Volkswagen T5 Transporter (2003–2015)

What's good

The Volkswagen Transporter’s compact size makes it ideal for town use and on tighter rural roads. A cushily soft set-up to the suspension also makes it ideal for these more coarsely surfaced roads. The slick DSG dual-clutch gearbox further adds to the Volkswagen’s appeal for the driver and it comes with ESP as standard on all models.

A range of efficient engines that meet Euro 5 emissions regulations makes the Volkswagen Transporter a good bet for those who have to travel into London’s Low Emissions Zone regularly as there is no penalty for entering in this van

Strong residual values thanks to good quality build and high class image make the Volkswagen Transporter a sound bet for those considering whole life costs. It also has low running costs, especially in BlueMotion variants.

Plenty of variety for configuring the Volkswagen to your needs makes the Transporter a popular choice for those seeking a van at the smaller end of the market.

Was awarded a 4 Star NCAP rating in 2013 tests with 79% adult protection, 74% child protection, 32% pedestrian protection, 57% safety assist.

What's bad

Steering column is known to knock.

Window leaks are common.

The 84PS 2.0-litre turbodiesel is best suited to town driving where its low-rev shove is good, but on the motorway this engine feels out of its depth. It needs to be worked hard to hold station with other traffic, which has a negative effect on fuel economy.

Following worldwide recall of 2.6 million vehicles due to crystalline deposits in the synthetic oil in 7-speed DSGs affecting the Mechatronics units causing the fuses to blow, Volkswagen is recalling 30,000 UK market vans and LCVs fitted with 7-speed DSGs to change the oil in them from synthetic to mineral.

Specific service requirements of a T5 to remain within warranty include waterpump changed at same time as timing belt, 'gate couplings', alternator pulley andTiptronic transmission fluid to be changed at 80k miles.

26-8-2014: Repeated clogging of Diesel Particulate Filter on 2012 T5 Caravelle California camper reported.

13-12-2015: Report of driveshaft failure on 2010 VW T5 Transporter at 48,400 miles.

14-10-2016: Report of turbo of VW Transporter failing at 37,000 miles and costing £2,800 to replace.

18-10-2016: Report of DPF and turbo failure on a 73k mile VW Caravelle 2.0TDI BITD. Engine then started burning 5-6 litres of oil a week and diagnosis read: "Your heavy oil loss is due to the valve guides and valves in the cylinder head worn along with the piston rings.Also a valve in the oil filer housing is seized which could have been giving a lot of back pressure and contributing to oil loss.For us do to the complete rebuild and fitting with all parts required is £4136.34 + VAT with a 1 year warranty." 

25-11-2016: Catastrophic problem reported with 180PS 2.0TDI BITD engine of T5 Caravelle DSG that explains 26-8-2014, (Lost date) and 18-10-2016. Problem relates to "TPI 2039830/5." Appears that the EGR cooler corrodes internally, producing aluminium oxides, and these then pass via the inlet valves into the combustion chamber. They then sit in the piston rings causing cylinder bore wear. VW is aware of the fault and has now issued a new EGR cooler: 03L 115 512 D. Owner has been in contact with other owners who have had the same problem. Some have received 100% back; others only 70%. There is a Facebook site: VW T5.1 excessive oil use for CFCA engines. In 2015 the owner highlighted the problem to VW at 70k miles. His T5 has now been off the road for over 8 weeks. Aggrieved at a potential bill of £10k because of an inherent defect in the vehicle.

23-9-2017: Explanation for the high rate of failure of failure of 2.0 180BiTDI engines in T6 Transpoerters and Amarocks. "Oil light came on at end of lease. No leaks, so the engine must be burning the oil. Owner had an oil sample tested by Millers Oils and this showed the oil to have critical amounts of Al and Fe. The Al came from the corroding EGR cooler, the Fe is the cylinder bores being worn by the Al particles that have got into the engine. In short a new engine and ancillaries is required at a cost of £8,000. There is a Facebook page with over 1,000 Members devoted to the failings of the 180 BiTDI engine - it is only this engine that suffers. One chap in Norway runs a fleet of 30 ambulances and every one has needed a new engine. The EGR cooler is poorly designed - hot air condenses on unprotected aluminium, causing it to corrode. VW has brought out a revised cooler but it is too early to say if it is successful. And once an engine starts to burn oil through worn cylinder bores, the damage has been done." 

10-4-2018: Report of owner buying a used 2011/61 VW T5 Transporter 180PS BiTDI with engine code CFCA. Over 2,000 miles had to add 3 litres of oil. See 23-9-2017 for the explanation. 

17-3-2019: Report of problem with 2004 Volkswagen Caravelle 2.5 TDi PD 174 Manual. After initial stalling if the outside temperature is below 9 degrees C, the vehicle jumps and stalls when driving for the first 5 minutes or so. VW has experienced the fault but their diagnosis equipment won't recognise it. The latest suggestion is to change the ECU (£1600 or so) but VW says they cannot be sure this will solve the problem. Other than the low outside temperature fault, the vehicle runs brilliantly, including if start up outside temperature above 9 degrees C when the fault never occurs. Owner is in touch with VW T5 forums across the World but no one seems able to solve the fault.

2-6-2019: Report of oil light intermittently coming on in 2019 VW Transporter mini bus, TDI engine type CAAC, used as an airport taxi and now at 363,000 miles. Engine oil and filter changed every 10,000 miles. “Oil Can” lights flashes with a warning message and buzzer. Then everything reverts to normal. The event is not logged in the ECU. Pressure sensor replaced at an independent VW specialist who also checked the oil pump pressure and confirmed it was normal.After 10 days or so, the issue returned and is back to before. (Might be EGR cooler.)

What does a Volkswagen T5 Transporter (2003 – 2015) cost?

List Price from £21,635 +VAT
Buy new from £17,895 +VAT
Contract hire from £205.06 +VAT pm
Lease from £207.92 +VAT pm