Leaning: The Scoop and the Fix for Vanagon Camper Lean Syndrome

All Vanagon full campers lean to the left, because there is more weight on that side of the vehicle. The engineers at VW did not compensate for this during assembly, and—because the suspension is not adjustable—that is the way they all end up. VW didn't lose too much sleep over the issue because 1) there was no readily available solution, and 2) while it is true that the lower ride height on the left side reduces wheel travel and can cause some handling issues, the problem wasn't "severe." This was certainly true when the vehicle was brand-new and the entire suspension, including the springs, were fresh as the driven snow. Twenty-plus years later? It's an issue worth correcting.

Here is why it's happening:

• Water tank (empty): 9 lbs
• Water tank cabinet: 35 lbs
• Rear closet/cabinet: 45 lbs
• Front galley/cabinet: 60 lbs
• Tables and legs: 27 lbs
• LP tank: 39 lbs
• Refrigerator: 37 lbs

That's 257 pounds!

There are a couple of simple things you can do to lighten the load. For example, we all know how incredibly inefficient the stock Dometic refrigerators are—which is why we always remove them from our GoWesty-built vehicles and install our Fridge-B-Gone kit. (For more info on why this is a no-brainer, please read this article.) Another way to shed some weight is to be smart about your water tank. The capacity of that tank is a touch over 14 gallons; when full, that adds up to about 120 lbs of water. It simply makes no sense to carry around 120 lbs of water on the left side of any vehicle, right?

Even with no water in the tank and the fridge removed, you've still got 215 extra pounds on the driver's side of your vehicle. The seemingly simple thing to do is just add spacers to the two left springs (front and rear) so that your vehicle sits level. However, it is extremely difficult (if not damn near impossible) to add a spacer to the front spring, while adding it to the rear is relatively simple. It's still not ideal to attempt to level your van by loading up the springs on one side more than the other.

The better solution: Replace all of your springs with our GoWesty progressive rate springs.

"Progressive rate" means the rate of resistance to compression per inch increases as the spring is loaded (compressed). For example, if you add an additional 100 lbs to a progressive spring, it will deflect less than it did when loaded with the first 100 lbs. Adding another 100 lbs yields even less deflection than before, and so on. The original VW springs, designed in the 1970s, have a linear rate—thus, the rate they compress per unit load does not change as the load increases. If you add an extra 100 lbs to one side (or end) of a vehicle fitted with linear springs, the spring will deflect the same amount more than the rest of the springs that are not carrying the extra weight. If the spring is progressive, it is like putting a stiffer spring on the side or end of the vehicle where you need to carry more weight—but the progressive spring is only stiffer on demand, not all the time. Thus, the suspension performance (ride quality, travel, tracking) doesn't suffer. To read a more thorough article about the GoWesty progressive springs, please click here.

GoWesty progressive rate suspension springs will help correct the leaning caused by all that camper gear and will, in fact, tend to keep your vehicle level even when it is loaded in an uneven fashion. However, do not expect it to correct the problem entirely—especially when the vehicle is unloaded. Adding one GoWesty spring pad to the rear left spring will pretty much fix the problem completely if the slight lean really, really bothers you!