Suspension Refresh Options on Previously Wrecked JSW

JHands

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 4, 2015
Location
Tampa
TDI
None presently
Picked up a rebuilt, deleted, tuned 2009 JSW with 165k on the clock for a sweet deal. Been driving it around the last few months feeling out any quirks to decide if it's a viable candidate for a total overhaul because of the previous wreck. I had two collision shops inspect the vehicle and tell me that the panel wasn't pulled properly, there's a lot of bondo on there, but the paint work is decent and the frame is straight. One of them noticed the camber was off on that corner and recommended an alignment. After an alignment from a suspension guy that actually knows more than just toe (I was turned away from 2 alignment shops because they were intimidated by the independent rear suspension), he advised that there was likely something bent in the driver rear because he had to max camber to get it within spec, while the other still had plenty to go. He said it was nothing major, and when I advised him I was going to be doing a suspension overhaul he recommended paying extra close attention to that corner because of the wreck. After adding a set of brand new Michelin Cross Climate + in 235/45/17, I've decided we're going to invest the money into the car.

My questions pertaining to replacing potentially bent parts are as follows:
What should we replace on the previously hit rear corner? Alignment guy was saying spindle, and that the control arms are likely straight. Not sure I agree.

If I replace the control arms, are the aftermarket ones sold by a popular online vendor local to me in the PNW sufficient compared to oem? The cost difference is substantial. I'd be willing to press OEM/performance bushings into them if need be.

On the topic of which suspension to run, I will say that my wife and I come from the MKIV Wagon platform where we treated the wagon as a wagon. We ran Bilstein HD's in the MKIV Wagon and while they did raise the vehicle slightly, this wasn't as big of a deal for the overall aesthetic as the MKIV was less sport, more soccer mom. This JSW definitely feels more like a sport/luxury car. We appreciate that, but do not have an interest in lowering the vehicle any further. We have concerns about adding the Bilstein HD's to this vehicle because we just added slightly upsized tires to fill the OEM fender gap, and don't want to effectively lift it again thereby undoing that (note: we understand that replacing the full suspension will likely raise the car back up slightly).

We would like to preserve OEM height and "wagonability", but add performance with the suspension. Any recommendations are appreciated.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis (where it's safe)
TDI
There are just too many to list....
LMAO @ the "intimidated by independent rear suspension", like that is some exotic taboo. :D

Anyway, you may want to just swap out the whole rear suspension assembly with a good used one from a non-wrecked (in the rear) car. At least, that would possibly be the easiest. The whole assembly comes out fairly quickly really. Disconnect the brake cables and hydraulic lines (cap them off, makes it easier to bleed later), remove the exhaust hanger (the exhaust itself can stay in place, it is above the suspension), remove the upper shock bolts, then the 4 bolts on each side of the car for the trailing arm anchors in the unibody box (easy to access), and then the 4 big bolts that hold the whole rear subframe in place.... lower it down gently as the coil springs will be expanding as you go.

Going back together you just have to slowly compress the springs, and in some cases add a fat chick or two in the back of the car to get them the rest of the way down in order to get the bolts started.

Donor car can be from many models of A5 or B6. Just know that there are different springs and different rotors/calipers for different models. But all the 2005.5-2014 Jetta wagons, 2005.5-2010 Jetta sedan, the Eos, the 2006-2010 Passat, 2005.5-2014 Rabbit/Golf/GTI, CC, all use the same basic setup.

I have to drop a lot of these due to frozen adjusters as the cars age. So make sure you have all of those freed up and moving while it is apart.
 

JHands

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 4, 2015
Location
Tampa
TDI
None presently
LMAO @ the "intimidated by independent rear suspension", like that is some exotic taboo. :D

Anyway, you may want to just swap out the whole rear suspension assembly with a good used one from a non-wrecked (in the rear) car. At least, that would possibly be the easiest. The whole assembly comes out fairly quickly really. Disconnect the brake cables and hydraulic lines (cap them off, makes it easier to bleed later), remove the exhaust hanger (the exhaust itself can stay in place, it is above the suspension), remove the upper shock bolts, then the 4 bolts on each side of the car for the trailing arm anchors in the unibody box (easy to access), and then the 4 big bolts that hold the whole rear subframe in place.... lower it down gently as the coil springs will be expanding as you go.

Going back together you just have to slowly compress the springs, and in some cases add a fat chick or two in the back of the car to get them the rest of the way down in order to get the bolts started.

Donor car can be from many models of A5 or B6. Just know that there are different springs and different rotors/calipers for different models. But all the 2005.5-2014 Jetta wagons, 2005.5-2010 Jetta sedan, the Eos, the 2006-2010 Passat, 2005.5-2014 Rabbit/Golf/GTI, CC, all use the same basic setup.

I have to drop a lot of these due to frozen adjusters as the cars age. So make sure you have all of those freed up and moving while it is apart.
So you’re recommending replacing the whole subframe assembly from a front wrecked donor? What if I’m opting to do aftermarket struts/shocks? Which parts would be needed?
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis (where it's safe)
TDI
There are just too many to list....
Well obviously that would also be the time to swap/upgrade the springs and shocks in the back, since you'll have them off anyway. And like I said, if the donor car is anything besides a wagon, you'll need to at least reuse your stuff anyway.

I only say this because you could have a SLIGHTLY tweaked trailing arm, or one of the three control arms, on that side, in addition to possibly the carrier (the part with the wheel bearing in it). May also even have a bent bolt attaching one of those pieces to the subframe. Or, the subframe ITSELF could be slightly tweaked. It may be virtually impossible to see with the naked eye. You'll spend a lot of time swapping each piece and ping-ponging back and forth from the place that has the alignment rack. Or... you could just swap the whole thing once, make sure ALL the adjusters are free and moving, and chances are they will have a better time getting the rear end's alignment bang on.

There is also an off chance that the unibody itself is tweaked... you may see a sign of this when you swap the subframe, in which case a frame rack (or, as I have done, a big tree and an old tractor) can be called in to make a strategic pull to get it back closer.

Collision repair is an art, with lots of nuance and gut instincts and skill.
 

JHands

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 4, 2015
Location
Tampa
TDI
None presently
Well obviously that would also be the time to swap/upgrade the springs and shocks in the back, since you'll have them off anyway. And like I said, if the donor car is anything besides a wagon, you'll need to at least reuse your stuff anyway.

I only say this because you could have a SLIGHTLY tweaked trailing arm, or one of the three control arms, on that side, in addition to possibly the carrier (the part with the wheel bearing in it). May also even have a bent bolt attaching one of those pieces to the subframe. Or, the subframe ITSELF could be slightly tweaked. It may be virtually impossible to see with the naked eye. You'll spend a lot of time swapping each piece and ping-ponging back and forth from the place that has the alignment rack. Or... you could just swap the whole thing once, make sure ALL the adjusters are free and moving, and chances are they will have a better time getting the rear end's alignment bang on.

There is also an off chance that the unibody itself is tweaked... you may see a sign of this when you swap the subframe, in which case a frame rack (or, as I have done, a big tree and an old tractor) can be called in to make a strategic pull to get it back closer.

Collision repair is an art, with lots of nuance and gut instincts and skill.
Definitely familiar with it, and can see how it is an art form. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t go that direction. Found a donor car. It’s a wagon. 2012 I believe. Everything available and he’s willing to pull.

So far I have:
Subframe
Upper and lower control arms both sides
Spindle both sides
Trailing arm(s)

Do you know where I can find an exploded view of the rear suspension so I know what to ask for? Dude is reasonably priced and willing to pull it all.
 

Wilkins

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2005
Location
British Columbia
TDI
05 Jetta Wagon 5sp, 10 Sportwagen 6MT
You can drill down through the various models, years and so forth, select
suspension and there is a reasonable diagram. It also tells you what model a particular part fits for interchangeability, plus what the dealer price is.
I’m interested in if the subframe has to be dropped to change the adjustment bolts since I’m going to try to do that myself before I get an alignment this summer.
 

JHands

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 4, 2015
Location
Tampa
TDI
None presently
You can drill down through the various models, years and so forth, select
suspension and there is a reasonable diagram. It also tells you what model a particular part fits for interchangeability, plus what the dealer price is.
I’m interested in if the subframe has to be dropped to change the adjustment bolts since I’m going to try to do that myself before I get an alignment this summer.
I haven’t had any where near that user experience on the site you linked.
 

Wilkins

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2005
Location
British Columbia
TDI
05 Jetta Wagon 5sp, 10 Sportwagen 6MT
Maybe I got the wrong one. I’m away from my computer right now will try to follow up tomorrow
 
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