Front spring broke. What's the best course?

2000alhVW

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Location
Silver Spring, MD
TDI
2000 Golf
2003 Jetta wagon, 57k miles. All original. Old lady owned, dealer maintained.

Woman died, car was sitting for a while. And I cold-approached the house where it was sitting in the driveway, unmoved, for weeks.

I buy it and negotiate under the "factors unknown" scenario.

Drive it away, it immediately makes a 'dungeon door' type of sound. "Hmm. Sounds like a coil on the spring popping around!"

I jack it up, immediately find the issue.
The top link of the coil spring on the front passenger strut broke off!


The retainer cup that the coil spring fits against does not fit anymore as the diameter of the spring is too large. The spring is now pressing against the shock tower of the unibody.

What is the best course of action here?
When considering replacing the spring itself, I was told that dis-assembling a strut is dangerous due to the spring force.
Additionally, the strut is likely 15 y/o w/60k miles. Do I really want to spend $ on a new spring and shop labor for a spring press?
Then I considered replacing the whole strut assembly, but then do I really want one new strut and then an old one on the other side?
Does this mean I have to shell out for 2 brand new strut assemblies even though they seems to be in fine condition (leak-wise and ride quality) other than a broken spring?
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
Up to you, whatever you want to do.

If it were me, I would probably just buy two new front springs, struts, mounts, and bearings and replace it all. That is more because the stock struts are a little soft for my liking anyway.

But, you could just replace the spring. You could certainly put a used one in there too. Volkswagen and Ford (on certain models) are both bad about broken coil springs, for some reason. And it can be pretty random.
 

Tdijarhead

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 10, 2013
Location
Lawrenceville PA
TDI
2003 TDI Jetta Daughters Car, 2001 TDI Beetle, Daughters car, 2005 Golf TDI Mine, all 5 spds
You sound like you got a good deal on this car. Even with only 60k it’s not like buying a car from a dealer lot. Nothing has been done to it for sometime from your description.

My rule of thumb is when you buy a car from someone’s yard or driveway you need to figure on an extra $1000 in parts, $2000 if you hire it done. Jeeps and VW’s tend to be twice that.

So with the money you save, get two new struts and springs and all the goodies that go with them.

I don’t really care for quickstruts but you could go that route, it would be easier if you do it yourself and don’t have a spring compressor. The quickstruts come already assembled with new struts, springs and bushings.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
Quickstruts are full of Chinese junk parts. Do not use them. Ever. On anything. Short lived, poorly made garbage. I've had to take piles of them back off. And what sucks is, then you have to go and find a used assembly to get all the proper pieces from like the spring perches, etc. Man that is a headache I have had to endure all too often here.

If you do not have a way to compress the spring, just take it to someone that does. Not a big deal.
 

Ol'Rattler

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 3, 2007
Location
PNA
TDI
2006 BRM Jetta
From my limited experience, don't buy anything made by Monroe and stay away from O'Reilly's or AutoBone for suspension parts unless you like changing out garbage parts frequently.
 

Tdijarhead

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 10, 2013
Location
Lawrenceville PA
TDI
2003 TDI Jetta Daughters Car, 2001 TDI Beetle, Daughters car, 2005 Golf TDI Mine, all 5 spds
Oooopps, I knew I was going to step in it.:)


I only mentioned quick struts because, it sounds like the OP is afraid of even touching the struts. In which case he should probably take it somewhere and have it done anyway.


I helped a guy put struts on the front of his Dodge pickup this summer, even though I have a spring compressor he didn't want to go that route. He insisted on some type of per-assembled strut so we went to Rock Auto and ordered Moog's, that came with KYB's if I recall correctly.


All I'll say is it was easier to do those struts than any others I've done recently. Whether they last is another story.
 

D-Cup

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2017
Location
San Antonio TX
TDI
2010 Jetta TDI Cup Edition, 2003 Jetta GLS, 2000 Jetta GLS, 2012 JSW
I bought a spring compressor tool (schawben?) for $20, pass-through socket set (or you can get metalnerd tool) for another $20 and triple square bits (long & stubby) for another $18 or something like that. Did full suspension replacements on ‘03, ‘06, and ‘10 Jettas.

If I were you I’d buy parts from idparts, tools from wherever, and put the suspension in good shape for the next 100k+ miles.

DIY, it’s not that bad. Congrats on the new-to-you wagen!
 

2000alhVW

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Location
Silver Spring, MD
TDI
2000 Golf
Thanks for the input.
I appreciate it.

I've never messed with suspension because I typically view it as something I can't DIY unless I buy a 'quick strut'. Quickstruts sound perfect, tbh. Like a no muss, no fuss option. No need to deal with potentially dangerous spring compressors or worrying about getting the right combination of springs with shocks.

It's unfortunate to hear they aren't typically quality components.
Maybe I'll try 'eBay coilovers' instead :p

I typically hate dealing with shops, because the reply is always 'oh we don't do that' to the simplest stuff... You'd think it would be a $20, 10 minute affair, but it's always "insurance this, policy that, liability blah blah".
"We don't work on customer provided parts. We can't warrantee that, and we don't do anything we can't warrantee. You would have to buy the strut and spring through us and have us install it."

Like jEEEEEZUSSS. Give it a rest.

But looks like I'm gonna be ordering a pair of slightly stiffer springs and see what that does to this grandma-mobile.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
Call around, I am sure you can find some shop that will swap your parts for you. I certainly would have no problem with it. Even a dealer might do it. It is pretty easy with the big bolted-to-the-wall Branick strut compressor like we have.
 

Ol'Rattler

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 3, 2007
Location
PNA
TDI
2006 BRM Jetta
Some Volkswagens left the factory with Monroe shock absorbers. ;)
I did not know that. Does Monroe have an OEM products line and an after market products line perhaps? My last Monroe purchase was about 15 years ago and may not have actually been Monroe, So there's that I guess............
 

Ol'Rattler

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 3, 2007
Location
PNA
TDI
2006 BRM Jetta
Another possibility is The tool loaner program O'Reilly's has. https://www.oreillyauto.com/rental-tools Make sure you don't buy your suspension parts there.

The trick with spring compressors is to never get any part of your body in harms way if something slipped when you are compressing a spring.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
Both Belgian-assembled B4 Passats and Brazillian-assembled A4 Golfs used Monroe rear shock absorbers, that were made in the same country, with VAG part numbers stamped right in them.

I'll try and get a pic the next time I see one (on the Golf... I doubt I'll see a B4 again).
 

2000alhVW

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Location
Silver Spring, MD
TDI
2000 Golf
I've decided to go the route of just replacing the springs, but I'm having a bit of trouble.
So first of all, the springs are almost always sold in pairs. Ok, fine. I'll just do the other side to match, even though it's perfectly fine as-is.
Second, it seems the Moog 81134 dominates the market. Even IDparts lists them. Super cheap, too. $40 shipped.
The part I'm having trouble with is, Moog or not, almost every set of springs seems to add lift. This is not something I'm sure I want... I'm certainly not interested in a goofy amount of fender gap, and I'm not interested in changing the tire size to compensate.
Additionally, I wouldn't want to induce any sort of rake and have it look awkward in that regard.

I'm fine with firming up the front end, but don't want lift any noticeable amount of lift.

What to do?
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
I can get a TRW set for about that, less actually (but that is wholesale).

Moog is just the box. They likely do not make any springs for a Volkswagen they put in that box. So whose they are is anyone's guess, but they are probably fine BUT they are probably going to lift the car a wee bit at least when new. Maybe an inch or so, then settle down.
 

ZippyNH

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2015
Location
Southern NH
TDI
2015 JETTA TDI SE
Always swap BOTH.
The car will appear that have a lift with a new set of springs...then settle...
If you only do one side you might have a different spring rate site to side...and the car will sit crookedly till it hopefully settles.
And me...I would install a pair of new struts...after sitting they are likely end if life if not dead...I like KYB...used them on a MINI, Toyota, and a Honda, good OEM quality product in the aftermarket.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
KYB stands for Keep Your Bilsteins. I would never recommend those. That is who makes all the short lived stuff on a lot of the Mazdas and GM products.

I used to work at a wholesaler that sold those, the return rate was crazy bad.
 

2000alhVW

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Location
Silver Spring, MD
TDI
2000 Golf
KYB stands for Keep Your Bilsteins. I would never recommend those. That is who makes all the short lived stuff on a lot of the Mazdas and GM products.
I used to work at a wholesaler that sold those, the return rate was crazy bad.
lol this is what I mean. The deeper I dig with suspension stuff, the more confused I get.
I just don't know up from down with manufacture reliability and other variables.
I don't want to just cheap out and scoop a set of used struts at the local pick-your-part, but this stuff can be daunting. Especially considering the wild variance in price.

Also, if I did want to replace everything, which all pieces do I buy? Obviously the coil spring and the strut, but VW diagrams show 10 pieces in the assembly, including bellows, the retainer cap, retainer cap bearing, a bushing, and a few other small pieces.

Another issue with not going the 'quick-strut' method is I have to hunt down all those pieces myself if they are consumables.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
The only pieces that need attention would be:

The coil spring (obviously, it is broken)

The shock absorber itself (the "strut")

The strut bearing (holds the weight of the car, allows the strut to turn when the front wheels turn)

The strut mounting bushing (the rubber part that fits into the socket in the body)

The jounce stopper can be swapped over so long as it isn't broken (the whitish-tan foam round thing that fits over the strut's piston)

The dust bellows can be swapped over so long as it isn't broken (goes over the jounce stopper)

Never seen an upper spring perch need replacement (the disc that is the top resting plate for the spring.... the lower is integral with the strut itself)

Sachs/Boge (part of the ZF group) is the OEM supplier for many VAG shock absorbers. It would be a good replacement for the stock stuff. Some cars also got Cofap, Bilstein, and others, but generally OEM means no matter who actually made it, it was made to whatever specifications the car maker wanted. Some are better than others, obviously, but they are all decent.

If you want something more durable, stiffer, but looks and fits exactly like what the car left the factory with, Bilsteins are excellent. They cost more, but chances are they'll outlast the originals. Out of the hundreds of Billy shocks and struts I have installed, I have only ever had one go bad, and that was 200k miles later. I have these on all my cars, even my F150. There are a couple levels offered.

Koni makes a decent replacement, but I have found they do not fit exactly like the OEMs or the Billy products, but will work perfectly fine and may cost less. There are also a couple levels of those.

Cofap is a decent lower cost alternative, and again is one of the OEM suppliers, so they'll look and fit perfectly.

There are certainly others, but in many cases they are just rebox. Monroe, Gabriel, etc.
 

2000alhVW

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Location
Silver Spring, MD
TDI
2000 Golf
Thanks for that comprehensive reply.
Most of the stuff I had vague intuition about, but that clears things up.

Is there anything special about the wagon suspension? I usually see wagons (in general) with heavier rated suspension
 
Last edited:

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
Rear springs, and technically the rear shocks are supposed to be different but some suppliers do not show any different parts.
 
Top