First trip


New member
First trip in my 87, did a 1100 mi and no problem, not even a leak (Oil, Gas or coolant), she didn't take a drip of oil (maybe a 1/4!!!) or coolant quite happy with the van, I stop to Quebec city on my way back to Montreal (Canada) on a very hot day and was caught in traffic, no overheating what so ever, both fan speed worked wellÂ… I also drove in some very steep hill. I want to share my experience because I have to say that after reading to much post on this site, it make me wonder about the VW Westfalia. I understand that what this site is all about but a positive story once in a while doesn't hurts. Another thing, my Westy as the ORIGINAL engine with 90k mi and work fine, I have change the heads gasket 2 month ago as a precaution but I add no leak (almost) at the time, so I think that those engine can do a lot more than 100k mi before a overall or a engine change if they are well maintain. I have met some Westy owner on my trip (different years) and some of them add more than 250 000k (155 000 mi) with the original engine. So in conclusion I think that many Westy owner are negligent with there machine and are running them to hardÂ…
I have posted I few picture of my trip at: (French only but click on the picture)
Ps.: I have met a group of Old Westy (75), it was there annual meeting, you can check them out at there official web site at: (English available)
Regards, Ben

Gary B. Dixner

New member
Thanks for your positive post. As is often pointed out, and you said it too, it's the nature of the site for people to post problems, not things that go right. But it is easy to become paranoid and constantly expect trouble. I find myself searching the garage floor for those dreaded drips. Hope everything continues to go well for you. Westy's are great! Gary

Capt. Mike

I'll call this one fond, not funny. It's a first camping trip for a little girl.

My wife & I are Visiting Parents for a Masonic orphanage. We've 'adopted' a cottage of 10-13 year old girls. None of our kids are true orphans -- they all have some legal guardinan such as a remaining parent or other relative. Our children are allowed to visit one weekend a month and the usual school holidays. Those without or where it's not practical can spend those breaks with "their Masons" -- Visiting Parents like ourselves.

This Spring, one of our regular visitors passed up a chance to visit an aunt with her sister over Spring Break. The 12 year-old wanted her first camping trip to be with us. We heading into the Blue Ridge Parkway and Smokey Mountain NP. 3 delightful days of camping and then 2 more doing all those 'kid' things in Gatlinburg.

It wasn't all roses. We were snowed out of our first night campsite choice and the last leg of the Blue Ridge. And it was cold that night -- well below freezing! The next day, there was still a good shot of snow & ice in the Park, plus the usual fog. But we saw lots of wildlife and new flowers breaking through.

She found kids her own age to play with at two of the campsites and settled right in. We had some fun moments with the privacy curtain we built to handle baths and the port-a-john. Although it worked perfectly, it was sure in the way the rest of the time.

Our two nights in Gatlinburg were in what they called their King Suite so we each had our own rooms, TV and balcony. The balcony hung out over the Pigeon River, which had ducks in it. The suite included her first ever shot at a hot-tub -- big enough for 3! And the discovery of chocolate chip pancakes at the Pancake Pantry.

But if I never see another Ripley's Believe It or Not or Haunted House, it will be too soon. Their Aquarium was nice -- pricey, though. I'm sure she'll have fond memories and I know we do.


New member
Took my first real trip in my '80 Vanagon Westy this past weekend. My wife and I had intended for next weekend to be it, but my brother wanted to borrow the Westy to go to Millington, TN for the Memphis in May Triathlon. Don't know if I just didn't want him to take it by himself, but I decided I didn't have anything to do so I drove him down. We drove down on Saturday and we were just outside of Covington, TN talking away and I had neglected to keep and eye on the gas guage. Needless to say we ran out of gas, but were able to hitch a ride to and back from the gas station in record time. The Westy handled well and didn't give me any problems as long as I kept gas in it. It was a hit among the triathletes. Most of them wishing they had one to avoid 50+ and night motel bills. Fred


New member
I have been wanting a Vanagon Westy for several years and finally got a very nice grey '87 last month. We had already planned our Labor Day trip to the C&O Canal along the Potomac River and so drove the new Westy on only its third venture out of our driveway.

Delightful trip, and so the next weekend we took it on our also-already-planned trip for a week to the St. Lawrence River, the 1000 Islands, and down Route 7 along the West Coast of New England.

Ran like a dollar watch, as my father used to say. We like it a lot.


Capt. Mike

Better safe than sorry.

TGransferred to consolidate similar topics.

Zonk Junior Member Posted August 27, 2000 03:05 AM

I had been searching for about a year for just the right westy and had finaly found the one I felt good about. I flew from Chicago to Orange county CA. to buy the van I waited so long for. I get it and head straight for the ocean to get a camp spot thinking I could watch the sun go down drinking a cold one. But no camp sites in 30 miles. So I took advantage of having a westy and stayed at a rest area for a few hours. The next day I headed straight for Las Vegas were I sent some boxes to my Mothers house with all the items to stock my van. No boxes were there even after I sent them over a week in advance. I waited a extra day thinking they would show up but still no luck. I had to leave I had a long drive back to the Mississippi river area were I live. WOW the van was not happy in the blistering 110 degree days and 100 degree nights. The van oil temp was around 250-260 I knew I had to do something so I did not burn up my new pride and joy. I rented a Ryder truck and trailer to pull my van on to get it home safe and sound. Well I made it home in one piece and have been working out some of the small bugs in my van. I took it camping this last week end and no problems. (Go figure it was only 75 degrees here) So now I guess I am just another happy Westy owner. (I didn't have the heart to say camper it sounded too cheesy) Zonk

Capt. Mike Tech Writer Super Member Posted August 29, 2000 12:48 AM

You didn't say what year or model, but 250-260°F for oil temperature isn't that extreme. It was fairly common for the air-cooled models under load in hot weather. Modern oil can safely go that high on occasion, even higher. I know race mechanics that suggest 300°, though I stick with the conservative 260° of a retired lube expert who says the oil is still OK, but the additives can start to break down.

Of course that was back when the best oil grade was ASE SF or so; now it goes to SH. Synthetics can handle even higher temps. So don't cancel out hot weather trips -- just watch the gauges and use a little common sense.

If there is a moral to the story, it's be sure you have a good grasp of your Westy's quirks & characteristics before your first trip AND carry the Bentley.

Capt. Mike

Transferred to consolidate same topic.

ParrotHead Junior Member Posted December 24, 2006 10:58 AM

First off - thanks to everyone for sharing their tips and stories to this Westy Newbie. They are both helpful and inspirational!

I finally entered the realm of Westy owners this summer, after coveting them for years. My now ex-wife wanted nothing to do with them, so when she left I replaced her spot in my life with my new Westy. After about a year of searching, I threw caution to the wind and placed my winning bid on a grey 1987 Westfalia GL on eBay. She was perfect - 38,000 miles, manual trans, manual windows and completely unadulterated! I almost bypassed it for a less-than-perfect '91 Syncro due to the sheer sexiness of that van, but my newfound wisdom told me to stick with the 4X2 instead. A little more practical.

I did what I would caution anyone not to. I bought the Westy sight-unseen, flew into Oakland CA to pick it up and drove it 3,000 miles home to Windsor, Ontario, Canada. (just 1/2 mile outside of Detroit, MI) I drove it through the mountains of CA, the desert of NV, the salt flats of UT, the pastures and aroma of NB and the insane motorists of IL and MI. All without a problem! A sputter, shimmy and shake on the highway caused me a little worry in Nevada, but after I stopped and filled up with 91 octane fuel instead of the 87 I had been using up 'till that point, the Westy ran like a Swiss Watch. (could have been the Vanagon Syndrome I learned about from this site - will have to look into it...)

All in all, I am ecstatic! The van's the best thing to come along since my two kids, and they love it almost as much as I do. After some minor upgrades (headlights - they SUCK!) we will be off like a dirty shirt every weekend!

Another positive post from a happy new Westy owner!