Mechanical areas to check-Page 2

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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.

68-70 front drum brake assy. 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 required.

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 70-72 front disc brake assy. brakes.

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 straight forward.


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.

Commercial Tyre 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 tyres fitted.

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 replacements.

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 play.

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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