I successfully lifted my B4V Passat about 3"

Phi1osopher

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Jul 31, 2019
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Austin, TX
TDI
'96 B4V TDI Passat Wagon
Here's my freshly lifted '96 B4V Passat, Tulbirt. (Tulbirt is an acronym for "The Ultimate Low-Budget International Road Trip." )
My goal here is a simple increase of ground clearance for driving on poorly maintained non-paved roads while maintaining the best road touring handling possible. I am aware this will require a compromise of a decreased "track-style" handling, but I hope it will be a minor compromise.
This post is a continuation of a thread I started a while ago: LINK

Yesterday I finished the rather large project of replacing EVERY SINGLE suspension component while also fabricating an approximate 3" lift. I went with yellow Bilstein "B6" shocks, which are really very nice! While working yesterday I rebuilt another new lower control arm with upgraded components (Audi TT rear bushing), fabricated and installed the lift kit, and made some tweaks, cuts, etc to the car's chassis to make it all fit. The front tires are still slightly larger than the rears, and I hope to get matching slightly bigger tires soon.

Shocks are upgraded to Bilstein B6 22-247513 (front), and Bilstein B6 24-015974 (rear). They basically have the same travel as stock. These shocks are 100% compatible with a stock Passat B4V, and an excellent upgrade.

Springs are Moog 81134 (front), and Monroe SP0495 (rear) I understand these rear springs were offered as an OEM upgrade for B4V Passat wagons as part of their optional towing packager, and were only available from Europe. Both springs are slightly more stiff than stock, but only nominally so. Ride performance is only a bit more firm than stock. These springs should also be 100% compatible with an otherwise stock, non-lifted Passat. My old springs almost certainly were original, and thus a bit worn out. The front was lifted about 0.5" with these springs - which probably was the result of removing old sag and a return to stock height. These rear springs lifted the back about 1", but this probably was from old saggy springs, plus these beefier "towing springs" are known to slightly raise the rear.

The purple urethane front strut mount bushings are Powerflex PFF85-239x2. I don't notice any performance change from these. I got about 0.5" to 0.75"" of a lift from these, but my old original upper strut bushings were very worn out, and these are conspicuously taller than stock. I anticipate they will last longer too.

For the actual lift I made spacers for the rear, and in the front I used some washers plus these "tie rod spacers" as strut extenders: LINK

My goal was to maintain sporty short-travel, Autobahn-worthy suspension performance but with increased ground clearance. Short travel, with enhanced anti-roll, as opposed to an off-road long-travel set up. My suspension components were all old and worn out before the lift, and the parts I used should all fit well as a substantial suspension upgrade on an otherwise stock Passat without lifting the car. After my first 50 or so miles I think I nailed it!!

Why would I lift my Passat??? I bought Tulbirt for 'The Ultimate Low-Budget International Road Trip!' (Admittedly I am starting to move from "Low-Budget" into "Medium-Budget" $$$ territory.) For me this means driving down poorly maintained dirt roads in Mexico, and other neat places. I once had a 6" rock strike my oil pan on a dirt road out in the middle of a Mexican nowhere, and I was very lucky it didn't puncture or break anything!!

I think it is important tpo note that the limiting factor for the lift height is determined by my driveline angles. If I try to go too high the CV axles will come into physical contact with metal things, namely the passenger side will hit the lower control arm's front pivot point, which of course must be avoided. I used a grinder to help clearance this a few extra millimetres, and it should be fine.

Basically the car now has significantly upgraded stock suspension that is slightly more stiff with much better shocks/struts; the suspension travel is approximately the same as stock, and the car sits in the middle of the travel like stock -- or in other words I have maintained completely normal up and down travel. It just sits a bit higher.


Picture time!

This is July 27, 2019, the day I bought Tulbirt. Such a happy day!!



Yesterday, as the car sits now.



There's now this much clearance between my coffee cup and the oil pan. You don't have to look too hard to see where a maybe fist-sized rock made a substantial ding along the bottom of that oil pan! One of my next projects will be to fabricate some sort of skid plate armor for this fragile area.



There's this much clearance on the sides of the car.
Morning coffee for scale.



These are my before and after suspension notes.
"A" is fender to wheel center
"B" is fender to ground (this will change with different tire sizes)
"C" is un-sprung (lifted in air) fender to center.
"1" is before, "2" is rebuilt front, but not lifted, "3" is current.
I basically got about 3" lift in the front, and about 3.5" in the back. Both front and back have about 3" to 4" un-sprung travel.
Also, the car actually sits more level now.
All things considered, I'm happy with this. Time to put some miles on the car to see how things settle in.



Front Bilstein shocks (22-247513) with new bump stops, bellows, and the new Moog 81134 springs next to my OEM "pink-pink-pink-green" springs. note the Moog springs are slightly thicker and taller, with an additional coil.



One of the front assembled front struts with "5 washers" for about 1" of lift.



A detailed image of the "5 washers" lift. This setup yielded a front lift that was about 26" from the fender to the ground - with 195/70-14" tires



This is the M14 x 1.5mm "tie rod extender" i used to extend the front an additional 2". This is the thread pattern of my Bilstein B6 shocks; I don't know if this is the same thread pattern of the OEM ones. eBay LINK



continued...
 
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Phi1osopher

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Jul 31, 2019
Location
Austin, TX
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'96 B4V TDI Passat Wagon
...Front struts continued

Here are the fully lifted front shocks/struts installed.



And here is a detail of the lifted front. From the spring mount, moving up the shock, I have the stock spring perch/mount, the strut bearing, Normally the strut spring retaining nut would be HERE, but instead there are four washers, one M14 x 1.5mm 2" strut extender serving as the spring retaining nut, one more washer, then the stock spring retaining nut (as it is a centering fit inside the upper strut bushing), then the purple bushing. The strut is then mounted, and I have the stock upper strut retaining hat, and stock strut top nut. Translation: in addition to the stock setup, there are 5 extra washers and one strut extender.



The Rear struts assembled with all new bump stops, bellows, upper mounting bushings, etc.



Comparing my stock rear springs to the OEM towing package optional upgraded replacement ones (Monroe SP0495). You will see the new ones are slightly taller and thicker, and these also have an extra coil compared to my stock springs.



This is the lift spacer I made for the rear struts. I used two solid wheels I had in the workshop from an old +1200lb tool box. I added steel sleeves for the bolts to further reduce compression. They seem like they will easily be robust enough for this application. They are temporarily wrapped in electrical tape to assist me with their installation.



The fully assembled, lifted rear strut assembly.



Here are the rear struts installed.



Anyway. YAY! I did it. The car feels great going down the road!! There's something really wonderful about driving these fabulous old cars.
Low Budget Adventures awaits! ♥
 
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Phi1osopher

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Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Location
Austin, TX
TDI
'96 B4V TDI Passat Wagon
And here are more self-indulgent pictures of me having fun with Tulbirt. Just because they make me happy ♥

A camping trip with the kids to one of my favorite places, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, near Fredericksburg, TX.



I'm so happy I made it to the beach!



Sometimes you just gotta rock that sexy Covid-19 dad bod.

This is pre-lift. You can also see where the fender was recently damaged when someone hit me in a parking lot.



Sometimes you just need a bigger hammer.




A road side shrine in N.L. Mexico on the beautiful rural mountain highway between Linares and Galeana. Near HERE.



And this is what the lift is all about for me. Getting out to beautiful remote places with my favorite people.



In Mexico, in the El Potrero Chico mountains just outside of Hildalgo.
Here is a link to a really cool place to visit: HERE




So far one of my most successful performance modifications: I wrote with a red Sharpie, "I like to drive slow."




Thanks for looking!
 

Gusman

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May 5, 2020
Location
Sonoma County California
TDI
B4V
Nice work! Do you have any concerns about those “tie rod spacers” holding up in the long run? How thick were the wheels you used for spacers in the rear? What length//grade bolts did you end up using to mount the rears?

I’m working on a similar solution for my wagon, with hopes to take it to Mexico someday as well!
 

Phi1osopher

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Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Location
Austin, TX
TDI
'96 B4V TDI Passat Wagon
Nice work! Do you have any concerns about those “tie rod spacers” holding up in the long run? How thick were the wheels you used for spacers in the rear? What length//grade bolts did you end up using to mount the rears?
I’m working on a similar solution for my wagon, with hopes to take it to Mexico someday as well!
I sincerely believe the "Tie rod spacers will hold up well. These are used as strut extenders all the time, and sold and marketed as such. I've seen as small as M10 ones, and these are M14. they seem appropriately stout. IF I am wrong and they they fail, then I'll sort it out and fix it later.

The wheels were about 2.5" thick

The bolts were 65mm m8 x 1.25 grade 8.8, two per side, four total.

I'd be interested to see the alignment report.
The alignment currently is 100% out of whack. Its going in tomorrow.
I can tell the toe is out, and when I did the front shocks, I made no effort to get the camber correct.
 

tdidieselbobny

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Stafford,NY (WNY)
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'03 Galactic Blue Jetta TDI, '15 Silk Blue Golf Sportwagen TDI
What would look really sweet is some BF Goodrich RWL all terrain tires;), being you have the lift now....
 

rallywagon

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Sep 19, 2007
Location
Western NC
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'98 Jetta, '00 Jetta
Awesome! I have used shock extenders to counter "topping" of the rear shocks of my son's lifted Mk4, and I was toying with the idea of those strut extenders on the front. But, he has very tall Jeep springs , and I would put the strut extenders UNDER the spring hats. The odds of the stiff spring/strut bottoming are low...the real problem is topping. Thanks for sharing.
 

Phi1osopher

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Jul 31, 2019
Location
Austin, TX
TDI
'96 B4V TDI Passat Wagon
I got Tulbirt aligned yesterday, and here is the report. It took a few tries. I'm not sure if this is a reflection of lazy techs, or significant difficulties associated with the lift. Fortunately I bought the local "get alinged as much as you want for the next 5 years package." The final guy said I needed to trim about 10mm of my passenger tie rod end to get it right; it was all the way in and he needed a bit more... So I did trimmed the end of the tie rod end, bright the car back, and now the numbers look pretty acceptable. Most importantly, the car feels pretty solid going down the road.




 

ksmoker

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Jul 19, 2013
Location
Central VA
TDI
02 Jetta
What's your LCA angle at rest? I would've expected it to be much steeper than it appears in the coffee cup pic. I'd love to lift my sedan an inch or two...
 

LOUD SLOW N'LOW

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PNW, Canada
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2x 1998 TDI, AFN B3 Syncro Wagon
Just want to follow up on this thread. I have done the exact same suspension setup on my A3 Jetta, aside from the 5 washers, and not only could I barely get that in on the front (with a pry bar to compress spring helping mount holes line up with knuckle, there is very little thread on the top cup under the hood to put a nut on. About 50% of the threads in my nut are on. I "think" this will be OK, however don't be surprised if this also happens to you. I'm imagining the Passat would be similar, as the threads on the extender are not as long as the ones on the shock.

Also, I'm running A3 stuff in the rear end, not passat mounts, so I may have to devise something to help the car up another .5-.75 inches as it sits level now and I liked the slightly raked look. I gained .5" in lift going from a VR6 B3 wagon spring and OEM bushing in the rear to the Munroe SP0495 with energy suspension poly bushings.

Thanks for the OG post Philosopher. I gathered a bunch of knowledge from your post here and it's helped me get full lock with no rub on 27" tires now! Much Happy :)
 

Poor King

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May 20, 2020
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'91 Jetta, '91 GTI, '04 Touareg
Great thread... Im attempting to raise my MK2 jetta and looking into B3/B4 suspensions for the swap. Found this kit down the way into the rabbit hole and a part of me would like to fab up some hockey pucks to avoid the wait time for these to arrive.

 

turbodieseldyke

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Free Mustache Rides
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98 jetta
the wait time for these to arrive.
Thanks for the link. I wonder why they don't have a Mk3 Jetta kit. If the Mk2 suspension is same as Mk3, you can look for Frankencar's post(s). I haven't lifted my fronts, but put B4 springs to lift my rears. Had to cut some off the top spiral, maybe 1/2 or a full loop, i forget. I have a set of B4 front springs, but never dared to install them since i don't live in the country or snow.
 

ToddA1

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Joined
Aug 3, 2011
Location
NJ 08002
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'96 B4V, '97 B4 (sold), '97 Jetta (scrapped)
Would it be better to put the washers under the spring hat? I’d love to see more pics, with different tires.

btw, what’s going on with the pick up, in the first pic?

-Todd
 

Poor King

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NY
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'91 Jetta, '91 GTI, '04 Touareg
Thanks for the link. I wonder why they don't have a Mk3 Jetta kit. If the Mk2 suspension is same as Mk3, you can look for Frankencar's post(s). I haven't lifted my fronts, but put B4 springs to lift my rears. Had to cut some off the top spiral, maybe 1/2 or a full loop, i forget. I have a set of B4 front springs, but never dared to install them since i don't live in the country or snow.
It's odd how that company has different spacer types for the MK2 and MK3. The MK2 style compresses the spring, while the MK3 kit raises the whole strut like how the OP did with spacers. (which is what I want). And really the B3/B4 Passat's are stretched out MK3's, except that the B4 rears mounts up like B5's.

On my MK2 Jetta I'd like to do B4's up front and MK3/B3 with MK2 mounts on top. I'm going to buy the B4 kit now before they run out; that always happens to me.

#savethepans
 

LOUD SLOW N'LOW

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PNW, Canada
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2x 1998 TDI, AFN B3 Syncro Wagon

What do people think of this CV angle?

This is my A3 Jetta using the 2" strut extender, poly mount, and Moog springs.
I'm concerned it is a bit much and may have to remove the extender and run a few washers to get 3/4" or something instead.

I do really like the lift, however. It is a nice improvement and would get me a lot more places offroad (more safely) now.

Edit: ** The jack in the photo is used just for safely as I lay underneath. The driver's side outer CV boot is not placed on, which may give a skeweed perception of how the angle is at that joint. If you look at the shaft, you can get a good idea. I'll be taking it for a test drive tomorrow once everything is tightened up and such.

Another problem is that even if there are no driveline problems while driving, to change anything in the LCA (bushings, ball joint, etc) I will have to remove the strut as it extends so far that it would be near impossible to remove otherwise.
 

Steve Addy

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Iowa
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97 Mk3
Since the axle will need to move up / down from the center point, which I assume is where you are now, you'll need to remove the balance weight (block) and do something about contact with the control arm mounting point. (photo 2-3)

I don't really see a problem with the CV but it could be testing the limits of movement for standard CV joints. Those inner joints never have to move very far on normal suspensions, all the big changes are handled by the other joints, so there are limits to what the inner joints can do without starting to bind up.

You can find the limit by undoing the other bearing carrier and letting the axle hang freely, the inner joint will stop it from dropping lower.

Just make sure that your suspension travel is not further than the inner CV can accommodate, otherwise when the suspension unloads it will force the axle into a position that the inner CV can't move to (aka destroy it). Or, as with the passenger side, the axle will limit suspension travel every time it bangs into the LCA mounting point, which is very close....

Steve
 

Phi1osopher

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Jul 31, 2019
Location
Austin, TX
TDI
'96 B4V TDI Passat Wagon
Since the axle will need to move up / down from the center point, which I assume is where you are now, you'll need to remove the balance weight (block) and do something about contact with the control arm mounting point. (photo 2-3)

I don't really see a problem with the CV but it could be testing the limits of movement for standard CV joints. Those inner joints never have to move very far on normal suspensions, all the big changes are handled by the other joints, so there are limits to what the inner joints can do without starting to bind up.

You can find the limit by undoing the other bearing carrier and letting the axle hang freely, the inner joint will stop it from dropping lower.

Just make sure that your suspension travel is not further than the inner CV can accommodate, otherwise when the suspension unloads it will force the axle into a position that the inner CV can't move to (aka destroy it). Or, as with the passenger side, the axle will limit suspension travel every time it bangs into the LCA mounting point, which is very close....

Steve
Steve, I am revisiting these comments about 2 years later, and you were 100% right! You accurately described the ongoing issues I have experienced. Thank you for your good thoughts!
 

ejallison1

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98 Jetta TDI AHU, 97 Passat TDI AAZ, 04 Golf TDI PD, 01 NB TDI ALH
Phi1osopher could you please elaborate on the issues you ran into with your lift and what if anything you did to rectify it? Were you experiencing problems with the inner joint binding? or outer CV rubbing? Were the issues related to the driver side or passenger side, both? Did you removed the weighted block? Go back to stock? Thanks. Have assembled all the parts and awaiting the 2 " extenders from England before starting.
 
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