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I fear the automatic
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chachi
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:49 am    Post subject: I fear the automatic Reply with quote

we are considering upgrading to a vanagon with more amenities and while browsing, automatic transmission vanagons come up and i just don't even consider them. my wife has no problem with them and asked me, why do you want a manual so bad? to which i replied, uh cause...i like them better...? but what are the realities of the automatic? somebody convince me that they're actually great.
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oceanair
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:56 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

So we found the perfect van last Spring, but, it was an automatic which was almost a deal breaker. Turns out, we love it and our 2 friends who have manual trans here love it too. Shifts very smoothly, makes city driving a breeze. The only limit seems to be speed on the highway. Limit to 70mph because it's a 3 speed. In my experience, that is plenty fast enough for a stock van.

I say go for it and enjoy. We did and have no regrets at all. Also, no clutch to replace! They are very, very strong. Change the fluid and never look back.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:59 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

Probably more dependable all around than a stick and much more pleasant if you are doing stop and go driving. The manual shines on the highway more because it gives a bit better gas mileage than for any other reason.
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Tobias Duncan
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:01 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

I have one of each.
Do not feat the automatic.
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:22 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

Have no Fear.

The 3 speed automatics are a tough trans--

IF They Were Maintained-- the one & only caveat.
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Dana Champion
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:23 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

This subject has been discussed. Check the posts for more info....

I have a '88 automatic Westfalia. I love it. I've had several manual Vanagon Westfalias, and busses over the past forty years. I didn't like the auto either just because. When I got a sweet deal on a '73 bus back in '93, my opinion changed.

As already stated, freeway rpms are higher with the 3 speed auto as opposed to the 4 speed manual.

That morning cup of coffee sure is more enjoyable when I'm not wrestling the stick !

Go drive an auto.

Very Happy
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chachi
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:31 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

Dana Champion wrote:
That morning cup of coffee sure is more enjoyable when I'm not wrestling the stick !


now this, this speaks to me.
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PDXWesty
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:34 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

I had the same concern when looking for my last van. I drove an auto and asked around and got the same type of answers. After driving it now for 9 years, I don't regret the choice one bit. Driving is more enjoyable and reliability has not been an issue.
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Gruppe B
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:42 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

The wife's summer vehicle is a 1991 Automatic Carat. Great car even on the highway.

However, I love my 1985 Westy manual too Wink
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kourt
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:50 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

My response here isn't meant to be disparaging to any manual transmission vans or manual transmission enthusiasts, but it wouldn't take too much casual research on the Samba to see the trend:

-Vanagon manual transmissions are becoming scarce at a much faster rate than automatics;

-Vanagon manual transmissions require a great deal more skill, special tools, and higher cost consumables to rebuild properly;

-Vanagon manual transmissions, including shift linkages and clutches, are more complex, and present a higher maintenance challenge;

-Vanagon automatic transmissions obviously demand less of the driver to operate--good for beverage quaffing or for the spouse who does not like manual transmissions;

-Vanagon automatic transmissions are extremely simple and easy to rebuild;

-Vanagon automatic transmissions, when considering the overall service life between rebuilds, are more robust than manuals, all things considered;

-the entire 010/087/089/090 family of transaxles lends a vast amount of parts to the rebuild of the Vanagon 090 automatic, which includes millions of cars... not so sure if there are nearly as many junkyard saviors from the VW/Audi family out there for manual transmissions;

-crack open a Bentley manual and count the pages for the automatic section... and then count the pages for the manual section... this should be a good diagnostic of the higher complexity and maintenance overhead for the lifetime of a manual transmission.

All those factors above are pretty easily verifiable. In terms of subjective feedback, all I can say is that the automatic feels right for the Vanagon. The driving experience with the auto is wonderful--part of what makes these vans so fun to drive--and if I really want to manually shift, I still can with an automatic (and I did so extensively during mountain driving this summer).

kourt


Last edited by kourt on Wed Dec 02, 2015 10:09 am; edited 2 times in total
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Weezyissuperfast
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 10:01 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

I felt the same way when I was first looking for a van. My Subaru is a manual. I did not want an automatic, but I found a deal that I couldn't pass up. Really it isn't a big deal for me anymore. I like the way it drives, especially in traffic (big deal here in Seattle). Plus, my wife likes driving it, which helps keep her excited about keeping it around.

The lack of a fourth gear is a bit annoying on the freeway, since I put a Subie engine in, but in reality I don't need to be going over 70 in my van. You could always put a taller final drive gear ratio in to help that if it became an issue. Lastly, the points made above about availability and ease of rebuild are important considerations. Good luck.
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Abelabelabel
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 10:06 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

My two cents.
I own one of each too. Both on tin top vanagons.
**edit** both stock 2.1 waterboxer.

The automatic is slow to start but very pleasant and allows for more precise moves: i.e. parallel parking. It's nice not having to plop my foot on the break and the gas pedal at the same time when doing some specific parking on any type of incline. Also, better if you like being a distracted driver. coffee/phone/pets on the lap. It also feels beefy, and I like how it sounds with the whuuuuuuuuuurrrrr.

The Manual makes me feel like I know how to drive, and feels fast even though it's not. It also forces me to be a more focused driver, and therefore I feel a little more connected to the driving experience, which I also enjoy a helluva lot. Being able to place my hand on the shifter and actually feel a little bit of the vibrations and torque coming from the drive-train is nice. It's a challenge to make driving smooth, which is fun! Except when it's not.
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ThankYouJerry
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 10:44 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

I've driven manual trans cars for almost 30 years. I love them in sportscars! That being said...

Another vote for "Autos in Vanagons/Westys are great!" I purposefully sought out an auto Weekender when I finally felt that I understood enough about Vanagons to buy one. Over 2 years later (plus a 1.8T engine Very Happy ) and not one iota of regret.

Many threads here with lots of praise for the auto trans.

Way more relaxed on long cruises in both the hills and in the city.

Drop the RPMs (if you want) with larger wheels/tires or a different ring & pinion (3.73 for WBX up to 120 HP... 3.27 for 150+ HP).

Save the manual trans for your Syncro or that Porsche in your garage Wink .
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Tom Powell
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:10 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

I've driven the Hana highway in both manual and automatic Vanagons. I prefer the manual for that road. Only because of the engine braking. The many curves and changes of speed make the manual a faster car to drive for that road. The automatic doesn't slow down fast enough when you take your foot off the pedal.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Aloha
tp
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kamzcab86
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:13 am    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

Dana Champion wrote:
This subject has been discussed.


http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=374295
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=368605
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=494711
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=144461
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=109594

Wink
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:44 am    Post subject: Re: I fear the automatic Reply with quote

I've brought up engine braking here many times, when guys start yacking about burning up their brakes prematurely.

Big No-No here in Vanagonland.
Engine braking is real hard on the wimpy
VW driveline.
It short lives the engine, trans, axles, wheel bearings.
No kidding.

Every stick vehicle I've ever owned from Mopeds, semi's, Bugs, any assorted other cars, trucks & bikes all have used the engine braking feature to save brakes.

Can't do that with a Vanagon.

Big No-No.(here anyway)
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 12:01 pm    Post subject: Re: I fear the automatic Reply with quote

Terry Kay wrote:
Big No-No here in Vanagonland.
Engine braking is real hard on the wimpy
VW driveline.


No way would I drop down the grade on US 50 into Austin, NV without using engine braking nor would I go down thousands of other steep western or Appalachiann grades on brakes alone. If you like leaving the road at 60 mph and visiting the bottom of the nearby canyon keep it in high and used the brakes to do all the slowing. As a general rule for a rig of this or an earlier era is to always use the same gear going down as you would have to going up.
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Tom Powell
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 12:12 pm    Post subject: Re: I fear the automatic Reply with quote

I respect your reply TK. You are more knowledge about Vanagons than I. Perhaps I should have said slowing down with the engine, rather engine braking. On the Hana highway the automatic tends to carry too much speed into the turns. The result is you have to drive at a slower overall speed. The manual is faster overall on that road.

"Although Hana is only about 52 miles (84 km) from Kahului, it takes about 2.5 hours to drive when no stops are made as the highway is very winding and narrow and passes over 59 bridges, 46 of which are only one lane wide. There are approximately 620 curves along Route 360 from just east of Kahului to Hana"

Aloha
tp
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Merian
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 12:15 pm    Post subject: Re: i fear the automatic Reply with quote

PDXWesty wrote:
I had the same concern when looking for my last van. I drove an auto and asked around and got the same type of answers. After driving it now for 9 years, I don't regret the choice one bit. Driving is more enjoyable and reliability has not been an issue.


same here

also, the automatic transmission and unit body are the best designed parts of this vehicle - see the Design Deficiencies thread

an A/T gives better initial traction on a poor surface too

the cost is about 1 mpg

not clear if the long term costs are higher - over 20 years you may never rebuild an A/T but you will replace a manual clutch
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avernon82
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 12:31 pm    Post subject: Re: I fear the automatic Reply with quote

how would you guys compare the automatic to the manual for off-road ability?

kinda nice to be able to crawl with the auto without riding the clutch or worry about stalling.

if only you could add a locking diff to the auto...
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