1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Reviews - Page 2 of 2

1987 Volkswagen Vanagon GL Syncro Westfalia 2.1L from North America

Model year1987
Year of manufacture1986
First year of ownership2000
Engine and transmission 2.1L Manual
Performance marks 3 / 10
Reliability marks 5 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 3 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 3 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
4.4 / 10
Distance when acquired85000 miles
Most recent distance200000 miles
Previous carChevrolet Lumina


This vehicle is a reliable AWD van for all seasons


Replaced clutch at 110,000 miles. Had it done in Whitehorse Canada during a trip down the Alaska Highway. Unfortunately the mechanic didn't torque the axle CV bolts tight, and the axle had to be replaced about 20,000 miles later. Replaced water pump, oil pump, and defroster motor. Also developed the Syncro Shimmy at 200,000 and needed to replace drive shaft universal joint.

General Comments:

This van is the best thing out there on slick roads. I can forge through unbroken snow that is almost two feet high. It handles like a (slow) snowmobile, plodding along like nobody's business.

You won't get there in a hurry. This vehicle will set no speed records.

I also get lots of comments on the camper. I purchased a tent to set up that attaches to it. I also got a center seat so I can seat six. Not much room for the gear though. I need the tent to move the gear into so that we can sleep our family of four. I'd buy a new one like it if I could.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th November, 2005

28th Jul 2009, 11:33


I read that you replaced your oil pump. What were the reasons or symptoms that made you aware it needed replacement? Did it solve any negative issues with the motor? The pump itself is relatively a very inexpensive part, but what were your labor costs? I might be facing a similar situation.



1987 Volkswagen Vanagon GL 2.1 gas from North America

Model year1987
Year of manufacture1987
First year of ownership2003
Most recent year of ownership2005
Engine and transmission 2.1 gas Automatic
Performance marks 5 / 10
Reliability marks 4 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 4 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
5.5 / 10
Distance when acquired245000 miles
Most recent distance279546 miles
Previous carVolkswagen Vanagon


A great car, but handle with care


Starter motor (replaced twice) ; head gasket blew at 270,000 miles; power-steering system leaks; un-fixable oil-leak (from rear main seal).

General Comments:

Generally I love these cars...I've owned 27 VW buses (including 10 Vanagons). They've saved me thousands of dollars in Motel-fees I would have had to pay if not for the bed in the van. I like the way they handle, and the water-boxer has enough power for me.

A caution: do not add STP (or similar oil-treatment) to a full crankcase: I did and blew out the rear-main oil seal and had to drive on it for a couple days which resulted in damage to the block (I had the seal replaced, but it still leaks oil badly and this cannot be fixed except by an engine replacement).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th January, 2005

25th Jan 2005, 10:26

I would add to this advice: do not use Fram or other aftermarket oil filters, only VW or Bosch brand. The aftermarket filters will allow your oil pressure to drop low enough to trigger the warning light (and buzzer, if equipped).

1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro 2.1 gas from North America

Year of manufacture1987
Engine and transmission 2.1 gas
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 10 / 10
Dealer Service marks 4 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 5 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.8 / 10


At 100k the transmission went south. The transmission was very $$$.

Computer and electrical problems more and more. Just rewired computer and grounds at over $700.00, now works like new. The vehicle now has over 130k engine and still runs like new!

General Comments:

Very functional vehicle. The four wheel drive works better than any sport utility I have ever driven, ie. blazer, explorer, rodeo, trooper and others. More ground clearance, sharper turning, locking diffs make all the difference off road. Only my Land Rover can go farther.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th June, 1998

Average review marks: 4.9 / 10, based on 7 reviews