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VW MKIII-A3/B4 TDIs This is a discussion about MKIII-A3/MkIII Jetta/Golf (<99.5) and B4 Passats (96,97) TDI's. Non TDI related postings will be moved or removed.

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Old February 15th, 2019, 09:09   #1
thechoochlyman
 
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Default Opinions needed on front end rebuild

Took the B4 in for an alignment last weekend without good news. The car wants to pull to the right and has been that way for a while now. It seems to have gotten slightly worse over the last year, but it initially started doing it after a black ice incident about a year ago.

My trusted alignment guy showed me a few glaring issues - loose right tie rod, loose right rear lower control arm bushing (allowing the wheel to get pushed back), and bent struts from what he could tell (I already have a slightly used loaded pair I can install). On top of this, my front rotors have over 100k miles on them and are due to be replaced.

Looking back on the PO's maintenance, both complete tie rods were replaced around 105k miles ago. I'm obviously going to replace both struts because I think it's necessary, but how far should I go with the front end? Should I replace the entire control arm or just the bushings? Should I only do one side or both? Should I replace both tie rods or just the loose one? Should I do the ball joints while I'm in there?

Obviously, replacing everything on both sides would be the best option. But I'm afraid I'm short on both time and money for that kind of undertaking.
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Old February 15th, 2019, 17:03   #2
Mongler98
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Well, if you got no time, get assembled c-arms, Most of the time you can get them assembled cheaper than the individual parts.
All in all, looks like a good $200 in parts. I would get the control arms fixed and replace the ball joints and tierods. Swap out your struts. rotors and pads are CHEAP, i would just put some cheep pads on it for now and save the money for later. Tires are defiantly the highest cost here and driving it as is, is going to EAT TF out of your tires.
With the right tools ( you can rent them for free) this is a weekend job at most. Price it out!
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Old February 17th, 2019, 05:33   #3
garciapiano
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Replace everything and get it aligned. Suspension is not a place you want to skimp on maintenance especially if you deal with ice during the winter.
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Old February 17th, 2019, 22:48   #4
Steve Addy
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I would do it all while I'm in there, the parts are not all that expensive and then you'll be sure that your alignment will end up good.

As for replacing control arms I wouldn't bother unless yours are really bad, besides, you will want to substitute the TT rear arm bushing for the standard B4/Mk3 bushing so if you bought a loaded control arm you'd be wasting that bushing.

If it were me I would replace anything that you can while you're in there, including your steering rack boots and anything else that's a wear item.

Steve
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Old February 19th, 2019, 08:10   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Addy View Post
I would do it all while I'm in there, the parts are not all that expensive and then you'll be sure that your alignment will end up good.

As for replacing control arms I wouldn't bother unless yours are really bad, besides, you will want to substitute the TT rear arm bushing for the standard B4/Mk3 bushing so if you bought a loaded control arm you'd be wasting that bushing.

If it were me I would replace anything that you can while you're in there, including your steering rack boots and anything else that's a wear item.

Steve
Yeah, per the other replies as well I'm just going to get the cash together and do everything.

Why would I need to substitute the TT rear arm bushing? I actually just remembered the strut set I bought for the car initially came with those bushings. I just need to find them.
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2.5" Straight-pipe exhaust • CCV/EGR Deleted • Malone Stage 3, 2.0 IQ • Autometer Gauges • Billet Stuff
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Old February 19th, 2019, 17:43   #6
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You bought struts and they came with CA bushings?

TT bushings are solid rubber, without voids. They’ll last longer.

-Todd
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Old February 19th, 2019, 19:49   #7
Steve Addy
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What Todd said.

This is a TT (or R32 Golf) lower control arm bushing (rear bushing).



This is the standard Mk2/Mk3/B3/B4 control arm bushing for the same location.



Notice that the first is solid all the way around and the second has voids in the rubber on both sides. The TT bushing stands up better over time.

Steve
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Old February 20th, 2019, 07:09   #8
thechoochlyman
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddA1 View Post
You bought struts and they came with CA bushings?
TT bushings are solid rubber, without voids. They’ll last longer.
-Todd
Aha - thank you!
I should have phrased that differently. I ordered a "front end refresh kit" or something similarly phrased when I replaced all my struts just for the bump stops, boots, and so on. It also came with two of the solid CA bushings.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Addy View Post
What Todd said.
This is a TT (or R32 Golf) lower control arm bushing (rear bushing).
This is the standard Mk2/Mk3/B3/B4 control arm bushing for the same location.
Notice that the first is solid all the way around and the second has voids in the rubber on both sides. The TT bushing stands up better over time.
Steve
Awesome - thanks for the pic! These are the ones I just so happen to already have.



So this is the current list of things I'm looking at replacing. Let me know if I'm missing anything.

LCA Rear bushings which I already have.
Front bushings
Loaded struts
Discs and pads
Wheel bearings, just because...
Complete tie rods (which tool do I need to remove? I'll search too.)
Rack/Pinion boot (I already have the clip crimping tool)
Ball joints, just because...
Stabilizer bar bushings
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1997 Passat 5 speed - No longer bi-tone
2.5" Straight-pipe exhaust • CCV/EGR Deleted • Malone Stage 3, 2.0 IQ • Autometer Gauges • Billet Stuff
Billet Coolant Flanges - Idler Pulleys - CCV plates - Window Guide Clips
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Old February 20th, 2019, 15:17   #9
ToddA1
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Are strut mounts and bearings, part of the loaded struts?
Steering rack bushings?

I probably wouldn’t do the wheel bearings, but if you’re using the “just because” mentality, add subframe bushings.

-Todd
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Old February 21st, 2019, 05:29   #10
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The strut mounts and bearings are already mounted to them, if that's what you mean. But I'll double-check.

If you honestly don't think it's necessary I'm 100% fine with skipping wheel bearings. They're not noisy. Just figured it would be one of those recommended jobs while it's torn apart.
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1997 Passat 5 speed - No longer bi-tone
2.5" Straight-pipe exhaust • CCV/EGR Deleted • Malone Stage 3, 2.0 IQ • Autometer Gauges • Billet Stuff
Billet Coolant Flanges - Idler Pulleys - CCV plates - Window Guide Clips
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Old February 21st, 2019, 15:22   #11
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Since they’re problem free, leave them alone. The can be swapped at a later time, without disrupting the alignment.

-Todd
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Old March 7th, 2019, 06:50   #12
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So I finished my car off this morning with a fresh alignment which went perfectly. I'm a very happy camper.

Here's a list of everything I did this time:
Both new tie rods and boots (the hardest part of the whole job)
LCA bushings
Ball Joints
Sway Bar Links
Loaded front struts I purchased slightly used several months back
Oil Change
Trans oil change with Lucas 75w-90 full synthetic (oh boy, shifting is so nice now)
Front Rotors
Ceramic ID parts Brake pads all around
Power bled all the calipers again, then let them all gravity bleed for at least an hour each

The $35 Inner tie rod tool from Harbor Freight worked quite well. I ended up using the 2 1/4" crowfoot for both the old and new tie rods. Putting an impact gun on it seemed to not do much good, so I ended up bending a 19mm wrench over to about 90 degrees to hold the rack rod steady, then had someone else loosen the tie rod with the harbor freight tool on a strongarm. Worked like a charm. The inner tie rod boots were the worst part though. Wouldn't have been so terrible if those clamps weren't such a B to tighten up.

FedEx lost my ball joints, so I had to order some in at AutoZone just to get things moving. And because the Duralast joints cost about $67 as compared to $25 for the pair of Febi Ball Joints I ordered on eBay, somebody is going to be reimbursing me for that. Then I broke off a sway bar link, which set me back two more days. Nobody local could get them to me sooner than one day, and they were all $35 each and up. I decided to buy a pair of them on Amazon for a mere $6 each and pay one-day shipping. Part number is Delphi TC2036 for anyone interested. Comes with grommets and nut as well. They're a pain to slip over the bar, but they do fit.
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1997 Passat 5 speed - No longer bi-tone
2.5" Straight-pipe exhaust • CCV/EGR Deleted • Malone Stage 3, 2.0 IQ • Autometer Gauges • Billet Stuff
Billet Coolant Flanges - Idler Pulleys - CCV plates - Window Guide Clips
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Old March 7th, 2019, 11:50   #13
Steve Addy
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Awesome, you'll be set for a while now.

Yes, the bar links are pretty tight but I've found spray silicone does wonders for making them go on the end.

I will be going through my front end shortly making sure that all things are up to snuff. Everything was replaced back in 2016 but that was 30k+ miles ago. Need to make sure it's all good and have another alignment done.

Steve
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Old March 7th, 2019, 11:59   #14
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Only thing I've done to my car's suspension since I've owned it (a little over 100k miles) is all four struts and rear HD wagon springs. This sort of rebuild has been a long time coming. I know at least one tie rod was replaced at some point, but I have no record of anything else. My car currently has 232k miles.

Also forgot to mention, this is what the right LCA bushing looked like.

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1997 Passat 5 speed - No longer bi-tone
2.5" Straight-pipe exhaust • CCV/EGR Deleted • Malone Stage 3, 2.0 IQ • Autometer Gauges • Billet Stuff
Billet Coolant Flanges - Idler Pulleys - CCV plates - Window Guide Clips
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Old March 7th, 2019, 12:37   #15
garciapiano
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When I did my rack boots recently, I forgot to push them all the way in on the tie rod and they promptly tore from being overextended and twisted during normal driving. They need to be pushed all the way on to the tie rod until they sit on the grooves on the rod and “relax”. Learn from my mistake.

Also, long-ass zip ties are my method of choice for securing the boot at the rack end. No need for the silly steel straps, But I’m sure there is some engineering reason for it. Zip ties are way easier to install and I have not had any failures.
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