It has been “discovered” that the Vanagon ignition switch is a weak design. Why? Well it switches a fair bit of current and the contacts seem just adequate for the job. All right, I admit I have no real data to present to prove this, but maybe it is wise to have OCD and switch off accessories (heater fan, wipers, lights) before starting the van. If these loads are present then contacts in the switch have to handle a bigger current, and the resulting sparking will degrade the contacts over time. Mind you, the actual switch is relatively cheap ($20 – $40), so this really does fall under the category of Vanagon nerdom.
Excerpt from manual showing switch:
David B.’s photograph of dissected used switch:
I must be so bored to resort to posting such a flimsy entry 🙂
Update: Maybe its not such a flimsy entry after all, Jay Brown sells a relay package to reduce switch load.
Also, headlight relays on there own will reduce load on the ign. switch.