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trouble prone?
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Is your van trouble prone?
nothing but trouble?
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
worrysome but gets me there?
30%
 30%  [ 13 ]
dependable and fun with reasonable maintenance
69%
 69%  [ 30 ]
Total Votes : 43

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debbiej
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:20 am    Post subject: trouble prone? Reply with quote

as is the nature of a forum, we see a lot of posts about problems. new samba readers might get the idea that these vans are constantly broken. our van has earned our confidence and we have learned that it is roadworthy and dependable with proper attention to maintenance. I've had more trouble with my newer cars, and love driving my van.
would you consider your van:

nothing but trouble?
worrysome but gets me there?
dependable and fun with reasonable maintenance

I tried to do this as a poll, but guess I didn't.

Moderator edit: poll added
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trouble free for us. That said, there is not a fastener that has not been touched by me restoring an almost 30 year old vehicle. We would drive it anywhere any time, but usually it "rests" in the garage waiting for us to find the time to travel.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:37 am    Post subject: vw bus reliability Reply with quote

Blue Bay Bus Love my bus, syncro, they say they have more reliability problems . I dont think so, I had more problems with my dodge 3500, more repairs and cost.the bus it is the most fun vehicle ive every had, maybe thats why ive had 7 buses. Very Happy
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Destructo
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can I pick all of the above? Depending on how far I'm driving, all three can be the case. Surprised

I like that the forum is a fix-it data base. The chances of finding a mechanic who cares to spend his time fixing your van are getting slim. Finding one who knows what he's doing is even less of a chance. I think this forum serves as it should with discussing what went wrong and how to fix it. If everybody wrote about how well their van was doing with no problems, it would be boring.

I personally bought my van to work on it's problems. because I like to and it's fun to figure out how things work. Those who buy them just to drive them but don't want to be bothered by fixing them, well, they're just going to have a really hard time enjoying these old beasts.
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danfromsyr
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

only troubles I usually encounter are owner induced in lack of maintenance, lack of knowledge or lack of money.
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RadioRental
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've used the 'problems' on the samba this summer to bring the up to a more reliable state. We had our first child in February and my long term dream is to have the van as the family weekend surfing machine, that dream is now becoming a reality

The van ran 'fine' already but after much reading here on the samba I got wise on potential issues and got to work of stuff that needed to be done as well as preventative work

fuel lines
tank seal
replaced much of the exhaust.
chases a radiator fan issue
replaced the radiator
replaced a water pump
run through a TON of preventative work (e.g. got the injectors cleaned, adjusted the lifters, replaced tranny oil with redline, new seals here and there)
painted the van (rustoleum roll on)
sprayed the underside with wax
new starter
headlight relay kit
new rear axles
...

The last little bit of work before winter is a small throttle body shaft vacuum leak that I think might be the cause of a rich idle at cold.

And now the van doesn't make me wonder if I'll make it home after a trip. We went to ikea yesterday to get a ton of shelving and my wife didn't question us using the van (a first!)

Preventative work is piece of mind. Of course something can still go wrong and I know I'm living on borrowed time with a 25 year old engine.. but that's what AAA is for. I'm saving up for a Zetec and that will happen but I now feel a much stronger engine after the work so I think I have more time to save up.

In the rest of my fleet I have a mazda wagon that has required a serpentine pulley and nothing more in 100K. A Ford escort which has had some vacuum issues and a new ignition, but nothing major and a BMW motorcycling that takes a beating but is easy to work on.

These vans are work, some more than others. Just put a little love in and get a lot in return.
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SCM
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mine gave me a never ending supply of problems after I first brought it home. I was able to fix some of them myself but finally threw up my hands and bought a new motor when a the old one swallowed a valve.

Except for some intermittant losses of power - which I think I've tracked down to a rusty gas tank plugging my pump and filter, it's been reliable ever since (although "ever since" has just been 5 months).

I still won't feel comfortable driving out of state for another year or two though. I think that's how long it will take for me to learn enough about it and replace some more of the "reliability items".

But, by way of comparison, my Nissan isn't much newer than the van and it gives me ZERO problems.
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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would describe mine as reliable but requiring more maintenance and attention to little things than, say, my wife's Toyota.

I still check systems on her Toyota but have no doubt some people go 200,000+ miles in them doing little more than change the oil -- the van will not tolerate such neglect.
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campism
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What RadioRental said. We also got a good one that needed very little over the years and that freed us up to do elective mods for comfort and convenience. However, just sitting for an extended period is bad for it so I try to drive it once a week. It's our third car and fourth motor vehicle, and it was bought specifically for camping so does not see daily duty. That can lead to parking-induced problems like loud lifters, flat-spotted tires, etc. The van needs to be driven to stay in shape.

I have done normal maintenance but even doing that means that exhaust systems eventually rust out, and brakes wear out. They just seem to happen faster on an older vehicle and that makes it seem like more trouble. Added to this is the fact that if you fire it up to go camping and have not driven it for the past few weeks you might be surprised at what new problem greets you.
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chojinchef
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

danfromsyr wrote:
only troubles I usually encounter are owner induced in lack of maintenance, lack of knowledge or lack of money.


X2

Old vehicles need maintenance, parts age and break and we have all become accustomed to driving faster and more responsive vehicles. Pushing the vehicle past its limitations when new was problematic for these vehicles, nevermind 25 plus years later.

In the immortal words of Harry: A man has got to know his limitations.
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RCB
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Westy was in pretty good shape when I bought it. The previous owner was a teacher and he bought it from a Doctor. Honestly I had no idea on what I was buying,all I knew was that I wanted a Westy. Thankfully both previous owners took good care of her..( Madam Helga )

In the 10 years Ive owned her, about the only problems I had was the sporadic shutting down syndrom. Holy smokes, this drove me frikken batty and created some headaches for my mechanic. I would leave my Westy with the mechanic for a few days but the problem never happened when they drove it.

Once the problem was solved, I drove her for a few years B4 deciding to drop some money in a complete restoration. Motor,tranny,shocks,AFM,ECU, injectors,CSV,TTS,FTS,tires,sound system,you name it,it was replaced. Helgas a nearly 30 year old air-cooled Westy and my plan was to retire and travel.

Wallstreet had different plans for me so the retirement thing didnt quite work out as I wanted it to. As of today, my Westy purrs like a kitten,starts up every morning and gets me where I want to go and she dont drip or use an oz. of oil. She's not a speed demon by any stretch of the imagination but I dont quite care for fast women anyway. Very Happy

Moral of the story..." dependable and fun with reasonable maintenance".
I would include "reasonable maintenance" by the previous owners as well.
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MootPoint
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

danfromsyr wrote:
only troubles I usually encounter are owner induced in lack of maintenance, lack of knowledge or lack of money.

I believe the same diagnosis applies to any relationship...
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86syncrowesty
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our van had 195K on it when it became ours, trouble free except for the common aliments from a vehicle built circa 1986 with that many miles.

For me the most overlook thing with these vans:

You can do the repair yourself! Don't doubt your ability to get greasy and fix the problem on your own.


As they are built from an era of less technology it isn't rocket science, get a Bentley, read around on the dozens of van sites for help and use the samba to sort out the best course of action.
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Vanagon will never leave you bored for lack of things to do to it.

Even if your on top of the maintain game it'll never let you down with no suprises.

They have never failed me.
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seanjenn
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mines been good so far. I don't hesitate to drive it anywhere.
That being said I have done an ass load of maintenance, etc to the van. They are old and if you don't keep up with them they will fail. Plain and simple.
The only time I've been stranded in my current ride was due to some hair-brained idea I had to make my own part for a repair I needed to do. It was a good idea, just executed poorly. Luckily she quit in front of a home depot and I was able to build another part and get home.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having a Mulitvan with lots of extras, I have had a lot of additional problems, the power windows and door locks have all given multiply problems right from day one. During the first couple of years of ownership we suffered multiple drive train problems, tranny failures, ignition failures, o-ring failures in the oil cooler. Since ours was the last year of production for US models you would have thought that VW would have corrected a lot of stuff, but apparently they kept building vehicles with well identified faults, like Vanagon syndrome) long after they had come up with corrections for these same problems.

Drive train wise doing the Subaru swap has greatly increased the dependability, only one minor glitch in 4 years at this point.
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kamzcab86
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 12:22 pm    Post subject: Re: trouble prone? Reply with quote

My van is no different than my other two VWs: In great shape, gets me where I need to go, but has issues that need attention now and then. While it's rather annoying, and sometimes distressing, I'm not stupid enough to own a 20-something year old vehicle and think those things won't happen. I expect to be doing work to them, well-maintained over its life or not; once those parts are replaced they're good to go for another 10+ years.

Trouble-prone? No more "troublesome" than any other 20+ year old car. I've had my Cabriolet for 22 years now and it's been one babied car, for the most part... and it's now leaking gear oil. Others would b*tch and moan about it (I see it all the time on Vortex), especially if they just bought the car, but me? I said to myself, "Crap! Oh well; 22 years... pretty good!"

I equate car forums with the local news: You see nothing but negatives, but is that the way it is in real life? Wink
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DAIZEE
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I know that I had 18 mths of severe heartache and I just didn't think I'd make it let alone Scooby. I'm winning now and just about the time I have it all caught up to date , I know that there will be more but all major systems have been addressed and have quite a job list for this winter BUT the work I can now do makes me more a part of. I read and yeh sometimes I fear hearing about all the problems but it's part of Vanagonitis. While I can't do major wrenching, I now feel more prepared in doing normal maintenance and more than I could a year ago at this time. AND I think that I've been much more positive about any problems arising since I got it successfully tripping and meeting other Vanagoners Cool

Spring 2012 is only 4 to 5 mths away Dancing
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Howesight
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:06 pm    Post subject: Re: trouble prone? Reply with quote

debbiej wrote:
as is the nature of a forum, we see a lot of posts about problems. new samba readers might get the idea that these vans are constantly broken. our van has earned our confidence and we have learned that it is roadworthy and dependable with proper attention to maintenance. I've had more trouble with my newer cars, and love driving my van.
would you consider your van:

nothing but trouble?
worrysome but gets me there?
dependable and fun with reasonable maintenance

I tried to do this as a poll, but guess I didn't.



These Vans aren't constantly broken. Rather, owners are in a constant game of betting against misfortune. We hope that the CV boots of unknown age which look good will not split.

We hope that the wires and the grounds that look good are good.

We hope that the wheel bearings on our 25 year old Syncro with 230,000 MILES will go another 230,000 miles without complaint.

Well, we're all betting against the house and we all know that the house always wins. Unless you have replaced every wear item and installed a Subaru or Zetc engine, then your reserve fund to get back home from "Westy Vegas" is your tool kit, AAA (or BCAA for me), your boatload of knowledge from the Samba, the spares you keep with you, and your wrenching/McGyvering skills.

For what it's worth, I don't even take the 4-Runner into the back country without my tools, but I've never had to use them on the Toyota. Too bad the Toyota has no character, no stove, no sink , no fridge, no beds . . .
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shadetreetim
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn’t hesitate to jump in mine and drive it across country. I can claim that because we did it when we’d only owned it a month. I will admit it was a little nerve wracking in 110 degree heat in July, pulling a tent trailer, trying to run the AC as much as possible, and knowing I was hundreds of miles from my garage. But we made it to our destination and back home again, safely and in style. I’ve done a long list of things to our Bluestar since purchasing it in June, much of it documented here on the Samba. The list includes necessary repairs, some cool mods, potentially stranded by the side of the road band aids, and preventative maintenance.

A problematic vehicle? In my opinion, not so much. I actually think it’s just the opposite. I’ve been impressed with how much can be wrong with one of these vehicles and it’ll still get you there. Before I bought mine, or had ever driven a Vanagon, I read and read here on the Samba and assumed I’d yank that poor tired pathetic underpowered boat anchor of a waterboxer out and throw some modern Diesel or Subie in its place. In fact, when test driving our soon to be pride and joy prior to purchase I told my wife “I don’t care how it runs as I will be yanking the motor soon anyway”. Now? I’m not so sure about that. This old waterboxer has well earned my respect. As I’ve discovered all the factors that contributed to a lack of power, realize the prior owner’s lack of maintenance, and acknowledge a bottom end that probably has more than 200,000 miles on it, I’m pretty impressed with how well it did towing that trailer while running 70-75 MPH across the desert. On that trip we only slowed down for fuel, sleep, and the occasional mountain, for 2 days straight. Quite a test of endurance. Many a lesser vehicle wouldn’t have made it. Only now do I know how poorly it was actually running back then.

Don’t trust our Vanagon to get you there? That’s crazy talk. Since purchasing it, it’s been our weekend driver for everywhere we go, including several other 600 mile round trips. I just make sure I always have my tools, a cell phone, and an ever growing pile of spare parts with me. Oh, and the AAA card. I may trust it to get me there, but come on. These vehicles are 20 plus years old. In dog years, that’s like… Shocked dead.
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