VW Camper Vans

van

#1

I would like to buy a used van camper, however it seems like there are many transmission complaints regarding Volkswagon Westfalias/Eurovan Camper/camper vans. Could anyone recommend a year when VW made a reliable camper van?

Or any suggestions? I would like something small and fuel efficient that could also serve as general transportation.


#2

My suggestion is to google for: VW camper forum

No one here likely owns one is into them enough to know the more reliable vs less reliable years etc.


#3

A friend of my wife owned one for a number of years and encountered numerous different problems. Their friends who owned simlar models fared equally bad. If you can find a year that was less problematic, count on very expensive repairs if and when they occur. Volkwagen dealers often no longer know how to fix them. A private, older mechanic who used to service VWs is your best bet. It really takes a masochist to own ones of these vehicles. If your significant other half is very handy, patient and resourceful you may not ruin half your holidays, as many have.


#4

It really takes a masochist to own ones of these vehicles.

It also helps to be a bit suicidal. VW vans and their derivatives have absolutely nothing between your knees and whatever you hit but a layer of sheet metal. Try not to hit anything with the front – but your inability to keep the thing running may solve that problem for you!


#5

Pre-1972, I believe. The only time VW vans were reliable was in the air-cooled days, and even then it took a massive amount of maintainance to keep them that way.

The Vanagons (boxy, engine in back,) have an abysmal track record for reliability. Docnick is right on the money about the thing ruining half your vacations-- every vanagon owner I know is full of “van broke down in the middle of nowhere, nearest VW mechanic 180 miles away, etc” stories. For some, this is part of the adventure, but if that doesn’t appeal to you, I’d look at something else. Also, believe it or not, the Vanagons don’t really get that great mileage. The EPA rating on even a non-camper Vanagon was only about 16 or 17 if I recall, which is actually a little worse than a full-size American van with a 6-cyl engine. The Eurovan (curvy, engine in the front) is a little better reliability wise (still awful), but the parts cost a lot more and they’re harder to work on, so repair bills will be higher.

The trouble is that it’s hard to find a van-sized camper that isn’t a VW. I’m a big fan of making your own camper-- it’s pretty easy to build something with amenities comparable to a Westfalia. I’ve seen them based on Toyota and Mitsubishi vans as well as domestic vans-- all of which seem to work great. The Toyota van, though the ones they sold in this country are getting a little old and scarce, would seem the best in terms of reliablilty and economy. Any camping vehicle you get will not get good gas mileage by daily driver standards, so you’re probably better off getting a little runabout and then a dedicated camper.