June 24, 2024

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VW T25 – Key Buying Guide, How to Check For Rust and Rot

The VWT25 is a popular van and camper, partly because it is both larger and cheaper than the older type 2 Splittie and Bay Window campers. It was produced from 1980 to 1991. You will find the same model described as the Volkswagen T3 and Vanagon in the US.

But many VW T25s are more than 20 years old, so it really pays to do your research and look at a number of vans before you buy. Rust and rot can cause problems and be expensive to fix, so take this guide to checking for rust and rot with you when you view.

Ask the owner

If you talk to the owners you’ll get a good feel for the history of the vehicle, how it has been used and what maintenance it gets. Find out how often it is driven. Has it been taken off the road for any length of time? You want to hear that the vehicle is used or  holidayed in regularly. Take your time, look at a number of examples and you will get to know what you can expect for your money.

Take a ladder, torch, magnet and some old clothes. Always test-drive the vehicle and always view in good light in the daytime.

First bodywork check

Now down to the inspection. T 25 vans are all more than 17 years old – so the bodywork is unlikely to be perfect. First check for marks, dents and ripples in the body panels by looking along the sides.

Then use your magnet if you find any suspicious marks or lumps, to tell you how much filler there is under the paintwork. It’s possible the vehicle may have been in a serious accident.

Decide if you can live with some blemishes or you are happy to pay someone to do the work.

Check the seams

Check the body seams – this is important. Most of the rust on VW t25s starts between the body panels, and you’ll see it coming up from under the paint. To do the repair you’ll, need to sandblast out the old sealer between the panels, treat the area and re-paint it.

Also check that all the seams that should be there are there. Sometimes they  have been welded up or filled (use the ‘fridge magnet again) and of course, there may be something nasty lurking underneath.

Another key area to check is the roof. Get on your ladder and look round the roof gutters – they can be another problem area for rust. if there’s a pop-top, check round where it’s attached – this can be a problem too, particularly with less professional and DIY conversions.

Wheel arches

The chassis is very strong and doesn’t often have serious rust problems. But the front steps and the rear wheel arches can be affected, as can the battery tray, so check these carefully. Also check for rust under the front wheel arches. This can cause rust within 30cm of a suspension or seat belt mounting, so it can be an MOT failure and make the VW T25 illegal. Lift the carpets to look at the seat-belt mountings and ensure they are rust free..

Check the fuel tank too as they can rot on the top! There  is a hollow on top designed to fit some model variations which is ideal for catching dirt and damp, then rust sets in.

Check the windows

Take a careful look at the window surrounds as rust here can be a problem and also check the window rubbers for deterioration. They can be replaced quite easily  but are an expensive item. Check for any long-term leaks as these can damage internal fittings such as cupboards or seats as well as providing a home for rust to start and spread. At the front, leaking windscreen rubbers can mean water has been lying in the foot well, so lift the mats to check for rust.

So there you are – a quick but comprehensive guide to checking bodywork and rust when you’re looking to buy a VW T-25 or Vanagon van or camper.