When considering the purchase of a VW T5, it is highly recommended to conduct thorough research on the most prevalent problems commonly encountered with the vehicle. So let us take a look at VW T5 Transporter common issues. This knowledge will empower you to identify potential concerns when exploring various options in the market.
The majority of problems observed in the VW T5 are also applicable to the VW Transporter T5.1, as the facelift changes introduced were minimal and did not significantly impact the underlying issues.
This comprehensive guide presents a detailed compilation of reported problems that have arisen throughout the years with VW Transporter T5 models. It is important to note that while some problems occur more frequently than others, they do not necessarily overshadow the overall reliability of the VW T5.
It is worth highlighting that the VW T5 has been available in the market since 2003 and is rapidly approaching nearly two decades since its launch. Many T5 models currently on the roads in the UK have already surpassed the 200,000-mile mark.
Therefore, it is crucial to remember that this guide, outlining potential VW Transporter T5 problems, should not discourage you from owning one. The VW T5 has established a reputation for its high reliability and remains a commendable choice for prospective owners.
You may also enjoy reading the article on How many miles will a Transporter do? which has service interval information for the T5.
VW T5 dual mass flywheel problems
This is one of the most common vw transporter VW T5 issues and affects almost every T5 at some point in its life (often more than once).
To identify a problem listen out for a rattle on the engine on idle, this can be fairly subtle at first but gradually builds the further the part is worn. Other symptoms can sound like a slight misfire or slight stutter when you are pulling away. Raise the clutch slowly in first gear and feel out for an unexpected judder.
Cost to replace VW T5 dual mass flywheel clutch
To give you an idea of a replacement dual mass flywheel clutch at a reputable garage you should expect to pay somewhere between £600 and £800. Unfortunately it is a very similar job to that on a T4 and will require the engine to be dropped from the engine bay in order to get to the clutch to replace!
You would think VW would make it a simple job but unfortunately not the case.
It is a fairly time-consuming job to replace the clutch as it is not an easy part to get to in the engine bay. The part itself is only in the region of £280 up to £400 depending on model (Check price of specific part on eBay below)
EGR valve failure on the VW T5
Other VW Transporter T5 problems unfortunately involve the EGR. This problem has not been addressed for the later T6 models also. A sticky or dirty EGR valve can trigger the engine management light so is usually quite easy to spot that there is a problem.
With it being a known fault it is fairly common for this part to be replaced/serviced free of charge by VW on new models under warranty. If you are outside of warranty however you are likely going to have to fund the repair yourself.
You can read more on the EGR repair process here on the VW T6 guide here
To view the cost of a replacement EGR valve for your model of VW T5 have a look on eBay below to give you a rough idea of budget.
VW T5 Drive Shafts
On medium to high mileage examples on the VW T5 it is fairly common for drive shaft failure.
The main cause of this is water ingress around the seal of the offside shaft where it exits the gear box. The shaft is a “push fit” with no rubber seal. A relatively poor design that allows water and rust to build up and eventual failure of the shaft.
Cost to replace drive shaft on a VW T5
The parts for a new drive shaft can be quite dear and a full repair at a reputable garage is somewhere in the region of £500 to £600 but should only take 2 to 3 hours maximum. Most of the cost is for the parts itself. You can view prices for the parts on Amazon below.
In terms of identifying the problem early, there is often a “clunk” on pull away when the clutch is lifted indicating some play.
Other than this there isn’t much of a give away when driving the vehicle. If you are looking to buy a T5 it is worth asking if the job has been done on higher mileage examples.
VW T5 2.5 Water pump failure
It is reasonably common for water pump failure on the 2.5 litre model VW T5’s. It is less common to see failure on the 1.9 as pumps should be routinely changed at 60,000 intervals (or every 4-5 years) alongside the cambelt.
If your 2.5 has had the 100,000 mile major service you should have had the freewheel and elastic drive coupling replaced. If that has been done recently then it is quite likely you will get the water pump changed at the same time.
Those that haven’t had a replacement pump as part of a service can find that the seals leak over time.
When the seals leak it usually dumps coolant into the engine oil (making it look like a failed head gasket) which is bad news if you don’t spot it early. Running low on coolant frequently would be an indication of early failure.
Other issues with the pump can be caused by bearing failure which then dumps coolant out of the overflow towards the rear of the engine.
Again, your coolant level light should light up on the dash to give you a bit of warning. Ignore the low coolant light at your peril as your engine will eventually overheat and fail.
View cost of water pump on Amazon below
Central locking issues
On older higher mileage T5’s it is fairly common to hear of electrical problems that cause the central locking to play up.
This isn’t a terribly hard job to sort your self and if you find one with issues on the locking if you take a look at the electrical connections that sit under the drivers seat – it is worth checking them for corrosion.
A good clean of all of the electrical connectors with a wire brush/electrical cleaner can sort the problem so don’t let this put you off too much.
ABS warning light problems
If the ABS warning light is showing on your VW T5 it can be something as simple as the rear wheel speed sensor playing up which are very cheap and straight forward to fix.
Another common cause which is a little more annoying is water ingress on the wiring loom causing corrosion/poor connection of the senor connection. The most common area to be affected by this is where the loom enters the van on the rear near side of the vehicle.
Often the problem gets misdiagnosed by garages who go straight to replacing your sensor when it could have been repaired with a little bit of electrical contact cleaner/replacement connection.
VW T5 Transporter common issues – rust areas
The good news is that the VW T5 is not as prone to rust as the VW T4 thanks to a better layer of protection and thicker metal in the areas prone. However, there are still a few areas to watch out for on the T5 and it is best to catch it early to avoid costly welding further on down the line.
A good bit of preventative maintenance is to whip off the inner plastic arch liners (front and rear) periodically, and clear away any crud built up behind them. They tend to trap dirt and grime over time which then holds moisture next to the metal.
Over time the rust can take hold in this area particularly on the front arches next to the door posts and can affect right the way up to the strut lowers. If caught early you can wire brush it clean and lather on a good thick coat of rust inhibitor + top it with a decent quality paint.
VW T5 rust on barn doors
Another area to watch out for rust is on the barn door models of T5. The paint cracks over time and the rust tends to take hold along the bottom of the doors. There isn’t much that can be done to avoid this other than rust inhibitor and paint when it starts to show early signs.
Is the VW T5 Reliable?
Yes, the VW T5 is reputed to be one of the most reliable vans on the road and it is frequent to see well maintained T5’s reaching over 250,000 miles (and even higher).
The common problems documented here are minimal considering the model is now approaching 20 years of age.
If you are looking to purchase a VW T5 the most important areas to focus on are the flywheels, EGR valve issues and drive shaft signs of wear.
Ideally buy a T5 that has had it’s periodic 60k or 100k major service and check that the water pump was changed at the same time/recently.
As with all vehicles, the more service history you can see, the safer the bet that it is a good example that has been cared for.
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