Transmission oil coolers


New member
About to take possession of a '91 Westy with AT, which I wan to use for occassionally towing my 1100 lb, sailplane trailer. My '87 Westy with MT did an admirable job of pulling the trailer, but I am concerned there may be loss of power and transmission over-heating with the automatic. It's been suggested to me to install both an additional transmission fluid cooler and a temperature gauge. Does anyone have experience towing with the automatic? Has anyone installed and aftermarket cooler or temp gauge? I'll appreciate any info/insights/recommendations greatly -- thanks!



Hi at review

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New member
Stock Auto Trans Cooler or After Market

Interested in starting a discussion of the Vanagon auto transmission cooler. GoWesty warns you should replace the small cooler every 10 years to avoid failure with the mixing of ATM and Anti-freeze. They replace the cooler on every van they sell. Cooler is about $300 plus installation.

Several people on the Vanagon portion of the Samba list have installed a by-pass trans cooler from a company called Small Car that is air-cooled by air flow under the van. Kit cost is about $150. You eliminate the mixing potential and maybe lower operating water temperature.

However, the tubing/hose clamp connectors for the kit look like vulnerable to me.

Has anyone done this conversion and willing to report their experience? Some of the adopters on The Samba have added temp gauges and reported a lowering of the running ATF temperature.

Anyone else interested in discussing this?

Knoxville, Tn
87 Vanagon Weekender Auto


New member
I have a 1990 Vanagon GL A/T that I plan to pull a tow dolly and have just started the cooler/gage project...

I picked up a bad '88 A/T yesterday from a friend and pulled the pan, cleaned it up and took it over to the machine shop to have a weld in adapter put in it for a temp gage...
Did not want to open my tranny up and let dirt get in while I wait for the machine work...

Plan on seeing what makes the AT tick later on...

So... I have the gage, and will be wiring it up next, and placing it up on the dash next to the cluster...
I plan to run a toggle switch and 2 sending units... one for the tranny, and one in the engine oil... and toggle between the engine and tranny... will be adding the engine oil sender later on.

Have a EMPI 11X11" cooler on the way... and I have a 11" radiator fan from a Passat partout that I will be mounting above the cooler... might run a inline temp switch for the fan, or a switch on the dash.. any idea's on that...?

I still need a little info as to, do I need Areoquip style high pressure hose from the tranny to the cooler, or hose barbs and clamps???
I am not sure of size of fittings and hose size, and could use a little input here...