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Volkswagen Eurovan DIY Tips

ClairesClaires Chicago areaPosts: 1,222
This is the place to share tips for performing your own maintenance and repairs on your Eurovan.


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  • I had some strange electrical symptoms: the brake light in the instrument cluster stayed on even though the parking brake had been released. Along with this the headlights would not come on and the climate control system didn't work. Thanks to this message board someone had a trick posted: try to turn the ignition key to the start position after the car is already started. This worked for a while. Eventually I had to hold the key and apply a clockwise torque to it to keep the symptom from reappearing. This wasn't going to work so I called the guy at EuroParts in San Diego and he said the ignition switch is a high failure item and that they were less then $10! Being a doit yourselfer and a former electronics tech and now engineer I figured, no problem, change the ignition switch. Ha! It was very challenging. There is a phillips screw that holds the switch in. With virtually no access for tools. Without going into all the contortionistic and extension tools attempts I made to remove this screw I finally got it out by heating a small (#1) phillips screw driver shaft red hot with my propane torch and then bent the tip of the screwdriver to just the right angle to get around behind the shy screw. turning the screw no more than 90 degrees at a time I got it out. Replacement of the screw involves creative use of chewing gum. The operation was successful, my electrical problem is solved!
    This forum is great!
  • Sounds like your the man for ideas on the Eurovan...I have a 03 GLS, just changed out my front brake pads and rotors, I bought official VW parts, did the work myself, problem is the idiot light warning me of front brake pads worn did not go out after the change. Just wondering if you had any ideas before I take it back to the dealer to get "robbed"...
  • Actually I do have an idea for you. The warning light for the brake pads is triggered by a wire that runs through all four brake pads. If that wire is broken any where, or disconncted any where along its long route through the car the light will stay on. The sensor works when the pads wear out they open the circuit.
  • So what its looking like than, since I have already changed all four front pads, is that I have a broken wire somewhere from where it connects by the calipers to the computer?? Wow it looks like I will be going to the dealer to get hosed. Thanks for the speedy reply...
  • cquigleycquigley Posts: 1
    I have a 2001 Eurovan GLS. I had the same problem with the brake light. It's been on now for about two years. Even the dealer told us they couldn't get it to go off. It must be a wire, like someone else said. I guess we'll eventually look for it and see if we can fix it.
  • Two Years!!! I can't handle that damn warning light and tone everytime I start the van, enough is enough. I am taking the van to the dealer next week since it still is under warranty, even though I changed the brakes myself, they said they will look at the light and try to fix it. My bet is they are going to tell me its faulty wiring and for some reason or not I will have to pay for something. Other than this brake issue everything else about my 03 van has been great. I will let you know next week what the dealer found out...until then.....
  • Just an update for anyone who listens. As for my brake warning light that wont extinquish even after changing the front brake pads, which by the way is what the owners manual says it is, when warning light comes on, it indicates FRONT brake pads are worn. Well I just got back from the dealer, and he tells me that the back pads are worn too!!! I say "so what", that doesn't explain why my warning light is still on. They tell me that the back pads have the same warning wiring imbeded in the pads, so when the pads wear to that limit, they ground out too, just like the front. So take warning Eurovan owners, the manual is not CORRECT!!! Looks like I will be changing my back pads this weekend.....
  • uj53uj53 Posts: 4
    Just how good are these VR6 motors? I have read a lot of good reports on these motors. Any info appreciated Hopefully, uj
  • uj53uj53 Posts: 4
  • uj53uj53 Posts: 4
    At 65000 miles it appears I still have the original shocks I understand Bilsein is the best But they are very pricey. Is there a good shock out there at a decent price?
    hopefully uj
  • salbrusalbru Posts: 1
    Hi. I have a 2002 Eurovan Weekender MV in Seattle. I've never driven the van in snow and wonder if anyone can share their experiences with snow driving in a reselling the vehicle and have had prospective buyers ask about what to expect in snow. Insights, please?
  • Hi, well you probably sold your Van already. But, it's a great vehicle on snow. I was driving my weekender with all season and with winter tires. There is no problem at all. Great traction and handling. The advantage is a heavy 6 cylinder engine in the front, on a FWD vehicle.
  • There are not that many options, check out
    Download the Eurovan parts list and search for the "Shock Absorber Guide" at the end of the parts list.
  • I'm having the same issue with my 2002 Eurovan weekender. Started with brake light on at all times even with parking brake off also my AC went out. I took it in to dealer they first said it a relay switch waited 2 days for part and $200 later, now they say it's not that its ignition switch and for parts and labor it will be $460. Can you Please tell me where this switch is located on my van and did you have a manual or is there anywhere I can veiw it. I would very much appreciate it!
    Thanks you
  • I am unable to down shift into a lower gear using the shifter on our automatic transmission. It will only go into drive, park and reverse. This is a 2002 VW Eurovan Weekender with 32k miles on it. Any ideas?
  • I feel very comfortable driving in snow with my Eurovan, but up on Mt Hood, by Poertland, OR traction devices are required and they will stop you. Does anyone know of a traction device for the eurovan?
  • The locks on my 2002 Eurovan have gone spastic. It automatically locks and unlocks repeatedly, finally stopping in the locked position. Mechanics cannot get the passenger side door unlocked to open it so they can't get the panel off. We can manage to hold the lock up long enough to get in and out of the driver's side. This happened years ago on our 1990 Vanagon, but I don't know how the dealer fixed it. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to approach fixing this?
  • Could anyone give me tech details on removing the ignition key lock cyliner on my 95 Eurovan? Do I need to drill a hole to release the old one? If so, where exactly does the hole need to be drilled and what size drill bit should I use? Thanks.
  • Well, maybe you have solved this problem by now.
    I'm assuming you're pushing the button to down shift, the eurovan transmission actually locks the shifter when pushing the button to down shift. So don't, and just shift down. Why it is different than other manufacturers transmissions, I don't know.
  • fbrawsr0fbrawsr0 Posts: 16
    I have a 2003 Eurovan, that needs a new ignition switch, what are the websites where I can find instructions for DIY on how to replace the switch.
  • I made you a quick instruction sheet.

  • fbrawsr0fbrawsr0 Posts: 16
    I could not open the document. Please try again,
  • Try again

  • tryondantryondan Posts: 2
    Thanks so much. Can't wait to try it.
  • fbrawsr0fbrawsr0 Posts: 16
    A great big thanks to weekender3 for the instructions, I followed your directions but chickened out at the last minute, I got scared after seeing the wires I would have to pull out to get to the switch. Instead took it to Sunset Motors (VW) in Sunset Beach on PCH in CA close by. Hector the owner, did a good job and am pleased with the service, unlike others he took on the job and was all done within 5 hours promptly and he knew what to do, cost me $200.
  • Oh boy, 200 bucks!
    There is only the plug to disconnect for the switch, thats all.
    It took me 30 minutes to do it, and I'm not a mechanic.
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,092
    Would you mind posting this as a guide on CarSpace? I think it would be very helpful to many and easier to find when doing a search.
  • didachedidache Posts: 1
    Hello. My 2001 Eurovan (70k) will not always go into reverse. There is no grinding, it simply does not engage. After pressing the accelerator repeatedly (revving), it will kind of "jump" into reverse suddenly. At first I believed this happened primarily when the vehicle was cold (sitting over night); but now it is happening most of the time. I've read that the 2000-2003 Eurovans have had transmission probs. Anyone have any thoughts as to some simple things to check first before making the decision to spend big $$?
  • Okay, I posted it in the guide section.
  • robhaharobhaha Posts: 2
    My 2002 had a slow shift problem at 35k. VW replaced it after trying everything else first. It was a 5k job but done under warranty. It went out again at 105k and this time there was only an aftermarket warranty that had a lifetime limit almost met. VW said they don't repair, only replace for 6k. AAMCO did a rebuild for 4300 but I think they broke the clock spring by letting the steering column spin around freely while the rack and pinion was down. I can't prove it. You could get a used car warranty easily with those miles and then in a month or two, make a claim. Good Luck. Rob
  • linomanlinoman Posts: 1
    Hi, I have an 1992 EuroVan and I have backdoor problems.
    I simply can not open it to replace the latch. The panel is alresdy off so I could reach most of it from the inside. HELP. I use the van for work so it is a little abused but I still call it my baby. :)
  • sbaussiesbaussie Posts: 5
    Wonderful thing the Internet. Typed in eurovan ignition switch and found your comments. Cant open the instruction sheet. Anybody have it out there . appreciate any response.
  • weekender3weekender3 Posts: 15
    I have posted the instructions here:
    If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.
    JB :)
  • I have a '92 Eurovan with a 5 speed manual. Typically, when engaging reverse, you put the shift lever into neutral, move it to the left until it stops, push down vertically on the stick, move it further left and then up into reverse. However, today when I was in traffic, I put the van into what I thought was 1st gear but began to move backwards. When I got home I verified that I no longer had to push down vertically to engage reverse. Simply moving the stick to the left and pushing up engages reverse. Reverse is where it should be (as I can't shift into anything if I pull the stick back), and it shifts into the other 5 gears normally. It is just a little hard finding 1st when you're used to moving the stick forward once you meet resistance on the left.

    Is this a bad thing? Is it something that needs to/can be fixed? Does this phenomenon have a specific name? Any input would be greatly appreciated.
  • larvalarva Posts: 2
    My Eurovan makes an awful clunking sound when I accelerate. It gets worse as time goes by, but when my husband and I take it apart to try to find the problem (haven't diagnosed it yet) and put it back together the noise goes away for a few days. And then it comes back again... worse. It sounds like something is loose? and hitting another piece of metal? am I imagning things or is the left front tire wobbly now? The noise is so bad I'm afraid to drive it. And it's my daily drive for me and my four kids. Please help! Any ideas are welcome!
  • I looked at your sequence of pictures to replace the ignition switch on my 2001 and I have a bolted cover plate on the bottom of the steering column. How do I take it off so I can get at the ignition switch? I see four nuts across the bottom section. If I take those off will it come out?
  • No, the nuts will not remove the plate. On the left side (door side) you will see a cover plate, made in the same material as the console. Push the two plastic pins in, so you can remove this cover. now you will see two bolts, remove them. On the other side, you will find the same bolt from underneath, (look up from underneath) just loosen this bolt, as it might be difficult to get it out. Now you should be able to turn the plate downwards to get access.

    Good luck!
  • I wish Id read this post before I did the switch switch as I pried the plastic cover off. Apart from that the job is pretty easy. A bit of a contortionist act to get to the switch but doable. To get the set screw at the back of the switch out. I used one of those offset srewdrivers (two ends are at 90 degree to main axis) . I had to grind a little of the corner to get it in there but after that it took about 4 minutes to swap the swich. Turned the key and PERFECTO.
    Now I have to fix the power locks. Any else having problems with them. Already swapped out the lock Actuator on the drivers side but it didnt fix the problem.
    problem is you push he door lock button on the key and all the locks close (except drivers) then open up again immediately.
    any ideas appreciated
  • Same problem but more interesting . When the door locks go spastic I just turn off the radio it stops the door locks misbehaivour? .Ive pulled out the door lock actuator on the drivers side (that doesn't respond to key remote). It is fine . tested it with a 12 V source and it goes up and down no problems.. If operated manually( when connected) all the other locks respond to it ie. open and close to match drivers side.
    Someone suggested frayed bad wires in the loom where they go through from the door to the chassis, Mine look fine??
    did you get any answers??
    Im toying with the idea of writing to VW as I know this is a common problem.
    You can just pull fuse # 11 on the bottom row to get manual control back
  • I have a 1983 Vanagon GL, however it is probably the same problem I had. I had to have my shifter rod that runs the length of the Vanagon back to the transmission from the shifter replaced. There are dogears on that rod and over time they wear down and let it shift right into reverse. If you find that this is the problem..... I can tell you who would probably have the part brand new. You can reach me at [email protected] :shades:
  • I'm having problems with the passenger's door latch on my 2001 Eurovan sometimes sticking and not engaging. I'm trying to get the door panel off to look inside and see what's happening, and it doesn't easily snap off. Suggestions on how to remove the door panel would be appreciated, as well as any advice on what might be causing the latch problem. It manifests as if the lock has not disengaged. The handle pulls out freely but the latch doesn't open.

  • Anyone have any diy tips on how to replace the front turn signal bulbs? Seems that the front headlamp needs to come out to get to the turn lamps, but wanted to make sure that was the path required. Thanks.
  • Hello,
    I am having difficulty removing the ignition lock cylinder. The symptom we are experiencing is the key will turn, but the car will not start. It seems to not be able to make a connection. When you pull the key out the electrical systems stay on in the dash board, like the battery light, and other warning lights which stay on when the car is not running. I have taken the steering wheel covers off, but the screws that need to be removed to replace the cylinder are specialty 3 pronged heads which a phillips will not fit.
    I have also disconnected the battery so as not to run it down.
    Thank you,
  • Your problem seems to be the ignition switch and not the ignition lock cylinder. the switch is located on the backside of the ignition lock cylinder.
    Go here for more information on how to change it.
    Ignition switch replacement

    Good luck :)
  • Hello,
    Thank you for your response and guidance. Just to make sure I understand it is your suggestion to start with the ignition switch first? The symptom we are experiencing with the ignition is it will not start the van (of course), when we pull the key out the dash lights stay on, and there is no feeling any longer of resistance when turning the key.
    Your pictures are extremely helpful and if I am to do the replacement, do I need to take the steering wheel off, or other parts of the dash?
    Thank you very much.
  • I have an 01 Eurovan MV and have been folowing the group under autos and they have a very active group of knowledgeable owners and mechanics. The Ign switch is often the source of just what you are experiencing as wellas other. The switch is avail. from one of the site members much less $ than dealer and should only run $10-12. There are also photos in their archives detailing the switch replacement which is not difficult, however it requires a bent small screwdriver ( or allen) which you can make. Hope this helps. I've learned much about the quirks and loyalty of both the vans and their interesting owners and devotees. Bryan C.
  • You likely have this fixed by now but I don't often get to this site. The EV's often have wiring that parts or breaks at the flex joint where the door and the front door post meet. It is an easy repair to just crimp or solder an extra length when repairing the break. This is a common problem and affects door locks, etc. ev-update site at Yahoo groups has very active of owners and mechanics who are so patient with us shadetree DIY types. Look up the site and the wealth of info.. Enjoy your EV.
  • Just follow the instructions I gave you. The pictures are of an older model. On the 2002 model you will have to remove the knee panel below the steering wheel. You will find a plastic cover on the door side. there is a pin, that you will have to push in to remove it. There you will find bolts M8 13mm wrench, take those out. on the other side you will find the same bolts. remove the top one and try to losen the lower one. The lower one is hard to remove, so just slide it down, so you get axcess to release the plug that is connected to the switch.
    If you don't feel resistance in the ignition lock, it can be the lock too. hard to diagnose over the net. But the switch is around 10 bucks, so start with the cheapest part. If the lock cylinder is worn, you probably won't be able to replace it yourself. As you will need the proper cylinder, that can only be purchased trough the dealership (Anti theft device reasons) plus you will need special tools. Normally the cylinder can be set to your key, so you won't have a different key to start your car. Had to do this on my rear hatch, as someone tried to brake in an broke the lock.
    Good luck :)
  • I had the same problem in my 92 Eurovan. The only real fix for it is to replace the automatic transmission with a manual conversion. Really. The automatics in these vans are - and let's not be coy about it - shite. I bought my Eurovan a month ago, had it certified and was driving it to the Ministry of Transport when the transmission gave up the ghost at a stop light. It's currently being converted to a 5-speed.

    Check out your local paper for cheap Eurovans or Transporters with manual gearboxes for sale. It may seem like an expensive option but putting another crap automatic is just flushing your money down the loo.
  • stebsstebs Posts: 1
    My 2002 eurovan has a brake booster which seems to be leaking pressure. Takes a few minutes to get brake power built up. I understand I should be able to do it myself unless the brake cylinder needs replacing too. Any suggestions out there?
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