“Usually, the only tool you need is the one you don’t have.”
Andrew A. Libby, Samba member
The VW Vanagon will require few special tools, and most work can be performed with conventional tools available to the average home mechanic. The following is by no means a complete listing, but should give any home mechanic a strong start on repairing and maintaining a vintage van.
- Complete metric socket set: in 3/8″ or 1/2″ drive, with sizes ranging from 7 mm to 17 mm, in a variety of depths. Plus a breaker bar and optional length of pipe for added leverage; an assortment of extensions and universal-joint drive adapters for those hard-to-reach applications.
- 13/16” spark plug socket
- 46 mm Socket, 3/4″ drive, for rear axle nuts, with suitable breaker bar and length of pipe for added leverage
- Complete metric wrench set: combination (open on one end, hex or 12-point box on the other), in sizes ranging from 7 mm to 17 mm
- Adjustable wrenches: a couple of sizes to accommodate the above ranges
- Allen wrenches, sometimes called hex keys: 1.5 mm to 8 mm, plus a 17 mm hex bit socket, for transaxle/gearbox drain & fill plugs
- 8 mm Triplesquare (XZN) spline bit socket, for CV joint bolts
- Torque wrench(s): measuring fastener torque from 20 to 150 lbs.
- Screwdrivers: variety of sizes, in both slotted (flat blade) and Phillips-head
- Pliers: in a variety of sizes from needle-nose, standard, to larger slip-joint
- Wire cutters: diagonal and end-cutters
- Hammers: listed last here due to their frequent overuse, you’ll want ball-peen or mechanic’s hammers in a variety of sizes from small ‘tappers’, medium ‘persuaders’, to a 2-lb. ‘BFH’ (Big Freakin’ Hammer)
- Digital volt meter with 12V DC setting
I have also found the following tools helpful in certain instances:
- Metric ratchet wrenches: same sizes as above, allow wrenching in tight spots
- Brake flare wrenches
- Metric hex bit sockets: similar to Allen wrenches but can be affixed to socket wrench
- Complete metric crowsfoot wrenches: same sizes as above, allow wrenching in tight spots. NOTE: when used with a torque wrench, torque values must be re-calculated according to specs included with the crowsfoot wrenches
- Vise-Grips: listed last here due to its frequent overruse, a brand name of some of the best locking pliers available, allowing astronomical clamping forces on hardware and other parts. I’ve seen old Type-2 Buses sailing down the highway with certain crucial engine parts held in place by such pliers, a technique not endorsed by Camp Westfalia.
Depending on your available space, mechanical abilities, and how far you typically venture from home, you may want to carry some or all of these tools aboard your Vanagon.