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Hello,

taking the plunge and looking to pick up a 7 seater Caravelle as we need more space...

On a budget - 8-11k - so keen to know if anyone has any advice, or if there's a buyers guide of what to look out for...? Don't want to get stung and end up with something that needs a load more ££ into it to get it back to where it needs to be.

Anyone got any suggestions on what are the big no's when looking for a van at this budget? There will be 4 kids and my wife and I - so currently looking at the 2.5 TDI.

Many thanks in advance.

A
 

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The Caravelle's hold their value really well and will always sell for a premium over other models. Try find something with a relatively low mileage as many will be used as taxis etc. and may have led a hard life.
My friends picked their '07 velle up for £12k from someone advertising locally, with only 2 previous owners and other than a few minor paint scuffs was in fantastic, original condition.
There's a LOT of extras included on them like rear heating / air-con, lights, power sockets etc. so there's a lot to check for. Other than that though, if you're not particularly mechanically minded then it'd be worth either taking a trusted mechanic-friend with you (or similar) or paying for an AA / RAC vehicle inspection. Also if buying from a dealer see what kind of warranty they can offer, although being an older vehicle this maybe quite limited.

You could also consider a Shuttle too which are often a similar spec but without the sliding seat rails etc. and may be a bit cheaper - all depends on your circumstances and needs though.
 

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That bracket of price at the moment buys high mileage Caravelle pre facelift.
Sold mine 10 days ago. They are great people carrier but being old, if you want to keep it in good nick they can be expensive. I had it 8 months and it costed me 4K. Brakes, pads, wheel bearings, suspension, coils, engine service, tyres and wheels… and still to address some scuff and rust undercarriage…
Got a good offer and Bought a more recent T6.
however build quality and refinement is great on prefacelift and I would not worry about lasting for long if well maintained.
I needed euro 6 engine so had no much choice but buy a 2016 T6.
 

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I've owned a 2007 Caravelle for the last three years, it took me ages to find a half decent one. Here's my advice/general thoughts:

Do you have a specific model Caravelle 2.5 in mind? do you want auto or manual? 130bhp or 174bhp? SE or Executive? they're all much of a muchness, I have a 174 auto Executive.

Having driven a 130 Caravelle back-to-back with my 174 I can honestly say there's not much difference, it wasn't obvious for me although everybody likes more power & torque.

Apart from the stuff you look for on ay car, I'd be wanting two keys, a replacement won't be cheap, factor that in. Also look at the service book, has it been service every year? if not, why not? was the correct spec oil used (see below) what are the tyres like? I don't mean for condition I mean are they all mis-matched cheapo tyres or matching decent brands? that can tell you the owner's attitude to how they've maintained the van. Does the coolant look nice and pink? Brake fluid clean rather than a dirty brown/black colour?

Engines, as mentioned above the 2.5 is available in either 130 or 174bhp versions, in 2006 DPF were fitted as part of the Euro-4 emissions equipment, DPFs don't like short journeys. It's well worth checking what the tax would be, some either side of 2006 are all over the place, mine for example would be over £600 a year road tax (if I lived in the UK)
I like the VW R5 unit but it does have it's faults, some people seem to report nothing but trouble, some have been perfectly fine, mine (touches wood) has been brilliant, only little things like a boost sensor needed replacing which wasn't an urgent job, what is vitally important is that whatever year it is, it's been service using the correct oil, there's a million-and-one posts out there about what oil for which T5, it's this simple; any 2.5 without a DPF up to 2006 is 506.00 oil, any with a DPF 2006-onwards is 507.00 no exceptions, I've known people to chuck any old oil in theirs but I've read so many posts about the camshaft issue, the reason the oil spec is important is that there's additive in the oil that help prevent cam wear and for the DPF.
It's worth reading up on the engines as I'm sure there's stuff I've forgotten, water pumps can leak and it's a pig of a job. There's no belts on the R5 unit, it's all gear driven so no cambelts to replace, and the alternator and A/C compressor are driven via rubber couplings.

An automatic drive nice and great in traffic but will be worse on fuel and will be expensive if a fault occurs, used boxes are rare. All T5 pre-facelift automatics were the Tiptronic gearbox, the DSG box was only on the facelifted T5.1, some sellers (mostly traders from my experience) seem to advertise autos as being DSG, they're not.
Manuals, like most modern turbo diesel cars/vans from the last 20 years, have a dual mass flywheel which have a limited service life, it can be an expensive job as you'd need to replace the clutch kit at the same time (but still noticeably cheaper than buying an automatic gearbox!)

Try and get one with climate control (what VW call Climatronic) they're just a nicer place to be when it's hot and have an extra condensor in the rear which will be nicer for the rear occupants, if it's got a digital display with buttons for the heating/air-con then it's Climatronic, the usual Caravelle SE spec was the normal bog-standard air conditioning using dials, better than nothing I guess but not as efficient as Climatronic. All Executives had Climatronic but some SE's were specced with Climatronic. If it blows icey cold then congratulations! they don't feel as cold as a car but that may be the amount of space it has to cool compared to a car, do not take the vendor's word that 'it just needs re-gassing mate' get them to re-gas it then re-evaluate. It's worth considering that a black van without air con will be warm in the heat of summer.

Electric sliding doors was an optional extra on the Caravelle SE and standard on the Executive, they do give problems but this is usually down to either the cables (£6.00 kit off eBay) or the sensor which is built into the door seal (£140 each side from VW) worst case you can just cut the cables out and use it as standard. If you have electric sliding doors then you will have a second battery under the passenger seat.
All Caravelles will have soft close sliding doors regardless of whether it has electric sliding doors or not, this is just a motor that pulls the door in for the last few MMs so you don't have to really slam them.
If it has soft-close tailgate, check it works (very subtle, it just pulls the last few MMs in)

Interior: Make sure it's all there and in reasonably good condition, secondhand replacement seats will make your eyes water on eBay, realistically, I don't think you'd get much change out of £6k if you wanted the full set for example, so any damage and you want to barter hard, general wear and tear should be expected. Make sure the table is there, that will set you back £250-£500. A nice optional extra was the built-in child seats in the rear swivelling seats, if it has these then make sure the detachable head restraints are included.
All Executives had leather or alcantara (fake suede) otherwise leather was a rare optional extra on the SE. Like most cars of a certain age, expect signs of wear and cracking especially on the driver's seat.

Headlights yellow and go opaque, all modern cars do it, you can restore them rather than having to replace.

Execs had an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, so if somebody is behind you at night with their lights shining at you it dims slightly.

Do the electric mirrors work? folding mirrors was an option, ignition needs to be on for it to work, you twist the knob to the 12 o'clock position.

Make sure all doors inc the tailgate locks and unlocks with the central locking, front door actuators are common, symptoms are lazy locking/unlocking, the lock is £200 from VW (or £25 off ebay, I fitted one to mine) Make sure all windows work, check rear side window blinds, rust stains are common on the blinds due to a rubbish design.

Make sure windscreen wipers work normally, some faults here can be down to the bonnet catch which has a built-in switch (the job of the switch is to cut the wipers if it thinks the bonnet is open) mine has auto sensing intermittent wipers whereby it's supposed to self regulate wiper sweeps according to the amount of rain but it's infuriatingly bad, standard variable intermittent wipers would have been far better.

Does the Cruise-control work?

Make sure the parking sensors work, some have front sensors as well, my front sensors sometimes work automatically and other times I have to turn them on via the dashboard switch, I've no idea why. Rears should automatically work when reverse is selected.

Have a good look at the body/paint, it is to be expected that a vehicle of the age you'll be looking at has a few battle scars and history, I'm not sure mine has any panels still with the original paint on, overall it looks fairly good and that's the main thing. I once looked at a Caravelle that was good but the paint was terrible, you'd be looking around £4-£5k to repaint a Caravelle. Overspray on rubbers is a sign of a cheap respray where the bodyshop couldn't even be bothered to pull a seal off.

Cupholders usually break, I repaired mine using bits of alloy and glue rather then buying a whole new ashtray/cupholder assembly.

Executives had the full MFD (Multi Function Display) on the dash, nice to have and it you have an automatic it will tell you what gear the box is in as it drives, this is worth noting because if you're looking at an auto and this selector display is blank then it means there's a fault flagged with the box. I'm not sure if the full dash display was optional or just for the Execs but the SE's had a 'half display', Execs also had extra dials like a voltmeter and oil temp gauge that the SE didn't, they also had nice satin chrome trim rings on the dials.

Other than that, test drive it, make sure there's no knocks or bumps (potential driveshafts) or heavy vibrations (dual mass flywheel) and if it's an auto make sure it drives nice and smooth with no nasty, harsh gearchanges. I'm sure I've missed loads out but that should be a start and it's from an owner's perspective. My advice would be to go for an Executive 174 but I would have been happy with a 130 SE, I just wanted the Climatronic.
 
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