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Will I be happy with an automatic?
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erdonline
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:24 pm    Post subject: Will I be happy with an automatic? Reply with quote

I'm replacing my wrecked '85 Vanagon Westfalia, manual trans, no a/c which I've had for six years. I wanted to replace it with something close to what I had, and I've found a few candidates, but also just missed out on a few, and am now considering an automatic.

I've got used to a manual trans (also have one in my '87, which I've had for eight years). I like that I can pop the clutch if the battery or starter is dead.

I don't think I'd mind an automatic, in fact, it might be nice not to have to shift all the time. But I've only ever had an automatic for a few months ('88 Quantum wagon several years ago). I have to wonder how different an automatic Vanagon is going to be than my manual. I'm used to driving my Westfalia on the highway at up 75 miles an hour, with 70 sustained driving, and I always was happy with the engine RPMs. How differently is the automatic geared? What RPMs can I expect at 70 mph?

Anything else I should think about when considering an automatic?

Thanks,
Ed in CT
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OilNBolts
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have one four-speed and two automatics. I bought the second auto because my wife is more comfortable and confident when she doesn't have to shift.

They both have strong attributes. The stick is more fun to drive (subjective) and the autos are nicer in traffic, or on a grade, for instance, at a stop light. As it turns out, the Vanagon's automatic is a particularly high quality transmission. With casual servicing, very high miles are common.

It is true that the rpms are lower at cruising speed with the standard, but that does not keep the autos from running along just fine at 75. My typical cruising speed is 4000 rpm, which is 67mph on the GPS. This nets 18. something miles per gallon, barring crazy winds or mountainous terrain.

I like'm both.
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Captain Pike
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I drive a converted 86 stick I4 and a 90 auto wasser.
I'll use any excuse to drive the auto. I get 19mph on a bearing/ring/head job. As far as South east Pa hills the auto can't buy a thrill compared to the I4(unless you select 2nd and FLOOR it) but in normal traffic she is a peach.


As OilNBolts sez:

"It is true that the rpms are lower at cruising speed with the standard, but that does not keep the autos from running along just fine at 75. My typical cruising speed is 4000 rpm, which is 67mph on the GPS. This nets 18. something miles per gallon, barring crazy winds or mountainous terrain.

I like'm both."



Me too.
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Last edited by Captain Pike on Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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pete000
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here in LA the traffic is so bad I love my auto shifter !
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wvukidsdoc
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ed, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the auto. I would object a bit to the "reliability" comment as I've replaced 6-7 in the 75-125k range over the years, but a late Vanagon with the 2.1 and the oil cooler for the tranny will do pretty well, certainly will last about the same as a set of heads at least, and will probably do better with a bit more aux cooling, but don't discount the heating function of the oil/water cooler if you live in a cold climate.

Driving them is great, I've had an '87 and '90 (and well a '83) personally as drivers, the torque multiplication of a converter makes for wonderful from the stop acceleration, probably quicker (we are talking tortise and snail here of course) off the line than a stick, and great in stop and go. I drove the '90 back to WV from TX in '96 or so when I bought it and made 21mpg average, and did an indicated 70-mph most of the way without issue.

A couple cautions, I'd probably stick with a 2.1 van in general with an autobox, I like 1.9s, but for the auto up at cruising you do need everything you got. And stock size tires only, I had a set of 27x8.5s off one of my syncros on my '87 for a while and it was hard pressed to spin em, but conversely actually did OK on WV forest service roads with them. And as cautions go, I don't think it sounds like you would, but if a real snazzy, super clean, 2.0 air cooled passed your way with an auto, like even the nicest most incredible clean, whatever (I bought a '83 camper with 55k original miles for $1000 in '98 that way) no matter how clean, if you aren't a flatlander just say no. That '83 was on its 3rd (blown) OEM factory engine, it isn't a good combination. Took a big built engine and a big oil cooler on the engine to ever really work.

Oh final consideration, don't discount a nice '93 EV with an auto tranny as well of course, a bit less reliable tranny, but newer, more powerful, cheaper?, etc.
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kayakwesty
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 4:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I took my stick out and installed an automatic...its that good....
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Mr. Electric Wizard
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have an '88 auto.
I like it.
But, like you, I was hesitant to buy an auto.
Turns out I really like it.
Very Happy
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bjrogers86auto
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:42 am    Post subject: Auto Reply with quote

86 auto with just over 200k. We just put 14000 on it this summer. It worked great. I rarely went 65...usually cruised at 60. That kept the rpms at 3800 or less. The mileage varied but besides a couple of crazy wind days I was around 20 mpg or a bit better.

After test driving a few manuals I liked the idea of not shifting. I must be getting old...now, has anyone figured out how to stop that annoying little vibration at the shiter yet...I spent alot of highway miles with my fingertips on the stick to stop it...and it's hard to troubleshoot at 60 m/hr!

Brian.
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rockfish
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our Westy is manual --- just upgraded to 5-speed (overdrive). Our other two vehicles (Audi A6, Suburban) our automatic.

I really enjoy driving a manual transmission as an alternative to the usual day-to-day stuff. But if you're going to be driving in a lot of stop/go traffic, then auto may be your best choice. In late July we were heading out for a weekend trip in the Westy and the traffic was horrible...going and coming home.

My Westy is my mid-life crisis 5-speed sports car....
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laterPeter
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like mine ('85 Westfalia)
later,
Peter
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Tomasz
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

laterPeter wrote:
I like mine ('85 Westfalia)
later,
Peter


had both, for daily driver I would go with auto, for weekend trips stick for me, at the end it's all matter of yor personal prefrence, late auto trannys seem to be bullet proof where pre 03/89 sticks have 3rd/4th syncro issues
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erdonline
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:43 am    Post subject: auto vs. manual trans. Reply with quote

Thanks for all the replies so far. I only drove one auto trans Vanagon. It was an '82 air-cooled, and over six years ago.

To address a few of the comments so far:

Yes, the auto trans would be nice in stop-and-go traffic. My prospective auto-trans Westfalia would be to replace my '85 manual trans, which I would use almost exclusively for ten to twelve camping trips a year, and a lot of those trips are at least half highway driving, and the rest mostly rural roads, so I wouldn't be taking full advantage of not having to shift in city driving. My daily driver is an '87 Wolfsburg Vanagon with manual trans- it would be nice if that one had an auto trans.

Someone mentioned the auto trans being better mated to a 2.1 instead of a 1.9. Most of the ones I'm interested in are 1.9's. Is there much of a difference- does the 1.9 not have a trans cooler? I know my 2.1 manual has an oil cooler and my 1.9 manual doesn't, but does only the 2.1 auto have a trans cooler?

My daily driver is an '87; my camper I'm replacing was an '85. I test drove another '85 last week. It reminded me just how different the feel was between the two. I'm not sure if it was just because it reminded me of how much I missed my '85 Westfalia, or something else, but when I drive the '84 last week, I really enjoyed it so much more than my '87. It just felt better somehow. I felt a little more "connnected" to it, like it was somehow more responsive. It's hard to describe. But I wonder if I'll feel the same about the auto.

Ed
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JPrato
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rockfish wrote:
Our Westy is manual --- just upgraded to 5-speed (overdrive). Our other two vehicles (Audi A6, Suburban) our automatic.


Rockfish, what 5 speed upgrade did you do, European 5 spd, go-westy 5 speed, other?
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deprivation
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I loves me auto.
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madspaniard
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

deprivation wrote:
I loves me auto.



x2
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wvukidsdoc
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I mentioned the 2.1 bit, don't get me wrong, I'd buy the best cleanest van I could buy, particularly with a camper, looking more at the camper attributes and body, than at the driveline so much. But, the 2.1 is a bit better with the auto. I've seen autobox 1.9s with and without the tranny oil cooler, perhaps it was a year thing, anyone know? It was probably a '85 I saw with, and a late '83.5 without.

The whole 1.9 thing has other incidental issues of course, they are obviously older, more and more complicated cooling hoses, but probably about same $$ to replace all of them, though I haven't followed that for a couple of years. Are all the 1.9 hoses still even available? The steel front to rear pipes that rust, but don't explode, so if you find a clean set, maybe actually better, etc.

It is probably 6 to one, 1/2 a dozen...

Buy the cleanest one you can. But like I said, if a Westy, don't make it an air cooled auto, unless you live in KS.

YMMV
John
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vw7266
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

come to ohio and bring money I have an 85 westy I'll put you in and you can feel like your in your old one
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rockfish
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JPrato wrote:
rockfish wrote:
Our Westy is manual --- just upgraded to 5-speed (overdrive). Our other two vehicles (Audi A6, Suburban) our automatic.


Rockfish, what 5 speed upgrade did you do, European 5 spd, go-westy 5 speed, other?


I had GW do the install at their shop...a GW2.5 and the 5-speed.
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There isn't one iota of a difference in and 1.9, or 2.1 Automatic.

They cruise at the same tach sped, get the same fuel economy, and one combination isn't any better than the other.

I flogged my 85 GL automatic for 5 years, and it gave me excellent service, and I suspect it's giving the current owner the same.

It is one tough trans regardless of what engine is powering it.

Less headaches in the long run with the automatic than the 4 speed.
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timbo
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:34 am    Post subject: Re: Auto Reply with quote

bjrogers86auto wrote:
ld...now, has anyone figured out how to stop that annoying little vibration at the shiter yet...I spent alot of highway miles with my fingertips on the stick to stop it...and it's hard to troubleshoot at 60 m/hr!

Brian.



my 88 auto had the same buzz/vibration.I stretched a rubber chicken over it..............basically rammed the shifter up it's apple ...............looks cool...........sound is gone..............so far the chicken hasn't complained!!! Cool
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