts: 6179
Location: Portland, Oregon
mightyart is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Baja Uber Alles wrote:
mightyart wrote:
a well maintained Bay will be more reliable then a tired old Vanagon,
or vice versa.


Definitely agree. But given a Bay and Vanagon that have been equally well maintained, which would tend to be less problematic?


They all could have problems, the newer the Westy the more parts and the more expensive they will be, some years have quirks of parts that are hard to come by.
Your asking the million dollar question that everyone whats to know, and there is no good answer, even if you do your homework you could still buy one that has problems, or you could get lucky and get a deal.
_________________
My Art:
http://www.gordonflynn.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
steponmebbbboom
Samba Member


Joined: May 01, 2004
Posts: 6390

steponmebbbboom is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a tough question to ask because it is so difficult to get a truly impartial opinion. We all have an emotional attachment to our buses and will tend to favor our own. Now if a riot starts in here I am not going to be the one to start it, just because I think it's not worth it, not for lack of opinion. But I think what needs to be stressed most is that nearly every answer you get here is going to be clouded by whatever the person has in his/her garage. Keep that strongly in mind as you read on.

I think the most impartial answer I can give you is one that has already been mentioned, if youre looking for a reliable vehicle you are barking up the wrong tree. These cars have been to the dark side of the moon and back, outlived a normal car's service life by at least twofold and been through all kinds of owners, some more responsible than others. If you arent prepared to give your bus constant mechanical attention and enjoy it in the process, you best not be in this hobby. A lot of work goes behind our joy.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Baja Uber Alles
Samba Member


Joined: August 26, 2004
Posts: 161

Baja Uber Alles is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

steponmebbbboom wrote:
if youre looking for a reliable vehicle you are barking up the wrong tree.


I should have said "relatively reliable" or asked "which one will break down less frequently." I know that VWs (both air and water cooled) are among the least reliable vehicles in the world (second only to Ford, Chevy, Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth)

Hmmm, maybe I could shoehorn a Westy roof onto a Toyota minivan!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
thevanillaninja
Samba Member


Joined: October 10, 2004
Posts: 702
Location: Scott, IL
thevanillaninja is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Baja Uber Alles wrote:

I know that VWs (both air and water cooled) are among the least reliable vehicles in the world (second only to Ford, Chevy, Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth)


Now that's about the biggest crock of shit I've ever heard. I see broken cars every day, and while yes there are quite a few are the domestic's you mentioned, there's about an equal split of Japanese vehicles, a lot of Koreans, and fewer European vehicles.

Everyone will be biased towards one make of vehicle, but calling VW's unreliable is just dumb. How many 30 year old Honda's do you see driving around? How many people drive their 1965 Chevy to work? Not as many as drive their 'dubs. Just about the worst place to mention something like that statement of yours is, uh, here.
_________________
1967 Zenith Blue Type 1 "Elaine"
Bought in 2004

Stored for 4 1/2 years and soon to be resurrected..
'67 beetle
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Deep_Blue
Samba Member


Joined: November 16, 2005
Posts: 161
Location: Oregon
Deep_Blue is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

actually Baja, Toyta mid-engine vans had a few years where some aftermarketers put pop tops and camping gear into them. I saw one that was a Coleman conversion! The top came straight up, like some euro-westies.

Vanagons rule. I see them way more than 1985 Chevy Citations or Ford Tempos...when's the last time you saw a forum for any other type of van? Corvairs, maybe.

Long live the Waterleakers.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Baja Uber Alles
Samba Member


Joined: August 26, 2004
Posts: 161

Baja Uber Alles is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know the statistics, but I'm willing to bet a lot more VW's were imported into the US in the 60s and early 70s than Hondas, Toyotas, etc. That's when the Japanese automakers were just starting to get into the US market. You don't see many early Japanese cars on the road because they are not enthusiast/collector cars, so people don't restore them and keep 'em on the road (with the exception of 510s and 240Zs, etc.)

I own a bug, and I've owned several other aircooled V-dubs in the past, so I know firsthand how unreliable they are! Doesn't mean I don't love them! You've crossed the line from enthusiast to fanboy if you think they're reliable compared to Japanese cars. As far as VW's current products, they are complete and utter crap - bloated, over-complicated, unreliable, and overpriced. VW has strayed far from their roots.

Where I work, there are a lot of old people, so I see a lot of 60's US cars still in service. However IMHO the US auto industry has produced nothing but junk from 1974-present.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
TheBeast
Samba Member


Joined: May 02, 2005
Posts: 145
Location: W Michigan
TheBeast is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think a valid point to consider would be driving style/ speeds:

Here on MI interstates, there a re alot of 75 mph+ people in a hurry.
I'm sure this is typical in most states. Our limit is 70mph so add 10

My 1.9 Vanagon will cruise at 75-80 all day and i don't worry (too much) about abusing/ overheating the engine.

My 1800cc bus will feel comfortable around 65-68mph, so i use for shorter stateside trips or backroad traveling where i can enjoy the ride w/o people cussing me out.

Just something to consider.
_________________
1963 Anthracite Beetle 1776 w/ 34pict
1979 Bus Westfalia- Sage green w/ fancy stripes
1978 Bus - Sunroof model
1970 Beetle Convertible
1982 Rabbit Pick-up
1984 Vanagon Westfalia
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
i_want_a_pre_49_ratbeetle
Samba Member


Joined: June 23, 2004
Posts: 443
Location: Martinsville Virginia
i_want_a_pre_49_ratbeetle is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

#Bad Talk Brick wall ill sit back & have a beer...
no such thing as a perfect vehicle... or reliable car.. always be prepared to work on it whether it is a VW, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Delorean, Mercedes, BMW, or any of the thousands of other automobile companies both current & past. some go longer between working on but the best thing is finding 1 that was well maintained or at least appears to be as these are usually the most relaible. second best is finding one maintained by a gear head. like quite a few on here are... otherwise it is Caveat Emptor "let the buyer beware"
learn all you can about what you are considering & making a decision on which model best suits you or scratch building one for yourself which is most time consuming but you get the exact vehicle you want from all the different years but it cost a lot more in long run & might not be where you want as far as costs, originality, or resale..
Randy
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
steponmebbbboom
Samba Member


Joined: May 01, 2004
Posts: 6390

steponmebbbboom is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Baja Uber Alles wrote:
I don't know the statistics, but I'm willing to bet a lot more VW's were imported into the US in the 60s and early 70s than Hondas, Toyotas, etc. That's when the Japanese automakers were just starting to get into the US market. You don't see many early Japanese cars on the road because they are not enthusiast/collector cars, so people don't restore them and keep 'em on the road (with the exception of 510s and 240Zs, etc.)

I own a bug, and I've owned several other aircooled V-dubs in the past, so I know firsthand how unreliable they are! Doesn't mean I don't love them! You've crossed the line from enthusiast to fanboy if you think they're reliable compared to Japanese cars. As far as VW's current products, they are complete and utter crap - bloated, over-complicated, unreliable, and overpriced. VW has strayed far from their roots.

Where I work, there are a lot of old people, so I see a lot of 60's US cars still in service. However IMHO the US auto industry has produced nothing but junk from 1974-present.


Sounds to me then like you would be happiest with a vintage Japanese automobile.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
westy78
Samba Member


Joined: August 20, 2002
Posts: 2005
Location: Portland OR
westy78 is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They both have their own problems. The watercooled Vanagons are notorious for coolant leaks both at the head if the incorrect coolant has been used and also in those long lines that run up front to the radiator. Gas mileage is not necessarily bettter in the Vanagon. Especially if you're talking about an automatic. You have to remember that the Vanagon weighs around 1000lbs more than a baywindow Westy.

Now on the other hand the Vanagon does have more space since they are wider and the interior is more streamlined. A bonus for longer trips. Heat is better of course but they still fall victim to underperforming heat if in very cold weather unless you get an '87 and up which had the option to recirculate the heated air through the cabin.

They are both aging vehicles and by now are developing problems so I wouldn't say that one is more dependable over the other. It all depends on the individual vehicle and how it's been maintained over the years.
_________________
Jasan C.
'78 Westy

VW Campmobile, it goes on vacation with you.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
mikegoode
Samba Member


Joined: November 06, 2005
Posts: 139
Location: Central Arizona
mikegoode is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whoever has found an air cooled VW to be unreliable, at least from my experience-daily driving them for the past 16 years-has purchased him or herself one that is totally worn out, has had poor service history, or was or is being worked on by someone who does not know how to work on a VW. In the 60,000 miles I have put on my current Bug, the only issues I have had are routine maintenance and normal wear and tear items. I change the oil every 3-5,000 and do a complete tune up once a year including valve adjustment (about 10K miles). And I flog my car.

As for the Bus VS Vanagon,. I have owned one of each. One was a 1973 Bus, the other a 1988 Wolfsburg Vanagon. the Vanagon was certianly more comfortable and quiet (though I wish VW would have put a 4 speed automatic in place of the 3 speed, gas mileage really dropped off over 70mph). I was not afraid to drive either at 75mph. I put 160,000 miles on my Bus in 6 years, as it was the service vehical for my plumbing business. I put 40,000 on the Vanagon in 3 years. Both made trips across the country. My Bus was very unreliable the first year I had it as it was owned by morons previously, once I had it straightend out it was very reliable. The Bus was certainly more trouble free than the Vanagon. No MAJOR issues with the Vanagon but a lot of little issues-which are a lot more money than on a Bus and can be harder to track down. German cars of the 80s, be it a VW or Mercedes Benz, are far more complex than need be.

Both are enjoyable vehicals, drive a few examples of each and decide what you like better. The Vanagon is a more comfortable, safe van, but you can just about climb a tree with a Bus. I wish I had my 73 back, little desire to own another Vanagon really
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Classifieds Feedback
steponmebbbboom
Samba Member


Joined: May 01, 2004
Posts: 6390

steponmebbbboom is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I couldnt be happier with the service my bus has given me. Seven years and 80,000 miles and it hasnt stranded me once. My bus was 29 years old when I bought it and has proven to be more reliable since then, than many new cars my family has owned.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Gary
Person of Interest


Joined: November 01, 2002
Posts: 17020
Location: 127.0.0.1
Gary is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why do I get the feeling that no matter how the question is answered, this person posing the question will not be happy?

ANY properly maintained vehicle, regardless of age, will be more relliable than a vehicle that is NOT properly maintained.

In another 2 years, I would be willing to put my 2002 Cavalier against any 2004 or newer Cavalier because I am a stickler for maintenance. My car has never let me down yet. The same holds true to a Bay vs Vanagon scenario. There are some people's Bays here that are lucky to make it across town, while others can make it across the United States and back again. Go into the Vanagon forum and the same holds true.

Figure out which style you prefer and go from there.
_________________
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Bub
Samba Member


Joined: June 10, 2004
Posts: 763
Location: Central Washington
Bub is offline 

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe what he should be asking is which one will be a bigger headache and more expensive / harder to fix WHEN something breaks.
SOMEthing will break. Shit happens. You might get lucky: A friend of mine bought a 91' Vanagon from another friend of mine for $1600. I cringed and said I wasn't responsible, fearing the worst. The thing had no regular maintanence or records. Kind of worn, but together and running. Almost 3 years later and the thing still runs perfect. A little elbow grease and some accessories (17" Cups, Euro valence, etc) and he gets "wows!" everywhere he goes.
Anyway, if you're interested in "being your own mechanic", and modern-like comfort and quiet isn't #1 Priority, get a Bay window.
If you side a little more with nostalgia, and can put up with some 'quirks' and are willing to learn and skin your knuckles once in a while, get a bay window.
Otherwise, get the H20-Vanagon. They're just as useful, have similar performance, a little more modern feel to them, but most will agree they dont have quite the personality of an older bus.
Bob O
_________________
hitest wrote:
Had a girlfriend once who shall we say, nearly arrived at the mere sight of a semaphore in action- easy to please she was...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Gallery Classifieds Feedback
pyrOman
Fire Master


Joined: July 21, 2003
Posts: 11846
Location: Over 2002 posts deleted!
pyrOman is offline 

PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd have nothing that would have to be smogged. I also will not work on a square box either. Tried it once, didn't like it. I believe the parts ain't cheap or easy to find. Rolling Eyes

If you rather pay a mechanic to take care of your vehicle, go with it. If you rather do most of the work yourself, get a bus. Cool

You asked for opinions, you got 'em! Razz
_________________
Some people are so busy being clever they don't have time enough to be wise.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
tobewonekanobe
Samba Member


Joined: April 20, 2005
Posts: 108
Location: NE Oregon
tobewonekanobe is offline 

PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After I pulled over to a wide spot to do a little inspection on the 78 I was looking(planning) on buying, I called my fifty+ year old father to get his thoughts on a few of the visual Q & A I would have. He had lived through a few vw's and spent bit of time as a bike mechanic giving him a little bit of a opinion.

"He said live by one rule for aircooled treasures
keep the oil full and the engine clean and the rest will fall in place"

not a exact science but its a start.
just my opinion but if you have the desire it will run reliably, I wasn't mechanically inclined but I get the job done(sorta!)
_________________
I will take "Victims of the All Mighty Sarlacc" for $800 Alex!
1978 Riviera "Earl Da Pearl"
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Display posts from previous:   
Reply to topic    Forum Index -> Bay Window Bus All times are Mountain Standard Time/Pacific Daylight Savings Time
Page: 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

About | Help! | Advertise | Donate | Premium Membership | Privacy/Terms of Use | Contact Us | Site Map
Copyright © 1996-2018, Everett Barnes. All Rights Reserved.
Not affiliated with or sponsored by Volkswagen of America | Forum powered by phpBB