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Wife and I are about to buy a T5 Multivan (2010 year or later) with the sole purpose of using it as a sleeper. We love driving around Europe, but sleeping in our SUV or a tent isn't all that convenient. We won't be doing a full conversion as we don't need a kitchen or a lot of storage, just a comfortable place to spend the night.
I've looked at most alternatives (Transit, Traffic, Vito/Vario), but only the T5 really stood out for us. Vario was nice as well (we like the rails system in the cargo area), but we can get a lot more extras with an equally priced T5. Still, I'd love to hear any alternatives if we've missed something, I'm not set on any particular brand.
Anyway, we've narrowed it down to about 5 potential buys. I used to drive T4 at work, but that was 15 years ago and I'm sure things have changed with the T5. We plan on having the van inspected at a workshop before buying, but only our final choice.
When we go out to inspect them, what are the things that we should look for? Are there any common/known faults with the T5? Hidden rust areas? Any red flags?
Thank you for any info or suggestions
 

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If you're looking at vans 2010+ then you're looking at T5.1 and are the 'facelift' versions of the T5. If it's a 2.0 engine then it's a T5.1 - the 1.9 was T5 only.
There's also 2.0 bi-turbo engines which can require careful maintenance and can be costly to fix.
The 2.0TDI is the most common though - with power outputs of 85, 102 and 140. All the same base engine, just released by VW with different power outputs, so they can easily be remapped for better performance/mpg to suit.
If you're going to be motorway cruising / touring, you may find the 6 speed more suitable for your requirements as it has a longer top gear than the 5 speed and will sit at slightly lower RPM's at motorway speeds.
Things to look for are similar to most other cars - a good service history / cambelt changes in line with VW recommendations (I'd say every 4 years / 60-80k miles but these tend to vary quite wildly by who you ask, so just look for evidence of regular servicing and if it hasn't been done recently, factor it into your budget/bargaining power).
If the vehicle has been well cared for then there shouldn't be too much to worry about - rust isn't so much of an issue on the T5's as it will be on the T4's.
The multivan / Caravelles generally have a higher spec interior than their panelvan/kombi counterparts - so check that all the electrics work as they should.
Again if you're intending to be travelling Europe you'll want things like air-con as standard so check for this - not all vans have it and whilst it is technically possible to retrofit it's probably prohibitively expensive to most people and beyond their budget / skills etc.
Check for a noisy Dual Mass Flywheel - a thumping sound on idle generally. Depending on the mileage of the vehicles you're looking at, they can start to break up and are an expensive item to replace (budget around £1k upwards depending on garage/parts) - best replaced along with the clutch.
Only common fault I can think of off the top of my head is driveshaft failure - listen for any knocking on take-up of the clutch when pulling away - sometimes a sign that there's excess play.
It shouldn't be an overly expensive fix.
I'm sure someone else can add to this...
 

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Think the driveshaft problem went away on 5.1 models I believe they lengthened the splines a bit.
EGR valves seem to block up due to honeycomb design, mine went at 100k miles whilst on French motorway but managed to limp home, cost £300 to replace fitting it myself.
Nothing else springs to mind as common issues. Six speed better option for touring.
Good luck searching.
 

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Driveshafts didnt get modified with the longer splines until after the start of the 5.1 production so they are still worth listening out for .
6 speed gearbox was only fitted to the 140bhp and the 180bhp (the latter i would personally steer clear of).
Dual mass normally want doing around 100k and its kind of a rhythmic rattle/knock that youre listening for - normally worse from cold and at idle is when you'll notice it .
 
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