Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Vanagon Features

Information taken from Wikepedia

With the engine and transaxle mounted very low in the back, the Vanagon had much larger disc brakes in the front, and drums in the rear. Axle weight is very nearly equal upon both the front and back ends of the vehicle. Unlike the Microbus before it, the Vanagon was available with amenities such as power steering, air conditioning, power door locks, electrically controlled and heated mirrors, lighted vanity mirrors, and a light above the glove box (most of which were essentially standard equipment in later models).

The Vanagon did have A/C althought the air conditioning was, rather un-conventionally, of the "hanging" type. That is, all components of the air conditioning system on the Vanagon camper were internal to the vehicle hang from the ceiling. The air conditioning housings are infamous for cracking and falling down after the vehicle has gotten older, and there were even recalls issued to address the problem.

Starting with the 1986 model year, there was available a greatly improved air conditioning system that not only does not suffer as badly from the cracking housings, but also does a better job of cooling the interior of the van on hot summer days. This later system features an "airliner" style plastic duct that runs the length of the Vanagon in the center with adjustable outlets at set intervals, rather than cooling the entire rear section via a single bank of outlets facing aft above and behind the front seats.

The controls of the Vanagon camper are above the sun visors in the front of the vehicle for both systems until the 1988 model year when they were moved to the dash. The air conditioning ductwork for the 1988 and later years was, arguably, a much more attractive color, being grey instead of beige. The grey color housings hold their color better than the beige, which tends to yellow considerably over a several year period.

This was one of the few campers that ever in which the automatic transmission was tougher than the manual transmission, which was caused by the fact that, up until the 1990 model year, the 3-4 Gear Synchro Slider Hub was of a flawed design. This could result in cracking, or even breakage, causing the transmission to get stuck in 3rd or 4th gear. A new 3-4 hub design less susceptible to stress fractures was implemented sometime in late 1989, first showing up in early 1990 model year vehicles.

The automatic was a standard hydraulic 3-speed unit, the same 090/010 unit as used in Audis of the era. These featured an aluminum case for the transmission section, and a cast iron case for the final drive section.

The 091 manual transmission was a 4 speed unit, featuring a lightweight aluminum case.
The automatic features a 1.0 ratio top gear, while the manual features a 0.85 top gear.

The Vanagon ford have some unusual features, such as the fact that the brake master cylinder is inside the dashboard. The battery in gasoline-powered models is located under the passenger side front seat, to protect it from the elements. There is a compartment of slightly smaller size under the driver's side seat, for a second battery, which wasn't present except in the case of certain "Weekender" camper models.

The oil filler tube for the engine is located behind the flip-down license plate door, and this requires extra care when pulling into a full-service gas station, as the gas station attendant will most likely try to put gasoline into the oil unless instructed otherwise, as the caps are not clearly marked. Most early vans had a twist-on/off gas cap right on the outside just under and behind the passenger side door. A locking cap was optional for the Vanagon, but like other amenities, became very common on later models.

The spare tire lies in a tray under the very front of the van (as the engine is in the back), just below the radiator. To get the spare out, one must undo a 19 mm bolt in the bottom of the front bumper, pull a small latch back, and swing the tray down.

Overall, these vw campers have exceptionally well-built and strong chassis (frames) that are often found to be as good as new underneath, thus creating a platform with good scope for very long life if given even the minimum attention annually.

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