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Volkswagen Transporter T4 (1994-2003)

Volkswagen Transporter T4 (1994-2003)

4.2 from 14 reviews

Best of a great bunch

I bought a T4 three years ago with 300K kilometres on the clock. It is the 5 cyl 2.5litre petrol converted to dual fuel ( since new) . It has just ticked over 400K and is still purring. I have driven VW vans my whole life and consider this particular model to be virtually bullet proof...Bruce

Engine Size2.5L
Date PurchasedJan 2015

Reliable. Fuel efficient.

Reliability excellent
Cost of parts can be high
Extremely fuel efficient
Cheap to run
Bought at 100000 I’ve done 150000 more and only replaced tyres, brakes and clutch.
Good amount of space and carrying capacity
Few jiggly things like door handles failing, otherwise can’t failt it........it’s 15 years old

Engine Size2.5L Turbo
Date PurchasedFeb 2011

Nearly as reliable as a swiss watch or a swiss .....

Correction: Date purchased is April 1995.
Well, where to start, if you ever need a car / van you can count on and go were you need to go with whatever you need to take with you, the VW T4 is the tool. It belongs to motoring history in terms of transporting goods and people, like the Land Rover Defender to Africa.
Learn to listen to your car as it will tell you what it will need. Keep your oil levels correct and check when ever you refill your car, and this car is unstoppable. In nearly 25 years and over 600 000km everything is still original, except the usual replacement parts. There are little things which are easy fixed and I have learned to attend to it by myself. It is soooo simple.
I learnt unfortunately that most VW dealers here in Australia don't have or don't understand the German philosophy.
That is the only let down of VW in Australia

Badge2.0L Van customised April 1994
Engine Size2.0L
Date PurchasedApr 1998

Brilliant Van 2.5TDI

My first VW Transporter and extremely impressed with the same.
Bought it off a friend at 416000km and ran very well although a few things did not work.
Air con needed a new compressor, hood lining needed re gluing, heater temp selector needed repairing and the drivers sunvisor needed replacing as would no longer stay up.
All really minor issues that have now all been fixed.
The van regularly returns around 6.2 l/100 in hilly driving and is just so reliable.
It is always regularly serviced using quality products and oil.
It handles very well, steers well and of course rides very well.
Of course being a Transporter it is a bit noisy inside especially when empty.
Even with approx 1.5 tonne of tiles on board (above recommended max load) it handles it all so well.
Recently had a huge drop in power, surmising that the turbo had given up I installed a new one and cleaned out the EGR unit and still sweet to drive but with still no power. It was frustrating trying to find an experienced mechanic to advise on same.
Finally I checked the Catalytic Converter and found that it was well and truly more than half blocked.
Drilled out the ceramic honeycomb and took the van for a run.
Totally different van and spins very easily to 4000rpm through the gears.
Huge amount of torque even in 5 gear. So much so that seldom do I need to change back to 4th gear to overtake another vehicle, even on a hill.
Yes very impressed with this van which has now just ticked over 432000km.
I have several friends lining up to purchase the same and even the original owner who now has a T5 petrol!
However, it simply is not for sale.

BadgeTrNsporter TDI
Engine Size2.5L Turbo
Date PurchasedNov 2015

Cheapest car I've ever had

I bought my manual 2.5 litre petrol 96 t4 at the end of 2012 on ebay for $4000 AUD. It had just over 200k on it and was being sold by an old German guy who was the second owner. I'm guessing that he looked after it because in all it's been a very reliable car. I got it for $5000 AUD under the RACV agreed value which I thought was strange, but then I noticed that it sometimes had trouble selecting 2nd gear. Long story short, it turned out to be one of the gear selector bushes which was an easy fix but I'm guessing that the previous owner let it go cheap because he thought that it was going to need a new gearbox soon.
In the time that I've had it I've done around 150k in it and it has only broken down on me 3 times. The first time was when I cracked the oil cooler casing by driving it up a huge mountain and then parking it in the snow. It lost a bunch of oil but thankfully I had the smarts to get it towed to the mechanics and get a new part fitted rather than trying to drive it there and seizing the whole deal. Second time was when I burnt out the rotor button which was an easy fix, and third time it was the ignition coil which again was an easy fix on the side of the road.
I'm not sure whether I've just been extremely lucky but this is the toughest car I've ever owned. I've driven it all over Australia and even up to the tip of Cape York and back on roads that are supposed to be 4wd only. The height of it has meant that I've been able to take it places that most of my other cars never would have gotten to. Also, I find that I get around 10/11 litres per 100 k's using 95 ron, and even better if I use 98. However, the fuel economy does go downhill once it gets up around the 100 kph mark and above.
On the negative side, the thing I that I dislike most about it is the lack of power. I normally don't have it loaded up that much but I find that I have to go through the gears a lot on back roads and up hills. Also, it's quite an old van now so the handling isn't great. The other annoying thing is that the instrument panel crapped out at around 270k's so I got it replaced with a working second hand one which is now starting to crap out as well.
I've had my t4 for a long time now and am seriously thinking about trading it in on something else just for a change. Realistically though I can't see myself getting a better value car than this has been over the years. It's been such a reliable and versatile car. I use it for work in construction as well as for travelling so it has paid for itself 5 times over. If it died tomorrow I couldn't fault it because I've already gotten far more than my money's worth out of it. I've been looking at getting a t6 but they're still up around 30k for a decent one. I figure that I might as well just keep driving it until it dies and find out how many k's it will do.

Engine Size2.5L
Date PurchasedDec 2012

You need to ask more questions

Handling of this vehicle is heavy. Performance, steering is good. Interior is great.
Seller did not disclose major repairs needed - neither did the paid inspector list major issues on pre-purchase.
You need to fully inspect all Transporters, and from various inspectors independently, prior to purchase (which I thought I paid for)
Running costs are average.
Repairs are expensive for all Volkswagon vehicles. I need to warn you re this. Don't go genuine parts.
If you have the right mechanic who is in the know, you can get parts much cheaper elsewhere.
Fuel economy is only average.

It all depends on what type of VW vehicle you want, and what you expect it to do for you. Many don't deliver expectations.

BadgeDon't have one
Engine Size2.5L
Date PurchasedMay 2017

Transporter 1994 & 1997

I have a 1994 transporter with 492,000km on the clock & the last 6 months I thrashed it knowing I was taking it off the road- due only roadworthy issues - I owned it for 4 years and spent almost nothing on the mechanics. I now have a 1997 transporter and I do get between 500-600km per tank - I've read some reviews that say - the meaner you treat them - the more they will give you. After sitting on Japanese motors especially in Australia NSW & QLD summers I truly appreciate the motor out the front and not under my bum. I did have a hiace camper and even on a trip was battling to get 350km out of the tank. Thus far the transporters have been good value for me.

Engine Size2.5L

Great workhorse

Good car, pretty reliable, just make sure you don't drive it nicely. I drove it nicely, the result was a hard-to-start van that required both heat and more power to start, since then I've tried killing it, but it hasn't failed me. It has started in as low as -25C without problems, towed a lot, and been used for long and short trips alike. The front bumper is about to fall off, signal lights have fallen off, the front lights almost fell off, its rusting nicely, but after 330000, what can you expect?! Never changed transmission, never changed the engine, no big repairs at all.

Engine Size2.5L Turbo

Money pit

T4 vw transporter is fantastic when new !
But when it reached 150000 km , it is a money pit....
Sorry to say , but a humble toyota hiace is a far more reliable vehicle.I always hear great stories about vw doing 400-500 's kms and more, but how much do you have to spend to get to that mileage !I
If they were that good , why do you have to keep spending money on replacing parts at 150 000 km.......

Engine Size2.0L
1 comment
I agree , the VW T4 is not as good as people think it is. The parts are ridiculously expensive here in Australia ,not worth having the headache and trouble. Go for a tough Japanese engineered van !

2001 Space Shuttle

Impressive space, luxury, comfort in a performance vehicle. 2.5Tdi auto ex ambo with seats curtains, tint dual air all windows LWB just went round Aus at 100mph. Try doing that. 80l tank helps heaps. Eats up highways , bit of a slug in town but economical @ 10l/100km. Engine diesel noisy but whisper quiet cruising. Fuel additives help.Likes tyres and oil changes esp transmission. Get prof service on majors and quality techicians, this is not a jap or holden and so has quirks that need knowhow. 190,000km and ready to do it again
Luxury and performance with economy
Expensive parts, frequent service, bad service

Engine Size2.5L Turbo

1996 T4 Semi-camper

T4, 2.5L 5 cylinder petrol, manual - bought new in 96 and converted to semi-camper by TRAKKA. Travelled 220K over 7 years with 40K towing a 1.5 tonne caravan. Some minor problems but all in all a very good, reliable vehicle. Still had original clutch and rear brakes when sold.
Pretty fuel efficient for its size - average 11L/100K overall (16L/100K towing)
Nothing major

Engine Size2.5L

only buy them new

10 years ago i purchased a t4 2.5 5 cylinder 5 speed with 240k,while thinking it was a engineering work of art and would last to 400k,but it turned into a over engineered lemon with built in obsolesces,for example the radiator is half made of plastic with plastic connecting pipes and gets brittle with heat and age.front wheal drive and timing belt is unnecessary for a commercial vehicle because timing belts need replacing at 100k,and cv joints need to be removed and regreased at 100k or they will break,other problems include plastic clutch pedal that breaks,oil seals at the oil pump blow out,wheel bearing failure,and broken axle bolt.so it was soon gone at 315k[18 mounths] or maybe you don't drive that much then it makes a great show pony but I need a work horse like a south korean vehicle that cost half as much and will last twice as long [got a kia for 9 years] so I can make money instead of mr vw,because as they say in germany das vone ze borz inze minetz.
plenty of space and fits 2 pallets [barn doors] plenty of cheap parts at the wreckers-great when new.
will drink oil like wine and then spit it out the tail pipe,new parts that are not cheap,hi in maintenance.

Engine Size2.5L


This vehicle has an excellent cargo carrying capacity with a wide opening rear door and ability to store a large amount of material in the back. The engine is very reliable though it is a bit heavy on fuel. Suitable as a round town delivery vehicle though not so good on the open road.
Solid, dependable, reliable German engineered vehicle.
The heater has got stuck on at times which makes it very hot inside the cabin. The drivers seat is stuck in a very upright erect position which can make it very uncomfortable to be driving this vehicle over long distances or sitting in it over long periods of time.

T4 Dual Cab Work horse with space & comfort

We have owned our 1997 T4 for 10 years. it has travelled 285,000kms with only regular servicing. Very important to use good semi synthetic oil according to our mechanic. These are a great car, there's never anything that you can't bring home (massive rear tray). German practicality at it's best. Flat floor, storage under the back seat, very comfortable seating/driving position, huge pockets in the doors and well laid out instruments.
The ideal travelling car. After driving other Japanese dual cabs this is so roomy. Barn doors at the back are very handy. My bike fits in the back seat area without having to take the front wheel off.
The fridge fits on the back seat!
Reliable, comfortable, heaps of room, very good quality vinyl floor throughout,
air con knocks the motor back a bit. plastics are not the best quality and perish in the Aussie sun

Engine Size2.5L

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Questions & Answers

where do i check the auto oil in my 1988 auto transporter
No answers

Have just bought a T4 2.5L Diesel with 195km. Have just noticed the diesel sensor dash light flashing nonstop. Any ideas? Cheers, Derek
No answers

Hi all, I have hear that the 2.5ltr petrol engines are bullet proof. is this the case? I am looking at 177k caravelle for $2k full service history from new one owner never been in a crash, no rust with a slight crunch in first gear if you rush it. Paint is a little down, needs CV's done and a windscreen. Are they prone to leaking oil anywhere? Aircon seems like it will only just cool front passengers but otherwise a very clean unit. Just looking for some feedback as it is 25 years old.
1 answer
Hi, pitty I didn't see your question a few days ago because you've probably already decided by now. In case you're still looking for advice though, speaking from my own experience with my van it does seem as though these engines are very reliable. Mine has done around 300.000 now and still going strong no matter how hard I push it. It still has the original box too which I was pretty impressed by considering how much work it has done in its life. The only leak I've had in mine is from the sump plug and the filter so if you keep up the servicing you should be ok. I've heard mixed reports about the reliability of these engines from different people so from what I gather they're great as long as you keep the oil up to them. Hopefully the one that you're looking at it has been.

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