VW Transporter T4 Problems: Are They Reliable?

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The VW Transporter dates back to the 1950s with the T4 being the fourth-generation model produced from 1996 to 2003. It originally came with a 1.9-litre engine and then in 1999, a 2.5-litre engine was introduced.

When asking about VW transporter T4 problems and whether they are reliable you just need to take note of how many you still see on the road in the UK. The large number of T4s still travelling about suggests that they are one of the most reliable vans on the road.

One downside of them is that the VW parts are expensive so when they do go wrong it will cost you more money. You can expect to spend around £1000 a year on routine maintenance to ensure that your van stays on the road.

Are VW Transporter T4s reliable?

Whilst there are some common VW transporter T4 problems, they are considered to be very reliable if they are kept maintained. You will see that this means they have held their value and they do well on the second-hand market. You will often see T4 vans still going at 200,000 miles.

VW Transporter T4s have an excellent reputation with owners, and they make a good second-hand purchase if you can see a good service history.

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VW Transporter T4 Common Problems

It isn’t surprising that you will find some common VW Transporter T4 problems since there are so many still in circulation. Built to general van standards you will find that they were designed to do a high mileage in a short space of time meaning that once they have been on the road for longer you will experience some common issues due to wear and tear.

VW Transporter T4 Gearbox Problems

The T4 gearboxes are considered to be generally robust however it is common for owners to report problems with their gearbox whether it is changing between second and third, going into fifth or even reverse gear.

Many of the issues stem from worn bolts that can lead to leakage and gear failure. Often replacing the balls and socket will solve the problem economically.

VW Transporter T4 Automatic Gearbox Problems

Owners of automatic VW Transporter T4s often become aware of the dreaded torque converter lock-up clutch. Replacing the whole gearbox is a costly business and you can expect quotes of up to £3000.

The good news is that a new gearbox may not be required. You can try getting a new torque converter fitted or even start by installing a cooler and putting in top grade new gearbox fluid.

VW Transporter T4 Central Locking Problems

As well as the usual wiring problems that cause central locking problems there is a common issue on VW Transporter T4s where the car locks itself when the driver door is slammed.

This problem is caused by a spring that is located in the driver locking mechanism. It appears that it will deteriorate, and break causing the lock rods to drop and lock all the doors. Replacing the tiny spring will solve the problem.

VW Transporter T4 2.5 TDi Starting Problems

Intermittent starting issues particularly on a cold start are common VW Transporter T4 problems. The obvious things to change are the injectors which may have timing problems, the relays and the temp sensor but if that doesn’t work then many owners have discovered that it is air in the fuel pipes. Get them changed and the starting problems should be resolved.

VW Transporter T4 Clutch Problems

Clutch problems on the VW Transporter T4 often present as pedal issues. Often on these models, the bracket suffers from weld breaks that cause a problem. Replacing the whole clutch is a costly business so it is worth working through the individual parts. If the bracket looks ok then you can try bleeding the system to remove airlocks and changing the slave cylinder. If none of these solutions work, then you may need to look at the master cylinder.

The 2.5TDi models suffer the most significantly with clutch problems as they have a dual-mass flywheel as well as a higher BHP output than the 1.9’s, thus putting more wear and tear on the clutch.

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VW Transporter T4 Fuel Gauge Problems

The fuel gauges on the T4 often suffer from solder joints breaking on the clocks. To fix the problem you need to look for the voltage regulator on the outside of the clock where the screws on the clock housing plug into the board. The six solder points often need redoing. Another common problem is with the fuel level float/sender unit. This is located under the passenger seat.

VW Transporter T4 Starting Problems

The three main areas to consider when looking at starting problems on the VW Transporter T4 are the earth strap, solenoid or ignition switch. Replacing the relay is a relatively simple job and that will solve the problem of hearing a single click but the motor not starting. Just like the TDi version it can also be a case of eliminating air in the fuel pump.

VW Transporter T4 Turbo Problems

Turbo failure is a frustrating problem as it leads to operating in limp mode and losing power. Unfortunately, this is often only fixed by replacing the turbo as it can be impossible for a garage to identify the individual failure. One thing worth trying is replacing the mass airflow sensor to see if that solves the problem.

How many miles can a VW Transporter T4 last?

It is easy to see by looking around at models for sale that the VW Transporter T4 can easily last until 200,000 miles. You will even find some robust models that have survived to 500,000 miles. They are not without problems, but the robust engines are built to survive, and a good service history should ensure that issues have been taken care of quickly without major damage being incurred.

It’s worth remembering that whilst VW has built these vans well, the parts can be expensive to source and repairs can rack up large bills.