How to Connect a Drive-Away Awning to a VW T4, T5 or T6 – Which Drive-Away Kit?
How to Connect a Drive-Away Awning to a VW T4, T5 or T6 – Which Drive-Away Kit?
How do I connect a drive-away awning to my VW T5 campervan? Which awning drive-away kit do I need for my VW California rail? What’s the best way to attach an awning to a VW T4? These are Bus questions that we get asked all the time, so whichever post 90’s model VW Transporter you own, T4, T5 or T6, we’ll talk through the connection options in this post. For earlier VW Vans see our How to Connect a Vango AirBeam Awning to a VW T2 Bay, Splitscreen or T25 post.
What is an Awning Drive-Away Kit?
Drive-away awnings are supplied with two basic ways to attach the awning to a van without an awning rail fitted – Throw-Over Straps and Roof Bar Tabs.
If your van has a C-profile type awning rail fitted, the Kador beading on the top edge of the awning connection tunnel can be slid directly into it before pitching the awning. This connection method is fine if you don’t plan to drive the van out while your awning is pitched.
To drive a vehicle out from a pitched awning is definitely a two-person job and a very awkward manoeuvre which we don’t recommend attempting. One person has to hold the awning Kador whilst the driver tries to drive straight out without tearing the expensive new awning or running over the other persons feet. You then have to try to do it all again when you attempt to connect up again… maybe in the dark!
An awning drive-away kit allows one person to easily detach from the awning in just a couple of minutes and drive the van out for the day. It only takes 2 or 3 minutes for one person to drive back into position and reconnect to the awning.
Top Tip: always mark your position on the driver’s side before driving away. Use a Drive-Away Awning Guidance Strip or peg a guyline next to your tyres (approx. 5cm from the edges). Peg the front of the marker at your front wheel centre so you know exactly where to stop.
VW T4, T5 & T6 Awning Connection Methods
- Throw-Over Straps
- Roof Bar Tabs
- 6mm to 6mm Drive-Away Kit
- 6mm to 4mm Drive-Away Kit
- Pole & Clamp Drive-Away Kit
- 6mm to 7mm Twin Kador
- Limpet Suction Drive-Away Kit
- Magnetic Drive-Away Kit
- Figure of 8 Awning Channel
Yes, there are quite a few different awning connection options depending on the configuration of your vans roof and whether you have an awning rail or wind-out canopy fitted. We think we’ve pretty much covered every Volkswagen Transporter van set up below so just scroll down the blue titles until you find yours.
VW T4/T5/T6 Vans without an Elevating Roof, Roof Bars or an Awning Rail Fitted
All Vango, Kampa and Outdoor Revolution drive-away awnings are supplied with either adjustable throw-over webbing straps or guylines which clip-in/tie into the top corner edges of the awning connection tunnel.
This is a quick and easy way of connecting to any van that doesn’t have an awning rail fitted. Many of our drive-away awning customers are happy to use the throw-over straps indefinitely or at least try them a few times before thinking about having a rail fitted.
Simply position the adjustable straps over the top of the van roof and peg them down on the other side.
Top Tip: if it is very windy and you are concerned about the straps rubbing on your vans paintwork, you can use a couple of tennis balls with a cut halfway through or short lengths of foam pipe lagging to protect the edge of the roof.
Alternatively, a Limpet Suction Drive-Away Kit or Magnetic Drive-Away Kit can be used to attach to flat or very slightly curved surfaces of the van roof. These sort of kits have been much improved over recent years and can provide a more weather tight connection between the awning and van edge.
If you would like to know more about fitting an awning rail to your van – see our How to fit a C-Channel C-Profile Awning Rail to a VW T4, T5 or T6 post
VW T4/T5/T6 Vans with an Elevating Roof but without an Awning Rail Fitted
Connection Options: Throw-Over Webbing Straps
The throw-over webbing straps can still be used on vans with an elevating roof as they are spaced about 2.5m apart on the awning connection tunnel allowing them to be positioned around the front and rear of the Pop Top. Simply peg them down on the opposite side of the van and adjust the tension.
Unfortunately, Limpet Suction and Magnetic Drive-Away Kits will not secure onto the curved outside corner edge of a VW Transporter roof.
VW T4/T5/T6 Vans with Roof Bars but without an Awning Rail Fitted
Connection Options: Roof Bar Tabs
All Vango, Kampa and Outdoor Revolution drive-away awnings have 2 or 3 hook and loop Velcro tabs sewn in to the top edge of the connection tunnels. If you have roof bars or a roof rack fitted to your van, simply attach the awning to them using the Velcro Tabs. You can take a ‘belt and braces’ approach and use the roof bar tabs in conjunction with the throw-over webbing straps which can be either pegged down as above or tied to the other roof bar.
As with the throw-over straps, many of our customers are happy to use the roof bar tabs connection indefinitely or at least before considering having an awning rail fitted.
Unfortunately, Limpet Suction and Magnetic Drive-Away Kits will not secure onto the curved outside corner edge of a VW Transporter roof. Roof bars also tend to lever them off if they are positioned towards the middle of the roof.
Top Tip: if you would like to make the connection a bit more weathertight, a couple of lengths of foam pipe lagging can be used to block the gap between a van roof and the roof bars.
If you would like to find out more about choosing and fitting an awning rail to a van with roof bars – see our How to fit a C-Channel C-Profile Awning Rail to a VW T4, T5 or T6 post.
VW T4/T5/T6 Vans with a C-Profile type Awning Rail Fitted
Connection Options: 6mm to 6mm Drive-Away Kit
If your van has a Reimo Multi-Rail or C-channel awning rail fitted, you can use a standard 6mm to 6mm Drive-Away Kit to connect an awning. The kit includes 1 x 3m length of Twin Kador and 3 x lengths of Figure of 8 plastic extrusion.
Slide the Figure of 8 onto the drive-away awning and then slide the Twin Kador into the rail and the other channel of Figure of 8 to connect. Simply pull the Twin Kador out to detach and drive away.
VW T4/T5/T6 California Vans with a VW Multi-Rail Fitted
The aluminium T-channel rail is fitted to most VW California roof as standard. These rails are also available as an aftermarket product so can also be found fitted onto any other converted VW van.
This aluminium T-rail is designed for mounting a cassette type wind-out sun canopy on (see below section) or a rubber multi-rail insert that slides in to create an awning connection. We have had many customers over the years that haven’t known about this additional rubber insert part and have been frustrated that standard 6mm Kador pulls out of the aluminium T-rail.
There have been issues with the rubber insert that have been well documented over the past few years on various VW forums and we too have had quite a few frustrated, mainly VW California customers. As the insert is made of rubber, the C-profile section can flex and release standard 6mm core Kador… we have even experimented with larger diameter Kador and this too pulls out. It is not unusual for the connection to feel okay and then pull out overnight in windy conditions or during the day when the rubber heats up in the sun.
If you have the rubber insert fitted and are concerned about the C-profile not retaining the Kador style drive-away kit, we recommend using a Pole & Clamp Drive-Away Kit as an alternative. The pole slides through a pole sleeve on the awning connection tunnel and sits in the top gutter part of the rubber insert, it is then secured with the clamps. We have many Customers who are happy to use this connection method as it is quick and easy to attach.
If your van just has the aluminium T-rail or you have the rubber insert but would prefer to connect directly to the aluminium rail, you can use 6mm to 7mm Twin Kador with 3 x lengths of Figure of 8 Channel as a drive-away kit. Our custom diameter Twin Kador will slide directly into the T-rail and stay secured… cutting out the need for the expensive rubber insert.
VW T4/T5/T6 Vans with a Cassette Type Thule Omnistor, Fiamma, Dometic Wind-Out Sun Canopy Awning Fitted
Connection Options: 6mm to 4mm Drive-Away Kit
Many VW Campers have a Fiamma, Thule Omnistor or Domectic cassette type ‘wind-out’ sun canopy mounted onto the aluminium T-rail. Most of these wind-out sun canopies have a small diameter C-profile on the front leading edge… sometimes you need to wind the canopy out slightly to see it. A 6mm to 4mm Drive-Away Kit is usually used to connect an awning into this C-profile channel.
We come across the occasional unbranded wind-out sun canopy with a larger diameter C-channel that is compatible with a standard 6mm to 6mm drive-away kit. If in any doubt measure the diameter; a channel of approximately 6mm – use a drive-away kit with 6mm to 4mm Kador beading (4mm core = overall diameter 5mm) and a channel of approximately 8/9mm – use a drive-away kit with 6mm to 6mm Kador beading (6mm core = overall diameter 7mm).
Top Tip: if there is a space beneath your wind-out sun canopy and the vans roof, you can make the connection a bit more weathertight by using a couple of lengths of foam pipe lagging to block the gap.
VW T4/T5/T6 Vans with a J-rail fitted
Connection Options: Figure of 8 Channel
J-rail, J-profile rail or similar is sometimes fitted to high-top vans and T4’s to create a simple lip. You can connect an awning onto the lip using Figure of 8 Channel – slide 3 x lengths onto the awning Kador and hook it over the J-rail lip. This method does rely on the tension of the fabric pulling away from the van to stay attached and can sometimes come off in windy weather.
We hope this blog page will help you and your drive-away awning to connect better with your Dub!