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    Thread: Eurovan Suspension Alternatives - Bilstein HD Anyone?

    1. 04-17-2011 02:14 PM #1
      I have to ask opinions about ride quality for my mother's 2003 Eurovan concerning switching to Bilstein HD shocks; they are due for replacement with about 110,000 on them on rough VT roads. If anyone has made the switch to these over factory let me know.

    2. Member bigfatgeek's Avatar
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      04-17-2011 09:21 PM #2
      Got 'em, love 'em - but I am fortunate to drive almost exclusively on smooth roads AND I have 235/60 tires (more sidewall than stock).

      Your results may vary.

    3. 04-17-2011 11:15 PM #3
      I had them on the front of my '93 and loved them. The worst part really of a Eurovan isn't the suspension being too stiff; it's the stiff-sidewall tires I think that make the ride loud and sometimes harsh over sharp bumps. The Bilsteins have great control and ride qualities. I would go for it and use them.

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      04-17-2011 11:42 PM #4
      +1 for the Billy HDs.

    5. 04-18-2011 12:19 AM #5
      Thanks for your speedy input as I would like to order my parts tonight/tomorrow morning. Unfortunately this van has been running on Nokian snow tires for a couple years now due to expensive tire costs. (I know it makes little sense to wear out good winter tread in the summer, but with the snow we have in VT good seasonal tread is a necessity over good summer tread) I will definitely go with the Bilstein HD's.

    6. 04-18-2011 06:08 PM #6
      I installed them on my '03 MV about two and a half years ago and like them much more than stock. Firmer than stock with quite a lot more roll control. I wouldn't go back to the stock units.

    7. 04-21-2011 07:58 AM #7
      I too have the B HD's and like them well. Less body lean in the turn and a more planted feel. Yes there is a bit more road feedback. I also have nokia winter rubber (215 hakka 2) and the combination is great especially in the snow. It is a fairly straight forward process of replacing them yourself. Also a good time to do the rear spring pad swap to lower the rear suspension a touch for a more level stance. Many have posted before about making sure the fronts get the right washer placement. Read up on the proper placement ( I dont remember off the top of my head). I found it a good time to look at all mechanical systems (brakes/cv boots etc) while under the van.

      Enjoy

      Rob

    8. 04-21-2011 11:08 AM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by MtnVariant View Post
      Many have posted before about making sure the fronts get the right washer placement.
      Basically the stock shocks have a metal upper housing and this is adequate for the weight to rest on.

      The Bilsteins have pretty much just a silicone dust boot (not metal) as the upper housing. So you need to ensure that you use a large flat washer (I forget if it's included or if it's something you re-use from your existing setup) right on top of it so that the washer serves as a sort of platform to bear the weight. Sounds weak/cheesy, yes, but works. If you don't use it, you'll break the shock.

      EDIT: Hmmm now that I think about it, the washer I think is included. It's tempting to discard it as an extra/non-applicable part since your existing setup doesn't have it, but it's VERY necessary/applicable.

    9. 04-21-2011 12:06 PM #9
      I have used Bilstein on a number of VW's including a '90 Vanagon Carat with great results.

      Now my '01 MV needs new shocks and I'm thinking of using Koni after chatting with a well-reputed VW shop.

      Tirerack currently has Koni on sale for the Eurovan.

      Anybody use Koni?

    10. Member max asst's Avatar
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      05-09-2011 10:32 AM #10
      I put in the Bilstein HD shocks at all 4 corners, installed by a mechanic about 70,000 miles ago. I didn't see the work done myself since I was at work, but the mechanic informed me that he had to reuse a washer for the fronts. Ride difference was night and day. Even now, with milage at almost 140,000, it still rides smoother and more controlled than the stocks.

    11. Member VW_Enthu1's Avatar
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      05-09-2011 10:54 AM #11
      Well, I can't tell you about the Bilsteins, but tonight I'll be able to tell you how the $40.00/each Monroe Sensa Trac's work-out (ordered on the web). I pick up the van tonight. I know I know...I'm cheap...

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      06-15-2011 01:21 AM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by VW_Enthu1 View Post
      Well, I can't tell you about the Bilsteins, but tonight I'll be able to tell you how the $40.00/each Monroe Sensa Trac's work-out (ordered on the web). I pick up the van tonight. I know I know...I'm cheap...
      so ?

    13. 06-15-2011 11:58 AM #13
      Ordered Koni's yesterday, impression to follow...

    14. Member VW_Enthu1's Avatar
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      06-16-2011 11:23 AM #14
      Nobody eeeeeever searches the other threads. I started a whole thread on this one (shocks).

      http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthrea...ck-replacement

      That should clear it up. There are viable, affordable options to Bilsteins.

    15. 07-14-2011 11:55 AM #15
      Koni shocks freshly installed on 2001 MV with 120K miles riding on 235/6016 Kumho Road Venture tires. These are adjustable, well made units worth the cost. At this time they are set to full-soft. The van is currently empty for motorcycle hauling and the ride is great with or without a bike & gear.

    16. Junior Member Lugboot's Avatar
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      02-07-2012 09:11 AM #16
      Good to see information about different shocks and tires. Call me strange, but I am looking at going the other way with our van--up! We have a 2000 GLS that I am considering the GoWesty lift kit and BFG AT tires for. We live on top of a mountain, on a dirt road, and I would like some serious chutzpah in the tires. They take a beating. As a side note, I am also considering replacing suspension bushings, ball joints, etc., to get ride of a lot of suspension clunking and popping.

      However, the GoWesty lift kit is meant for Weekenders and Campers so I am wondering if it is overkill for a lighter(?) GLS, and the resulting ride will be undesireable. We have ti set up for camping--can pull out all the seats and have a two-piece, aluminum framed sleeping platform that fits in the back with storage underneath for camping gear. When loaded for traveling, it'll definitely have some weight, with a roof box and hitch rack with two mtn bikes.

      SO, bottom line, is the GoWesty lift kit with Bilstein HD shocks overkill for the lighter GLS? Or will it be okay?

    17. 02-07-2012 11:17 AM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by Lugboot View Post
      SO, bottom line, is the GoWesty lift kit with Bilstein HD shocks overkill for the lighter GLS? Or will it be okay?
      IMHO while lighter, a GLS is still a 4200lb vehicle and loaded up with people and gear for camping, etc you're still looking at upwards of 4500lbs. For going higher, I would still want a firm suspension for control.

      FWIW, I have a 93 GL which by all means would be lighter than a 2000 GLS and I have Bilstein HDs and love them.

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      02-08-2012 01:46 PM #18
      look carefully at the kit from gowesty. it is intended for the camper specifically, in that it includes a single spring pad to "level" the van from its factory lean.

      In my opinion you'd be best using the Bilstein HD and adding a set of thick spring pads to replace the thin ones that are on the (i'm stretching my memory from my install) bottom. You say you're sourcing your own tires, so the kit that you mention has nothing to offer you unless you want their wider rims.

      better yet, skim through this thread i found searching the part # for the spring pads 7d0-511-147.
      http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthrea...er-spring-pads

      Good luck.

    19. Junior Member Lugboot's Avatar
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      02-16-2012 08:55 AM #19
      Thanks for the input, guys. I thought the GLS would still be okay with the HDs and you confirmed my thinking. Also, thanks for the spring pad info--good point on the different requirements of the GLS.

      GoWesty is actually offering a kit now with the BFG tires.

      Eurovan Lift Kit with BFGs

    20. Junior Member Lugboot's Avatar
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      02-16-2012 09:09 AM #20
      Here's a couple pics GoWesty was kind enough to send me when I was asking about tire clearance issues. The van in the pics is a Weekender with the BFG lift kit on. It shows the rear wheel/fender.




    21. Junior Member Parafanaylya's Avatar
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      02-19-2012 04:36 PM #21
      I have Bilsteins on my T5 - see here

      At 140 000mi the Bilsteins are still going strong!
      Your South African VW connection

    22. Junior Member
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      02-27-2012 04:30 PM #22
      If there is one thing I'm beginning to understand about VW, they do things a little bit differently...compared to (cough) Toyota, for example. That said, I'm hoping someone (gti_matt ) may be able to share their experiences. As always, thanks for any help!

    23. 02-27-2012 05:39 PM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by euroger View Post
      If there is one thing I'm beginning to understand about VW, they do things a little bit differently...compared to (cough) Toyota, for example.
      Which can be a good thing. The Eurovan at the time it debuted was the only van on the US market with an independent rear suspension. All others were beams or live axles (and some even leaf springs (e.g.: Chrysler T115 vans)). Back around 2003 we rode with friends from San Diego to Dana Point and one of them specifically remarked how well my 2000 rode in the rear cabin unlike other vans.

      Quote Originally Posted by euroger View Post
      That said, I'm hoping someone (gti_matt ) may be able to share their experiences. As always, thanks for any help!
      Quote Originally Posted by gti_matt View Post
      I had them on the front of my '93 and loved them. The worst part really of a Eurovan isn't the suspension being too stiff; it's the stiff-sidewall tires I think that make the ride loud and sometimes harsh over sharp bumps. The Bilsteins have great control and ride qualities. I would go for it and use them.
      Quote Originally Posted by gti_matt View Post
      IMHO while lighter, a GLS is still a 4200lb vehicle and loaded up with people and gear for camping, etc you're still looking at upwards of 4500lbs. For going higher, I would still want a firm suspension for control.

      FWIW, I have a 93 GL which by all means would be lighter than a 2000 GLS and I have Bilstein HDs and love them.
      I still stand by my above assessments. The Bilstein HDs are fine and to my liking on my '93 GL.

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      02-29-2012 10:42 AM #24
      The Bilsteins (B46-1911 fronts; B46-1912 rears) arrived yesterday...now to get them installed. Any links detailing removal/installation procedures?

    25. 02-29-2012 11:31 AM #25
      Rear:

      1. Jack up van, put jackstand under it, remove jack.

      2. Remove wheel.

      3. Support trailing arm with jack (find a good spot to prop it up that doesn't damage anything).

      4. Undo shock top-to-body bolt (19mm I think, maybe 18mm) and lower shock to trailing arm bolt (13mm I think, maybe 14mm). The upper bolt tends to be a bit tight so use whatever gives you leverage and it sometimes helps also to use an extension to get your wrench outside the wheel well, although I did snap an extension this way. I have also used the lug wrench handle from the car and slid that over my ratchet as a cheater bar to get more length and leverage.

      5. Remove shock.

      6. Installation is the reverse of removal, use your jack under the control arm to help line up holes for you to make threading bolts easy. Note any lower doughnuts on the old shock (if they came out w/the shock or if they are still in the control arm). If they're in good shape you can re-use them. If not, buy new ones (inexpensive). Lower shock bolt may or may not be the same size; if new bolts came w/the shock, use the new ones.

      Front:

      1. Jack up van, put jackstand under it, remove jack.

      2. Remove wheel.

      3. Prop up suspension assembly so that there's little/no tension on the shock.

      5. Remove loooong lower shock bolt (21 or 22mm I think). It's sleeved so the entire thing isn't threaded. It helps to have a mallet and a screwdriver to help sort of punch it out sometimes or after the nut is off, try to angle your wrench slightly and pull on the bolt as you turn and it'll slide easier.

      6. Unbolt upper shock-to-body plate (17 or 18 or 19mm I can't quite remember but something like that). Remove shock and plate together.

      7. Remove plate from shock, noting any rubber doughnuts and noting where/how the metal upper shock boot/cover is positioned in the "sandwich" of plate and doughnuts. Buy new doughnuts if they're worn (cheap).

      8. Bolt new shock to plate with rubber doughnuts in the same position as before. Also note that the old shock had a metal upper boot/cover most likely and the Bilsteins have a silicon boot, but the Bilsteins do have a large flat washer in lieu of the cover. You must use this washer in the same place as where the old shock's upper metal cover was resting, as this washer then sits on the shock and distributes the weight.

      9. Reinstall shock-and-plate assembly into the van, using the jack under the suspension to fine-tune positioning of the lower bolt hole.

    26. Junior Member
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      02-29-2012 03:49 PM #26
      Thanks again gti_matt...you're the best! Probably won't get at it till the weekend (hopefully).

    27. 03-01-2012 10:20 AM #27
      Quote Originally Posted by euroger View Post
      Thanks again gti_matt...you're the best! Probably won't get at it till the weekend (hopefully).
      Now that I've done it a few times, I have it down to about a 90-minute job from start to finish including clean up. As long as you don't have any stuck bolts giving you grief, it's not that hard and not terribly time consuming.

      I should clarify that the reason for using the car's jack to support the suspension is so it takes the tension for you while you undo bolts. On the rear suspension, the shock's travel is the only thing that prevents the trailing arm from fully swinging down to the floor so that's why you want a jack under it to get it back up into position before you remove the shock in the first place.
      Last edited by gti_matt; 03-01-2012 at 10:23 AM.

    28. Junior Member
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      03-03-2012 09:58 PM #28
      In an attempt to compensate for the 'falling-forward-feeling'...while riding in the rear bench seat/flip-out bed, I've been contemplating lowering the rear of my '03 EVMV ('non-poptop' model). After reading some older posts on the subject however, I'm a bit confused as to the best method of going about it.

      Should I invest in new springs and/or different doughnut thickness? Perhaps I'd be better off leaving the Bilsteins shock install and (contemplated) rear lowering mod, to those more qualified? Unfortunately, I'm at a bit of a loss where to take it.

    29. Member chendermi's Avatar
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      03-05-2012 08:09 AM #29
      If you feel like you are falling forward in the rear seat, maybe the problem is that the front end has sagged. That's a noted problem with the front torsion bar suspension. Have that checked (it is easy to do). I needed to raise my 2003 and 2001 to stock height and it made a big difference in ride quality as well.

      Back to the main topic: just replaced Bilstein HDs with regular Bilsteins on a 2003MVWK. Liked the handling of the HDs, but it just getting too harsh on the roads here. The regular Bilsteins give a more comfortable ride, though I was aware of the winds over the weekend on a 350-mile round trip. Granted, it was very windy here.

    30. Junior Member
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      03-05-2012 11:22 PM #30
      Quote Originally Posted by chendermi View Post
      If you feel like you are falling forward in the rear seat, maybe the problem is that the front end has sagged. That's a noted problem with the front torsion bar suspension. Have that checked (it is easy to do). I needed to raise my 2003 and 2001 to stock height and it made a big difference in ride quality as well.
      Do you know what the "stock height" is/where would I find the specs?

    31. 03-06-2012 04:52 PM #31
      On a 2001-2001 that already have a lowered suspension from the factory, new rear springs won't get you much more lowering, so for the bang-for-the-buck I probably wouldn't quite bother (at lesat not with the full H&R Cup Kit which is pricey, often close to $800, but the springs a-la carte were usually about $200). On a 2001-2003 I would go for thinner spring pads instead as a bang-for-the-buck option.

    32. Junior Member
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      03-06-2012 05:46 PM #32
      Quote Originally Posted by gti_matt View Post
      On a 2001-2001 that already have a lowered suspension from the factory, new rear springs won't get you much more lowering, so for the bang-for-the-buck I probably wouldn't quite bother (at lesat not with the full H&R Cup Kit which is pricey, often close to $800, but the springs a-la carte were usually about $200). On a 2001-2003 I would go for thinner spring pads instead as a bang-for-the-buck option.
      Too late...pulled the trigger this morning . Oh well, at least I'll be able to say our EV has Bilsteins and H&R springs or, I should say...will have. Seriously, they claim 1.5 - 2" lower (on average), which should be just about right.

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      03-07-2012 07:54 PM #33
      Quote Originally Posted by euroger View Post
      ...they claim 1.5 - 2" lower (on average), which should be just about right.
      Failing that...I could always let the air out of the rear tires.

    34. 03-08-2012 12:09 PM #34
      Quote Originally Posted by euroger View Post
      Too late...pulled the trigger this morning . Oh well, at least I'll be able to say our EV has Bilsteins and H&R springs or, I should say...will have. Seriously, they claim 1.5 - 2" lower (on average), which should be just about right.
      If the new springs for the back truly don't make a huge enough difference for you, I'm sure that someone here will buy them for their 1993-2000 (post 'em up on the classifieds). That'll make a 1993-2000 owner happy and you can recoup most of your money on the portion for the springs.

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      03-08-2012 01:41 PM #35
      Quote Originally Posted by gti_matt View Post
      If the new springs for the back truly don't make a huge enough difference for you, I'm sure that someone here will buy them for their 1993-2000 (post 'em up on the classifieds). That'll make a 1993-2000 owner happy and you can recoup most of your money on the portion for the springs.
      Thanks for all the help/advice gti_matt! I'll see how the install goes and post my comments when I've 'lived' with them (new shocks/springs) awhile. I'll try posting some photos as well...if I ever figure out how to do it.

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