84 Vanagon stutters and dies on freeway

I took a two-month road trip from Calif. to Indians and back in the fall of 2019. When we got not Utah I started having the problem where the van stuttered, lost power and eventually died. If I waited anywhere from 10 minutes to 1/2 hour it would start up again and run fine. This was a problem during the whole trip and since I got back to Berkeley. I have changed mechanics and the new guy—who was very confident the first time I brought it in—is starting to sound like he doesn’t know what the problem is or how to fix it. He knows about “Vanagon Syndrome” but this doesn’t happen only on hills. It does seem to happen in hot weather, but I don’t have a definite on that. I got a new VW engine from GoWesty in 2017. The engine is powerful and can go 70 to 80 mph (I rarely go over 70). I don’t have the list of everything that has been done to it in front of me, but a lot has been changed/repaired. Have you experienced this problem, and do you have recommendations for a fix? Even if I want to sell this van, it’s going to be hard to get anything for it. I love the layout of this vehicle and haven’t seen anything else that fits my needs (except for a more reliable engine!). Thanks in advance for your help.

Have you tried removing the gas cap when this happens to see if there’s a vacuum in the tank? It also could be something like a bad coil or fuel pump. I’d think that a good VW mechanic could give a out.

Have you posted this on VW forums?

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Maybe a fuel line has been routed too close to a heat source like the exhaust manifold causing fuel vapor lock?

I too think it is a fuel delivery problem. As an 84 is it carburetor and mechanical fuel pump?
These, along with the fuel line and filter are items that might be causing your issues

The problem might be caused by bad ignition module.(igniter)



Does this vehicle use the Bosch K-Jetronic CIS fuel injection system? If so, my guess is a grit-clogged fuel distributor.

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Thank you all for your replies. I will bring these to my mechanic in the hope that he can use them to diagnose the solution. Thank you!

When you say VW forums, do you have any recommendations? I don’t know of any. Thanks for your reply.

VWvortex and TheSamba are two big ones.

These vans did not use the CIS system; thankfully. The 84 has the Digijet; preceded by AFC and followed by Digifant.

You have not stated what has been replaced or what is missing (spark or fuel) so that runs the number of wild guesses through the roof.
If the assumption is made that the ignition module has already been replaced then you might consider the fuel pump or the power relay; the latter providing power to the fuel injectors and other engine management items.

We did have a VW in once that exhibited symptoms like this and it was a bit of a nightmare to resolve. I finally found a faulty wire in the 3 wire loom between the ignition module and distributor.
Three tows and it would always start right up; until the last time. One of the 3 wires showed continuity; just not enough to run.

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Good info, thanks. hmmm … my next guess then is a faulty ignition coil. Hey, it’s possible! … lol …

Seriously I had similar symptoms on an earlier vintage VW Rabbit, caused by the ignition coil. OP’s shop should definitely consider this possibility if the symptoms happen soon after running over a puddle of water in the road. In order to figure it out in my case I had to completely remove the ignition coil from the car, and inspect it on the bench with a magnifying glass. Sure enough, there it was, a tiny crack in the ceramic.