Spare Repair Parts


New member
My old '71 finaly rusted away (door fell off - hatch is ready), so I've just moved up to an '81 Westy.

The info I've been getting is that there are basically no engine parts available for these beasts in Mexico. So I've been talking to mechanics & friends, and am making up a list of parts to put into a kit.

Cap, Rotor, plugs & wires
Double Relay
Ignition Module (CA only)
Fuel Pump
Fuel Filter
ECU (Brain)

Install a wrecking yard ECU ($100?) into the vehicle, and keep the original ECU as a spare. Install The new ignition parts, and keep the old ones as spares. The spare fuel pump should be new (not rebuilt - rebuilds have a high failure rate).

Is this overkill? The cost is very high (about $500). Is it worth it? How much would an 800 mile tow to the boarder cost?

Have I left out anything obvious? I'm thinking about total dissablement only. Let's get some feedback here!

Capt. Mike

I'm the pessimist so am convinced that any spares I carry WON'T be needed -- all breakdowns will be a part that I not only didn't bring, but no dealer has and it's on backorder from Germany.

My 2-month inventory shows a few things. For my Vanagon, I do carry a waterpump and set of V-belts. I have a 'kit' of spare bulbs and fuses. I usually carry my own parts for any planned services during a trip since I don't know where they will come due. For a rough country trip, I will carry a tire tube in case a flat can't be fixed normally. A good sampling of hardware, wiring ends, baling wire & duct tape. That's about it. No sense in tempting Murphy's Law by being so well prepared it has to find something really exotic & expensive to break!


New member
Oh yea! V-belts... I like the inner tube idea, but how do you get it in the tire? How do you get the tire off the rim without one of those big scarey machines at the tire shop? Where can I find an inner tube for a 185R14? Are all 14" inner tubes the same?

Capt. Mike

I don't -- every little wide-spot in the road gas station has a tire changing machine. Maybe not a big hydraulic shop job like a tire dealer, but at least the mechanical one. They fix so many tires it's like 2nd nature. And they're used to doing it on big trucks so our little 14"-ers are easy.

No, all 14" tubes are NOT the same. A tube may fit several sizes, but have to match up with the tire size. Also there are differences between radial and bias ply tubes. I'm sure most are for radials nowadays, but that wasn't always the case. Don't be surprised if you have to order a tube -- nobody seems to carry them anymore.

You might also want to consider a rim liner -- like a big wide rubber band that wraps around the rim where the two halves join. In a tubeless rim, they often aren't real careful about roughness during manufacture. Check it or you might chafe through the tube quickly. I still consider this a temporary or emergency repair -- not permanent.

Capt. Mike

Transferred from old Archives. Some are duplicated in misc.

Spare fan belt. I never leave home without one. Especially since I have a Eurovan and there aren't too many of them in the states.

Ditto on the fan belt. As this belt drives both the alternator and the water pump on my '89 Westy. I blew the belt on mine just this past weekend. Wife and I were on way back from Theodore Nat'l Park (Medora, ND). Had alternator problems first, van quit, hitchiked 35 miles, no alternators available in area, looked like 7 day wait. Bought a new battery (to at least get Westy off of I-94). Got down road 10 miles blew belt, but I have been a firm believer in carrying a spare. Wrestled a bit getting the 2 other belts off but finally got all belts back on and back on my way.

I got all the way home (135 miles on the new battery wiithout the alternator working at all), but do not use any lights, any elec. windows, etc, and push start to save some of the battery juice. It is a good technique to reminder if you have any alternator problems.

Oh, by the way, New Bosch alternator (90 amp) = $754.00 Reman Bosch alternator (90 amp) = $280.00 + s/h

Fuel and air filters.

There are a couple of things I don't leave home without - they are as follows: (1) a spare gas and clutch cable. They're cheap and you won't get far without one if it breaks. Chances are that there isn't a VW dealer close by when it breaks. (2) With my '85 and '89 Vanagon Buses, I alway carry a spare electric fuel pump. They are a bit expense to have one as a spare, but when that one quits - it's worth is weight in gold, especially when you may have a hard time finding one for less than $500.00. (3) I always have at least 1.5 feet of fuel injection hose - in case a hose starts to leak, or I hit a rock under the tank and ripe the line. I have had a couple of leaks in fuel hoses and at one time even had a fire, of which I lost a fair amount of wiring. So anytime I smell gas - I start looking before I fire up the engine. A good fire extinquisher saved my bus and that's a must for us Westy's. Couple of assorted sizes of hose clamps, for when that fuel line needs to be changed and it still has the crimp on clamp, you have something that will keep it nice and tight as orginal. Hope these items may help those who are planning those nice long or short trips to somewhere fun.

I have had Water/Coolant pump failures twice on long trips. This is only for post 83½ water-cooled Westies but I now have a rebuilt spare that goes wth me at all times. My first spare in on the van now from the last breakdown and I have bought another. It isn't necessarily a high failure rate it is mostly that I can never get that part without a 3 or 4 day wait.

I concur. It is about the only spare part I carry, except for a set of belts and any service parts I may need for services that come due during a trip.

Vanagon waterpumps are a weak link. If you've got 50K miles on one, you're entering a high risk zone. With VW's super expensive price -- and lousy availability in dealer stock -- I keep one on the shelf, and take it with me on long trips. VW does have a reman, but the German made aftermarket pumps are fine; carry an extra RIGHT side water pipe gasket; it's not included in the pump kit and disconnecting on both sides makes replacement easier.

I will caution that failure is often accelerated by too-tight V-belts. VW's recommendation is 15mm delection with thumb pressure. Who's thumb? I go for as light a tension as will not slip. Do not use belt dressing -- it actually dissolves the belt a little to make it tacky.
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New member
Problem is that most of the ones in Mexico are air cooled...I have never had a problem finding even odd parts for my 65 bus, Thing or Squareback when traveling in Mexico, but I travel with trepidation in my water-cooled Westy.

I have only a few things to add to the list:

After an incident in remote Montana where my hall sensor went (the electronic ignition control unit in the distributor) I carry a spare rebuilt distributor.

I had to silicone mine in place and deal with stalls every few hundred miles until I got into a town where I could even order a distributor.

I also have a spare alternator--not that big really, and easy to justify havingt had alternator failure in the past and the price was right!

In addition, I carry a spare set of just about anything that can wear out.

(In addition to those mentioned by others)
a set of brake pads
one rotor (I had an emergency I'd just rather not even share)
whatever else I have had a recent, or memorable, bad experience with.

Basically the bench seat only holds spare parts and tools, but then all those other cabinets hold so much, don't they?

'86 Westy and '73 Thing


One over looked spare,,, think about carrying a spare gas cap, esp. for syncro. Locking prefered!



New member
7 month road trip ( what to pack)

I'm off on a 7 month road trip with my 76 westy and want some ideas on what spare parts I should take. So far I have an extra
clutch cable
accelerator cable
fuel pump

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New member
What spare parts to carry for a 1986 westy...automatice transmission...

Hi there,

Going on a trip with my recently serviced Westy 1986....170 000 km on it and am wondering what spare parts I should carry....and by the way when should the timing belt be done on these...thanks...marie:eek: