Welcome to the Camp Westfalia Workshop!
This is where busted stuff gets fixed, fixed stuff gets improved, and occasionally, knuckles get busted.
It’s the circle of strife …
You’ll find a growing list of how-to technical articles, helpful lists, and other mechanical tips and tricks to keeping your Vanagon Westfalia Camper working its best.
So, roll up your sleeves, grab your toolbox, and take a space on the workbench. Let’s get wrenchin’ …
A Mobile Anachronism
Truth be told, it is no easy feat to keep a 30-year-old van running. Especially one with the added complexity of the Westfalia Camper package. And especially if you expect it to withstand the rigors of everything from long-distance, non-stop thru-trips to unpaved backwoods camping forays.
In all likelihood, the previous owner neglected or abused the poor beast, and there may be any number of hidden components just waiting to fail, leaving you stranded.
The good news is that although those with cold hearts may have let the old gal slip into a sad state of decline, that maintenance curve can be reversed, and with proper care, the right attitude (and a somewhat thick wallet) she can be brought back into her full functionality and former glory.
You will need a good workshop book, the best of which is the Official Factory Repair Manual, published by Robert Bentley. The same manual used by the wrenchers at your local VW dealership and most good independent mechanics, it is the final authority in accuracy and precision, providing the proper sequences, torque values, and tolerances for most Vanagon repairs. See descriptions of this and several other suitable Vanagon workshop manuals here >
A helpful manual (or three) does you little good without the proper tools to get the job done. The VW Vanagon will require few special tools, and most work can be performed with conventional tools available to the average home mechanic. Here’s a good list of tools to get you started.
Even at the advanced age of the Vanagon, most replacement parts are still available, especially the many parts shared with other Volkswagen models of the era: Rabbit & Golf, Scirocco, Jetta, etc.. Where the VW dealer may fail you, a variety of aftermarket suppliers has filled the niche. Here are several which specialize in Vanagon parts and accessories: