Category Archives: Eurovan

Engines, Mechanics, And Eurovan Brains – Oh My…

Anyone traveling along with us on this journey, might remember last year around this time, we were having some problems with Dear Ms. Keevan abruptly dying on us in inconvenient locations after heavy rainstorms. At least it seemed to happen after the rains, and it was nice to blame it on Something!

One time she died going up a hill. She just quit. No sputtering or grumblings to warn us.  The other time was at a stop sign, again with no warnings.

Both times, because of very inconvenient locations and less than superb settings, we had to have her towed. Both times it was a Saturday or Sunday. You do know there are VERY FEW if any garages open on weekends, right?

Both times by the time Monday morning came around, she started up again. Both times we spent copious amounts of money trouble-shooting the issue. Oh my, it’s so difficult to troubleshoot issues that disappear when threatened with wrenches and power tools!

It seemed like something was shorting out after getting wet. But we could never find anything either shorted out or wet.

So why bring all this up now??? 

Because not one, but a few different people have asked us what we did to fix the problem. Seems Ms. Keevan is not the only 95 Eurovan that prefers sunnier weather.

It’s so simple and crazy, but the most practical and immediate remedy seemed to be the fact that we started covering up her brain (that main computer component that controls all her signals, aka the ECU / ECM) with a plastic bag inside the engine compartment whenever a big rain was forecast. Don’t laugh!!! It worked! If we didn’t do this, she would jump around unhappily in the mornings, like she didn’t want to get going.

There were other issues along the way.

When a person lives in their vehicle, when a person drives that vehicle every single day, when its pressed to go 40,000 miles, when it goes between sea level and 12,000 feet in elevation, over mountain passes and down gravel roads, when that vehicle has now over 200,000 miles on it’s engine…there are always Other Issues.

We’ve replaced the air filter and fuel filter, changed the oil, changed out the spark plugs and wires, put in a new distributer cap and rotor, …all the normal stuff.

Then we put in a new motor mount, after one of our mechanics noticed one was broken. This definitely helped the van to run smoother and shift better.  We replaced the oxygen sensor. We tried to replace the EGR valve, but can’t find one that fits, so Fred took out the old one, and cleaned it up – it was badly clogged with carbon. He submersed it in boiling water with tongs for a few minutes, then dropped it in a can of cold water, then repeated this procedure again a few more times, and finally blew out any remaining loose material left over. We replaced two water temperature sensors, and a coolant temperature sensor. (Who knew there were so many sensors?) We replaced the EGR solenoid, which we neglected back when we cleaned the EGR valve up. We cleaned up the throttle, (which was very very dirty, and plugged with lots of carbons), we replaced some fuses, including one that went to the ECU. And finally, we cleaned up all the contacts on the infamous ECU, some of them being slightly corroded and rusty. A Volkswagen dealer at one point told us we needed a new $1,000,00 brain. *Never take a Volkswagen to a Volkswagen dealer, if possible.

I have to add in here, that once this last round of work was done, and the van was actually running fantastic, we were on the way home and the headlights went out. Honest! Somehow a wire had gotten torn loose! That one was an easier fix!

For those of you driving older VW Vanagons with the engines in the back. OK, please quit laughing now. We know, we know. They are easy to work on. These Eurovans, on the other hand, with the bigger more powerful engine in the front, which actually go up hills without pushing, and having their engines in front, therefore putting a little space between you and the highway and other high speed cruising vehicles, making you feel a bit safer, are notorious for being fickle to work on. Especially famous for being fickle is the 95 Eurovan with the 5 cylinder Audi engine, which is what Ms. Keevan is draped in. Mechanics love them and mechanics hate them.

Did I say mechanics?

Speaking of mechanics…if you can find a good one, hang on to them, don’t let them go away, offer to take them along for the trip, tie them on top, bake them cakes, do whatever possible to keep them around. Bad mechanics are easy to come by, good ones, not so much.

So what actually fixed our Rainy Day Problem?

Not sure. This is just what we did. It seems like a lot of work and expense. But this is our home. Just like a brick and mortar home, we have to keep it up, and we want it to be reliable. It’s where we sleep, eat, read, work on this blog, and so many other home type jobs.

Most importantly, during this process, we’ve cleaned up some of our other ongoing issues, especially the van running rough, it having too fast of an idle, it running too rich, and getting poor gas mileage. The running rich and bad mileage thing was due to among other things, a little lesser know  EGR valve solenoid, which was making the EGR valve become stuck open, causing too much fuel to be burned, thus the poor gas mileage, and the reason our engine light was coming on and off. When that solenoid was replaced, life got a whole lot better!

Whew! Hopefully we can get back to more pretty pictures and hidden away travel destinations soon. In the meantime, I hope this can help others trying to make sense of complicated Eurovan diagnostics!

We’d love to hear if any of the above tricks has helped anyone else in solving their problems.






Eurovan Woes…Again…

There we were, cruising down the road after a couple lovely weeks on the coast.

Up the hill, and uh…what the heck. She died. Again.

This is the same thing that happened when we first got back to Santa Cruz, right in the middle of an intersection. This time, we have to coast backwards, downhill, to a place where we can halfway safely pull off the road.

She won’t start up again. Battery’s o.k. Starter is o.k. Fuel lines are o.k.

She just won’t start. And it’s raining. Again. It was a hard and heavy and windy forceful full onslaught of rain hitting the front end on the van all night. So much so, the canvas tent was wet along the seams. On the inside!

Hours of not being able to get her going, we call for yet another tow. Number 3 in 4 months. Not a good record. Luckily we’re now into a new year, so our Geico free tow limit starts over again.




We take her to our good friends at German Auto again, in San Luis Obispo.

There she sits overnight. And wouldn’t you know it, she starts up fine the next morning.

Something is getting wet, somewhere, and something seems to be shorting out, somehow, and we nor the German Auto guys, nor the Volkswagon folks back in Santa Cruz can figure it out. And yes, both times, it’s happened on, yep, that’s right, a Saturday. Saturdays – you know are the days, when all good mechanics don’t work.

So by the time anyone smarter than us, can take a look at her, she’s dried herself off, and is behaving perfectly and very well mannered.

Frustrating. YES. But Miss Keevan, we still love you. Even if it means we are stuck someplace till yonder sunshine gleams down and brings forth light to our “Eurovan Adventures.” We’re sticking in there with her.

But we have made a few threats! Just so she knows.




On another front, we had to make another quick trip back to Santa Cruz, for some appointments, and for Fred to officially sign up for his old age fountain of youth, well deserved, social security retirement.

We are planning to squeeze in another trek down to Arizona, for a couple of months, before coming back to this city yet again, and finally – for the event of the year!

The event of the year? That would be the wedding of our most beautiful and loving, cherished daughter, and her most wonderful and handsome, totally awesome, soon to be husband.




Hope to be posting from down the desert roads again soon!

Holiday Cheer – Van Style




Who says you can’t decorate 70 square feet?

One simple strand of battery LED lights go a long way inside this tiny house, and adds an incredible amount of cheerful bright light.

We are back in Santa Cruz, spending this time of year with our family and friends, while taking a short break, house and kitty sitting for dear friends for a few weeks.

We wish everyone out there in Blogland a very happy Holiday Season however you happen to spend it.

Looking forward to more adventures to share in 2015…

Enjoy the journey.             ❧

Unexpected Holiday Gift


Slo town, USA…Volkswagon Mecca.




Driving or walking along the streets of San Luis Obispo, one cannot help but notice Volkswagon busses, bugs, and campers of all sorts and all ages parked in driveways on every street in every neighborhood.

Not only are they parked all over the place, but they are in prime condition – shiny, clean, loaded, and with pride written all over their smiley faces. I have a hunch the VW owners in this town, not only love their vehicles, but that they engage in a bit of classic car competition around here.

It’s not surprising really, since this is also the land of Go Westy, the notoriously famous Volkswagon Vanagon and Eurovan parts, gear, and toy provider, and notably the most famous and complete VW  camper van restoration folks in the U.S.

We had to pay them a visit, which provided us with loads of fun, checking out all the different vans and being treated royally to a private tour of the back, where old loved vans, are reborn from the bottom up to morph into like brand new camper vans and weekender vans after complete restoration work.




We’re about to head up to Santa Cruz, but the van won’t let us.

It’s pinging and knocking. We fear the worse, that it’s the engine, but really we think it’s mechanical issues stemming from the driveaxle that was replaced  back in Tucson, which I wrote about here. We’re so close to home, but don’t want to take this ailing van up crazy curvy highway 1 along the coast in this rainy weather.

We have to get it checked out again. Geico…Hello…Are you home???

Not really, as it take us a day and a half to get a response from the good ole insurance company, and get an ok to have someone  take a another look at the work done by the Tucson mechanics.

The first shop we go to tells us to just drive it on to Santa Cruz, the second place Geico sent us, said there was no problem. Everything looked fine they told us.

We try heading out of town again, but the grumbling unhappy noise still insists we don’t go too far, so we decide to have it checked out this time on our own by a real garage, a european auto repair garage.

Another very long story, another week long wait, but these european mechanic folks know their business. It seems that the Tucson mechanic improperly installed the drive axle with too long of bolts, causing the loose axle to beat the heck out of the transmission case, shredding it to smithereens.

So now we not only needed another new axle again, but in addition we needed an entire new transaxle replaced!

Which leads to the fact that Go Westy, remember, just a few miles away, happens to have a shelf full of rebuilt Eurovan transmission/transaxles that are not only rebuilt, but rebuilt with cooling components much better than the original trannies.

And that folks, is our unexpected Holiday Gift!

We now have an almost brand new vehicle, stronger than ever, and raring to go, with a new left axle, the new entire transaxle, more new ball joints, and  a new oil seal, to stop a small leak we had, all thanks to the poor workmanship in Arizona, the fantastic workmanship here in San Luis Obispo by Jim, Tucker, Taylor, and crew,  and our insurance company who stood behind the warranty.

Not a penny out of our pockets was spent.

Arizona may be a horrible place to break down, but seriously we couldn’t ask for a better place than San Luis Obispo to break down a second time, this land full of fantastic mechanics and more volkswagon parts than one could spend a week dreaming about.

The best customer service, the best mechanics, and the place everyone goes back to is German Auto of San Luis Obispo.

We’re pretty proud of Ms. Keevan for putting up with all of this. And we’re all very happy to be back together again!

We’re homeward bound.