Common Van Faults

Van Mechanic

T here are numerous ways that faults can occur with vans here we focus on some off the common faults and those that can end up being most expensive.

Typically, the faults that we see the most are:

  • Faulty Differentials
  • Broken Cam belts
  • Brake wear or failure
  • Engine emission warning lights (Diagnostic test)
  • Diesel Particulate Filters issues
  • Electrical Control Unit repair
  • Engine ECU software updating
  • Engine problems
  • Gearbox problems/replacement
  • Clutch loss or worn clutch problems
  • Problems with oil pressure
  • Fuel pump problems
  • Problems with fuel injection system

Mechanical Problems

A mechanical fault often strikes unexpectedly and can be difficult to diagnose. Often the symptom can relate to one of several different problems but at Volksmaster we can often pinpoint the cause quickly because of the skill and experience of our technicians.

The Importance of Cam Belt Replacement in Vans

Cambelts are also known as timing belts/chains are an essential component to the running of the van. The belt makes sure that the crankshaft and camshaft are synchronised and that they rotate together at the right time.

A cam belt should be replaced regularly in line with manufacturer’s guidelines. This is often around 50,000-80,000 miles. The failure to replace the cam belt is one of the most common reasons for a van to fail.

Common Cam Belt Problems

A cam belt failure is usually a pretty serious matter: This is why manufacturers always recommend a schedule for replacement and why this recommendation should be followed. Cam belt failure often leads to engine damage in the form of bent valves and damage to the cylinder head. There can also be damage to the cylinder wall and pistons. The main issue with the cam belt failure is not so much the belt but the catastrophic damage it can do to the engine.

The Role DPF (Diesel Particulate Filters) Play in Vans

Over the last 2 decades diesel vehicles have had DPFs fitted to help reduce their emissions. The DPF captures and stores any excess soot and this will need to be burned off (emptied) regularly. The process, known as a “regen”, protects the environment by eliminating the black smoke that we used to see coming from the exhausts on diesel vehicles.

Common DPF Problems

A light will display on the dashboard if the DPF becomes clogged. If the van does a lot of city driving these “regens” will be more frequent as soot doesn’t clear easily on short, slow journeys. Irregular servicing of the DPF is the main source of soot accumulation. If the van is unable to do its own “regen” this is done in a garage with specialist equipment.

The Electronic Control Unit

The Electronic Control Unit (ECU) is essentially the brain of a modern van which controls the functions through computer programming. There are lots of ECUs within a single van which control specific functions like brakes, suspension, transmission and so on. For example, the Engine ECU will make sure that all the parts and sensors in the engine work in harmony to control and manage engine function.

Common ECU Faults on Vans

There are a variety of faults that can occur with ECUs on vans. Some are actually produced with the fault in situ or with an ECU that is likely to develop a fault in time. ECU faults are more irritating than expensive but they can cause issues serious enough to make driving the van a danger.

Common ECU failures which may originate from various modules include power steering, sunroof failure and problems with gauges and instrument panels. In some models the location of the ECU causes problems because of exposure to water or heat.

Commonly found Engine Management Faults

When the amber warning light shows it means that an ECU is notifying the driver that there may be an engine management fault. The most commonly seen engine management faults are listed below.

  • The DPF is blocked: The DPF is sensitive and prone to getting blocked especially if the van is used for start-stop city driving.
  • Emissions faults: The engine management light will show if there are too many noxious emissions coming from the engine. This could be due to a sensor problem, or the van may need some work to reduce emissions.
  • Ignition system faults: The engine management light could come on when the driver starts the engine if there is a fault in the system. Common issues include coil and, in diesel vehicles, glow plug failures.
  • Loose fuel filler cap: The engine management warning light will come on so that the driver can secure the filler cap and maintain the safety of the van.
  • Airflow faults: Airflow problems will make the engine management light show – the usual cause is a blocked air filter which can easily be replaced.

The Role Played by the Gearbox in Vans

As in other vehicles the gearbox acts to change speed and torque and is affected by load and terrain. The gear box may be manual or automatic but they both work in the same way – the conversion of speed to torque. A gearbox controls the van in using forward, neutral and reverse gears. There are usually between 4 and 6 forward gears.

Common Gearbox Faults

There can be a variety of reasons why a gearbox fails but one of the most common is lubrication problems. A lack of gear oil is one reason, or perhaps the oil has been contaminated. If the wrong lubricant is used this will also cause problems. A lack of lubrication means that metal will contact metal causing abrasion damage. A blocked oil filter can cause bearing and gear tooth damage. Other common gearbox problems include leaking oil, loose gears and alignment problems. Automatic gearboxes tend to produce more complex problems that their manual counterpart.

The Importance of Oil Pressure in Vans

If the oil pressure warning light goes on it means there has been a loss of oil pressure and the driver should pull over immediately. This light indicates that it is dangerous to continue to drive on without checking the level with the dipstick.

Oil level may have become low due to a leak, low viscosity, high oil consumption or a worn oil pump. There are a number of other issues that can affect this too. Whatever the cause, the driver needs to take immediate action to avoid catastrophic levels of engine damage and avoid the van being written off because it is beyond economical repair.

Causes of Oil Pressure Problems

These are some of the more common reasons why a driver may experience low oil pressure:

  • Air in the oil – this things the oil and affects oil pressure
  • Blocked oil filter – flow restriction means oil pressure is lowered
  • Dirty oil – Contamination with dirt/grime can cause a drop in pressure
  • Oil leaks – depending on the location an oil leak can cause a drop in oil pressure.
  • Worn engine bearings – these reduce flow to the engine and cause oil pressure to drop.
  • Worn fuel pump – reduces the flow of fuel (and oil) to the engine

What does the Fuel Pump do?

The fuel pump does what it says it does – it pumps the fuel into the cylinders of the engine. The fuel filter prevents any sediment entering the fuel pump. Although it is a simple role, the fuel pump is essential to the efficient running of the van.

Fuel Pump Problems

A blocked fuel pump is often due to wear and tear. The motto here is ‘prevention is better than cure’ so making sure that the fuel filter is regularly replaced is a cheap way of preventing problems. A blocked up filter will allow contaminants through the fuel pump, causing damage and failure.

Tell-tale Signs of a Van with a Damaged Fuel Pump

The signs of a damaged fuel pump are varied. Firstly, the van may fail to start because fuel cannot reach the engine. Another sign is when the engine starts to splutter; the van moves jerkily especially at speed. There is often a loss of power experienced when trying to accelerate. The fuel pump may need to be repaired because of wear and tear where the van will suddenly surge because the amount of fuel being delivered is not regular.

Why are Fuel Injectors Important?

Fuel injectors make sure that the amount of fuel delivered to the engine is smooth and this is assisted by making sure the fuel injectors are kept clean in order to maintain engine performance, improve fuel economy and keep emission levels down. A dirty fuel injector will mean that the amount of fuel reaching the engine is incorrect and cause problems with combustion.

Frequent Fuel Injector Faults

fuel injectors will block over time so cleaning them every 25,000 miles is recommended. This needs to be done more often with vans, in particular diesel vans where a lot of inner-city driving is done. Sometimes the check engine light will come on but unless the diagnostician is very skilled it is very hard to ascertain whether this is due to a failed fuel injector or has some other cause.

Classic Symptoms that Fuel Injector Repairs are Required

There are several ways that the efficiency of the van can be compromised but one of the key signs is the engine misfiring. This problem is obvious and the driver will be more aware of it when accelerating or idling – the van’s engine and revs will be rough and inconsistent in speed. There can also be a loss of power when trying to accelerate.

If you’re experiencing problems with your van the Volksmaster Van Service Centre can help, our technicians specialise in van servicing, repair and problem diagnosis. Our experience ensures diagnosis is accurate and the repair is carried out efficiently. Though no work will be carried out until you the customer have been fully informed of the problem and we get your approval to complete the necessary work to get your van back on the road. You can make a booking now by completing the short form below or give us a call now – 0161 628 5270.

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  • Great service, explained everything. Even washed the van. Recommended *****

    Gary Mc Avatar
    Gary Mc
    01/06/2021

    Great to see the VW experts to work on my Winnebago Rialta which is half VW half Winnebago. First visit source a cambelt from overseas as it was very rare. Today they carried out a full service, MOT, and fitted the broken seat belt. ( Which was a bit of a job). And to top it all cleaned up months of lockdown storage moss. Thank you to the great team.

    Tim Harrison Avatar
    Tim Harrison
    22/04/2021

    Great service. They advised they could book me in on a Thursday after my Audi Q7 had a suspension failure. I dropped the car off on a Tuesday because it was virtually un driveable and by Wednesday they had given me a price and repaired the car.

    I'll be dropping the car off for a full service in the future. Natalie and Nathan were great!

    Frank Griffin Avatar
    Frank Griffin
    17/03/2021
  • Top service, very knowledgeable staff. Definitely go back next time the van needs a service.

    John Nichol Avatar
    John Nichol
    17/03/2021

    I would highly recommend Volksmaster , very knowledgeable and fairly priced, I like the fact that time is taken to explain what any faults are and keep the defective parts to sow you,and that no unnecessary work is carried out without talking to the customer firs.
    Great bunch of lads
    Thanks Volksmaster.

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    stephen cooper
    05/03/2021

    Excellent service from the team especially Nathan who kept me up to date with my GTI and also car mini valleted in the lockdown period.

    Mohammed Imran Avatar
    Mohammed Imran
    03/03/2021
  • Got my CAM and crank correlation faults repaired. Supplied and fitted inlet manifold gasket, valves, magnets, housing and gaskets. Great service and done the job really quick. I had the car back in half a day. Highly recommended top technition Dave & Nathan.

    U J Avatar
    U J
    02/03/2021

    Fantastic service by Nathan and the team. Solved the problems other garages couldn't. Great communication, prompt, conscientious, and pleasant. Don't go anywhere else, whatever make and model your vehicle is.

    Urban Haus Avatar
    Urban Haus
    24/02/2021

    Nathan’s expertise and customer service is second to none! The team are fast and don’t mess about with getting your car safely back on the road.

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    Marcus m
    22/02/2021
  • I can not recommend Nathan @ Volksmaster van centre Oldham enough, bloody excellent service.

    Excellent customer service, amazing knowledge, shares what he knows to help me understandable make an informed decision.
    He understands that if my truck is off the road I am not earning so he fits my sporadic availability in to suit me not him.. this is so helpful.

    If there were more stars they would get them..

    I would advise anyone to completely dismiss VW Manchester van centre and go for Volksmaster, they are just better all round and totally honest with you unlike VW Manchester.

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    Andy Carson
    05/10/2020

    Great service everytime, very helpful and friendly, well recommended 👍

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    Tom Ford
    27/08/2020

    Great service everytime, very helpful and friendly, well recommended 👍

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    A Google User
    27/08/2020
  • It was not easy to find a garage I could trust. To know what they are doing and be honest about what needs to be done. I know a fair amount about car mechanics, so Im not easily fooled and can identify a con-merchant. If the garage takes the time to fully explain what is wrong with your car and how they will fix it, and does not mind you asking questions, then its a fair sign that they can be trusted. I have been taking both my VW van and Golf there for almost 2 years. I am very happy with their work.

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    A Google User
    03/07/2020

    It was not easy to find a garage I could trust. To know what they are doing and be honest about what needs to be done. I know a fair amount about car mechanics, so Im not easily fooled and can identify a con-merchant. If the garage takes the time to fully explain what is wrong with your car and how they will fix it, and does not mind you asking questions, then its a fair sign that they can be trusted. I have been taking both my VW van and Golf there for almost 2 years. I am very happy with their work.

    Rula Safi Avatar
    Rula Safi
    03/07/2020

    Always a pleasure booking the car in highly recommend nathan and the lads do an amazing job the receptionist is lovely always willing to go the extra mile for there customers. I really wouldn't go anywhere else thanks again. Always on time very professional

    Jordan Clancy Avatar
    Jordan Clancy
    30/06/2020
  • Always a pleasure booking the car in highly recommend nathan and the lads do an amazing job the receptionist is lovely always willing to go the extra mile for there customers. I really wouldn't go anywhere else thanks again. Always on time very professional

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    A Google User
    30/06/2020

    Hi this garage was the best find I have ever had,I own a 2005 VW td5 Caravelle which I use daily as I have mobility problems so this van is my legs and has to be in good order. Nathan at Volksmaster helped me greatly with a problem the van had with loss of coolant that wasn't leaking to the outside of the car .They found water in the oil and diagnosed a water pump problem and after several oil and filter changes the replacement water pump had worked a treat.After a test drive wheel bearings and drop links also replaced and a noise that I had thought had been rattling side bars was sorted. Nathan & Callum helped me with there knowledge and advice and it was a pleasure to do business with them I have now decided after this top drawer service to keep my Caravelle at Volksmaster.Thank you Volksmaster

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    Fraser Bardsley
    09/06/2020

    positive review great friendly service, will recommend to all 👍

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    Tom Ford
    04/03/2020
  • Volksmaster have looked after my Touareg for the past three years and have done a great job servicing and MOT'ing it - their work is always to a high standard and at a great price. Recommend them to anyone.

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    Anthony Boggiano
    03/03/2020

    positive review Always got me out of the sh#t when my T4s been sick x

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    Eric van der Steen
    02/03/2020

    Took my Audi in for airbag ECU coding . Quick sound lads had a good chat couldnt recomend them enough will be back. Cheers lads

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    Marc Ellis
    08/02/2020
  • Having had a long recurring issue with my VW California i was recommend to Volksmaster Van Centre Oldham.
    Fantastic, professional service from start to finish.
    From booking in and being kept up to date by Stacy, to the explanation of the issue and how they resolved it by Nathan.
    Would highly recommend all the team at Volksmaster.

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    Andy Entwistle
    06/02/2020

    I had quite a bad central locking fault on my Caddy, which was a real pain for me. Volksmaster did a cracking job to find and fix the fault and went above and beyond in all their service. Very friendly and knowledgeable staff also. Cracking job and service from Volksmaster, would highly recommend.

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    Steven Drew
    14/01/2020

    Friendly and quick service. They did my cam belt change no problem. Have used this place before and they are 100% reliable. Car was also cleaned inside and out.Thanks very much guys!

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    Clare Hirst
    23/11/2019
  • All good, efficient and professional as usual

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    Mark Stockton
    20/11/2019

    Great job and good guys. Excellent.

    Phil Popland Avatar
    Phil Popland
    13/04/2019

    Really impressed with the service, fixed my window and were really good at keeping me in the loop with all work done. Van came back cleaned inside and out. Mega! Thanks guys.

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    David Eckersall
    05/04/2019
  • Really impressed with the service, fixed my window and were really good at keeping me in the loop with all work done. Van came back cleaned inside and out. Mega! Thanks guys.

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    David Eckersall
    05/04/2019

    Great garage good lads know what they're doing when it comes to volkswagen's

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    18/03/2019

    Great garage good lads know what they're doing when it comes to volkswagen's

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    Sum Nxt Manc
    18/03/2019

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