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VW MKIV-A4 TDIs (VE and PD) This is a general discussion about A4/MkIV Jetta (99.5-~2005), Golf(99.5-2006), and New Beetle(98-2006). Both VE and PD engines are covered here.

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Old July 15th, 2017, 21:22   #1
DCannon
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Default Which shocks for 02 Jetta TDI, standard suspension/springs?

I'm looking to replace the shocks on all four corners of my 02 Jetta TDI with 87k, and want the basic same ride and driving characteristics as when new. Not into any mods. I know shocks have been discussed ad-nauseum but I've done a lot of searching for input from MkIV Jetta drivers who have installed new shocks using the standard suspension/springs with no mods, but constantly find input from those who have lowered, modded, or use different springs, and only speak of sport/HD shocks. One of the reasons I bought the car was the balance of a surprisingly comfortable ride with good handling for a relatively small car. I like straight-line speed, but not into heavy cornering, or getting it on the track, so don't need nor want sport/HD shocks. Yeah, I'm getting older but certainly don't want the floaty feel of an old Caddy, Buick, or Olds. I simply want a reasonably comfy, non-jarring ride with good control on most road surfaces, as my car was when new. I like road feel, just not every little crack or dip. I make a lot of trips from Huntsville to Columbia, TN to visit a good friend, and the bridge joints on I-65 are awful, sometimes feeling like hitting a frost heave. So, I'm looking to make that experience a bit easier on myself and the car.

After reading many reviews, I've been considering OEM Sachs or Koni reds. If anyone out there has a car similar to mine and has installed new shocks on a standard suspension with no mods, I'd be interested in which shocks you installed and your input/suggestions.

DC

Last edited by DCannon; July 15th, 2017 at 21:46.
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Old July 16th, 2017, 03:54   #2
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I agree with Koni Reds. Although by most people's standards they aren't firm, they will feel firmer than worn out stock shocks. I have them on my Wagon and like them better than any of the other 7 or so setups I've had on the car.

I've found that Optimal dampers ride closer to OE Sachs, and reasonably priced. My son has these on his Jetta Sedan: they're a bit too soft for my taste, but they ride very much like the car did new.

Shameless plug: Here's the set: http://www.idparts.com/oe-replacemen...a4-p-4251.html

You should also replace mounts as they're worn out at this point, especially the fronts.
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Old July 16th, 2017, 07:40   #3
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I've gone by what Peter says and I've always ended up happy.

I installed Koni Reds on the daughter's wagon. No real mods other than better real axle bushings. The car's ride is excellent. Her driving conditions are more harsh (city) than that which my wife and I face. I was satisfied enough in the ride/performance of these shocks that I ordered another set for the wife's Golf.

I have Koni STR.Ts on my Golf. No suspension mods here either (but better rear axle bushings). These are absolutely perfect for me, for my driving conditions. Sportier ride. Firm, but not harsh: I have another Golf with different sport shocks (no suspension mods), not Konis, and they are harsh (if I were in the city these would have been swapped out).
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Old July 16th, 2017, 08:01   #4
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I also agree....Koni reds on my wifes 04 jetta provide the best balance between comfort and handling of any mk4 suspesion I've ever driven, period.
Oem from the dealer is another option that provides a really comfortable but slightly less firm ride.
Both of those options have held up really well after many miles.
Over the years we (our family has 5 mk4's currently on the road) have found many aftermarket struts/shocks simply do not last and/or are much too firm/harsh.
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Old July 16th, 2017, 09:07   #5
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Down side to Koni's from what I have read is their tendency to rust in salt using states.
Due to the reviews I have seen, I would say stock or another equivalent.
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Old July 16th, 2017, 09:33   #6
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Whether or not you agree that Konis have a problem with rusting, they have a lifetime warranty. And the OP is in Alabama, so I doubt it would be an issue regardless.
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Old July 16th, 2017, 10:17   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCannon View Post
I'm looking to replace the shocks on all four corners of my 02 Jetta TDI with 87k, and want the basic same ride and driving characteristics as when new.
FWIW, I'm in your same boat and bought Bilstein B4 'comfort' shocks/struts - not the sport ones. Did the rears last weekend and may attempt the front today. Picked them for the same reason - looking for stock performance though they are advertised as 20% stiffer than stock.
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Old July 16th, 2017, 10:36   #8
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Another option. Oem quality and ride.

http://www.metalmanparts.com/product...&categoryId=40
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Old July 16th, 2017, 10:54   #9
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I've found you get what you pay for....the cheaper "oem quality" struts don't last.
And Bilsteins are too harsh.
They all will rust eventualy but, my Koni reds are still in excellent condition after 5 yrs in a very high salt environment.
The best I've found to resist rust has been oem from the dealer and their prices weren't all that dear.
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Old July 16th, 2017, 12:18   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndigoBlueWagon View Post
Whether or not you agree that Konis have a problem with rusting, they have a lifetime warranty. And the OP is in Alabama, so I doubt it would be an issue regardless.
Curious what the warranty replacement process is on the Koni's.
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Old July 16th, 2017, 13:02   #11
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I have koni oranges with gli lowering springs and complete new suspension bushings and joints. Ride is really nice. Stiff on big dips otherwise really nice daily ride and handling. My wife doesn't mind the ride so it's not jarring but nicely responsive when u want to hit the turns. My buddy has koni golds that ride amazing but you have to dip into your pockets further then I wanted. No complaints with the oranges here.
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Old July 16th, 2017, 13:45   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eddieleephd View Post
Curious what the warranty replacement process is on the Koni's.
You send in your old shock(s) and if they find it/them to be defective they replace it/them. I encountered an issue in which I got a bad one right from the get-go; daughter's wagon so I submitted a request and paid up-front for a replacement (because I didn't have the car on-hand to pull the shock; and, I couldn't have the car for an extended period of time). Given that this was essentially a brand new shock (I'd installed it and had to send the car off with the daughter- I'd verified that things were safe, just had a clunking) I wasn't real happy with having to shell out for shipping (for return). Because there's nothing else that really compares I went ahead and got another set (for the wife's car). Figured I'd exhausted all of my bad luck.
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Old July 16th, 2017, 18:18   #13
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Thanks for all the input. I really appreciate it.

In response to 03TDICommuter and the rest just as an FYI...
I put Bilstein B4 TCs in the rear about a month ago with new mounts, bolts, sleeves, and jounce bumpers, even though all those parts were still good (which I kept). Those factory rear shocks were completely shot and I could easily depress the shafts with one finger. The local VW specialty shop I've used for years, Johnson Foreign Auto, checked the suspension when I began noticing some tire cupping on relatively new Michelins, and the only issue they found was the front control arm bushings needing replacing, which they did. They also said the rear shocks were probably gone, and the fronts close behind. To combat the outside edge tire cupping, I ran the pressure at 34lbs all around until I could figure out which way to go with shocks. That's when I decided to try the TCs on the rear since it's an easy replacement and they weren't expensive. After installing the TCs, I forgot to set the rear tire pressure back to 28-30, so the ride was stiff and a bit harsh. After lowering the tire pressure, it's a better ride, but still a bit stiff. Not harsh, just stiffer than I remember the ride when new. I'm afraid the TCs all around would be a bit too stiff for my taste.

There's no way I want to tackle installing front struts, so will have Johnson Foreign Auto do it when I decide which way to go. Jay, the owner, said most of the shock replacements they do on the MkIV are the Sachs OEM, but have done several Konis, Bilsteins, and other brands. He agreed with most people here that the Billys are inherently stiffer than other shocks, but last quite a while. I read about Konis rusting, but as mentioned, I'm in north Alabama where it may snow on occasion, but rarely enough to deal with salt. I'm from Chicago and know all about that scenario. I do like the idea of the Koni lifetime warranty and the ability to dial in the firmness on the reds as they age. I would probably go with the reds at full soft or possibly 1/4 turn in.

Leaning toward Koni reds but still thinking about which way to go. Considering labor cost for the fronts, I only want to do this one time. Again, appreciate all the input.

DC
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Old July 16th, 2017, 22:02   #14
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Quote:
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I'm afraid the TCs all around would be a bit too stiff for my taste.
I'll let you know tomorrow how different it feels. I did put the front struts in today, I also used PowerFlex purple strut mounts which is supposed to not increase harshness but really tighten up the steering response.
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Old July 17th, 2017, 12:34   #15
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I'll let you know tomorrow how different it feels. I did put the front struts in today, I also used PowerFlex purple strut mounts which is supposed to not increase harshness but really tighten up the steering response.
Definitely stiffer - with the old strut the front felt floaty. Not floaty anymore. The new strut mounts + new struts raised the front I'd estimate about an inch and a half (old mounts were quite compressed). Steering is noticeably better/precise with the new mounts.

But yeah - you wouldn't like these. On bad roads it's jarring. On the freeway it's pretty nice until you reach a bad section with lifted expansion joints. FWIW, the powerflex mounts did not add any additiona cabin noise that I can tell.
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