Van-Again


camron

New member
How have people's experiences been with "Van-Again"? I just ordered three parts and found 2 to be unsatisfactory. The water heater control valve was just fine, except that it did not come with a new clip for the cable. I had to reuse the old, corroded one. I ordered a new set of mirrors for my '85 Westy and at first glance they are beautiful, but after putting them on an actually looking through them I see that the mirrors are warped causing everything in th edges to stretch and all in the middle to 'squish'. Finally, I ordered a new antenna that the webiste stated "fits perfectly". It is not even like the original. The materials are cheap and the nut strips easily. I ended up having to use parts from the old antenna and parts from the new to get it to sort of work while I look for a new antenna. I called and left a message for them but have not had a return call regarding this. Perhaps this is the best quality I can expect from aftermarket Westy parts, this is my first van and I am going through it piece by piece. Any other recommendations for '85 vintage Westy parts? Thanks...

-Camron Hastings
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Thanks for the post; I'd toyed with the idea of some 15" rims someday.

They cold-called me, apparently from my work on the site, to tell me about some wheels for Syncros. I've looked at the site and it's glitzy but I can't make it work. A search engine for even the parts you listed didn't turn them up. I can't find a catalog link on the site.

Poor quality is not a requirement of aftermarket parts, but there are some out there. GoWesty has good stuff and great service from all I hear. I don't have too much respect for Bus Depot because of their poor service, inept packaging and customer service policies, but most site users seem to think their parts good and fairly priced. No return calls is inexcusable.

The secret to aftermarket is dealing with reputable companies that will stand behind their products without giving you a hassle, and with doing the research to find out who supplies VW originally. You can believe a Hella mirror or Hirch antenna will not be refuges from the Fun House.

The reputable suppliers are very diligent about getting good quality because repeat business is their bread & butter. Keep us posted because how Van-Again handles a problem is as important as how it occurred in the first place.
 

camron

New member
Well, I am happy to say that I received return email from 'Van-Again' that showed a lot of effort to rectify the problem. Ken from Van-Again agreed that the antenna was not a high quality piece of equipment, but for the price he thought it was adequate. He would return it if I wanted to. Since it is such a low cost item I figured that it was not worth the effort.

As for the mirrors, my main concern, he thinks that they may be defective. He inspected a new set and is sending them to me to try out. If they work then I will send him the first set back and he will reimburse my shipping costs. (low cost method of course). This was all very satisfactory with me, and I will not left mirror-less while we straighten it out. As long as all goes as planned, I feel good about Ken's efforts and explanations. Check them out for yourself: www.vanagain.com
 

JoelD

New member
In my research on adding the wiring upgrade to my '87 Westy, I sent an e-mail to Ken at Vanagain inquiring about part availability. In my e-mail to Ken I mentioned I was having "Vanagon Syndrome," the occasional bucking and power loss familiar to some of us Vanagon owners. Ken sent me the response you see below. It seems to contradict a lot of what I've read in the message boards. Namely he seems to blame the Air Flow Meter instead of the wiring for Vanagon Syndrome. Seems to me the inconsistency of the problem I've experienced points more to weird wiring stuff than a bad AFM. Regardless of my opinion, or the many other things that can cause the symptoms of "The Syndrome," including a bad AFM, I think his sales tactic is curious. I'd be interested if anyone has had similar experience with this company?

Ken Wilford wrote:
Joel, back when this problem first surfaced the harness fix was about $100. The problem is actually caused by the air flow meter wearing out. The Air Flow Meter from the Dealer is almost $500. So they decided that most people would rather pay $100 for a fix than pay another $500 for a new Air Flow Meter. Now the fix is $150. I have new dealer Air Flow Meters for $120. So it doesn't make any sense to try to patch a failing AFM for $150 when you can buy a brand new one that won't have the problem for $120. Let me know what you want to do.

Thanks,
Ken Wilford
John 3:16 www.vanagain.com
Phone: (856)-327-4936
Fax: (856)-327-2242
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Capt. Mike

Moderator
I'm a little disturbed by any parts dealer that makes unsubstantiated allegations, in this case that VW used an NHTSA registered "service campaign" as a price control mechanism. Especially when it flies in the face of all the technical design behind the logic.

The problem the Vanagon Syndrome harness fix dealt with voltage instability -- a signal between the CPU & the AFM (which is just a variable resistance). The fix is NOT just a capacitor in a wire. It is a complete microprocessor that also reroutes signal. If you look at the original bulletin's routing and test values compared to original, you will see the difference.

When my original 'fix' burned -- melted circuit -- I had the microprocessor opened up and examined by an expert in microprocessor and circuit board design. A picture of the component is posted on my tech drawings site linked from the home page. You can easily see the vast complexity of the fix, and that it was hardly a 'boost fix' to compensate for some worn AFM value. My expert source tells me it is a complete imbedded microprocessor with numerous components, i.e. an extension of the CPU function.

That would also explain the consistent symptom that shutting off the engine and restarting invariably stopped the malfunction for at least a few minutes -- much like rebooting a comuter.

I would hope Mr. Willard is not infering VW introduced the harness to entice people to buy a solution to a worn AFM. If the true cause was just a worn-out AFM, any fix would be at best temporary and huge numbers of AFMs would continue to fail to which the harness fix could no longer work. In truth, the AFMs have proven remarkably durable with many well over the 200K mark whereas the fix was introduced while most could be fixed under warranty, as mine was. In each case -- my two included -- the AFM continues to test as new but the signals in did not.

The basic AFM design has been around for years in other systems, including the early AFC and Digijet, where it does not have an unusual failure rate. It's rather simple -- a flap moves to create a variable resistance for the CPU signal. If it was truly a 'worn out' AFM, they too would deteriorate and be failing at the same alarming rate as in the Digifant digital systems. Digital offers many advantages, but as any cell-phone user can attest, it didn't improve signal stability.

If Mr. Willard is selling OEM AFM's at $120, great -- we need reasonable prices on OEM parts that have gotten priced out of reason by VW's "cost accountants." But I disagree with the logic of buying a new AFM by someone who needs the harness fix because of voltage stability communicating with the CPU. Too many posts and off-site reports tell me of dealers and shops that replaced the AFM without fixing the problem because they didn't install or replace the harness fix. It's contrary to published data and what I've had confirmed by experts I trust. I can personally attest that the harness can fail with age and time. So accurate testing and evalutaion of BOTH before purchase is essential.

Any part can fail, including the AFM. Let's face it, it lies in the middle of an airstream that can be bringing in dirt, moisture, oil and contaminates -- none friendly to any moving electrical part. But the signal instability problem has been consistent across virtually every digifant Vanagon regardless of mileage, condition and age, whereas the number and type of AFM failures has been relatively rare. This does not support his hypothesis!
 
Last edited:

kenwilfy

New member
I guess, I could reply to this thread about the AFMs. It had been my experience that most of the time (75-95% of the time) if you are having a bucking or missing problem that is associated with the Air Flow Meter, it is caused by the AFM being worn out or the TempI sender going bad (built into the AFM). I never encourage folks to buy a part they don't need, but always encourage them to please test their AFM per the Bentley Manual BEFORE buying a new one. If it checks out per Bentley, then start troubleshooting with a meter and check your grounds, etc (there is a write up on my website about this very problem). Swapping in a known good AFM is also a good troubleshooting technique. If it comes down to the fact that the customer has checked everything and they have to make a decision between buying the "harness fix" or the AFM I always recommend the AFM. Why? Number one the newest Vanagon alive is 10 years old at this point. Air Flow Meters wear out over time and use. So at this point, the Air Flow Meter is due to be replaced anyway. If this fixes the problem then you are good to go. If it doesn't then you have a new Air Flow Meter and you at least have something that is "known good" for the harness fix to work with. You would be surprized how many calls and emails I get after I sell these Air Flow Meters to people, thanking me for helping them fix their problem. To this date, I have not sold one single "harness fix" because no one has ever called back wanting one. Finally the Air Flow Meters I sell are Brand New Bosch units (I will not sell rebuilds!) and the 2.1l AFMs I sell have the dealer logo on them.
I hope this clarifies my position on the AFM discussion. I have read the service bulletins too, and I don't claim to be an electronics expert. My opinion is worth exactly what you paid for it. I am just relating my experience of selling these AFMs for the past four years and also replacing them on not only my customer's Vanagons, but also my own '91 Carat Vanagon.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Many thanks for clarifying that short email posted by another member.

You & I will probably continue to disagree over the cause and/or effectiveness of one fix vs. another, but that at least returns readers to the basic axiom of finding out WHICH component is bad by correct testing before buying either.

I'm sure all of the site members will be appreciative of some reasonable prices for OEM FI electronics. Some of the other 'discount' sources aren't fairing well, reputation & customer service-wise! I think GoWesty is proving that both are possible -- good pricing doesn't mean customers have to put up with poor service.

Welcome to the site.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Have now made my 2nd purchase from Van-Again. Both arrived on time, properly packaged, at the price stated. Quality was excellent -- the first OEM and the 2nd true OE. In both cases, I got valuable suggestions to consider when I replaced the parts in question.

In a 3rd situation, even though I eventually chose to repair rather than replace, Ken Willard's observations and experience were valid and valuable.

Web site is still kind of hard to navigate in and the search engine leaves a lot to be desired, but they are quick to respond to direct questions if you can't find something.
 

judlandis

New member
Thumbs up to Ken Wilford at VAn-again for helping me track down an obscure westy trim part. My VW dealer, while willing to try, was unable to find the part. Ken supplied the part # and THEN they could order it for me. I haven't purchased any parts from Van-again yet, but I want to support a business that helps out the Westy hobby, and will do so at the next opportunity.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Van-Again has done a major revision of its web-site which should make it much easier to navigate and to find parts. It's still much easier if you have the part number from the CD-ROM sold by another vendor listed on this site.
 
Last edited:

chrispa

New member
Just wanted to post my 2 cents on VANAGAIN. I came from the west coast to the east cost and subsequently switched from GOWESTY to VANAGAIN. I have been nothing but satisfied in every regard, not only has Ken repsonded to all my purchses quickly and efficiently he also dispensed a vast amount of free technical assistance and practical repair advice at my request. He fully understands the back yard mechancis perspective both economicly and practically and on the sigle occasion I did not get exactly what I though I had ordered he rectified it immedialty. (Even though it turned out it was my fault) I would not hesitate to reccomend him as a either a supplier or a techincal resource.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

JWPATE

New member
While I have not visited this forum for some long while, and therefore had not noticed the discussions regarding Van-Again, I feel compelled to comment, even at this late date. For several years now, I have ordered parts from Van-Again with only complete satisfaction, both in the quality of the parts and the level of service. In my experience, Ken at Van-Again is among the very best, and certaily a great asset in our efforts to keep the old Westys rolling.
James
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Non VW part

Not long ago I needed to replace the Bosch electric aux. water pump on my wife's MBenz 190D. On internet I found a vendor that offered the original Bosch and an aftermarket brand. I wasn't familiar with the aftermarket brand or that vendor, so I called Ken Willard. He's always givien me honest opinion when he knows about parts sources. He was a big contributor to our "dba" topic. He wasn't familiar with the aftermarket brand, but offered to get me the OEM Bosch for a price competative with the other vendor. ;) When a parts source goes out of their way, they tend to get my business.
 

T'sunamibus

New member
Van-Again buyers beware ?

I recently purchased an exhaust system for my '82 Westy's 2.0 air cooled engine. I have rebuilt the engine and last weekend while fitting the new exhaust system I ran into a problem. The new muffler would not attach to the new exhaust header. Last weekend I sent Ken an e-mail with pic's asking for help obtaining the correct parts. I have not heard for Van-again yet, it's been a week so far. I was impressed with Van-Again and Ken's quick response to my questions, so this situation seems a little odd. I was able to jury rig this system to make it work ( against my better judgment ) but I need to continue. I hope all is well with Van-again in these tough economic times. I would recommend checking things out before placing on line orders.
 

T'sunamibus

New member
I've come to find that Van-Again is doing fine ( extremely busy ) I have future orders to place and have full confidence in Van-Again.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

James Conlin

New member
Here it is, 2018, and Van-Again has just updated their website. It's been a while (10 years) since I spent three days camped at Ken's while he made my old vanagon road ready. He is very generous with his knowledge and time. Since then I have purchased some minor parts and have tapped him for much info, always a pleasure. Ken and Andy Flint ( another middle of nowhere Vanagon mechanic, Hoags Corners, NY) are my heroes.
 

Top