Front Shock Replacement 2wd Vanagon

By Tom Carrington

I have been pretty happy with the way my ’85 Crew Cab rides, with the exception of a few stretches of roadway on my daily commute. Two of the spots are up and down slight hills that have intersecting streets running across it. Kinda like that new Passat commercial or those car chase scenes in San Francisco where cars get airborne (with a cop right behind them), but on a much smaller scale. I don’t smoke, so my ashtray is full of change. If I forget to close the ashtray cover and run across these intersections at more than 20 MPH, the front suspension bottoms out and then unloads so violently that the floor gets covered with coins. The other section of road has a series of high spots and dips that must have been made by some paving contractor with a wry sense of humor. While crossing it, annoying up-and-down oscillations build up and continue for several seconds once back on smooth pavement. These issues put me in the mood to install some new shock absorbers.

I did a little bit of price shopping and research using the Vanagon Archives about which shocks were recommended. Three brands were mentioned most often: Bilstein, Boge and KYB. Bilstein is considered a premier brand and is expensive, at approx $90 per shock. The Boge shocks came stock from the factory, and cost about $50 each. The KYB’s were the least expensive, at just under $27 each at the Bus Depot. I had recently put a full set of KYB’s from the Shock Warehouse on my family station wagon with outstanding results, so the choice of getting another set of KYB’s was a no-brainer. The Vanagon shocks specified by KYB were GR-2 low pressure gas for the front, and Gas-A-Just high pressure gas for the rear.

Follow along as I go through the steps for replacement!

Tools & Supplies Needed:

  • 15mm combination wrench
  • 7/8″ combination wrench
  • 1/2″ drive ratchet
  • 23mm socket
  • 19mm lug wrench
  • Sturdy jack and jack stands

    Step 1 – Preparation:
    I started by replacing the front shocks first, since that end was closer to the garage. The repair procedure starts just like many others. Engage the parking brake, or place blocks of wood around the tires. Loosen the front lug bolts, then jack up the front of the van. Place jack stands under the frame so that the van won’t fall on top of you. Remove the lug bolts, pull off the front wheels and place them out of your way. Once all the prep work is done, it’s time to get busy!

    Step 2 – Remove The Upper Shock Mounting Nuts:
    Top of shock with cover

    The shaft of the shock extends up through a mounting hole in the frame and is held in place with a nut on the shaft’s threaded end. A protective plastic cover, seen here to the left, is placed over the nut to keep it from corroding. Use a screwdriver to pry the cover off the top.

    Corroded top nut

    Once removed, you should be able to see the nut that holds the shock in place. On the passenger side shock, the Canadian road salt had gotten under the cover, and corroded the nut so badly that I could not use a wrench or even vise-grips to get the nut loose. To get the shock off, I ended up using a reciprocating saw (Sawzall) with a 8″ metal cutting blade and slicing through the rubber bushing just below the large washer. As the blade went through the rubber, it made plenty of smoke!

    Preserved nut

    On the driver’s side, life was much easier. I was expecting to have to cut the top of this shock off as well, but was pleasantly suprised to find that the installer had put grease all over the top mounting nut before installing the protective cover. The result was that I was able to easily remove the top nut with a 15mm combination wrench.

    Step 3 – Remove The Lower Shock Mounting Nuts/Bolts:
    Lower shock bolt

    The bottom mounting point for the front shock is a bolt that passes through the lower control arm. I was not able to get the 23mm nut off at first, so I squirted some penetrating oil on the nut and heated it with a propane torch. I’m not sure if this is normal, or another result of my Crew having spent it’s first 13 years in Canada. After about a minute of heating, I was able to remove the nut with no damage to any of the threads.

    side-by-side comparison

    Once the lower bolt is removed, the shock literally falls out of the van. I played with the shocks for a few minutes once they were out, extending and compressing them by hand. They offered almost no resistance in either direction and I could hear the air gurgling inside of them. They were obviously worn out. Not only that, they were just plain old grungy as well! In contrast, the KYB’s had a smooth, consistent resistance to either compression or extension. Here’s a picture of one of the old shocks next to one of the new KYB’s.

    Step 4 – Transfer Rock/Dust Shields:
    Shaft to protect

    Looking at the picture above, you can see that the new shocks do not come with replacement rock/dust shields. The shields extend the life of the shock absorber by preventing small stones from hitting and pitting the finely polished shaft, seen here to the left. If the shaft gets pitted, the seals will wear out prematurely. The rock/dust shields are no longer available from the dealer, so the old ones need to be installed on the new shocks.

    The rock shield is held captive by a small metal sleeve that slides over the shaft of the shock absorber. I had to use a hacksaw and chisel to remove it from the corroded shock, while it simply slid off the other shock. Learn from this-Be sure to grease those sleeves when you do the install! The sleeve is only about $3.00 at the dealer, but they had to special order (of course) it. Once the sleeve is off, the rock shield slides off as well.

    Rock Shield

    Re-assembly is pretty easy. First, slide the dust shield down the shaft, as seen to the left. It can only go so far due to the stepped-down shape of the shaft (see picture above).


    Then slide the metal sleeve down to retain the rock shield, as seen to the right. You did remember to grease the sleeve before installing, right?

    Step 5 – Installation:
    Installing new shock

    To install the shocks, get back under the front of the van and slide the shock up through the hole in the lower control arm, as seen here on the left. If the shock is too long to make the angle into the lower control arm, manually compress the shock fully and then quickly stick it up the hole before it expands. You will be able to do it…these are low pressure gas shocks, so they expand slowly. Another alternative is to raise the van even higher in the air. I went for the “compress and stuff” method myself. I was doing the work at night to avoid the heat, and you can see where the light caught the front license plate of one of my other toys. 🙂

    jack holding up lower control arm

    Once you have the shock inside the lower control arm, re-install the lower mounting bolt and nut. The nut gets torqued to xx ft-lbs. With the lower mount secure, place a floor jack under the lower control arm.

    See the sleeve?

    Slowly jack up the lower control arm to slightly compress the spring. Keep jacking until you see both the shaft and sleeve of the shock sticking up through the upper mount, as seen on the left.

    Squished bushing

    Place the supplied rubber bushing over the shaft, followed by the washer. Next comes the nut to secure the top of the shock. I normally tighten the nut until the rubber bushing is compressed to just over the diameter of the washer that retains it. In this case, the nut bottomed out just as I was about to stop turning. Gotta love that! Smear some grease on the nut and stud, and re-install those plastic protective caps.

    Step 6 – Test Drive:
    With the new shocks mounted, re-install the front wheels and re-torque the lug bolts. Then take that test drive. At first, I installed only the front shocks due to time contraints. My impressions immediately after the install:
    The ride is slightly harsher. I wasn’t really interested in obtaining a firmer ride, and now I can really feel bumps in the seat of my pants. I’m wondering if the KYB was the right choice, or if I should have gotten the Boge shocks. I have crossed those coin-spilling intersections several times now, and I am amazed at the difference. The suspension no longer “unloads” like before, which makes crossing *much nicer*. That stretch of road near my home that used to make the Crew oscillate so much has been tamed…very nice.

    After 2 weeks of driving on the new front and old rear shocks, I am satisfied with the results. I must have already become accustomed to the firmer ride, since I don’t notice the bumps like just after I first installed the new fronts.

Water pump replacement for 1.9l Waterboxer Vanagon

By Tom Carrington
I should have known it was coming. The signs were there. I just chose to ignore them. What signs? For the past month or so, I have been topping off the coolant reservoir. Not much, just maybe a pint every couple of weeks. I was kinda worried that I might have a head gasket problem (most Wasserboxer owners live with this constant fear) but there were no drips or puddles in the driveway, or strange smells from the exhaust. The temperature gauge always read fine, so I happily fed my engine’s habit. Life was good.

Or so I thought.

Note: Click on thumbnails for expanded images!

Just a week ago, the habit turned ugly. I noticed a slight smell of antifreeze after parking the van, but still no drips or other visible signs of a leak. I was more concerned, but not enough to fully investigate the problem. I should have. A day later, my Van was leaving a distintive coolant trail along the path I drove. Hansel and Gretel would have been proud. Bottom view of leaky pumpThat night, I got under the Van to assess the problem. With the engine running, coolant was spewing out of a small hole in engine, just behind one of the pulleys. No ordinary hole, coolant from this one indicates that one of the seals in the water pump had failed. My preferred FLAPS (Olympic Auto Parts, College Park, MD (301) 474-1030) had a brand new German-made pump in stock, complete with new gaskets and an O-ring for $62.00. A quick check at The Bus Depot web site showed they had a similar pump for $50.00. Since I needed it *now*, off to Olympic it was! 20 minutes later, I had a new pump. Follow along as I go through the steps for replacement!

Tools & Supplies Needed:

  • 12mm and 13mm wrenches and sockets
  • 3/8″ drive ratchet, 3″ and 6″ extensions and universal joint
  • Screwdrivers
  • Slip-joint pliers
  • Gasket scraper, putty knife or razor blade
  • Sturdy jack and jack stands
  • New water pump (comes with O-ring and gaskets)
  • 2 coolant pipe gaskets
  • 2 gallons antifreeze
  • RTV silicone sealer
  • Large bucket or wide dishpan (To collect old coolant)

    Buried pumpThe worst part about replacing the water pump is it’s location. Down near the heat shield in front of the muffler with not too much room to work. Mentally prepare yourself for some fancy fingerwork. Some of the work you will do from above the engine, some from through the license plate door, and a little bit from below. In the picture to the right, the pump is behind that single-groove pulley with the belt riding on the top of it. The multi-grooved pulley is bolted on the end of the crankshaft.

    Step 1 – Disconnect the Battery:
    First things first. We will be working near the alternator, so go ahead and disconnect the battery ground strap. The battery is under the front passenger seat. Sure, you could leave it connected, buy why risk it?

    Step 2 – Drain the Coolant:
    Unless you are determined to replace *all* the coolant on your engine, don’t bother following the Bentley procedures for draining your coolant. What I did was remove the hoses from the thermostat housing by loosening the hose clamps and tugging them off. I had a large bucket underneath, T-stat housingand managed to capture almost all of the coolant. As long as you are there, you might as well disconnect the 2 temperature senders. Once the flow of coolant had subsided, I raised the passenger side of the van with a jack under the frame just forward of the rear tire to get more to coolant to drain out. After the flow slowed to a small trickle, I lowered the Van back down on all fours. The point of all this was to get the coolant level in the engine low enough so that none would spill out when I removed the pump.

    Step 3 – Remove the Water Pump Pulley
    The new water pump does not come with a pulley, WP pulleyso the one on the old pump needs to be removed. The pulley is held on to the pump with 3 13mm head bolts. The problem with removing the pulley is that there is no good way to hold the pulley still while removing the bolts. If you have an air compressor, no big deal – just use an impact wrench to “zip” the bolts right off. But here’s a trick for the rest Alternatorof us. First, loosen the pivot and adjustment bolts on the alternator just slightly. Lever against the housing of the alternator to tighten the belt *much* tighter than you would normally do. Re-tighten the bolts on the alternator and place the Van in gear. With the belt that tight, and the transmission in gear, the pump pulley should be held still while removing the bolts. A 13mm combination wrench will work just fine.

    Step 4 – Remove the Coolant Pipes
    There are 2 steel pipes that carry coolant from one side of the engine to the other. Coolant pipeOn the passenger side of the Van, both pipes are secured to the water jacket with bolts or PITA boltsnuts/studs, as pictured to the right. Remove both the bolts and nuts. On the driver’s side, the upper pipe slip-fits into the thermostat housing with an O-ring seal and the lower is bolted to the front of the water pump. It is the bolts that secure the lower pipe to the water pump that will try your patience, seen here to the left. You can just get a 12mm wrench on the bolts, but only about 1/8 of a turn can be made at a time. Take a deep breath, prepare to spend some quality time flipping your combination wrench again and again, and remove the lower bolts.

    Step 5 – Loosen Hose Clamps
    Tstat hoseAfter completing Step 4, you deserve a break, so here’s an easy one. The thermostat housing is connected to the driver’s side cylinder head by a short hose. Loosen the clamps on the hose. You will be removing the water pump and thermoststat housing as a single unit. Now is also a good time to remove the hose that goes from the expansion tank to the top of the water pump. Use a regular pair of pliers to squeeze and and hold the clamps open while you work the hose off the casting.

    Step 6 – Remove Water Pump
    The water pump itself is held on to the WP boltsengine by a single bolt and 2 studs with nuts. Use a 13mm socket with a universal joint and extension to remove these. At this point, there should be Water pumpnothing holding the pump to the block, as seen on the right. Once the bolt/nuts are gone, the pump and thermostat housing assembly can be pulled straight back towards the rear of the Van. You may have to wiggle the assembly to get the hose connection from the thermostat housing to the water jacket to break free.

    Step 7 – Separate Water Pump from Thermostat Housing
    The thermostat housing is attached to the water pump by two long, 13mm head bolts. T-stat boltsI had to apply a little of heat with a propane torch to get the bolts to turn freely. The heat helps expand the aluminum of the housing, which releases the housing’s grip on the bolt. Once free, I used a wire brush to clean the bolts, and a drill bit to clean out the bores in the housing. At this point, the disassembly phase of the project is over. If you were thinking of installing a new thermostat, now would be the best time.

    Step 8 – Clean All Mating Surfaces
    Having clean mating surfaces Old sealerClean surfaceis the key to preventing leaks around gaskets. Nothing worse than putting everything together and seeing a leak! Use a scaper of some sort to remove any traces of old gasket material from the thermostat housing and the mating surfaces for the coolant pipes. The area on the engine where the water pump mounts should also be cleaned to ensure a good seal. On the left, you can see the sealant residue from the water pump. The view to the right shows the same area, after a good cleaning.

    Step 9 – Let the Assembly Begin!
    Start by installing the thermostat housing onto the water pump. Next, put a *very light* coating of RTV sealer (I like Permatex Ultra Copper) in the o-ring groove on the back of the water pump. Push New Pumpthe o-ring into the groove, and smear a *thin* coating on the face of the o-ring. Do not use more than a paper-thin coating of sealer! If you do, the excess sealer can get into your cooling system and clog things up!! Put the water pump and thermostat housing assembly back on the engine, and tighten the nuts and bolt. The next step was the worse part for me. Using a new gasket, re-install the lower coolant tube. The bolts are tricky to line up and get started, but take your time. Once both of those are tightened down, take a break….you will want one! The upper coolant pipe goes in much easier. Coat the o-ring with a little RTV, and slide it into the thermostat housing. The other end bolts to the cylinder head on the passenger side. Reinstall the water pump pulley and alternator belt. Put the belt on extra tight to help while torquing the pulley bolts, then loosen the belt back to normal (1/2″ deflection). Re-install all the hoses and tighten the clamps. Hook up the wires for both temperature senders. You are almost done!

    Step 10 – Adding Coolant & Bleeding Air
    Before adding a single drop of coolant, open the engine-mounted bleeder valve located on the “H” shaped housing above the engine, seen here on the right. This will help prevent air from being trapped in the cooling system. Bleeder valveOnce you have filled the expansion tank, start the engine. Look for leaks at the pump and all of the hose and pipe connections. As the engine is running, the coolant level in the expansion tank will drop. Keep adding coolant until the level does not drop, and you no longer see air bubbles appearing. Close the bleeder valve.The next step is to get any trapped air out of the radiator. Screw the cap on the expansion tank, and turn off the engine. At the front of the Van, remove the grille around the headlights by turning each of the slotted fasteners about 1/2 turn. Jack up the front of the Van a foot or so and restart the engine. By raising the front of the Van, air bubbles should collect in the top of the radiator. Loosen (not remove) the bleeder screw on top of the radiator Bleeder Valve(seen here on the left) until you see or hear air being pushed out. If you see bubbles, then there is still air escaping. Once only a solid flow of coolant is escaping, tighten the bleeder. Get behind the wheel and rev the engine to about 2000 RPM for a minute or so, then loosen the bleeder again and check for air. Repeat this process several times until no more air is being pushed out when you open the bleeder. Shut down the engine and lower it to the ground. Fill the coolant reservior to the top, and put away all your tools, except for the 13mm wrench. As the engine cools, a vacum will develop in the cooling system, which will cause coolant to be sucked out of the reservoir, and into the system. After an hour or so of cooling time, check the coolant level in the reservoir, and fill if needed.

    Once done with the bleeding process, I tend to leave the grille off for a few days. New pumpUpon arriving at work or home, I will leave the engine running and crack open the bleeder valve on the radiator. It usually takes about 4 or 6 times before all the air has been purged from the system, in my experience. My new water pump is working just fine….although without the tell-tale trail behind me, I may have troubles finding my way back home! 🙂


Vanagon Clutch Replacement

By Tom Carrington

The clutch is responsible for taking the power produced by the engine and relaying it to the transmission, which ultimately turns the wheels. Ever since the first night I drove my 1985 Crew Cab in late 1998, I knew the clutch needed work. I was on a long uphill stretch leaving Fredericton, NB (Canada) for when it started slipping. Easing up on the gas would allow the clutch to regain its grip. I also found that the clutch would slip under moderate acceleration or any time I carried a heavy load. Since I haven’t had much free time lately, I resigned myself to driving gently in order to extend what time the clutch had left. Finally, in December 1999, it got so bad that I had to stop driving the van at all. It’s now April 2000, and I am in the process of replacing the clutch. Follow along as I wrestle the tranny out of the van and replace the worn parts. That’s right, you can pull the transmission without removing the engine!

Parts & Supplies Needed:

  • 6, 8 and 10 mm allen head wrenches, socket version preferred
  • 12-point CV bolt tool (may not be needed on all vans)
  • Assorted metric sockets and wrenches
  • Hydraulic or scizzors floor jack and sturdy jack stands
  • Plastic baggies
  • blah
  • Plenty of rags or paper towels
  • Old clothing

    Step 1 – Prepare the Van:
    Disconnect the battery. Raise the van high enough so that you can both get under it as well as slide the transmission out from under it. Support the van on the jack stands.

    Note:Click on thumbnails for expanded images!

    Step 2 – Unbolt the CV joints:
    CV joint boltsThe CV joints are bolted to the drive flanges of the transmission, as seen in this picture to the left. The bolts (6 per joint) will either be a 6 or 12-point design allen head bolt. I had a mixture, with 12-point on the passenger side, and 6-point on the driver’s side. Before attempting to remove the bolts, spend some time with a small pick and clean out the accumulated crud from the bolt heads. Failure CV joint in a bagto do so may result in you “stripping” out the head of the bolt, making it even more difficult to remove. Once clean, use a the 12-point tool or a 6mm allen head wrench to remove the screws from the joints. Once the joint is disconnected, place a platic bag over the end of the joint. This will accomplish 2 things: First, the plastic bags will keep the cv grease from getting all over you as you work. Second, the bags will help keep dirt from getting in the joints. I also like to take some twine and tie the axle shafts up to the frame to get them out of my way.

    Step 3 – Remove the starter motor:
    StarterDisconnect the cables from the starter motor, if possible. The starter is secured by an easy to remove 17mm nut on a stud at the bottom, and a not so easy bolt that passes through the engine case on the top. To remove the top bolt, open up the engine compartment and find the 17mm nut hidden under/behind the throttle body. Put a box-end wrench on the nut, and have a helper hold it or (in my case) jam the wrench so that it won’t move. Then slide under the van, and remove the upper bolt with a 8mm hex-head socket on the end of a 6″ extension. Once both bolts are removed, the starter can be pulled off and placed out of the way.

    Step 4 – Disconnect the shift linkage:
    Shift linkageLinkage removedUsing a 13mm socket and wrench or pair of 13mm wrenches, remove the bolts that hold the shift linkage to the transmission. One thing I noticed on my Crew Cab is that it was missing the dust boots from the linkage. I’ll be sure to replace those! Once the nuts are removed, the entire shift rod & linkage can be swung out of the way. Don’t bother undoing the linkage anywhere else. On the left is a picture of the shift linkage, and on the right is a picture of what the transmission looks like with it removed.

    Step 5 – Support the engine:
    Supported EngineThe engine is normally held up by the crossbar at the rear, and the transmission nose mount in the front. Before the transmission is removed, you must find another way to support it. What I did was span the engine compartment with a 4×4″ that was laying round. A chain was hooked in a cast hole right at the case seam, ran up and around the 4×4″, and hooked back into itself. Leave enough slack so that the front of the engine can drop about 2-3 inches.

    Step 6 – Unbolt the nose mount:
    Nose mountSlide a jack under the center of the transmission, and raise it so that it just touches the tranny case. Remove the 4 bolts that secure the nose mount to the frame, as seen here to the left. Also disconnect the ground strap while you are there. You can now start lowering the jack, which will cause the whole engine/tansmission assembly to pivot. Continue to lower until all the slack in the chain is taken up.

    Step 7 – Unbolt the slave cylinder:
    Clutch slave cylinderNow that the transmission has pivoted down, it is easier to remove the 2 bolts that secure the clutch slave cylinder to the transmission. You will also need to remove a small bracket that secures the hydraulic line to the side of the transmission. By keeping the system sealed, you avoid having to bleed it later.

    Step 8 – Separate the engine and transmission:
    lower studRemove the nuts from the 2 lower engine studs, and the remaining nut/bolt combination from the top (The other upper bolt was removed with the starter). Lower the jack just slightly, and the transmission should start to separate from the engine. Now for the fun part – Push the transmission away transmission exposed!from the engine, without knocking it off the jack. You may have to lower the jack a little bit more as the transmission slides forward. Once you see the input shaft is clear of the clutch, go ahead and lower the trans all the way down to the ground. Drag that pig out from under the van!

    Step 9 – Remove clutch pressure plate:
    oily flywheelThe pressure plate is secured to the flywheel by 6 bolts with 13mm heads. Loosen each bolt evenly a few turns at a time until the tension is off the pressure plate. Once the tension is relieved, go ahead and finish removing them and pull off the pressure plate. The clutch disc is easily removed now as well. What you can now see is the surface of the flywheel that the clutch contacts. In my case, the reason for the slippage is pretty obvious…the surface of the flywheel is covered with engine oil. It looks like I will have to replace the crankshaft oil seal as well.

    Step 10 – Remove flywheel:
    Flyweel off!The flywheel is held on to the crankshaft by 6 large bolts with 10mm hex-heads. If you are going to remove them, either use an air impact gun or get a “flywheel lock” to prevent the engine from turning and use a 10mm allen head socket on a long breaker bar to loosen them. Once the flywheel is off, the seal can be seen. I’m now sending my flywheel out to a machine shop to have it resurfaced at a cost of $30.

    Step 11 – Remove oil seal and pilot bearing:
    Seal & pilot bearing removedI have a seal puller tool that works really well for prying out oil seals. You can also use a regular screwdriver to do the same thing. You want the tip of the puller/screwdriver just barely under the inside lip of the seal when you pry it out. This will help prevent engine case from getting scratched. When the seal comes out, make sure you don’t accidentally remove any of the shims that go on the crankshaft. To remove the pilot bearing, I use a simple tool that was made out of an old shaft. I ground the end of the shaft to form a hook that will catch on the inside lip of the bearing. I clamp Vise-grips onto the shaft, then whack the side of the Vise-grips to pull out the bearing. Simple and inexpensive, yet effective!

    Step 12 – Change tranny oil:
    Fill plugIt’s easiest to change the transmission lube while the unit is out of the van. No tranny lube running Drain plugdown you arm this way! A 17mm hex-head wrench is needed to get the drain and fill plugs out. If the tranny is still in the van, make sure you start by loosening the fill plug before you drain it. Because if you can’t get that plug out, you won’t be able to refill the transmission!The fill plug is on the side of the transmission case, near the shift linkage as seen on the left. The drain plug is located under the bellhousing, as seen on the right.

    GL-4 gear lubeOnce all the old oil has drained, it’s time to refill. The oil capacity of the tranny is about 4.5 US quarts. Be sure to use transmission oil that is rated GL-4 ONLY! Do not use GL-5 or combination GL-4/GL-5 rated oil! The difference is that GL-5 transmission oil has more “Extreme Pressure” or “EP” additives to help it lubricate all the gears and bearings. The problem is that the higher concentration of EP additives can corrode the brass synchronizers in the transmission. When filling the transmission, you want to add just enough oil so that it is up level with the bottom of the fill plug. There is a service bulletin from VW that recommends filling it until the oil level is 1/2″ below the fill plug to make it easier to shift. I have never had a hard time shifting any of my Vanagon transmissions, so I am staying with the “fill it level with the plug” spec.

    Step 13 – Install new oil seal and pilot bearing:
    Before installing the new seal, use some “zero residue” electronics cleaner to degrease where the seal will be installed as well as the threaded holes in the back of the crankshaft. While you are at it, use the same cleaner to remove any traces of dirt/oil from the flywheel bolts. I like to install the pilot bearing before the seal by simply tapping the bearing into place. Don’t tap on it directly, use a socket that has the same outside diameter. I use a small steel plate to install the seal evenly, which will get it flush with the surface. Then I take the same plate and turn it on it’s end, and tap several more times around the circumfrence to seat the seal in the bore. Now’s a good time to put some hi-temp wheel bearing grease in the bore of the pilot bearing and on the inside lip of the seal.

    Step 14 – Re-install flywheel:
    Once the flywheel is back from being resurfaced, give it a good cleaning to get any grit from the machine shop rinsed off. To help prevent oil leaks, remove the O-ring from the inside of the flywheel. The old O-ring in my flywheel was hard as a rock, and may have been the source of my oil leak! I have seen too many “mechanics” ignore the O-ring, and simply reuse it. I say replace it…it’s cheap insurance! Be sure to clean out the groove the O-ring sits in. All sorts of crud gets built up in that groove, which can prevent a good seal from being made. Install a new O-ring in it’s place, and wipe a thin film of grease over it.

    Another commonly neglected but important part is the small felt washer that sits between the flywheel and the pilot bearing. This washer acts as a seal, which both keeps the grease in the pilot bearing, and the abrasive clutch dust out. Leaving it out is an invitation to early pilot bearing failure. If you look closely at the inside of the flywheel, you will see the ridge that retains this washer. I tried to get a picture, but my digital camera would not take a shot up that close.

    To install the flywheel, line up the roll pin hole in the back of the crankshaft with the corresponding hole in the flywheel. Use a rubber mallet to tap the flywheel into place. Once the flywheel is on a little, thread the flywheel bolts into the Resurfaced flywheelcrankshaft and use them to evenly pull the flywheel in until it seats against the crank. In the picture to the left, you can see the resurfaced flywheel. Notice that both the clutch surface and the raised surface where the pressure plate bolts to have been cut. This is important! For any thickness of material that is removed from the clutch surface, the exact same amount must be removed from the pressure plate mounting surface. This ensures that the proper distance relationship between the clutch disc and pressure plate is maintained. If this is not done, the clutch will fail prematurely. Probably not right away, but it will happen sooner than if the flywheel was machined properly.

    Next up, time to install the flywheel.

    According to Bob Donalds of Boston Engine, “The flywheel has 2 torque specs depending on the how old the manual you are using. The newest Bentley lists a torque spec of 44 ft pds and a 1/4 turn and the older books have a spec of 80 ft pds. This applys to all type 2 and was the orignal spec for the Vanagons. 80 pds is the spec I use on all type 2 and Vanagon torque plates and flywheels and yes I do reuse the bolts with no loctite when they are not to beat up as some times happens when removed.”

    I took Bob’s advice with one slight change. Once the flywheel was seated, I removed the bolts, and applied Loctite® #271 (Red – high strength) to the threads. Then I re-installed them and torqued the bolts to 80 Ft-Lbs.

    Step 15 – Install new clutch disc and pressure plate:
    Clutch disc held in place with alignment toolThe clutch kit that I bought from the Bus Depot included a new clutch disc, pressure plate, throwout bearing, pilot bearing and a nifty clutch alignment tool. The purpose of the tool is to hold the clutch disc in the proper position while the pressure plate is installed. This makes it easier to mate the engine and transmission back together. Place the clutch disc against the flywheel, and simply insert the alignment tool to hold it in place, perfectly centered on the flywheel.

    Pressure plateNext up is the pressure plate. Line up the pins sticking out of the flywheel with the holes in the pressure plate, slide it on. The pins will hold it in place while you get the bolts started. Apply Loctite® #242 (blue – low strength) to the threads of each bolt. Snug down each bolt until they are all finger tight and just touching the pressure plate. The tighten them evenly a few turns at a time until they have fully seated the pressure plate. Torque the bolts to 20 Ft-Lbs. Once the plate is secured, go ahead and pull the alignment tool back out of the disc.

Used Vanagon Buyer’s Guide

By Tobin Copley and Christa Ovenell, for the air-cooled Volkswagen bus mailing list and web site at This checklist is designed primarily for 1968-79 Volkswagen Westfalia campers, but should have application for other vehicles as well. I have also added some Vanagon specific updated (Admin 2017).

This checklist adapted from the “Used car buyer’s guide” published on the internet by Scions of Lucas (SOL), (c) 1991. Permission to freely copy and distribute all or portion of this checklist is hereby granted provided that all of the following apply: it is not made part of another copyrighted work, the source is acknowledged, this copyright notice is retained, and no aspect of the distribution is for profit.

Original work by SOL based on a guide written by Lawrence Buja & Roger Garnett


Name: ______________________________________ [affix original ad here]
Address: ______________________________________

Phone: (h) ______________ (w) ______________

Date/Time: ______________________________________
1. Can you describe the car and its condition?
2. Does it run well?
3. How is the:
Any Rust? Ask specifically:
– under windshield?
– under battery tray(s)?
– wheel wells, esp. behind front wheels & in front of rear wheels?
– rocker panels?
Paint? (original? repainted?–why?)
Head gaskets?
4. If it is a camper, is it a Westfalia or some other conversion
5. What special features or options does it have?
6. Why are you selling it?
7. How long have you owned it? …had it for sale?
8. Is it currently registered and licensed?
9. Where is the car located?
10. How many miles does it have on it? [15K/yr?]
11. What problems have you had with the car?
12. Has it ever been hit or in an accident?
13. What work does it need done on it now?
14. How much are you asking for it? or What’s the least you’re willing
to take for it?

Why am I buying this car?
What do I intend to do with it?
Will it be my commute vehicle?
What service and support is locally available?
Will I be driving it year-round or summer only?
Do I want to work on the car more than driving it?
Am I willing to pay a premium because someone else has already done most
of the serious work on the car?
What is the most that I’m willing to pay for this car?
What is the least that I think that the car can be had for?

1. Ask the seller if you can have the van inspected by a competent VW shop before you purchase it. A pre-purchase inspection should be paid for by you, but is cheap insurance against hidden issues. Buying a van sight unseen over the internet with no inspection (I am looking at you Ebay) is highly discouraged.

2. Always inspect/take delivery of the vehicle in the broad daylight,
never in the evening/night or in the rain.

3. Arrange to inspect the bus at a time when the engine will be stone
cold so you can check valve clearances if necessary and cold-starting

4. A clean piece of cardboard placed under the engine/trans after the
test-drive will help show fluid leaks.

5. In some states, older non-titled vehicles may be titled with just a
bill of sale. Other states may require an additional security bond to
be posted. Use extreme caution in either of these cases!

6. Require seller have the vehicle pass all state inspections (safety,
emissions) at a mutually agreeable shop (NOT one of his choosing)
before you pay for it. Old (>30days) inspections are of absolutely no use to

7. A general guide to reading exhaust smoke:
Black smoke = unburned fuel
Valves bad or out of adjustment? Carb out of adjustment?
Blue smoke = burning oil
Accelerating: Piston rings bad? Decelerating: Valve seats/guides bad?
8. Get the VIN and get a Carfax before seriously considering a purchase as this should give you peace of mind that the van was never wrecked.

— TOOLS TO BRING FOR INSPECTION: (Allow 2-3 hours for the inspection)

Essentials: A cynical, mechanically-minded friend, Your standard tool
set plus 17mm allen key (or one made of 10mm bolt and 2 nuts),
Voltmeter, Compression Gauge, Tire gauge, Flashlight, Magnet, the 2 different spark
plug sockets, spray lube, clean rags Clipboard, pen and hi-liter to use
with a photocopy of this list, some cash, drivers license and copy of your
insurance showing you are covered driving the sellers car.

Optional: tow rope, starting fluid, jumper cables, timing light, ramps,
jack (floor or scissors), mirror, coveralls, rags, gas can, oil, duct
tape, wire, repair manuals, misc. fuses, calculator


Original Owner? ___________________________________________________
Carfax Report Results?_____________________________________________
Pre-purchase inspection report results?____________________________
Names/names of previous owners available? _____________________
What regular maintenance was done? Records? ______________________
When were the head gaskets replaced?______________________________
Who was your mechanic? name/address/phone? _______________________
What gas mileage have you been getting? ___________________________
Are there any repair or gas mileage records? ______________________
Oil change interval? ______________________________________________
Type of oil used? ____________________________________________
How old are the tires? ____________________________________________
Battery? _____________________________________________________
Has it passed emissions recently? _________________________________
Where? _______________________________________________________
Has any bodywork ever been done? __________________________________
Why? _________________________________________________________
Receipts? ____________________________________________________
Any mechanical work recently? _____________________________________
Where? _______________________________________________________
Receipts? ____________________________________________________
What work remains to be done or corrected? ________________________
Are there any missing parts? ______________________________________
Do you have any extra parts or wheels for it? _____________________
What new/aftermarket parts are in the car? ________________________
Receipts? ____________________________________________________
Was it ever used for towing? ______________________________________
Has it ever been crashed, burnt, stolen, hit or rolled? ___________
How was the car generally driven? _________________________________
On highway or in town? _______________________________________
Are the engine, transmission, steering, differential original? ____
(If not, why not? Origin and receipts?) _____________________
Do you have any books about the car or the engine? ________________
(repair books, owners manuals, history or general
interest, parts catalogs, club newsletters)
Any interesting history? __________________________________________
Has it ever been raced? ______________________________________
Are there any tools that come with the car? _______________________
Do you know of any parts cars or good parts sources? ______________

PART 2. EXTERIOR AND INTERIOR INSPECTION. (Don’t start the engine yet)

—OWNERSHIP VERIFICATION: (Do all of the following agree and seem right?)

Name on title: ____________________________________________________
Name on registration: _____________________________________________
Model/Year on title: ______________________________________________
VIN on title: _____________________________________________________
VIN on registration: ______________________________________________
VIN on dash: ______________________________________________________
VIN on door: ______________________________________________________
Mileage on title: _________________________________________________
Mileage on odometer: ______________________________________________
Price on title: ___________________________________________________
Asking price: _____________________________________________________
Blue Book price: __________________________________________________


___ _____ Title ready for transfer? Any liens?
___ _____ Do body numbers match those on title?
___ _____ Title in sellers name?
___ _____ Do body numbers match registration?
___ _____ Current Emissions certificate, < 30 days old?

___ _____ Current registration?

___ ______Current Plates?

___ _____ Current Safety certificate if req’d, <30days?



___ _____ Check door edges and underside for rust/tears

___ _____ Check doors/hinges for stress/tears

___ _____ Doors/hoods open/close freely? Rubs?

___ _____ Driver’s door / passenger door / sliding door / rear hatch / engine

___ _____ hatch

___ _____ Is anything obviously broken?

___ _____ Are lights cracked, dented or broken?

___ _____ Car sits level? (view from all sides)

___ _____ Are bumpers dinged? Rusty? Loose? Level?

___ _____ Rear bumper sooty or oily?

___ _____ Paint OK? All panels same shade? Cracks? Over spray?

___ _____ Any of the trim or hubcaps rusty or missing?

___ _____ New paint? Why? Any body ripples?

___ _____ Find bottom of trunk/side wells. Rust? Holes?

___ _____ Rust/repair on body? Fenders? Sills?

___ _____ Any Bondo? Fiberglas? (magnet) Why?

___ _____ Lift rubber mat in front door step. Rusty? Holes?

___ _____ Rubber parts and seals condition? Cracked?

___ _____ Any fender dings or misalignment? Why?

___ _____ Gas tank & fill hose OK? Gas smell?

___ _____ Door/engine hatch dings? Misalignment? Why?

___ _____ Jack in bus? OK? Spare tire good? Pressure? Jack points good?

___ _____ Have jack? works? Bilstein jack fits in all four jack points?

___ _____ Tires: Tread? Bulges? Cracks? (Check from under bus too)

___ _____ Tires all the same model/brand? LT / “C” rated tires?

___ _____ Rims: Bent? Rusted? Cracks? All the same?



___ _____ Brake disks grooved? Brake pads? Any leaks?

___ _____ Rubber brake lines OK? None brittle, cracked, etc.?

___ _____ Ball joint boots intact (upper & lower, check carefully)?

___ _____ Tie rods straight? Tie rod end boots intact?

___ _____ Look at underside of front door steps,

___ _____ Any under body/floor pan rust?

___ _____ Any rocker panel or wheel well rust?

___ ______Check particularly in entire vertical area immediately behind each front wheel. Pay special attention to inside of rocker panels, sliding door track.

___ _____ Are main frame members rusted? Dogs? Jack points?

___ _____ Is heater hose from heater boxes in place and intact? (Air Cooled only) ___ _____ Is there a underbelly gas heater (Eberspacher BA-6)?

___ _____ Cap from Westy sink drain in place?

___ _____ Anything dented? Bent? Welded? Why?

___ _____ Any evidence of ground clearance damage?

___ _____ Shift rod straight, linkage good?

___ _____ Shift linkage boots in good condition?

___ _____ Any leaks from transmission or differential?

___ _____ Use 17mm allen key to undo transmission fill plug and check fluid level ___ _____ Check for rust: rear frame members, jack points, wheel wells

___ _____ Check fuel lines under bus. All OK, no cracking, no wet

___ _____ connections?

___ _____ Fuel pump secure, no leaking anywhere?

___ _____ Turn, push/pull driveshaft by hand

___ _____ Any movement or slop? Shafts should move smoothly in/out, but not rotate  (try to turn them like you are revving a motorcycle, should have very little to no play)

___ _____ Constant velocity joint boots OK?

___ _____ (check all the way around, all four joints)

___ _____ Any oil leaks from engine? Where? _______________________________

___ _____ All lower engine tin in place?

___ _____ If engine tin oily, remove tin, search for probable source of leaking. Most likely source is push-rod tube seals, but check if leaking where cylinder mates with case. (Air Cooled only)

___ _____ Condition of heater boxes? Exhaust parts? Rusty? Solid & original?

___ _____ Patched/hacked? Properly aligned? Muffler dented?

___ _____ Look for rust under battery tray(s).

___ _____ Tire wear even?

___ _____ All shocks & struts damp OK? Any leaks? Creaks or squeaks?

___ _____ Tail pipe: Grey=OK, sooty/oily/greasy=Not-OK

___ _____ Anything hanging down, taped or wired up?

___ _____ Any non-stock suspension mods?

___ _____ Suspension loose? Jack up each wheel in turn.

___ _____ Pull on side/top of wheels (9 & 3 o’clock, 12 & 6)


___ _____ Anything broken? Patched? Leaking?

___ _____ Is engine clean? Any rust? Stock?

___ _____ All engine compartment seals in place? No light showing through from underneath (Air Cooled Only)

___ _____ seals?

___ _____ Has it overheated? Paint blistered?

___ _____ Check oil level. Look for oil leaks visible in engine compartment.

___ _____ Any play in main crankshaft pulley?!

___ _____ Any play in any of the other pulleys?

___ _____ Belts cracked? frayed? missing?

___ _____ Heater hoses OK? Hoses stiff? Cracked? Patched? (Air Cooled only)

___ _____ Vacuum hoses stiff? Patched? Capped? Missing?

___ _____ Fuel lines stiff? cracked? wet? (!)

___ _____ Is emissions equip original & working?!

___ _____ Are catalytic converters original & working?

___ _____ Distributor, cap, rotor, and points OK? Check ignition wires.

___ _____ Wiring harness appearance? Any new electrical tape?

___ _____ Any non-stock engine modifications? What?

___ _____ Remove grounding cable, check for shorts.

___ _____ Battery age/voltage ______/_____ volts


___ _____ Is anything broken? Torn? Patched?

___ _____ Open fuse box. Any missing? Any wiring hacks?

___ _____ Headliner OK? Gashes, mold, warping, screws missing?

___ _____ Carpets OK? Underlayment condition?

___ _____ Rubber covering over front seat risers OK?

___ _____ Check for rust under mat at front seat belt anchor points

___ _____ (remove 17mm bolt to check). Check rear belt anchor points

___ _____ over wheel well. (Both are very common–and hidden–rust spots)

___ _____ Rust, rot or water under the carpets?

___ _____ Any wiring hacks under the dash?

___ _____ Seats dirty or torn? Look under cover. Springs look broken?

___ _____ Do both seats adjust?

___ _____ Dash cracked?

___ _____ Windshield cracked? Chips? Scratched? Delaminating?

___ _____ Windows all open & close? Any cracks? Remember rear vent window! ___ _____ Mirrors all present and adjustable?

___ _____ Steering play? Does shaft move at all? Why?

___ _____ Brake pedal feels right? Smooth? Firm?

___ _____ Clutch pedal feels right? Smooth?

___ _____ All gauges/controls work? Stereo? Tape?

___ _____ Headlights high/low work? Lenses OK?

___ _____ Tail and side lights all work? Lenses OK?

___ _____ Brake lights all work? Any broken lenses?

___ _____ Turn signals all work? Any broken lenses?

___ _____ Windshield wipers & washer work?

___ _____ Heater, defroster, and fans work?


___ _____ All cabinetry in good condition? All doors/drawers lock closed securely? ___ _____ Wardrobe closet mirror in place and OK?

___ _____ Lower bed folds down OK? Cushion smooth?

___ _____ Upper bed folds down OK? Cushion smooth?

___ _____ Camping lights work?

___ _____ Dual batteries in place and OK? Isolator in place and working?

___ _____ Shore power hook-up works? A/C inverter OK? (If you have one)

___ _____ Propane tank OK? (look for rust, dents, corroded/bent valves)

___ _____ Front seat swivels OK?

___ _____ Front curtain accounted for? All snaps in place? Tears, rips?

___ _____ Check all other curtains. All there? Snaps all work? Tears, rips?

___ _____ Rear bug screen?

___ _____ Sliding door runs smoothly? Latches/unlatches OK?

___ _____ Side windows open/close/seal? Bug screens OK?

___ _____ Stove works? Test all burners, both high and low flame

___ _____ Stove pilot light starter and propane shut-off OK?

___ _____ Icebox/fridge OK? Check for cracks. Fridge cools on AC, DC, propane?

___ _____ Gas or propane heater installed? Works?

___ _____ CO2 detector installed/working?

___ _____ Sink pump works? City water connection works?

___ _____ Cabinetry to protectsink pump in place?

___ _____ Pop-top seals all good?

___ _____ Pop-top fiberglass OK? No cracks/leaks? Top sits level?

___ _____ Luggage rack tie-downs all in place and secure?

___ _____ Luggage rack bucket OK without cracks or warping?

___ _____ Pop-top opens OK? Latch releases smoothly and securely?

___ _____ Pop-top canvas in good condition? No tears, wear-thru spots or hacked patches? Canvas tight all the way around?

___ _____ Pop-top window covers OK? Zipper intact and runs OK?

___ _____ Pop-top bug screens OK? Zipper intact and runs OK?

___ _____ Pop-top canvas gasket where meets body tight and in good

___ _____ condition?

___ _____ Pop-top closes OK? Latch catches smoothly and securely?

___ _____ Safety equipment (seat belts, horn work?)

___ _____ Fire extinguisher(s) in place and properly charged?

___ _____ Rear Westfalia table (dining table) in place and in good condition?

___ _____ Rear Westfalia table leg in place? Table assembles securely?

___ _____ Front Westfalia table (for between front seats) accounted for and in good condition? Table leg for this table accounted for?

___ _____ Table assembles securely?


___ _____ Coolant Temp light should come on, blink, and go out! Connected?

___ _____ Oil warning light should come on! Connected?

___ _____ Charge warning light should come on!


___ _____ Oil warning light goes out?

___ _____ Charge warning light goes out?

___ _____ Do all idiot lights go on/out right?

___ _____ Are all the instruments working?

___ _____ Does it start easily when cold?

___ _____ Does it run smoothly when cold?

___ _____ Depress clutch several times. Noises?

___ _____ Oil Pressure: idle_______ 4000 RPM_______

___ _____ Volts/Amps: idle_______ 4000 RPM_______

___ _____ Any odd engine noises when cold?

___ _____ Exhaust condition/noises? Pressure even?

___ _____ Cap pipe with clipboard. Any exhaust leaks?

___ _____ Any deposits on clipboard? Does it smoke?

___ _____ Turn car off. Does it restart? Restart again.

___ _____ Now pull forward. Check for leaks on ground.

___ _____ Do you have any gas? Does gauge really work?

—TEST DRIVE (Allow 30-40 minutes) OK Not-OK

___ _____ Test the foot and hand brakes first!

___ _____ Relax, drive a bit to get used to it.

___ _____ How does car ride? Soft or hard?

___ _____ Revs smoothly to red line? flat spots?

___ _____ Any unusual engine noises/vibrations?

___ _____ Any drive train noises or vibrations?

___ _____ Any noticeable slop in drive train?

___ _____ Reverse works? Rev.lights go on/off?

___ _____ Trans shifts smoothly to all gears?

___ _____ Any clunks, whines, rumbles, rattles?

___ _____ Clutch smooth? Slippage on hill test?

___ _____ Hand brake works? Test against engine

___ _____ Is the low engine speed operation OK?

___ _____ Brakes strongly to stop from 50mph?

___ _____ Do brakes still work? Stops straight?

___ _____ Make 2 tight 360′ turns each way. Any noises?

___ _____ Accelerates smoothly from dead stop?

___ _____ Are there any hesitations/flat spots?

___ _____ Does the power seem right? Hill test.

___ _____ Is it running too hot or cold? Why?

___ _____ Drive beside a long wall. Any unusual sounds?

___ _____ Is it too noisy in general at highway speeds?

___ _____ Any noises or vibrations when accelerating?

___ _____ Any noises or vibrations when coasting?

___ _____ Any noises or vibrations when decelerating?

___ _____ Any noises or vibrations when braking?

___ _____ (Do each of these two or three times) Accelerate to 10 MPH in first, let off gas sharply: pops out of gear?

___ _____ Accelerate to 20 MPH in second, let off gas sharply: pops out of  gear?

___ _____ Accelerate to 35 MPH in third, let off gas sharply: pops out of gear?

___ _____ Accelerate to 50 MPH in fourth, let off gas sharply: pops out of  gear?

___ _____ Accelerate in reverse, let off gas sharply: pops out of gear?

___ _____ Any noises or vibrations when braking?

___ _____ Steering action loose or tight? Parallel park.

___ _____ Handles OK on bumps, curves and sharp corners?

___ _____ Tracks straight with hands off steering wheel?

___ _____ Brakes straight with hands off steering wheel?

___ _____ Brakes still work? Pulls? Pulse? Drag? Noises?

___ _____ Having fun yet? Comfortable? Does it fit?

___ _____ Do the heater, defroster and AC work right?

___ _____ Are all the instruments & lights still working?

___ _____ Now let it idle a while. Is temp stable/OK?

___ _____ Any exhaust, gas or other odors? Pull forward.

___ _____ Turn it off. Go back to check ground for leaks.

Have friend get out and watch the car driving: OK Not-OK

___ _____ Tracks straight? (Frame bent?)

___ _____ Smokes?

___ _____ Wheels wobble? Any noises?

___ _____ Leans? General impression?


___ _____ Open hood. See or hear anything unusual?

___ _____ Does engine seem too hot?

___ _____ Check for fluid leaks after shutdown. (Oil, Trans, Fuel, Differential)

___ _____ Check oil cap and dipstick for signs of water. (Oil off-color, brown/grey/white or bubbly)

___ _____ Compression test: (disconnect coil, remove ALL plugs)

___ _____ 1. Dry: 1____ 2____ 3____ 4____

___ _____ 2. Oiled: 1____ 2____ 3____ 4____

___ _____ Plug condition? (OK? Burnt? Oily? Sooty?)

___ _____ 1____ 2____ 3____ 4____

___ _____ Does it restart when warm? Why not?

COMMENTS: BILL OF SALE (buyer’s copy) Year, make, and model: ____________________________________________

VIN: ______________________________________________________________

Odometer reading: _________________________________________________

Date and time of sale: ____________________ ____________________

Seller hereby acknowledges receipt of $______________ in the form of _____________ for full and final payment for the above vehicle, which is sold “AS IS.” I, the seller, certify that I or we are the current owner of this vehicle, and have the authority to sell it. I hereby transfer full ownership of this vehicle described on this receipt to the buyer(s). I certify that the Title or ownership of this vehicle at the time of sale is subject to no outstanding taxes, fees, liens or encumbrances, other than those specified on the Title or listed below, if any, and none other, and that if there are, the seller will be held fully responsible for their payment. Buyer(s) hereby acknowledges receipt of the following: the signed certificate of ownership transferring seller’s full ownership of the vehicle and all of it’s contents to the buyer; various maintenance records; this signed bill of sale and the mileage disclosure statement; and all keys to the vehicle as well as delivery of the vehicle. ________________________________ ________________________________

(seller 1’s signature) (date) (buyer 1’s signature) (date) ________________________________ ________________________________

(seller 2’s signature) (date) (buyer 1’s signature) (date) Seller: _______________________

Buyer: _______________________ address: ______________________

address: _______________________

phone: _______________________

phone: _______________________

BILL OF SALE (seller’s copy) Year, make, and model: ____________________________________________

VIN: ______________________________________________________________

Odometer reading: _________________________________________________

Date and time of sale: ____________________ ____________________

Seller hereby acknowledges receipt of $______________ in the form of ______________ for full and final payment for the above vehicle, which is sold “AS IS”. I, the seller, certify that I or we are the current owner of this vehicle, and have the authority to sell it. I hereby transfer full ownership of this vehicle described on this receipt to the buyer(s). I certify that the Title or ownership of this vehicle at the time of sale is subject to no outstanding taxes, fees, liens or encumbrances, other than those specified on the Title or listed below, if any, and none other, and that if there are, the seller will be held fully responsible for their payment. Buyer(s) hereby acknowledges receipt of the following: the signed certificate of ownership transferring seller’s full ownership of the vehicle and all of it’s contents to the buyer; this signed bill of sale and all keys to the vehicle as well as delivery of the vehicle. ________________________________ ________________________________

(seller 1’s signature) (date) (buyer 1’s signature) (date) ________________________________ ________________________________

(seller 2’s signature) (date) (buyer 1’s signature) (date) Seller: _______________________ Buyer: _______________________

address: _______________________address: _______________________

phone: _______________________ phone: _______________________

ODOMETER (MILEAGE) STATEMENT (Federal regulations require you to state the odometer mileage upon transfer of ownership. An inaccurate or untruthful statement may make you liable for damages to your transferee, for attorney fees, and for civil or criminal penalties, pursuant to Sections 409, 412, and 413 of the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act of 1972 (Pub. L. 92-513, as amended by Pub. L. 94-364) and applicable state laws.) I, the seller __________________________, state that the odometer mileage on the vehicle described below now reads __________________ miles/kilometers. Circle ONE only: (1) I hereby certify that to the best of my knowledge the odometer reading as stated above reflects the actual mileage of the vehicle described below. (2) I hereby certify that to the best of my knowledge the odometer reading as stated above reflects the amount of mileage in excess of designed mechanical odometer limit of 99,999 miles/kilometers of the vehicle described below. (3) I hereby certify that to the best of my knowledge the odometer reading as stated above is NOT the actual mileage of vehicle described below and should not be relied upon.

___________________________ ____________________________ _________ |Make |Model |Body Type

_____________________________ _______________ _____________ |Vehicle Identification No |Year |Dealer Stock No. Circle ONE only: (1) I hereby certify that the odometer of said vehicle was not altered, set back, or disconnected while in my possession, and I have no knowledge of anyone doing so. (2) I hereby certify that the odometer was altered for repair or replacement purposes while in my possession, and that the mileage registered on the repaired or replacement odometer was identical to that before such service. (3) I hereby certify that the repaired or replacement odometer was incapable of registering the same mileage, that it was reset to zero, and that the mileage on the original odometer or the odometer before repair was ________________ miles/kilometers. ________________________________ __________________________________

(seller 1’s signature) (date) (buyer 1’s signature) (date) ________________________________ __________________________________

(seller 2’s signature) (date) (buyer 1’s signature) (date) Seller: Buyer: phone: phone: address: address: —————————— —————————————————————————- Tobin T. Copley, M.A.

B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS & UBC Voice:(604) 822-6219
Dept. of Health Care & Epidemiology UBC Fax:(604) 822-4994
University of British Columbia St Paul’s Hospital voice:(604) 631-5753
Vancouver, B.C. Canada

Updated by Admin in 2017.  Suggestions to make this list better are welcomed!

We need your help!

As you can see is relaunching in the Word Press format for 2017!  This is great because it makes it very easy for me to add information and articles to the site.  When I was moving information from the old site onto this new one, the problem I am running into is that the information on the old site is very dated.  For example, they listed many different brands of tire working with the Vanagon, and that was true back around the year 2000.  However in 2017 I could only find 3 that were properly rated and currently being sold.  I need your help writing up to date articles for this site.  I want to be the repository for Vanagon knowledge in the universe.  The first place a new Vanagon owner or potential Vanagon owner can come and find out about their van from the experts.  If you can write an article, please send me a message through the site.  I will review it, edit it if necessary and post it with your name on the article.  You will become immortalized in the annals of Vanagon history, and also reap the rewards of the love of all Vanagon owners everywhere.  We will benefit from your wisdom and experience.  It is a win-win.  Please think about how you can help and then let me know.  Sincerely, Your gracious Admin.

Vanagon Tires 101

Vanagon tires

The Syncro Westy of 1987 called for minimum load index (L.I.) of 97. Later models have been reported to me to call for 99 minimum on 14×5.5″ rims and 107 for 14×6″ rims.

Here is a chart of load index (L.I.) ratings:

97 730kg 1609-1652 pounds
99 775kg 1709-1763 pounds
107 975kg 2149-2200 pounds
Reinforced sidewalls

Tony Peet writes:

Reinforced sidewalls are extremely important for Vanagons because their high center of gravity and narrow track puts excessive forces on the sidewalls! (Stand up and lean to one side and then imagine what would happen if your bones/ligaments etc were “mushy”!)

Some list members reported ‘cracks in the sidewalls’ — that is why it happens. The folks at Michelin have had more than a few of the wrong tires on Vanagons returned to them with cracked sidewalls, which can (and I don’t want to be alarmist here, but just inform) lead to what they call something like ‘bead failure’ (the inability of the bead to keep the tire on the rim I think) and resulting ‘catastrophic blowout.’ Not a pretty picture, not likely to happen, but a possibility in cases of extreme wear and something the list needs to be more aware of in my opinion.

This is why Michelin corporate was so adamant about the Agilis on the phone with me. One tech guy was not quite, but nearly, hysterical.

I hope this helps, and please, let’s be more conscientious about informing people – especially new list members/owners — about the sidewall considerations in tire shopping/purchasing — irrespective of what brand they chose.


Tire Recommendations

Tire recommendations

These tires have been recommended by members of the vanagon mailing list.
I have updated the list to reflect tires that are currently available in 2017

Yokohama Y356 from

Vredestine Comtracs on

Hankook RA18 Tires from

General Grabber Off-Road AT2

If you know of any more brands that are available in the two sizes recommended for the Vanagon 14″ Rim please let me know and I will add them. However please include a link to a site where they are currently available to purchase.  Also I am only interested in load range C or D tires that have the correct load rating for the Vanagon.

Vanagon FAQ


I want a van! Where can I get one?

Well, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Denver, or New Mexico, you’re in luck, because Vanagons are plentiful in your area. If you live in New England, the South, or Midwest, they’re a little less common, and you may need to travel to find your dream van.

Places to search online include:

The Samba
Your Local Craigslist
Pop Top Heaven
Westfalias for Sale .com

What should I look for when purchasing a van?

The first thing to check when buying a Vanagon is the head gaskets. (This isn’t a known problem with EuroVans.) You should be familiar with the head gasket problem, as described in the document ‘Vanagon head gasket leaks’ elsewhere on this site.

Next run a Carfax to ensure that the title is good and that the van hasn’t been in any major accidents. You will need the VIN so if the seller doesn’t want to supply that, move on, they are probably trying to hide something.

You also want to ask for records of work completed. Having an extensive mechanical history of your van from shops that know what they are doing is worth it’s weight in gold. I have bought vans that have all the records back to when they were new, and the work was done by either the VW dealer or reputable shops. I have also had mystery vans where you knew nothing about the history of the van. The ones with the detailed records had much less surprises than the ones with no records. In other words you will save thousands of dollars buying one that has been well maintained, versus buying a question mark van on Ebay. Yes the Ebay one is cheaper, but there is always a reason.

Rust is a big issue if you are buying a van that has lived in a rust prone environment for at least part of it’s life. Inspect the seam that is horizontal on the driver’s side and goes from behind the driver’s seat back to the rear wheel well. It is about three inches above the bottom of the sheet metal. This one usually rusts first. Inspect the rest of the seams closely and look for any sign of rust or brown color, bubbling under new paint, etc. Also inspect the areas around each window seal where the seal meets the body. Pop the rear hatch and look in the lower corners on the inside. Finally look underneath at the front door step wells. Usually the rest of the underneath will be in good condition as they did a great job undercoating these vans from the factory. Usually the rust is visible from above the van first. If it is clean up top, usually the underneath is also fine. If it is rusty up top where you can see, then inspect underneath as well. If the van has seam rust or rust around the window sills, just know that it will get worse over the course of the next few years, especially if you plan on using it in the winter in the North East. Repairing rust damage and repainting the van can be very expensive (4-12 Thousand dollars!) depending on how much work needs to be done so buy low enough to factor this in.


What are the dimensions of a Vanagon?

Height 6’4″
1.93 m
Width 6’1″
1.844 m
Length 15′
4.57 m
A Vanagon Syncro is about 1.2″ (3 cm) taller than a standard van.

What are the dimensions of a Vanagon Camper?

Height 6’10”
2.08 m
Width 6’1″
1.844 m
Length 15′
4.57 m
A Vanagon Syncro is about 1.2″ (3 cm) taller than the standard camper. A Vanagon Syncro 16″ is about 2.4″ (6 cm) taller than the standard camper.



How do I connect a 2nd battery?
Take a look in the battery compartment under your driver’s seat. Many Westy’s came from the factory wired to accept an aux battery. Look for a relay (silver or black cube about 1″ by 1″ by 1″ with several electrical terminals). If you have one of these then all you need is the proper battery, a ground strap, and a bit of wire and crimp-on connections. Note that the factory setup for the aux. battery will only supply power to your fridge and cabin light. You’ll have to run an additional power line to your dash to power your radio if you want it on aux. power. The fridge will deplete the battery in two or three hours.

Here’s what you need to do to connect an auxilliary battery if your bus comes with the relay installed. You should have a few basic electrical skills, if not, get some help from someone who does.

Disconnect your primary battery at the ground strap.
Disconnect the 2 red wires leading from the fuse box behind the drivers seat from the relay terminals. These wires lead to your fridge and cabin light.
Connect these two wires to the + terminal on the aux battery.
Run an 8 or 10 ga wire from the + terminal on the aux battery to terminal #30 on the relay. This terminal supplies current to charge the aux battery when the van is running.
Connect a ground strap to the aux battery.
Reconnect the ground strap on the primary battery.
That’s it. With this configuration, the aux battery supplies cabin power whenever your engine is not running. When your engine is running, the alternator charges both batteries and supplies cabin power. (Note: To start your engine with the aux battery, you’ll have to jump it to the main battery.)

Note that there aren’t any heavy-duty batteries that fit well into this space (11″l x 7″w x 6″h). A wheelchair battery fits, and gives you about 33 amp-hours. If anyone knows of any perfect-fit deep-cycle batteries, please send me mail.

Derek Drew has installed a deep-cycle 150 AH battery under the drivers’ seat, with the top of the battery ‘sticking up’ an inch or so. If you want to do this, Derek writes:

Completely remove the tray cover. Trim away the corner of the swivel base for the drivers seat so that seat can still turn without hitting the battery (you trim the right rear corner off the seat with a sawzall or similar device). Spray paint the sawed edge of the swivel base with black paint. Hammer the narrow mounting strip for tray cover into the upright position against the woodwork to the rear.
Optional: buy a pie tin to put over the battery. Cut the front edge of the tin if necessary, and coat with same color grey rug material.

The mysterious ‘Silver Socket’

The ‘silver socket’ is a European-style auto accessory outlet. It was installed in all ’74 – ’84 Westfalia campers imported into the U.S. According to Ronald Turner, the ’74 and ’75 Westies came with a small air compressor that used this socket. (The spare in those years came deflated!)

A plug which fits this socket is available from Hella (for about $12.) You can wire this plug into 12 volt accessories that you wish to use with the socket. You can also get a plug for these sockets from BMW motorcycle dealers (for between $10 and $35 – shop around!) They’re used on BMW motorcycles to power heated vests.

Vanagon Tire Tech

Tires are usually named with a series of codes. For example, one of the recommended tires for Vanagons is the ‘Yohohama Y356 LT 195/75 R14 (load range D)’. The latter part of this (195/75 R14) is a uniform code assigned to tires. This section tells you how to interpret this code.

Speed Rating

Sustained speed rating is designated by a letter code. Vanagons require a minimum speed rating of ‘R’. (Don’t be confused with ‘R’, though. In ‘195/75 R14’, the ‘R’ is means ‘radial’ and is not a speed rating.)

Q 99 mph 160 kph
R 106 mph 170 kph
S 112 mph 180 kph
T 118 mph 190 kph
U 124 mph 200 kph
H 130 mph 210 kph
V 149 mph 240 kph
W 270 kph
Y 300 kph
Z 149+ mph 240+ kph
(I’m not sure why ‘H’ is in there, except that some person thought it would be cool if ‘H’ stood for ‘high speed’.)

Tire widths

Wheel diameters are usually in inches and tire width in millimeters or a letter designation. In our example of ‘195/75 R14’, ‘195’ is the tire width in millimeters, and ’14’ is the wheel diameter in inches.

mm letter inches
80 MH 3.00
90 MJ 3.25
100 ML 3.50
110 MM 4.00
120 MP 4.50
130 MT 5.00
140 MU 5.50
150 MV 6.00
Shoulder heights

The shoulder height is stated as a percentage of the tire width. For example, in ‘195/75 R14’, the shoulder height is 75% of the tire width (195mm), or 146.25mm.

Load index

The load-index figure denotes the maximum load capacity of a tire when driven at maximum speed. Note that you have four tires, so you should multiply the load index value by approximately 4.

Vanagons & Syncros need a load rating of at least 97, while Syncro 16″ need a load rating of 104. In the chart below LI stands for Load Index and KG is Kilograms.

65 290 83 487 101 825
66 300 84 500 102 850
67 307 85 515 103 875
68 315 86 530 104 900
69 325 87 545 105 925
70 335 88 560 106 950
71 345 89 580 107 975
72 355 90 600 108 1000
73 365 91 615 109 1030
74 375 92 630 110 1060
75 387 93 650 111 1090
76 400 94 670 112 1120
77 412 95 690 113 1150
78 425 96 710 114 1180
79 237 97 730 115 1215
80 450 98 750 116 1250
81 462 99 775 117 1285
82 475 100 800 118 1320
119 1360

Miscellaneous codes

P Passenger
LT Light Truck
R Radial
B Belted
Tire Diameters

What is the diameter of a tire?
Here’s a table of tire diameters by width and profile, for your speedometer correction calculations. Eurotire, a nice-to-deal-with tire distributor in NJ, used to include this info and more in their catalogs.

14 inch wheels:
80 75 70 65 60 55
165 622 — — — — —
175 634 — 606 — — —
185 650 631 624 596 578 —
195 — 651 636 605 590 —
205 — — 652 — 602 582
215 — — 665 — — —
225 — — — — 626 604
245 — — — — 650 —
15 inch wheels:
80 75 70 65 60 55
165 646 — — — — —
175 660 — 632 — — —
185 674 — 648 621 — —
195 — — 656 635 615 —
205 — 681 669 647 627 607
215 — 692 682 661 639 —
225 — 694 — — — —
235 — — — — 663 639
265 — — — — 687 —
Diameters are in millimeters, with tire installed on narrowest rims approved for that tire size. Wider rims would give slightly smaller diameter.