Getting a Westfalia / Vanagon


  • You will have more control of the (poor) power curve of the engine with a standard (manual) transmission. Air-conditioning is subject to failure and takes some juice on the engine. (+ It takes all the space of the storage compartment over the lower bed) (My point of view guys)
  • Try to buy from a “real” previous owner that had the van for a few years, he will know better (especially if he is an amateur mechanic). Ask for invoices and bills; try to see if he knows the van. If yes, there is good chance that he took good care of her. (or him…)
  • A clean van tell a lot; inside, outside & engine compartment. Look for rust on the exhaust pipe bolt, (head side), it will tell you if the head where rebuilt or the heads gasket change. Only an asshole(sorry) would keep the old bolts.

Engine and mechanic:

  • Check if expensive parts like the Air Flow Meter, Idle stabilization valve (#13), fuel pressure valve (#9), Oxygen sensor and so on have been change or inspected.
  • Look for oil & coolant leaks under the 2 heads, mine is dry!!!!!! Check for oil over the engine near the Distributor, O-ring failure is common (center of picture). (not dramatic at all but it tell a lot)
    Have the 2-pushrod protector shield remove to see clearly.
  • Ask about he cooling hoses and pump, pump don’t look like they last very long. Hoses are very expensive. Check hoses for crack and wear. Also check all metal cooling tube for rust.
  • Ask the history of the alternator and starter.
  • Check the CV joint boot for crack.
  • Check the front radiator and both heater core.  They are expensive.
  • Ask if the owner could start the van cold, just to hear if the hydraulic lifter are noisy (more than 1 or 2 minute is not normal)
  • Ask about the 2-oil pressure sender, IT IS A MUST THAT THOSE 2 SHOULD BE CHANGE, PERIOD
  • Check the condition of the exhaust system in general.
  • Check the stiffness of the head gasket, if somewhat soft = good sign.
  • Check the power steering rack for leak (expensive)
  • Tips for checking the clutch: From full stop, try to go forward in second gear, if the van stalls it's a very good sign, if not!!!! a new clutch will be needed soon.
  • Double check if the third & fourth gear engages firmly and properly, this is a long term problem.


  • If full camper, double-check the fridge to see if it works on all 3 modes.
  • Check the propane tank & stove condition (are they working) the propane tank regulator is subject to failure.
  • Open the pop-top and check the condition of the canvas & screen. (Expensive)

That is all I have in mind for now, please feel free to re-edit my poor English.