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  1. #1
    FactionOne's Avatar
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    Suspension (again)...

    ...but the twist this time, is that it's on a shoe-string...

    Well, not exactly a shoe-string, but the simple fact is that there's no point me investing a fortune in top-of-the-range equipment... My 1.6 Sport doesn't have the poke for me to be doing anything I feel would warrant a dramatic upgrade. I see the point that no matter how little power a vehicle has, point-to-point times will improve with improvements in handling; but I'm just being realistic and saying I don't feel it's warranted, as in this case no matter how well I get her handling, there's still a huge defecit of horses before I could start enjoying trackdays. (unless I stripped her to engine, drivetrain/running-gear, fuel-tank, steering-wheel and a yellow-pages to sit on - but that's not going to happen).

    I'd love to be able to have things differently, but for the time being my car can only look like she goes fast; and to be honest I don't think there's any shame in that so long as a) I don't go sticking S3 badges on her and get beaten in traffic-light grand-prix by sheds; and b) make sure I get something with some grunt as soon as I can [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

    So... we have a 1998 1.6 Sport... As said, she's not fast, and is really sketchy in the handling department. I'd like to do something about it, but without spending a fortune. The problem is I'm a little confused; I've been looking at a few entry-level kits by the usual suspects, and the information I find is vague. So this is just a general enquiry for those on the boards who know their suspension. I understand that <u>nobody</u> is going to have any experience of 1.6S upgrading *sigh*, so opinions and theories I'll be more than glad of...

    So here's the thing, I want to make her sit a bit lower, and I'd like the ride to be a bit more tight, stable and predictable if you see what I mean. It's all a bit wishy-washy at the moment (sometimes it feels more like you're sailing). I don't want to spend a fortune though; and I know it sounds like a big ask, and everyone's ideal; but I'm not aiming at a dramatic improvement. I'm not going to be really pushing my car on trackdays and the like, I'd just like a bit of an improvement in the qualities I mentioned over the very basic setup my car has from the factory (incidentally, I've always wondered, does the "Sport" count for anything in terms of suspension in the case of the 1.6? Or does it simply mean you get the tiny alloys and the checkered-seats that are currently in my shed?).

    I guess I'm primarilly looking for advice on dampers / springs; but I'm willing to consider any other upgrades/additions (strut-brace? ARB (although I guess ARB wouldn't be worth the hassle)) you think are worth doing to my particular vehicle without breaking the Bank... Anyway, any and all suggestions greatfully received [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beerchug.gif[/img]

    There's a photo below (click for BIG version) so you can see how she sits at the moment (although I'm thinking possibly 18" wheels if I can this summer...)

    Thanks in advance,

    Rob.


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  3. #2
    Timbo's Avatar
    Slowest car ever round the Top Gear track?!?

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    Re: Suspension (again)...

    How many miles has it done Rob? I've just had the front wishbone and rear beam bushes done on mine and that made quite a bit of difference - my originals had done 90K miles so were knackered. Before it felt a bit like the sailing you describe, and that was with fairly recent Eibach springs & Bilstein dampers.

    If the suspension's all original and a bit tired a good starting point would be to replace the springs, dampers & bushes. If you're lowering more than about 30mm Bilstein do some shortened body OEM replacement dampers for not too much which the Golf boys over on uk-mkivs.net seem to like.

    I think the "sport" models are about 25mm lower than standard. I parked next to a 1.8 in the AmD car park last year when I was on standard 1.8T sport suspension and the 1.8 sat quite a lot higher than mine. It might be different for on a 1.6 though.

  4. #3
    FactionOne's Avatar
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    Re: Suspension (again)...

    Thanks Timbo...

    The bits that are on it (to the best of my knowledge) are only old in terms of age (it is eight years old), but she's still not got 45,000 miles on the clock ([img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif[/img]) - I guess refreshing them would be an improvement based on the fact that it has been sat on them for eight years; but I don't think they're excessively worn.

    It's interesting you mention the Bilstein dampers... Obviously I decided their stuff was going to be reasonably trustable after hanging around here for so long, but of course I'm pitching a bit lower down the market. I guess the dampers you describe are something like the ones included in their Streetline kits? I'd considered that as it seems a bargain price - 200 inc. VAT for 4 x dampers and 4 x springs; but I was wondering whether the dampers are engineered so that they're similar to OEM in performance, just shorter; or if there'd be a further difference. I guess they have to be a bit more resistive to make up for the shortened-travel, but would there be enough for it to feel any different? If it didn't feel any stiffer because of the shortened-travel, I guess there'd be at least some improvement in its behaviour because the CG would be fractionally lower?

    I'd also looked at the Koni RSK setup at ~320/340 - again a full set, which are apparently adjustable-damping (off car adjustable), with as far as I can see, a fixed-drop (for A3 8L anyway) of about 30-35mm (but I guess this is over base-spec, so perhaps less for me?). The thing is, at that sort of money there's also the entry-level FK coilovers at about 300/320 - I guess common sense there denotes that you buy semi-decent springs and dampers before you buy cheap coilovers; but you can't ignore that they're there. Then there's the next hop up the price-bracket (420-480); and you land firmly in the territory of Koni SSK, Bilstein Sprintline, and two more sets of those infernal FK coilovers - High-Sport and Silverline.

    Obviously it'd be great if I got a load of replies saying, "out of all those... buy the Bilstein Streetline at 200, for bang per buck they're the best!" But somehow I don't think that's going to be the case; and although I want to do it as economically as possible, I don't want to spend 200 on a kit and feel almost no difference if there's something at 300-400 that will offer a more noticable improvement.

    Bahhhh. I'm confused! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img] Help!

    Thanks again Timbo, and keep 'em comin folks!

    Regards,

    Rob.

    PS&gt; I am planning to minimise the cost of it all by doing the work myself; I've got some reasonably heavyweight old spring compressors and more jacks/axle-stands than I know what to do with, so I figure I've got all the kit I'll need to do the job on my A3? (Unless there's some unseen complication coming my way?)...

  5. #4
    Timbo's Avatar
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    Re: Suspension (again)...

    The springs, shocks & bushes I've had replaced on my car have really just brought it back to how it would have been before the suspension wore out. So now it feels like a younger car. The handling still isn't brilliant, and I think that's a failing of the 8L chassis (and mk IV Golfs and the old Seat Leon etc. etc. all of which have similar handling). I'm not convinced coilovers would improve the handling that much but someone who's fitted them would be better placed to comment. I've heard Eibach ARBs make the world of difference, but there seems to be a perpetual shortage of these in the country.

    On top of the tools you've got you'll need a splitter to get the front struts out of the uprights - it's partly an interference fit - VW (or German And Swedish) sell a tool for the job, or you may be able to get by with the right sized socket screwdriver.

    Lots of mk IV Golf related suspension info & discussion here: http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=1448594.

    Good luck!

  6. #5
    FactionOne's Avatar
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    Re: Suspension (again)...

    Yeah, I thought that there wouldn't be a particular advantage to running coilovers, especially if I intend to set it up and leave it alone; I was just thinking that they're other items in the sort of price-range I'm looking at, and perhaps might be good performers even when just set up as if a fixed spring/damper and left alone.

    I also figured I'd probably get a good improvement from an ARB; but that's obviously not a job I'd be doing myself; and at ~250/300 to buy an Eibach bar if you can find one, we're already into good money without fitting (could anyone suggest a ball-park estimate of what this might cost at an independant?)...

    I still can't help thinking that the suspension as-is is a bit flakey too though; it's difficult to describe, but it just doesn't inspire much confidence.

    I can't figure out what's going to be best if I've got limited money to spend (again, I suppose I could just blow it and get some fancy Bilstein dampers, H&amp;R springs, and an Eibach ARB; but by the time I've bought all that and fitted it I've spent mega- and ended up with a well-handling slow car, so it just doesn't seem worth going the *whole* hog)...

    Regards,

    Rob.

 

 

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