1989 Volkswagen Vanagon Reviews

1989 Volkswagen Vanagon GL Westfalia 2.1 Digifant from North America

Model year1989
Year of manufacture1989
First year of ownership2005
Most recent year of ownership2007
Engine and transmission 2.1 Digifant Manual
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 10 / 10
Dealer Service marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
9.0 / 10
Distance when acquired136000 miles
Most recent distance160000 miles
Previous carJeep Cherokee

Summary:

I absolutely love this van and will keep it for many more miles

Faults:

Replaced worn CV joints at 136,200 miles.

Replaced a cracked coolant stack at 137,017 miles.

Replaced speedometer cable at 137,017 miles.

Replace rear brake shoes at 137,017 miles.

Replaced water pump at 148,371 miles.

Replaced rear heater core at 151,607 miles.

Replaced front brake pads at 151,601 miles.

Replaced spark plugs, distributor cap, rotor, spark plug wires and fuel filter at 153,324 miles.

Replaced propane tank for stove and fridge at 155,147 miles.

Replaced pop top tent with a more water and UV resistant acrylic material at 155,147 miles.

Air conditioner serviced at 155,147 miles.

Refrigerator service at 155,147 miles.

General Comments:

This is my first VW Vanagon. It is a Westfalia full camper and would recommend this vehicle for someone looking for a very versatile and reliable daily driver.

It is very economical to operate. I get 19 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. That is US gallons.

I repair and replace parts as needed by a local shop very knowledgeable with VWs, especially vanagons. As with any vehicle, it is very important to address any problems and correct them ASAP.

The last year of production was 1991, but parts are still readily available from VW dealers, internet stores and individuals. There is a huge following for these vans.

I just love my van! I look for excuses to go anywhere just to drive it. There is no other vehicle like it on the planet.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th July, 2007

1989 Volkswagen Vanagon GL 2.1 Gas from North America

Model year1989
Year of manufacture1989
First year of ownership1998
Most recent year of ownership2004
Engine and transmission 2.1 Gas Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 10 / 10
Dealer Service marks 6 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 2 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.0 / 10
Distance when acquired89000 miles
Most recent distance137000 miles
Previous carTriumph TR6

Summary:

Hard to find a replacement..

Faults:

In the last year, a lot, new water pump, which may have caused the heads to go, which have led to a complete engine rebuild, and now I understand the ECU is not working, another 500-1000 dollars, It has not run for nearly a year because of bad mechanics and unfulfilled promises, however, the light at the end of the tunnel is, I think, nearing. Hopefully, she will be back on the road in a week or???...

General Comments:

Sadly, I am most in love with this vehicle, it is great for hauling my samples, dogs, wife, tools, building materials, the beach I love driving it more than my sportscar and almost as much as my motorcycle, maybe more. She is my fourth VW Van, second Vanagon, I can't find anything that will haul more, few problems, but less than my 16 year old boy, if I felt there was anything better to replace it, I probably would, but at the moment I've yet to find it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 30th October, 2004

6th Apr 2005, 22:13

Nothing better? There is the Toyota Van '84-'89

It even kind of looks like the vanagon, but is cheaper, more reliable, more powerful, and more fun!!!

And, the 4wd versions are real 4wd, not full-time syncro like the Vanagon.

4th Jun 2008, 20:29

This is in response to the earlier comment about the '84-'89 Toyota vans being "better" than the Volkswagen Vanagon. I respectfully, yet completely disagree!

The Toyota van (and ALSO the Nissan van of the late 1980's), although it imitates the Vanagon's wedge/box look only has ONE edge/advantage over the Vanagon, as far as its stock engine (getting slightly better gas mileage: Toyota= approx. 18mpg vs. Vanagon's 16mpg, reliability, and higher top speed). However, it is NOTHING like a Vanagon. Show me any 1984-1989 Toyota van that you can haul the amount and/or size of cargo in it, or has pop-top second floor/bed, not to mention the beds, cabinets, space, or all-around utility.

Nowadays, you can upgrade a Vanagon to a Subaru 2.2. liter engine in it; it is completely superior to a Toyota van in EVERY category, from fuel efficiency, reliability, etc.. Comparing the '84-'89 Toyota van to a Vanagon is like comparing a regular station wagon to a Vanagon. You can't stand up inside a Toyota- you CAN in a Vanagon, and almost can (hunched over) inside even the solid/flat roof Vanagon. The 1984-89 Toyota van IS nice, and I DID actually look into buying one... but compared to a Vanagon, even with both the 2nd & 3rd bench seats removed, it wasn't much roomier than a large station wagon with its seats down.

9th Feb 2009, 18:00

This is regarding the Toyota vs Volkswagen comments. My parents have a 1986 Vanagon Camper and I have a 1984 Toyota van. Their van does 22 mpg and my Toyota van does between 24-28 mpg, depending if its highway or city. They too have had the trans fluid leaking into the engine problem (or vice versa, or both).

Another unfortunate problem is the oil dripping onto the exhaust manifold, causing clouds of black smoke pouring out of the engine. The Volkswagen is actually pretty reliable, but only because my parents can afford to fix it.

I like them both, but I think this is more of a class based argument rather than anything to do with what is more reliable. I have yet to see someone in the uplands with a Toyota van or Ford Aerostar. Good luck.

21st Mar 2014, 22:34

I have a 1989 Syncro with a Subaru 2.2 conversion. I have driven a Vanagon with the original Wasserboxer motor, and can say with great conviction that the engine swap is the only way to go.

I have room for my four children and all the stuff you can load into it, and have not found a comparable vehicle that can match the versatility it possesses.

I shopped around for a long time before I made the choice, and could not be more pleased with it. I use it as my daily driver, and have had no issues aside from normal maintenance.

It is a matter of preference, and affordability.

I do most of the repairs myself, due to the simplicity of design. I cannot see most Toyota owners making the same claim.

It is a time tested vehicle to say the least!

Average review marks: 7.7 / 10, based on 4 reviews