Tips for Checking Bodywork
Do your research
The VWT25 is still a popular van and the camper model is larger and cheaper than the older type 2 splittie and bay window campers.
The T25 was produced from 1980 to 1991 and you will find the same model described as the Volkswagen T3 and Vanagon in the US. The water-cooled engine replaced the air-cooled engines in 1982.
It pays to do your research and look at a number of vans before you buy. This guide to checking the bodywork is worth taking with you when you view.
Talk to the owner
If you talk to the owners you’ll get a feel for how the vehicle has been used and maintained. Find out how often it has been used and when. You want to hear that the vehicle is used every day or (if it’s a camper) holidayed in regularly. Take your time 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 15+ 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.
The 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 and a more rigorous inspection may be sensible.
Decide if you can live with minor imperfections or you are happy to pay to get the work done.
Check the seams
Check the body seams. Most rust on VW T25s can be found between the body panels, bubbling up under the paint. The only way to do the repair is by sandblasting out the old sealer between the panels, treating the area and re-painting.
Also check that all the seams that should be there are there. Some owners may have had them welded up or filled (use the ‘fridge magnet again) and this may be hiding something.
Get on your ladder and check the roof gutters – they can be another problem area.
The chassis is very strong and rarely suffers from serious rust problems, apart from the front steps and the rear wheel arches and 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. Lift carpets to check seat-belt mountings are sound.
Check the fuel tank too as they can rot on the top! They catch dirt and damp then rust in the hollow on top designed to fit some model variations.
Check the windows
Check window surrounds as rust here can be a problem and look closely at window rubbers that have deteriorated with age. They are not a problem to replace but they expensive to buy. Leaking windscreen rubbers can cause water to lie 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 van or camper.