vw vans

Buying a VW Bus can be stressful. Finding the right one takes a lot of time and patience. It’s important to be aware of the common VW Bus problems to look out for when you’re shopping. Common VW Bus problems usually depend on what model of the VW bus you decide to go with. Every year has its own issues that may be a little different. This article covers the common problems with all buses you need to check before signing that title.

Things to think about first

Classic VW Buses cost a pretty penny and still need some serious renovations. You’ll need to budget not only what the VW Bus is being sold for but also for the maintenance that will be needed to make your bus a safe and well-running home. Small issues that don’t seem like they would be much to fix might end up costing you way more, and issues that seem huge might not be such a big deal.

Before buying a VW Bus, you also need to think about how much you’re willing to learn to do the work yourself. Labor costs are high, so if you’re able to learn small things to work on your bus it’ll save you a lot in the long run. Your bus will have its problems down the road, so if you’re traveling it’s best to know how to fix the small stuff. It’s also a great idea to keep up on VW Bus forums and connect with others that are living the Buslife. Buslifers is a great place to connect with others who have dealt with all kinds of VW Bus problems of their own.

A great tip for when you a buying a VW Bus is to bring along a mechanic who knows their stuff about buses. It might cost you a little more upfront to have a mechanic come with you, but it will be totally worth it later on down the line.

Before buying a VW Bus check for body dents and rust spots

In most cases, dents and rust spots are way more expensive to fix than mechanical issues. Check the floorboards of the bus for any rusted out spots. Go to each wheel arch and examine the inside of each one. Go along the body of the entire bus. Surface rust is usually ok, but rust spots that have created a hole can be hard and expensive to fix. Watch out for rust that is spreading. Make sure there are no huge dents that would require that part of the bus to be replaced. Bodywork is costly and sometimes it’s hard to find the right person to work on a VW Bus. Before buying a VW Bus, it might be helpful to find a good local welder who you can trust to help you on your project.

Before buying a VW Bus check for a tired clutch

Make sure all your gears work on your test drive. VW Buses don’t have the smoothest of gear changes, but they should never fall out of gear or whine. Cables are also known to snap, so check the gearbox and make sure everything looks in good shape. If a new clutch needs to be installed it can be a big job, but not a serious one. If the body of the VW Bus looks great and it just needs a new clutch you should consider looking into fixing it yourself or paying someone to do it. It’s not an end all be all.

Also check for oil leaks

This one seems obvious but many people overlook leaks. Always check the oil level and around where the bus is parked. Check after your test drive also to see if there are any leaks. If you don’t know much about engines at all try to bring someone with you who does. Ask them to check all the levels and around the actual engine for worn out seals or other issues. If you spot parts of the engine that are unusually dirty, this suggests that oil might have been leaking there at some point.

It is also good to check the water tank to see if oil is mixed with the water and check for oil tank for water too. If either appear to have the other in it, this can suggest a really big problem such as a broken head gasket or something worse. The water system and oil system should never be mixing.

Always check the brakes

Brakes definitely shouldn’t be a deal-breaker and are also one of those things that are easy to learn if you’re up for it. However, you want to make sure the brakes aren’t making the bus veer off to one side when pressing down on them during your test drive. You also want to make sure the brake pedal isn’t going all the way down to the ground. That might mean there is a leak in the brake fluid system and it might be a harder fix than anticipated.

Inside the VW Bus check the headlining condition

The interior of your new VW Bus is important too. Hopefully the owners that are selling the bus have taken the best care possible of it. The good news is that you’re probably wanting to gut it anyway and create a whole new space inside. However, some things are more expensive to replace than others. The headlining is important to check out. Check for tears and rips that are too big to fix and might cause you to have to replace the entire thing. Headlining is expensive, so look into how much it would be to replace it if it looks like you might have to.

These are just a few common problems you need to look out for when buying a VW Bus. The major decisions are what you want to put money into and what you’d rather avoid. If you find a bus with an amazing exterior, hardly any rust and no dents you should really think about purchasing it even if it has some engine issues. A good body on a VW Bus isn’t always easy to find and it’s the most expensive to fix up. Small engine issues, old brakes and a new clutch are things to be aware of but know that they can be fixed.

You have probably already considered it, but before you think about buying a VW Bus you might want to first ask yourself the question, is Buslife for you? We created this article to help you answer that question, so be sure to check it out.

Did you already by your dream bus? What other common issues would you suggest to keep an eye out for? Let us know in the comments!

Ashley Tesluck
Author: Ashley Tesluck

1 Comment
  1. Lisa Doran 1 year ago

    Hi!
    I think another common bus issue to look for, (mine was hidden)
    The front windshield lip…. they ROT out, and its not only going to cost me BUT it’s a real bummer of a job.
    I LOOOOOVE my bus Larry BUT I made mistakes when I drove 11 hours to pick it up.
    It wouldn’t start, SOOOOO ! I wasn’t able to drive it.
    Oh God that would have probably stopped from leaving with it.
    I did however get more money off of the asking price, but when I got him back to Massachusetts and my mechanic
    I spent almost 6k getting him road ready.

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