02 Eurovan Troubles - Can anyone help?

Anyone here a VW Eurovan lover and knows enough about them to provide some advice?
I have been having troubles since August 2012. It all started with a leaky water pump that went bad while I was on the highway and, even though the engine was “rebuilt” by a local european car specialist, it still isn’t right. Ever since the rebuild, I’ve had it back into the same shop at least 8 different times and each time it takes them 2-3 weeks to get it back to me. Its in the shop again right now to replace the valve lifters and its been 2 1/2 weeks since I left it there. The mechanic says he’s having trouble getting all 12 lifters - says they’ve been discontinued and have to be shipped from Germany. I just made a few calls today to see how easy it would be for me to get a hold of them and I was able to get a VW dealer to say he’d have them in in about 2-3 days. What’s really going on here? When I brought the van into the shop, it was the third time I brought it in for the same issue - check engine light coming on with 2 codes referring to the cam shaft adjuster. Last time, he said he replaced the timing assembly / timing chain, and within a day the check engine was back on again. Can anyone help me? I’m pretty frustrated, as you might imagine!

There’s more to this story, if anyone wants to hear :wink:

I’d hate to venture any guesses on this due to the history but the rebuild could be suspect. A properly rebuilt engine should get a new set of valve lifters at the start.
If worn lifters were installed in a new engine then that is a serious error. If the lifters were good in theory and have now failed then that could be due to an oil pressure issue which goes back to the quality of the rebuild.

A properly rebuilt engine should have also gotten a new timing set during the rebuild. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

I can’t tell what you’re asking about - in particular. I suppose it could be about the availability of lifters. Or perhaps the whole thing. On the former, as ok4450 mentioned it would be odd to need lifters after a “rebuild” - I suppose unless they only rebuilt the bottom end and left the head intact? “Rebuild” has too many variations to guess. Why are the lifters being replaces anyway?

In terms of the very general idea I think you have two problems. The first is that you own a Eurovan. It will be constant work. Get used to it. The second is related and it sounds like you need a new “european car specialist”

Very helpful because you’ve confirmed my suspicions. The only reason we’re even talking about lifters right now is because I received the van back and it was clicking noisily. I challenged him about the lifters and he said he’d go ahead and replace them after originally saying they wouldn’t normally be part of the rebuild job. Regarding the timing assembly, he said it was done as part of the rebuild, but had to replace again because of the cam shaft adjustment codes kept triggering the check engine light to go on. Said the chain had gotten stretched somehow. Now he’s looking for a cam shaft “follower” which is the part he’s having difficulty getting. Says it’s part of the intake. I looked it up on various VW parts sites and can’t find anything that uses that name. Any idea what that is and whether it’s part of a larger assembly? Appreciate the help. The more I get involved and learn about this, the more likely I’m finally going to get the job done right. I’m still on warranty for the rebuild.

Cig roller - I get what you’re saying, but I’m in so deep now that I can’t get out from under this guy until I feel he’s finally done the right thing for the money I paid him. I’ll just keep making him extend the warranty until he’s so sick of seeing the car that he’ll have no choice but to get it done right.

I get it. Hate to see people who have ended up behind the 8 ball like this. So as things drag on, keep track of as many details as you can and feel free to continue to keep posting for feedback/advice. Best of luck with it.

Any idea what the cam shaft “follower” is? Is there some other name for it?

It’s a lever that rubs against (“follows”) the cam and pushes the valve.

This is what a Eurovan cam follower looks like. It’s the bucket that a cam lobe operates a cylinder head valve with.


Rattling lifters points to faulty lifters (cam followers), worn cam lobes, or an oil pressure problem.
In most cases, worn cam followers means the cam lobes are worn also.

Properly done, wear on the cam followers or cam lobes means both are replaced as one has an effect on the other. Worn followers/new cam = prematurely worn cam. New followers/old cam = prematurely worn followers.

If there’s an oil pressure issue then that opens up another can of worms.

I wonder if the clicking is caused b/c the valves were not quite adjusted correctly during the rebuild, and now the shop has determined that problem, wants to fix it, and has ordered new shims to properly adjust the valves. Sometimes I’ve heard the shims being called “followers”. Not all engines require valve adjustment. Some engines (like my Ford truck) use hydraulically adjusted valves, which adjust themselves automatically. Not sure if yours has this feature or not. But if your engine requires periodic valve adjustment – it would say that in the owner’s manual – the shop may just be waiting on new valve shims.

This process is sort of like a house builder shimming a door so it opens and closes smoothly. Measure, then insert the proper thickness shim. What shim size you need depends on the measurement of the valve clearance for that valve. There’s a dozen or two dozen or even more different shim sizes available usually, so the fact that the dealer shop said they could get them in 3 days, well, unless they know what exact shim sizes you need I’d tend to discount what they said.

Wow! Everyone here has been so great to respond to me. Everything so far has been really helpful. The mechanic did refer to the followers as “shims” and said they are hard to get. If they come in all different sizes, wouldn’t they be a specific size and have a particular part # for this specific make and model? At this point after over a year, I feel this mechanic is still rebuilding this engine, piece meal, every time I bring it in.

If your mechanic went to a parts store and ordered shims he’d say something like: “I want a 2.850 mm intake shim for a 1995 Eurovan Bus”. There’s probably a part number associated, but the mechanic wouldn’t order it by part number usually.

Here’s an example of the charts used to determine the shim thickness to order.


I think the vr6 has hydraulic cam followers, nothing to adjust.

Thanks GeorgeSanJose. Really appreciate it. For @ $5000 what type of engine rebuild job should I have gotten? Cigroller suggested there are several variations.

For $5000 you should have gotten a professionally rebuilt engine.

Have you done the transmission yet, they fail too.

Hopefully a prior owner did it so you may have at least a few years of operation.

Your Eurovan should have hydraulic lifters. This means there are no shims and no adjustment is necessary or possible.

Just curious, but does this thing tick or rattle at idle while the vehicle is stationary or does it have to be in motion?

Tick tick tick when stopped at a light or in park. Doesn’t happen until it’s warmed up after driving for a bit.

And I have done the transmission already. That’s another story and more $ but it’s good now. I’m the original owner of the vehicle. Right now, it has 104k miles on it.

By the “variations” I just meant that the term “rebuild” gets used loosely a lot of the time. On the “top end” is the cylinder head with valves and valve guides and seals, lifters, followers etc. On the “bottom end” is the engine block with the crank shaft and pistons and rings, connecting rods, bearings… Lots of parts and things to worry about. Sometimes a shop might toss new piston rings on and call it a “rebuild.” (That’s NOT a rebuild - I’m just saying the term get used loosely). Normally a top end rebuild would get referred to specifically as a cylinder head rebuild. But sometimes a bottom end only, even if its more than rings might be called a “rebuild.”

At the time I think I was saying that maybe they just rebuilt the bottom end and left the head alone. Somewhere in your initial paperwork should be a reasonable description of the work including a parts list.