[Vwdiesel] 82 vanagon - what to check to make as reliable as possible?

jon.sykes at ps.ge.com jon.sykes at ps.ge.com
Mon Mar 18 12:08:25 EST 2002

I'm the latest very, very happy happy owner of an 82 diesel vanagon camper.
I spent Saturday cleaning it inside and out - steam cleaning the seats and
carpets and even rubbed down some of the surface rust.  I even managed to
get a lot of the accumulated diesel residue from the area above the engine
compartment lid and cut a couple of ceiling tiles and put over that area (a
lot quieter now).  Anyway, everything seems hunky dorey and with the new
exhaust and timing advance in when warm (!) the van seems to be running

I know there's that old saying 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it', but the
thing is I want to try and minimise the chance of this oldie but goodie
breaking down and stranding me and my family.  It seems to be running fine,
but as I don't know much about its history and given the miles (185k) I was
wondering what things I should look at / adjust / replace to keep it as
reliable as possible?

Would it make sense to replace the timing belt pulley?  It would seem to
make sense to replace the belts as they are kind of worn and it'd be good to
start fresh.  What other things would be worth looking at?  What are the
weak points (if any) or areas that are known to cause a problem (or very
expensive) or damage to the engine if left unchecked.  I know a timing belt
failure can cause engine damage.

What about things like changing the transmission fluid, electrical items?

I've found a great mechanic whom I trust 100% (really!) and want to give him
a list of things to do to the van to make it as reliable as possible.  Any
ideas?  I was hoping that the Bentley would give me some idea, but it does
not go into much detail about basic maintainace / what things to look out

Any advice much appreciated by me, my van and my family.  Cheers!

PS - What is the recommended diesel fuel additive to use?  I saw 3 or 4
different kinds at the local NAPA and was a little bit stumped as to which
one to choose.  All offered better mpg, injection cleaning, less smoking,
wax prevention.   Just get the cheapest one?

PPS - I don't even think of my van as slow - its' performance is actually
pretty reasonable.  I just think everyone else is in too much of a hurry.
I'm trying to think of a good license plate to put on it - perhaps REALSUV
or 2SLO2BAD!  It blows my mind that this is a 20 year old vehicle that is
still reliable, gets 30 mpg and is a home away from home for 4 people.

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