Lessons Learned: 1987 VW Vanagon

“Maui” Our 1987 VW Vanagon


I am currently sitting in the back of my 1987 Vanagon as I wait for Lindsey to show up. I love working out of the vans, as you may have seen in a recent Instagram post. They are one of my happy places and have created so many great memories for our family. They can also be a point of stress and lead to elevated blood pressure. This is one of those cases because in addition to waiting for Lindsey I am also waiting for AAA to show up and tow my van.

As I was just about to get off the freeway my van started making a horrible buzzing sound which I recently learned is an oil pressure warning. In addition to the buzzing sound and a flashing read light smoke begin to billow out of the back. I quickly pulled over to asses the situation and found fluid, I think coolant, but I am qualified in no way to diagnose any car problems, pouring out and a belt dangling out of the engine. Now I am no mechanic, but I think it is a bad sign!

Instead of dwelling on the fact that this is going to cost me some coin and a bunch of time I’m going to try and learn from the situation.

Lesson #1 – If you are going to have a junky unreliable vehicle GET AAA! I have paid for my membership multiple times just with towing and as an added perk we often get discounts when traveling.

Lesson #2 – If you are not a mechanic an old vehicle is going to cost you! I have close to no skills when it comes to working on a car so any time something goes wrong I either pay up or get help from some great friends.

Lesson #3 – I may as well have bought a boat! Boats from my past experiences are holes you throw money into. I have historically been good about staying out of those money draining situation but as it turns out old VW Vans are just as bad. I have fell into the trap once again. I justify it to myself as it is our family toy but no matter how I frame it this van is a financial bleeder.

Lesson #4 – Know what you are buying! This particular van, named Maui, was purchased sight unseen in San Diego and me and my buddy flew down and drove it back. It was an awesome trip and we made it with only minor issues, but the van is less then cherry and had I seen it before flying south I may not have gone for it.

Lesson #5 – Life is short so enjoy the ride. As illogical, financially stupid, and stressful this van has been it is still a blast to drive, a great place to sleep, and a useful office when driving is no longer an option!

I will report back on whether Maui and I’s relationship continues or if I move her on to more capable hands.


3 thoughts on “Lessons Learned: 1987 VW Vanagon

  1. […] shiny objects are being involved in too many things and VW vans that break down all the time, see Lessons Learned: 1987 VW Vanagon. For you I’m sure it is something else. The point is, are those shiny objects really what’s […]


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