Lifting MK III Suspension for Rallying or Offroad

Rig

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1998 Jetta TDI, 210k miles
Almost two years ago I lifted my B4 wagon about 3" and have been 100% happy with it.

Cool! I have an a3 Jetta and I'm trying to figure out exactly what I need to do to lift it. Information is a bit unclear. Basically, my understanding is you put b4 VR6 springs on it using (i think) the Bilstein b6 struts/shocks made for the car.

These older jettas sit REALLY low to the ground and it's just not what I need. Lots of offroad driving and I tend to drive weighted with tools.
 

Rig

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@Abacus @turbodieseldyke maybe you can chime in here.

I've got no experience with suspension. What do you think the results will be with this combination? These are B4 passat wagon towing springs with B6 Bilstein Jetta rear shocks. Or is it impossible to say until they are actually installed?

It would be cool to know if these will work or not before I attempt to install them. That way I can send the springs back to IDparts and get what I need instead.

I'm just looking for 3-4in lift and a stiffer ride. Better experiences on washboard dirt roads. I carry a lot of weight in the trunk constantly and I do plan on towing a small trailer.

Other options would be:

1. stock OEM passat springs (non-towing)
2. HD jetta springs here: https://www.partsplaceinc.com/vw-mk2-and-mk3-rear-coil-springs-2144.html
3. trimming coils on these towing springs
4. passat monroe springs if i can find them



Additionally, between the parts provided with the B6 shocks and the strut mounting kit from ID parts, it looks like I am going to still have to reuse some parts. Also, these Bilsteins came with no dustcover boots....

 
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turbodieseldyke

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@Abacus @turbodieseldyke maybe you can chime in here.
I don't know anything about the Bilsteins. I just used regular-ass Jetta shocks and mounts on mine. I'm not saying not to use them, but I'd check the specs on them to make sure they're not going to be too short, and make you trim even more off the springs.

Standard B4 sedan springs have worked great for me. I assume towing wagon springs would be overkill. You'll have to trim some off a regular spring to make it fit, so you'll probably have to trim more off the beefier ones, which sounds counter-productive. I'd find a used sedan spring and compare it with your new ones. Mine are installed, so i don't know how long they were, decompressed.

Upgraded jetta springs may not give you the lift you're looking for, but the regular B4's will.
 
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Rig

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Ok, Thanks for the reply. Reading back in the thread I see you said you got 4in lift in the back of your jetta with just the OEM b4 sedan springs right? If so, that's pretty much what I'm after, although the set of front springs I have are for the wagon, should I exchange those too? or should i just take a chance on the wagon springs?

Frankenbuilt said to use wagon springs, so thats why I ordered these. Seems like if they are still too tall I can just compress them more?

Here is what the wagon front springs look like on the front bilstein struts:



These are the b4v wagon springss: https://www.idparts.com/rear-spring-b4v-passat-wagon-3a511105c-4295026-39049-p-4373.html

looks like abacus got a 1in lift on his b4 sedan with these, so they are a bit taller than the regular b4 springs.... hmm. 5in lift for me if I can fit them?

here are the b4 sedan springs: https://www.idparts.com/rear-spring-passat-sedan-333511105a-4295025-39047-p-4372.html
 
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Steve Addy

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I think the wagon rear towing springs will be too much for the Jetta, especially if the vehicle is unloaded.

As for the front...your B4 fronts springs will do nothing to lift the car, the spring specs for B4 and Mk3 in the front should be identical for tdi. I'm using Mk3 front springs on my B3V because I'm using the Plus Suspension front strut bearings, and it appears to be factory height.

VR6 front springs from Mk3 or a B4 might be sufficient to raise the car but last time I checked the parts catalog for this stuff I didn't honestly find any different color codes for VR cars...but you should check anyway.

Steve
 

Rig

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As for the front...your B4 fronts springs will do nothing to lift the car, the spring specs for B4 and Mk3 in the front should be identical for tdi. I'm using Mk3 front springs on my B3V because I'm using the Plus Suspension front strut bearings, and it appears to be factory height.
These are B4V wagon springs for the front. Should be a bit taller, however even if they are a bit more beefy that might be all I need. I'm not after a crazy high lift, just a couple of inches to clear obstacles.

I did read through @Phi1osopher 's thread about his B4V lift. Lots of things to consider. Seems like I might be able to use some of the same components or ideas to achieve what I'm trying to do. Althought a lot it makes my head hurt.

At which point is a detrimental to compress a spring?
 

Steve Addy

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These are B4V wagon springs for the front. Should be a bit taller, however even if they are a bit more beefy that might be all I need. I'm not after a crazy high lift, just a couple of inches to clear obstacles.

I did read through @Phi1osopher 's thread about his B4V lift. Lots of things to consider. Seems like I might be able to use some of the same components or ideas to achieve what I'm trying to do. Althought a lot it makes my head hurt.

At which point is a detrimental to compress a spring?
The parts catalog doesn't differentiate between sedan and wagon when selecting front springs, it's a function of engine, transmission (MT or AT) and AC or no AC. I would be surprised if the ride height was increased at all, I'm running mk3 front coils on my B3V and the suspension height is where I would expect it to be for this car; so much is shared between the Mk3 and the B4.

I took a gander at the parts catalog, the spring specs for the B4 TDI (AHU/1Z) with AC and MT would be springs marked by 2 pink and 3 green stripes..and I think that's what I'm running on my car at present, that came from a Mk3 car originally.

You can try them, but don't be surprised if you don't get any additional lift from them.

Steve
 

Rig

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Ok, makes sense. I think I will probably get some lift if only because my current springs are pretty old and likely sagging. If I need more height in the front I will look at other mods. Lifting the back though I think should automatically lift the front just a bit based on what others have said and that might be all I need.

Main question i have now is what springs to use on the rear. I'm leaning toward just trying about the wagon springs and seeing what happens. Towing springs are definitely too tall.
 

Rig

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Well finally got my front end rebuilt. It was REALLY torn apart. One sway bar link was snapped off. Control arms were bent with missing bushings. Existing struts were totally worn out (could push piston in with one hand) Drivers CV axel was also shot with the passager on the way out too.




I am REALLY happy with the results of the work. These are bilstein B6 struts with B4 passat wagon springs. You can see the amount of lift I got from them. Test drivng this refreshed suspension feels amazing. They are stiff but right at that sweet spot of still absorbing the bumps. I found every pot hole and speed bump i could to test things out.

i think i gained 2-3 inches in the front. I'm not sure how much higher these would be from a new oem setup however. It looks higher than it's ever been at least to me. My front end was REALLY beat up and causing much of the issues i was experiencing.







I have yet to do the rears and am still pondering what springs to try out. sending parts back to ID parts is very expensive. threw away 70$ sending the towing springs back.
 
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Steve Addy

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Well finally got my front end rebuilt. It was REALLY torn apart. One sway bar link was snapped off. Control arms were bent with missing bushings. Existing struts were totally worn out (could push piston in with one hand) Drivers CV axel was also shot with the passager on the way out too.

I am REALLY happy with the results of the work. These are bilstein B6 struts with B4 passat wagon springs. You can see the amount of lift I got from them. Test drivng this refreshed suspension feels amazing. They are stiff but right at that sweet spot of still absorbing the bumps. I found every pot hole and speed bump i could to test things out.
I'm curious what the stripe markings (color and number) on the replacement springs were? The originals were likely 3 white 2 blue maybe...although I'm not confident of that. I'm not sure you gained all that much new lift, it's more likely you restored lift that was there before when it was younger.

There's is so much foregone maintenance on these cars (as with a lot of VW cars). They are often run into the ground with zero maintenance and then owners wonder why they need work...lol. The 97 B4 I bought several years back...that's not really worthy of any attention at all, except for maybe a conversion of a B4V VR wagon, is a perfect example....run into the ground, stripped of it's catalyst and then sold on to someone else.

Congrats on making some good repairs!

Steve
 

Rig

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I'm curious what the stripe markings (color and number) on the replacement springs were? The originals were likely 3 white 2 blue maybe...although I'm not confident of that. I'm not sure you gained all that much new lift, it's more likely you restored lift that was there before when it was younger.
There were no markings on these springs that I could see.

I've never owned this car with new suspension, so I honestly have no benchmark for what new oem suspension would look or feel like.
But regardless, it's exactly what I was going after. I think the Bilstein B6 struts claim a 1in lift over stock if I recall correctly.

But yeah, my stock setup was definitely sagging, there is no doubt about that.

As for deferred maintainence, yeah, it's hard for me to keep up with repairs financially because I generally want to replace parts with something better if possible. I think this front end rebuild cost me over $1700 including labor (700 including tax). This was a pretty good sized job. New CV axles, tie rods, ball joints, control arms, struts/springs, sway bar links, and an alignment.

And thats another point, i don't have the best set of mechanics tools, but more importantly i have no place to work. I do know a little about mechanic-ing and am trying to learn more, but my time is also at a premium right now with my self employed remodeling business. For all of those reasons maintance tends to be deferred and long overdue in some cases like with the suspension. I imagine many people are the same boat. It's just easier to get a new car for many people
 
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Steve Addy

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There were no markings on these springs that I could see.

I've never owned this car with new suspension, so I honestly have no benchmark for what new oem suspension would look or feel like.
But regardless, it's exactly what I was going after. I think the Bilstein B6 struts claim a 1in lift over stock if I recall correctly.

But yeah, my stock setup was definitely sagging, there is no doubt about that.

As for deferred maintainence, yeah, it's hard for me to keep up with repairs financially because I generally want to replace parts with something better if possible. I think this front end rebuild cost me over $1700 including labor (700 including tax). This was a pretty good sized job. New CV axles, tie rods, ball joints, control arms, struts/springs, sway bar links, and an alignment.

And thats another point, i don't have the best set of mechanics tools, but more importantly i have no place to work. I do know a little about mechanic-ing and am trying to learn more, but my time is also at a premium right now with my self employed remodeling business. For all of those reasons maintance tends to be deferred and long overdue in some cases like with the suspension. I imagine many people are the same boat. It's just easier to get a new car for many people
There were no markings on the springs you removed from the car? That could explain why so low in the front to begin with.

OE springs should have been marked with 1 pink and 3 blue stripes.

Steve
 

Rig

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oh, i didn't check the oem springs (scrap metal) that came off the car. I didn't do the labor on this particular project. I kind of doubt that any markings would have been discernable anyway given how old those springs were.
 

Steve Addy

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oh, i didn't check the oem springs (scrap metal) that came off the car. I didn't do the labor on this particular project. I kind of doubt that any markings would have been discernable anyway given how old those springs were.
You'd be surprised, I have springs from early 90's cars that have easily discernable markings still even after all these years.

Here's my mk3 earlier this fall with about 190k miles, you can see that stock height has a pretty big gap above the front wheel. These are 205/50r15 tires too.



Steve
 

Rig

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@Steve Addy Wow, that is quite a bit higher than I was thinking for stock suspension!

Finally got a chance to do the rear suspension today. Really straightforward once you understand the stack sequence of all the parts.






I am REALLY REALLY happy with these results. Definitely a functional lift for me without being rediculously high. I think this will look great when I get bigger wheels/tires. Is it a lift over new OEM stock height, I don't know. Going by the picture you just linked I'm kind of doubtful, but the bilstein struts look really beefy and well made compared to the old stuff which was completely worn out.

I may consider lifting it bit more with spacers and bolt extenders at a later date, but for now I am very happy.
 

Steve Addy

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I forget what you said about where the new rear springs came from? Your new ones don't look like actual Mk3 springs although I could be wrong.

For Mk3 rear struts / springs I never had to use a coil compression tool to remove / reinstall the springs.

Regular Mk3 ride height is pretty level front to rear, so you definitely have a higher spring rate going on in the back versus what these have originally.

Steve
 

Rig

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I forget what you said about where the new rear springs came from? Your new ones don't look like actual Mk3 springs although I could be wrong.
These are oem B4 passat wagon springs front and rear from IDparts.com


I originally ordered the towing springs but they were overkill so I bought these separately but here is the set:

 
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BoiseTDI

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what wheels and tires will you be putting on? I’m looking into doing something similar. ;)

@Steve Addy Wow, that is quite a bit higher than I was thinking for stock suspension!

Finally got a chance to do the rear suspension today. Really straightforward once you understand the stack sequence of all the parts.






I am REALLY REALLY happy with these results. Definitely a functional lift for me without being rediculously high. I think this will look great when I get bigger wheels/tires. Is it a lift over new OEM stock height, I don't know. Going by the picture you just linked I'm kind of doubtful, but the bilstein struts look really beefy and well made compared to the old stuff which was completely worn out.

I may consider lifting it bit more with spacers and bolt extenders at a later date, but for now I am very happy.
 

Rig

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what wheels and tires will you be putting on? I’m looking into doing something similar. ;)

I'm not sure yet, haven't gotten that far with my research. I know I want 15in STEEL rims. You can run a larger selection of tires and brake setups. Plus I do want to gain just a bit more height.


I'd like to go a bit wider like 7in or 7.5. Depends on what fits the car and if I will need to do some fender modification. I don't want to sacrifice too much MPG but I like the look of wider tires.

As I've said before, I spend a lot of time driving on rough dirt roads so I want a tire that can handle that be a bit puncture resistant.

Lots more research to do here.
 
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