Mechanical areas to check-Page 2
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Brakes The brakes on the vans are very simple.
The early vans (68-70) used drum brakes all around while the later vans used solid
disc brakes on the front and drums on the rear. A brake servo was only added as
an option. Vans with just drum brakes do need a bit of planning when it comes to
stopping if you are only used to driving a modern car everyday but all vans should brake
smoothly and in a straight line.
Check that each brake is not sticking by
raising each wheel and spinning it. The wheel should spin and come to a rest
smoothly. Disc brakes always drag slightly as the pads are in constant contact
with the disc. If the wheel when spun, comes to an abrupt halt a caliper over-
haul may be needed or on drum brakes, at the minimum adjustment is
Check the brake lines for corrosion, damage and leaks. Get
someone to depress the brake pedal while you look at the rubber brake hoses that
connect each corner for signs of swelling.
Prices for all brake parts except
calipers are relatively cheap and readily available. Early disc braked vans
70-72 used a thinner pad and second hand calipers are becoming difficult to find. Always replace brake components in
axle sets. Never replace just one side as this will alter the balance of the
The addition of a brake servo does not improve the braking
performance, it only helps with the amount of force that is required to operate
the brakes but does make long journeys less tiring.
The early vans used a large hub nut to secure the brake drum to the hub assembly which had to be
undone before the drum could be removed along with the wheel bearings. The nut
is always impossible to remove and takes the largest breaker bar available. A
local commercial vehicle garage may help to undo the nut if you need to make
adjustments. On later vans, the hub is separate to the drum and removal is
Tyres Most people just assume that they are
round and black but tyres next to brakes must be the most safety critical item
on any vehicle and is usually the most ignored item. Tyres are lucky to get a
look at once a week, a kick and the odd pressure check! Remember, tyres are what
keep you in contact with the road.
VW built the Type 2 as a commercial
vehicle and was designed to use commercial tyres - 185/15/C. The "C" referring to
commercial application. Check that the previous owner has not replaced tyres
with tyres intended for cars. The commercial tyres have 6 reinforced ply as
opposed to a cars 5. You may think that this in un-important but if you own a
camper conversion especially, just think how much your camper weighs with the
interior and all your bits and pieces for 2 weeks holiday. In the event of an
accident, your vehicle insurance could be invalidated if you have the incorrect
Check each tyre for wear (minimum legal limit is 1.6mm
across 75% of the tyre tread) and damage, plus as many Type 2's have been stored
check the side wall for cracking due to perishing of the rubber. Any suspect
tyre should be discarded - and not kept as a spare. Budget around £50 for
Rear Suspension The rear suspension uses
torsion bars for springs just like the front suspension, coupled with training
arms, making the rear suspension pretty indestructible. Problems to look out for
are again, not sitting level, damage to the shock absorbers and rust. Rust in
the rear axle tube is nearly always terminal due to the amount of work required
to remove. If the rear axle tube has rust holes, then what the rest of the van
going to be like?
Wheel Bearings To detect wear in the wheel
bearings, listen carefully when driving around corners for a "groaning" noise or
a general harshness. If possible, raise and spin the wheel. The wheel should
spin freely with a for a better words, smooth noise! Grip the wheel at the top
and bottom and try to rock the wheel. Any movement indicates wear or the need
for adjustment. The wheel bearing are the tapered variety which can be tightened
to remove play. If there is movement of the wheel and the wheel feels rough when
spun, then the bearing is probably worn and no amount of adjustment will remedy
The bearing will last a long time. At the beginning of
production of the Bay-Window model, VW advocated that the bearing should be
greased periodically but as buyers pushed for cheaper servicing, greasing of
bearing during the service was deleted.
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