Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 17:30:20 -0700
Reply-To: BRENT CHRISTENSEN <bchristensen@INFOGENESIS.COM>
Sender: Vanagon Mailing List <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: BRENT CHRISTENSEN <bchristensen@INFOGENESIS.COM>
Subject: Re: vanagon suspension
You have asked a highly subjective question, but here's my stab at it:
My Syncro is my first vanagon, but I had a '72 Microbus in college. Vans
like these take getting used to because you are sitting right on top of the
front wheels. As a result, you notice a couple of things:
1. Every bump and hump, no matter how mild, is converted into a movement
right into your butt.
2. When going over a rise or through a dip, you're looking right into the
road surface at some point due to your proximity to the front of the
vehicle, and the proximity of the wheels to the front of the vehicle. This
takes getting used to.
3. You're driving a big, empty steel box on wheels without a lot of
insulation, so sounds tend to get bounced around a lot inside the van,
including the droning road noise.
That being said, I think that shocks seem to be the most overlooked aspect
of Vanagons by DPO's, based on the amount of time we spend talking about
them here on the list. :-)
I'm going to go out on a limb here, but IMHO the stock (OEM or dealer)
shocks on a Vanagon (or just about any other vehicle for that matter) are
pretty much useless after about 50,000 miles. The problem is that they fade
gradually, and the driver (DPO) becomes accustomed to the bouncy ride and
the occasional bottoming out over time. It is also something that people
rarely think of checking (like the oil or tires). I would bet that every
single used car with over 50,000 miles that I have bought in the last 20
years needed shocks when I bought it.
One way to be sure if you need shocks is to look at them:
1. Do they have evidence of oil leaking from them? (You will see dark
stains on the stone covers and mounting points, often covered with a layer
of road dust).
2. Are the rubber bump stops shiny? If so, the van has been bottoming out
and the bumpers have been making contact, thus getting shiny. (There will
be a corresponding shiny spot where they contact the frame/control arm,
3. Does the car recover quickly from a big dip, or do you get that "hebby
chebby" effect? (Bouncing up and down several times before recovering). If
your Vanagon is acting like a lowered '58 Impala in East LA on Saturday
night, chances are your shocks' valving is shot, or the oil has leaked out.
4. Finally, look at the mounting points. Are they intact? Is the rubber
there supple, or is it all crispy and falling away. (This is a common cause
of the "banging" that people always talk about - the rubber bushing
deteriorates to the point where the shock eye is making direct contact with
the mounting pin on full travel).
Probably more than you wanted to know, but I hope it helps point you in the
right direction. If you need shocks, take heart in the fact that you have a
2wd Vanagon, and have lots of options for shocks. I am awaiting the
delivery of my new special-ordered, list-purchased-from-Australia Old Man
Emu shocks, which even at about 35% off retail, still cost $500 for four of
them! (I think KYB's are about $25 each for a 2 wd Vanagon!)
Cheers and happy Vanagoning,
'89 GL Syncro Westy
Santa Barbara, CA
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Vanagon Mailing List [mailto:vanagon@GERRY.VANAGON.COM]On Behalf
> Of Larry Bissell
> Sent: Thursday, April 06, 2000 12:57 AM
> To: vanagon@GERRY.VANAGON.COM
> Subject: vanagon suspension
> I just bought a '87 WFE [116k miles]. It rides a little rough on the
> city streets here in San Luis Obispo...is this normal?
> At what mileage do the shocks and/or springs of the vanagons need
> replacing? [normal highway and city driving....no offroad]
> LL Bissell