General Care Caring for your VW van and performing preventative maintenance not only make for many happy miles, but also save you money. Remember, you're driving a 30-60 year-old, 4000-pound van, so it's important to fix problems as soon as they show up. We've listed a maintenance schedule below, but the most important four things you can do to help prevent a major breakdown are:
Preventative tune-ups every 15,000 miles: A tune-up consists of
changing the cap, rotor, points and condenser (on air-cooled models), spark
plugs and wires, fuel and air filters, and adjusting the timing and mixture
(the air to fuel ratio). For solid-lifter air-cooled engines this also includes
doing a valve adjustment. A tune-up is meant to be preventative. It should
never get to the point where it’s a fix for a running issue: if it does, your
engine has been working harder than it should and creating more heat, which
shortens the engine's life.
Oil and filter change every 3,000 miles: Dirty oil and insufficient lubrication shorten the life of the engine.
An annual vehicle inspection: Getting your Volkswagen Vanagon or Bus inspected annually (unless you hardly used it) lets you know about upcoming or current problems and helps you make a plan for repairs. It's never a good feeling to have purchased that new awning just to find out you need suspension work you don't have the money for. At Buslab, we group many separate inspections into the full vehicle or travel inspection and discount the price.
Taking care of issues immediately: Is there a new rattling sound? Does the engine sputter sometimes? Diagnosing problems when you notice them is one of the biggest ways you can save money in the long run. In many cases, one part going bad or loosening up can put extra and abnormal pressure on other parts to compensate, causing them to go bad as well. That's how a $300 repair turns in to a $3000 repair.
There are other maintenances that should be performed on a regular schedule as well. If you have just purchased your van and don't have records of repairs, or don't know the last time you did them, we recommend having the services done right away and getting your van on a maintenance schedule. These services are:
The previously mentioned tune-up, oil change, and inspection.
For all solid-lifter air-cooled engines, a valve adjustment should be done every other oil change.
Servicing the transmission every 30,000 miles. For the manual, this means replacing the gear oil. For the automatic, this means replacing the gear oil, ATF, screen and filter, and pan gaskets. These parts should also be visually inspected for leaks.
Changing the brake fluid every 2 years.
For manual transmission Vanagons, changing the clutch fluid with the brake fluid (they share the same reservoir).
Replacing the coolant every 2 years.
Aside from all of these, the best thing you can do is ask questions, educate yourself about your van, and pay attention when something is wrong. When a customer brings their van to us at Buslab to diagnose a running issue, letting us know that it is hesitating helps. But, for example, letting us know that it hesitates between 3000 and 3500 RPM only when the engine is cold allows us to find the problem faster and saves you money.