i bought a 2003 Eurovan with 154k miles on it. the tranny shifts nice without any problems, but i noticed on my first long trip that on a long uphill stretch and warm temp (~90F outside) the rpm was about 100-200 rpm higher as it would be on the straight line at the same speed (the car was fully loaded with 7 people and luggage) i don't notice anything right now at cooler temperatures.
Since this one is my first automatic i own, i was wondering if the torque converter does something?!? But i imagine, once i am in 4th gear that it should stick with the rpm and don't increase when going uphill at constant speed.
Shall i flush the transmission or are there any other things to adjust? Too bad the Eurovan doesn't come with a stick (at least in the US) - i usually stay away from automatic transmissions
my second question is that my engine takes "forever" to warm up. How long does it take to warm up the engine? All my other cars get their engine time up after about 1-2 miles, but on my Eurovan it takes at least 5-7 miles to get to 191 F reading?
Also when i go downhill for a longer time the temp gauge drops - a sign that the thermostat is stuck and needs replacement?
The Eurovan is the one VW that requires changing the transmission fluid (and filter) every 40K miles, and it does make a difference. It also requires a specific fluid - regular ATF doesn't have the required viscosity and friction characteristics.
Correct fluid level is also very important on this transmission, so there is a special procedure to set it at a certain fluid temperature, using the car's diagnostics port to read the temp. as the fluid warms up at idle.
Since you don't know the full service history, I'd certainly start with a fluid change. When the old fluid is drained, check the color. The correct fluid is a golden color, but when heavily used turns dark amber to brown. If it's never been changed it may be almost black. If it's red - someone put in the wrong fluid and I'd go through a flush procedure - or at least change the fluid a couple times - since a fair amount isn't drained even by removing the pan.
The dealer prices on the fluid can be pretty high. I use a change kit from Blauparts.com that includes fluid, filter, pan seal and other needed parts, along with a pump needed to get fluid into the trans, since you can't just pour it in from above. The kit is cheaper than just the fluid from a dealer, and it includes good instructions on changing and setting the fluid level.
I also highly recommend the Bentley Eurovan manual.
Another thing I'd check on this van: As the Eurovan engine mounts age and sag, the engine alignment changes causing the exhaust to rub on metal power-steering lines that run along the steering rack. If the mounts aren't replaced it will wear through the lines and you lose power steering. That just happened to my son's 2002 while it was on a trip. (I already had the mounts, had just procrastinated putting them on. Expensive lesson.)