1986 Volkswagen Vanagon Overview


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Have you driven a 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon?

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Average User Score

3.45 stars

Based on 5 reviews

Great For Burning Man by huertat
 — It's been a real good van, just need something smaller. Kids have grown and going off to college. I just drive it back and forth to work. It's been real realiable, i know someone can have some real f... Read More
Vw Westy by jennyfromPNW
 — Bought to be used as an occasional vehicle and it is great when used for that. We did use it as a primary vehicle for a short time and it was not ideal. Modified it a bit over time to include head-res... Read More
You Need To Be Familiar With All Aspects Of Vw Maintenance Or Great Vw Mechanic by Brian
 — 1986 AWD Sycro Versatile, 4wd great for touring, camping, hauling kayaks or lumbar. Weak brakes, takes inclines in 3rd gear no power on high end. Cost plenty to maintain due to age and lack of avail... Read More

1986 Volkswagen Vanagon Overview

Overall User Score

3.4 out of 5 stars3.4 out of 5 stars3.4 out of 5 stars3.4 out of 5 stars3.4 out of 5 stars3.45

Based on 5 reviews

1986 Volkswagen Vanagon

Several features distinguish the 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon from previous models. Perhaps the most significant upgrade was a more powerful engine. Starting in 1986 and continuing through the end of its U.S. run in 1991, the Vanagon was equipped with a 2.1-liter water-cooled four-cylinder engine that generated 95 horsepower, up from 83 horsepower the previous year. The engine used an updated fuel-injection system called the Digifant.

A four-speed manual transmission was standard, while a three-speed automatic was optional. The rear-wheel-drive vehicle was also equipped with rack and pinion steering, power-assisted brakes, and front and rear independent suspension.

The '86 Vanagon also came with rectangular rather than round headlights, which distinguished the late-'80s models from the early-'80s versions. And from 1986 on, the Vanagon came with an optional air conditioner that was significantly improved over earlier versions.

The Vanagon was available in a number of different trim packages, including the standard Vanagon L, the higher-end GL, the Vanagon Camper, and the GL Camper. A limited-edition Wolfsburg Edition was also available in mid-1986.

Standard features included front bucket seats, leatherette upholstery, carpeting, tinted glass, a rear window defogger, and a padded instrument panel. The Vanagon GL added deluxe front seats and  velour upholstery, among other features. Synchro all-wheel-drive was also available on certain models.

While drivers appreciated the Vanagon's flexibility and functionality, many also noted that it often needed expensive repairs. The manual transmission and cylinder heads in particular were noted by drivers as commonly needing repairs.


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Looking for a Used Vanagon in your area?
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Volkswagen Vanagon Questions


Where Is The Headlight Relay Located For A Westfalia, Vanagon, 1986. Thank...

65 views with 1 answer (last answer 5 months ago)

Wiring Diagram Or Tech Advice For Radiator Fan Wiring On 86 Westy Weekender...

This is for a 1986 Westy Weekender, 2.1L auto. Need wiring diagram or help with radiator fan wiring. The connector has 3 wires going in to 3 adjacent spade lugs, but inside the connector boot the two...

126 views with 5 answers (last answer 6 months ago)

Water Level And Battery Condition Display Panel In Westfalia

Water level and battery condition display lights not working properly.

60 views with 2 answers (last answer 6 months ago)

1. Is A 1986 Vanagon Watercooled? Inline? How Can I Find Bhp?

45 views with 2 answers (last answer 8 months ago)

Two Fuel Filters?

I am replacing the fuel filter on a 1986 VW Vanagon GL and I notice that there is a white plastic box in the fuel line before the main fuel filter. I have been told that some Vanagons have two fuel ...

535 views with 3 answers (last answer 2 years ago)