Mechanical areas to check - Page 3

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Drive shafts

All Bay-Window vans use double jointed drive shafts at the rear to transmit torque from the gearbox to the wheels. Split screen models only used a single joint which meant as the suspension moved up and down, the camber of the wheel changed.

Again, the drive shafts are very strong like most parts on the Type 2 if a few simple precautions are carried out. Check that the drive shaft gaiters are intact. The gaiters protect the constant velocity joint from dirt and water and contain the grease within the joint. If the gaiters have become loose or split, it is likely that most of the grease will have been pushed out and water and dirt entered, decreasing the life of the joint. You may be lucky with a damaged gaiter where no damage to the joint has occurred and a fresh gaiter and grease is all that is required.

Checking for wear is difficult. When moving off from rest, listen for a knocking from the rear. Raise and spin the wheels, listening and feeling for harshness. Grip the shaft and try to move it. Is there any movement? Even if there is a little movement, as long as the joint is greased and covered they can last many more years until they fail.


The clutch should be light and easy to operate. The bit point when raising the pedal should be between 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up.

To check the clutch, try pulling away from rest in 3rd gear. If the engine speed rises but the vehicle speed does not, then the clutch is slipping and will need replacement due to wear or oil contamination. It is quite common for the rear crankcase seal to leak oil onto the clutch. This usually has the effect of making the vehicle judder as you release the clutch as the clutch is gripping and un gripping the flywheel.

The cost of a new clutch assembly is low - ranging from 53 - 91 depending on engine type from

Just Kampers

but involves the removal of the engine to replace it, which is not difficult but takes a few hours and really needs 2 people to complete safely.


The gearbox rarely wears and will take a huge mileage if the oil level has been maintained at the correct level. The gearbox design is very similar to the gearbox used in the Beetle but the 2 are not interchangeable. My 1974 van has completed 210,000 miles still giving no signs of problems. Touch wood!!

Look for evidence of oil leaks, excessive noise, especially on the over-run and jumping out of gear when moving. Difficulty in finding gears is usually down to alignment of the shifter plate (

Gear lever

) under the gear stick or wear in the bushes within the very long linkage. The rubber bush that connect the gearbox to the linkage is the first to wear but it costs around 25 ( for 3 rubber bushes!!) and takes under 1 hour to change.


The Bay Window van used 2 basic configurations of engine. The T1 upright 1600cc. based on the Beetle engine or later 1700,1800 and 2000cc. engines from the T4 saloon car range.

1700 T4 EngineBoth engines are air-cooled which means that oil changes are of the upmost importance as the oil does the majority of the cooling. Being air-cooled, the engines are noisy as they don't have water jackets to insulate noise so listen carefully for abnormal noises. Noise from the centre of the engine indicates wear in the big end bearings, while noise from the head area could be tappets that need adjusting or wear in the rocker assembly. To be able to identify these noises you need to know what a good engine sounds like! It sounds simple but takes experience. Go to VW shows and find an engine that is new or has been re-built and compare the noise to an engine that you know is worn.

1600 Single port EngineA good indication of wear on the 1600cc. engine is the amount of movement at the crank shaft pulley that turns the fan belt. Hold the pulley (engine off) and push and pull. There should only be the slightest amount of movement. Any more movement than 0.15mm indicates wear in the rear thrust bearing.
Look at the engine. Is it clean and tidy? Are all the cooling seals in place? You should not be able to see the floor from within the engine compartment. If you can see that seals or tinware are missing then the engine has probably over heated at some point and damage may have occurred. Look for excessive oil leaks, especially on the floor were the van is usually parked. All these engines tend to leak compared to a modern engine as the crankcase is split in half which cannot help. Look especially around the push rod tubes as these have a habit to leak.

Start the engine from cold. Check for smoke. Blue smoke indicates burning oil which means it could need new piston rings, pistons and barrels. Black smoke indicates excessive petrol which means the carburetor is incorrectly adjusted or worn. If left for too long, excessive petrol while also expensive, causes the cylinder barrels to wear as protective oil is washed away by the petrol. Take a look at the carburetor, does it look stained. Staining indicates worn throttle spindles which allow fuel out and air in, resulting in poor performance.

Check the fuel lines in the engine bay for cracks and missing clamps. When looking at the engine you are looking for a general impression that it has been well maintained. It should be clean, no bits of tape holding things together, wiring placed tidily. Again, only experience can help here but the engine should start easily, idle smoothly, not smoke and rev. freely when driving.

The VW air cooled engine is not the greatest engine for power but they are reliable if looked after. If the engine does seem worn, do not be put off. Use it as a negotiating point as all parts are still available. The 1600 engine is much cheaper to repair than the T4 engine as parts are still being manufactured by for VW in
Brazil and Mexico. Typical cost for a rebuilt exchange engine is under 400 with cylinder heads around 70 each and barrel and piston sets cost around 80. The T4 parts are approximately 4 times the cost as they are no longer manufactured by VW.

Heater/Exhaust system

As all Bay-Window Type 2`s are air cooled, heat for the cabin is recovered from the hot exhaust gases by heat exchangers. The exhaust manifolds have fins cast into the manifold body which radiate the heat from the gasses passing through the inside of the manifold. 1600 exhaust systemThese fins are surrounded by a metal cover forming the heat exchanger, which connects to ducts to the cabin interior. Later T4 engined models had an additional fan that pushed air through the heat exchanger, increasing the rate of flow to the cabin. The heat exchangers connect to the exhaust system which is basically one large silencer and pipe work compressed into a small area. Check for rust and holes visually on the heat exchangers. You should be able to hear noise caused by holes on the silencer. Cover the exhaust tail pipe with a cloth while the engine is running. The engine should die as the exhaust gases cannot escape and pressure builds up. If there are any leaks in the system you will here the exhaust gases escaping.

Heat exchanger cost around 60 each with original and better quality exchanger costing around double. Original heat exchangers typically last longer and give out more heat than the cheaper pattern varieties. T4 engined heat exchangers are even more expensive which is also true for exhausts which vary in price and quality from 40 to 200 plus for a stainless steel system.

T1 exhausts are a real pain to fit and can take 2-3 hours to fit as they never go back together as they came off, plus all the nuts have a habit of rusting solid.

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