BIG QUESTIONS ANSWERED

1) Are the original VW campers still being made?

Indeed, Brazil still manufactures the T2c, a hybrid of the ‘Bay’ which is, to all intents and purposes, as near as damn it to the original iconic van. These are manufactured mainly for the American and European export market.  To deal with the Brazilian emission legislation of 2006, Brazil introduced a new water cooled engine in 2005. Specialists believe that the last T2c will leave its factory in 2012, when new laws insist upon ABS and airbag protection.

2) What are the best safety belts for the VW camper van?

This is a difficult question, because different VW vans have different fastening points, and it is important to identify where your fasten points are.  If a quarter rock ‘n roll bed is in position, then you will only be able to attach a 3 point seat belt to one seat.  Therefore, if you require two 3 point belts, you will have to have a full length rock ‘n roll bed.  Besides that, there are alternative safety belts for older children placed in booster seats, in the guise of harness belts.  However, before attempting to secure any safety belt in your van, it is always recommended that you seek professional advice on the purchase and installation, preferably directly from the manufacturer. 

3) Why is my stereo draining my battery?

Modern in-car media systems have a memory and this memory will constantly drain your battery.  A simple solution is to use a solar panel recharger; this gadget will drip feed your battery during the day, restoring its power.

4) Do I need special VW camper insurancecamper

Please see our article on camper insurance.

5) Tin top, pop-top or high-top?

Only you can answer that question.  The tin top is just that, no additional head room or storage room; it is just the van’s roof.  In its favour the tin top retains an attractive appearance and does not have height restrictions like the following two types of roofs.  The pop-top can offer additional space and storage, enabling you to sleep more people in the van.  Pop-tops also have their advantages. For example, mostly there is not a significant increase in height when the roof is down, thus you are not vulnerable to height restrictions.  Also, depending on the pop-top, you can have up to six sleeping in the van.  Disadvantages are that some pop-tops do not age well and will eventually rot, tear and let in water, if not maintained.  Furthermore, the mechanism used to push the roof up can cause problems; the roofs can also be drafty.  High-tops on the other hand offer you good head room, additional storage, and you do not have to pop them up or worry about rust or difficult mechanisms.  However, depending upon the height, they can be caught by crosswinds while driving; they are restricted by their height in car parks and, to be frank, some are just not that attractive.  So, in summary, the decision is yours: you just have to identify what is your priority, the required storage, sleeping space or attractiveness of the van.

6) What is the difference between an air cooled and water cooled camper?

A water cooled engine circulates water around the head and cylinders.  In water cooled VW campers the radiator is at the front of the vehicle; the water has to travel up and down the van to keep the engine cool.  Therefore it is very important to keep the water cooled VW topped up with anti-freeze.  Unlike the normal front positioned engine, the water cooled VW camper van has to transfer the water over a longer distance, making it more vulnerable to freezing.  An air cooled engine uses air to cool the cylinders and head; as can be expected, there is an  additional noise as the air is created and channelled to the engine. 

7) Should I put in a chemical toilet?

There is a lot to be said for having a toilet available in the van.  However, you must consider space and whether you are happy using a chemical toilet.  According to many, if the toilet is correctly used and cleaned, there is no smell. If, on the other hand, it is incorrectly used, it can really smell.  No only do you have to consider the smell but also the space. Are you content to cook, eat and sleep next to your toilet?  By the way, keep in mind that these toilets are rather big.

8) What is the average mileage of a VW camper van?

Between 18-20 mpg.

8)What are the available models?

Type 2 split screen 1950-1968

Type 2 bay window 1968-1979

Type 25 or Type 3 (Europe) 1979-1990

Type 4 1990-2004

Type 5 2004 – to present day.

9) What are the differences between the Type 2 conversions?

The Westfalia can be identified by a full length fibre glass roof with a hinge at the front or rear which pops up at an angle exposing canvas walls.  The Devon conversion has a fibre glass roof which can be popped up in the middle allowing for two bunks to be used.  For those wanting to sleep a crowd, the Viking was designed and constructed to sleep up to six people, with a roof opening sideways offering ample space for sleeping - designed to overhang the side of the van.  The Danbury conversion supplied a number of different roofs, including a central pop-up and side opening roof all with bunks.  Finally the Dormobile supplied a side hinged roof with roof air vents and windows with canvas bellows.  All the conversions mentioned apart from Westfalia were UK based, which would explain why there is such a diversity in the UK and not in America where the vans were and still are primary imported from Germany or Brazil.

10) What fire protection should I use?

You must always be extremely careful of fire in VW camper vans.  Therefore, it is always advisable to make sure the seats are made from fire retardant foam and upholstery.  Insulation must also carry the fire retardant symbol; fire extinguishers have to be up-to-date and fire blankets in easy reach.  It is also advisable to work out a suit plan of evacuation; go through it with all the passengers and make sure that it works.  Furthermore, make sure that all the fuses are correctly fitted and that, when using a hook up, all the wires are clean and show no signs of damage.

11 )Is it worth getting an awning?

Awnings are great for extra storage. They will keep your camping plot, if the campsite does not have an allocated plot policy.  They are easy to put up and really pleasant camping spaces.  Awnings are affordable: brand new ranging from £150 - £300. You could also opt for the used e-bay buy; just be sure you get all the poles.  But if you are the camper who just wants to pull up, hook up, put a bucket under the waste pipe, then don’t bother.  You must remember that, after a rain shower, you have to wait for it to dry, or pack it damp and dry it as soon as you get home.  You will also have to store it in transit.  Some VW campers have built in small awnings which pull out from the side. These however need to be fitted properly and can be expensive.