Westfalia.org Community - Powered by vBulletin

Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: 86 Vanagon oil light comes on, idles rough, and stalls on cold start

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Vancouver, BC

    Default 86 Vanagon oil light comes on, idles rough, and stalls on cold start

    I think I have the right place. Anyways the problems I've got at the moment are as follows on my 1986 Vanagon GL.

    First, the oil pressure light/buzzer comes on for 1-5 minutes and then turns off and stays off. This happens right after starting , and the length it's on for depends on how cold the engine is it seem. It started about a week after I had the oil/filter changed (10w-30). I've checked the fluid levels before and after driving and they seem fine. Any ideas what this could be?

    Second, it surges during idling. This starts after the engine is warmed up. The tach idles at just above 1000rpm and then starts to waver upwards a bit and surge, then it will go back to normal for a few seconds and start all over again. The surging only happens in drive; there doesn't seem to be a problem in neutral and park. I've also noticed that the throttle return spring seems to have lost some of it's tension. again any ideas or point me in the right direction would be appreciated.

    Lastly, it'll stall out after a cold start every once in a while. This happens when I put her into reverse or drive. And then she'll start up and run fine after that.

    Thanks for any help.

  2. # ADS
    Adsense Circuit advertisement
    Join Date
    Advertising world
  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Snohomish, WA


    The second issue sounds easier to check than the first. It sounds like you have an CIS problem. The idle system is designed to fluctuate based on engine demand from alternator load, power steering etc. This means that you have an 'idle motor' that will allow various amounts of air past the throttle plate giving the 'constant' idle. First to check is your base idle. Has your throttle plate / butterfly been cleaned lately? I would start there.

    The oil pressure issue I would make sure you have the correct oil filter installed. The air cooled filter will fit but I have found the oil pressure light to be an issue. Do you have any knocking sounds? If there is knocking sounds with the low pressure light then you have worn bearings causing both. If you have a light but no knocking then you might have an electrical issue. Given that the issue seems roughly related to the temp it might be that you have an instrument issue and that is allowing the temperature gauge operation to affect the oil pressure system. You should have the oil pressure checked (or a gauge installed) so that you can know if there is any expensive damage being done.

    That would be the place to start.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013


    Hi all,
    I have an '87 wolfsburg hardtop manual trans, and it seems to have similar problems. It doesn't like cold starts, and will often stall in first gear, but once I get it going it's fine. It also has a wonky tach, which may be a bad connection at the instrument panel, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's not something else. It just floats lazily until the engine is revved to about 2k, then it works normally, and if you're at a light with the blinker going, it will often bounce up and down in time with the blinker. The bigger issue is that I just had the oil changed, took a 400 mile drive, and on the return, the oil light flashed on twice, in first gear, when pulling away from a light. It only stayed on for a second at most each time, but it concerns me, having heard so much bad stuff about what can happen if that light starts coming on.
    The other thing that I think is related to this is that often the van seems to have almost no power, and then with the pedal in the same position, and no real change in speed or revs, it suddenly gets a lot of power and revs up.
    For reference, my engine does have a ton of miles on it, though I'm not sure how many exactly. The van has 253k on it, so I have to assume it's not the original engine. It rattles a bit when it's revved high, though no mechanic has been able or willing to say if they think it means anything.
    Sorry if this is a little bit all over the place, but this thread seemed to address some of my issues, and the response also did, but I need clarification and an opinion on my situation. Thanks so much for the help!

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    North Vancouver


    Hi Shaggy_blarney!

    Did you find that this solved your problem? I am having similar problems - stalling when first starting, especially in reverse - accompanied by some surging and bucking. Last night we were driving home and it was backfiring quite badly. This is weird, but it seems to happen more after heavy rainfalls, and we were wondering if water was somehow getting in the gas tank? I've also been reading that it could be the fuel filter, and plan to have that cleaned/replaced. We were wondering if Ethanol gas can do this? It seems that when we have to open it up wide, it surges and bucks and loses power. It's difficult to avoid opening it up in hilly Vancouver... Any other thoughts? We already did the Intermittent Vanagon Syndrome last summer, and that seemed to work. She runs just fine when the weather is good... Or maybe we're noticing a correlation when there isn't one??

    If anyone can help, we'd appreciate it!


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts