You have missed the function of the viscous coupling. In a Syncro, the front wheels are 'free-wheeling' as you call it probably 99% of the time. They are only engaged when the rear wheels are spinning and the sensativity is so great the coupling detects a 6% differential or within ΒΌ turn of the rear wheels. But they disengage almost equally. The function is completely automatic.
Yes, there is some binding or scrub at hard-over lock but that is a function of the differential slip parameters and the extreme angles of the front CV joints. Steering ahead and in normal curves, they are free-wheeling like a 2WD.
Whether the advantages and safety of a 4WD are worth it is a personal decision. Like any feature designed to supplement the extreme end of a design range, those advantages and safety only come into play at those extremes.
I appreciate the reply. I am fully aware of the design of the coupling. Kudos to VW for creating such a simple operational design. Though somewhat unconventional here in the US the VC is used in many european AWD vehicles. My point still stands about the free wheeling issue. ALL that drive train is turning, not just the wheels as in a 2wd vehicle or locking hubs. The downer is I would rather it was stopped dead. I can feel it running by comparison even though its not locked in. It has mass and inertia.
I agree with your second point about personal choice, limits of design, and trade offs. I also feel we are lucky to have an AWD Vanagon of ANY design, albeit still a very good and well thought out one.
I do wish there were a kit that would allow you to disengage the front output shaft on the syncro trans and install locking hubs. Though on first pass of looking at this the spindles do not allow any simple or even effortful design change as is the same for the trans.
I suppose I could just move to the snow [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]
My family just moved to Arizona and we're looking to buy a camper to spend every weekend we can out enjoying our new state. The question is: which type is most suited to this area and our needs? I'm not sure we really need a synchro, but on the other hand, it could come in handy for high altitude winter driving. I found an 86 synchro w/nearly new 2.0 l. inline 4 cylinder engine. I'd also be using this for in-town daily short drives (taking my son to school), so it would need to double as a "regular" vehicle, i.e., not only for camping. I'd appreciate any suggestions or input.
No one can answer whether you "Need" 4WD or not; millions of 2WD VW's seem to be serving their owners well. Is the few times you need 4WD a matter of choice (going when you would otherwise opt out) or the very rare emergency circumstances worth the high cost in original cost, weight, loss of fuel economy and maintenance/repair costs worth it?
Also do understand that you are looking at an unofficial VW engine conversion (VW has never offered any conversions to the US market) so you must analyze the quality and disadvantages of these previous owner modifications and resultant loss of VW support. Dealers may refuse to work on a home-made rig with good reason.
Anyone know where I can get a copy of a typical MSRP for a 90 westfalia GL syncro? If not, any idea of original cost?
Check the vanagon.com website. goto the info page for a list of features and prices.
A '90 Camper GL Syncro had a base MSRE of US$25,575. Optional paint (3 colors, white std.) was $390; AM/FM/Cassette $350. Destination charge would vary -- $320 from East Coast POE to NC. So you start at $26,635 plus dealer and private accessories, taxes & fees. EPA mileage was 16 City/16 Highway.
In '90 these prices reflect a reduction from '89 of a couple thousand dollars and the packaging of numerous accessories into the GL configuration at a much lower price since VW knew the Vanagon was being phased out. These included alloy wheels w/ 205/70R14r tires, locking rear differential, A/C, power windows, mirrors & locks, cruise, speakers & antenna (radio extra), rear heater, tinted glass, digital clock & tach, driving lights, intermittent F&R wipers, and rear window defroster.
Bear in mind this is the US configuration as ALL US '90s were GL's. Non-GL's (gray market), Canadian & other markets did not necessarily include these accessories. Pre '90 US models could be obtained without the above, and even GL packages in pre '90 models did NOT include the same accessories package.
The Synchro also had differences figured into the base price but not listed on the MSRE sheet. Black mirrors & bumpers instead of body color, no chrome glass trim, no side deco stripes, no rocker panel covers, LF (only) mudflap, raised suspension, protective skid plates, larger fuel tank in rear and the 5th gear (extra low 1st & reverse) to name a few.
You will find differences in other parts as well. Besides the expected suspension & drive train, the Synchro has cooling system differences and the engine shielding is different.
I have decided to begin the quest for a '90 or '91 synchro westy or weekender. Anyone know of a buyer's guide or checkoff list to help evaluate candidate westies? I have read quite a few articles with lots of great info, but before I try to put it all together in one place (and post it after review), I thought I would ask. Also, anyone know of a list of respected mechanics in various US cities that can evaluate prospective purchases? (particularly California.)
What's the matter with all the info on this site? You have topics on various pricing guides; pre-purchase check-lists; purchasing considerations; mechanic/shop recommendations; and numerous tech topics that include some of the special Syncro considerations such as suspension, drive train, etc.
Choosing between models includes deciding if you really need & want a Syncro. The trade-offs are not insignificant, including the very hefty premium you can expect to pay for a good condition Syncro. There are no magic books; it's a matter of reading a vast amount of material on Westies in general and Syncros in particular and applying it to your PERSONAL criteria per Guideline #9.
HIGH MILEAGE - Your opinions, please.
Hi all. I have my eye on a '90 Syncro but it has 220,000 miles on it. The 2.1 was replaced w/ another half way through those miles. I have to drive out to look at the van but I'm wondering what your thoughts on this large number of miles for a Syncro. What should I pay most attention to?
Clowns are people too