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Old 07-11-2007, 08:47 PM
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Default Suspension for smoother ride

After driving my rental car for a few days, I've realized what a bumpy ride I get in the Beetle. What can I do to make it smoother over bumps? I'm currently on stock suspension, for the record.
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Old 07-11-2007, 09:24 PM
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Well, baboob, depends on how much you want to spend. Since you're a high roller, I'd say save up about 1,200 doll hairs and get a decent set of coilovers. Adjustable and a better ride, I'm told. Or you could go cheap and get some new springs and/or struts. Since I have nether, I really don't know. But that's my two cents.
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Old 07-11-2007, 09:42 PM
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Koni FSD struts with your stock springs, or Eibach Pro-Kit springs if you want a drop. I have a friend with the FSD/Pro-Kit combo on his GTI and the ride is excellent. Smooth on the highway but once you start turning with some effort, it tightens up really nicely.

Coilovers will ride smooth, but may be too firm and overkill for your application. Also, I don't think you want to change your height. Also, depending oon the brand of shock/coilover, the initial impact when you encounter a bump can be harsh. My Bilsteins are very stiff when I go over a rapid succession of small bumps because they have a very stiff initial damping and they react to the changes so quickly, plus they are a gas shock and not an oil, like a Koni.

I would also look into the Full Eibach Pro-Kit (Eibach springs and struts). It will be firmer than the FSD's, but not like a set of Koni Yellows or Bilsteins.

If I were you, I'd get the Koni FSD's and not look back. They're a little expensive, but are perfect for what you're looking for.

read about them here: http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=2099317
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Old 07-11-2007, 09:46 PM
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But doesn't lowering the car usually make the ride rougher? Or does it depend on what you get? Let's assume lowering =/= bumpier, generally. I can't lower the car a lot because we have crazy potholes and bumps where I live.

edit: thanks Mike, just read your response. I guess we were posting at the same time I wouldn't mind changing the height a little, but I can't slam it. Let me look into everything you just suggested.
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Old 07-11-2007, 09:59 PM
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Me again.

I can't seem to find prices very easily. What's the ballpark on some of the ones you were suggesting?
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Old 07-11-2007, 10:28 PM
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Every suspension kitted car I've ever been in rides rougher than stock. Makes sense w/ firmer springs and less suspension travel--I don't think that is your solution. Everytime we take my wife's car('01 Jetta) to the dealer they pump the tires to 35psi, but half load under 100mph calls for 26psi at all 4 corners. We have experienced the difference several times and it is massive. I say all this because if I were you I'd try running lower tire pressures(just guessing 'cause I have no idea what you do now)--it makes a huge difference. I ran 28 front, 26 rear in my '98 for almost 90K with even wear and I run 29 front, 26 rear in my TS. These are 1/2 load under 100mph pressures from VW. Maybe you are just ready for some new stock struts--you are getting up there in mileage right? Hope you find something you like.
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Old 07-11-2007, 10:34 PM
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Air ride would probably be nice and smooth. I'm still waiting for fronts of these to come out.
http://www.ridetech.com/productinfo/airstrut.asp
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Old 07-11-2007, 10:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GINA
Me again.

I can't seem to find prices very easily. What's the ballpark on some of the ones you were suggesting?
FSD's are $615 + shipping for a set at Tire Rack. Other shocks will run you about $450 for a set, and some full spring/shock kits are about $600, but all will be firmer than stock, while the FSD's will actually ride smoother than stock, and are made to work best at stock height.

Whenever you lower a (street)car, you lose suspension travel, which will increase the roughness of the ride. Some companies counter this with springs that are just a little stiffer than stock, so you maintain a comfortable ride.

I'd go FSD
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Old 07-11-2007, 10:40 PM
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Bill: I'm at around 74k miles right now, so yeah. I'm getting up there slowly but surely. Right now my psi is around 33. It just looks like I'm always running on a flat-ish tire, even at 33. I can give it a try though. What's the worst that happens? I pop another 4 quarters in the air machine and bring it back to 33?

Next mechanical fix I'm doing is t-belt. I'll ask them to take a look at the suspension to see if it's getting nasty.

I know I've heard people say that Beetles are generally kinda bumpy, but it's almost uncomfortable. Especially comparing it to the Impala. That car can take dips and bumps like a champ compared to Pepper, I just never noticed it before.


edit: dammit Mike, that's the 2nd time we post at the same time! Thanks again for the response. Maybe I'll get something done in the next couple paychecks
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Old 07-11-2007, 10:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GINA
Bill: I'm at around 74k miles right now, so yeah. I'm getting up there slowly but surely. Right now my psi is around 33. It just looks like I'm always running on a flat-ish tire, even at 33. I can give it a try though. What's the worst that happens? I pop another 4 quarters in the air machine and bring it back to 33? ...I know I've heard people say that Beetles are generally kinda bumpy, but it's almost uncomfortable....
Yeah, even with low pressures my wife's Jetta rides way nicer than my TS, comfort-wise. Cornering? Forget it--her Jetta corners like a boat compared to the TS.
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Old 07-12-2007, 12:02 AM
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I don't recommend running your tires at low pressures. Handling gets worse, tire wear/fuel economy can get worse, and there is less to protect your wheels from damage/bending.

The flip side is that your ride gets rougher.
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Old 07-12-2007, 12:56 AM
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Gina:

I've done a lot of research on NB suspension mods. I agree that Koni FSDs with OEM springs would be what you'd like. They are very compliant in most situations. The rears can be a bit harsh over small sharp bumps.

You do not want to lower your car unless you care more about looks than ride quality. Less suspension travel = more harshness and kick back. A lower suspension has to be firmer (compared to stock height) to avoid frequent bottoming out. There's no way around that.

They are going for around $625 a set. Considering how long they will last, that's not bad for the comfort they'll give you.

I'm going for a set soon, even though our NB has only 20K. I want a better ride, and don't want to wait to have it (is that so wrong?)

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Old 07-12-2007, 01:42 AM
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Thanks so much for your input. Pepper may make frequent appearances at shows, but when it comes right down to it he's my daily driver. And he's getting bumpy as hell. I'm not sure I trust myself to install these things myself, so I'd have to pay for installation as well. Unless I can find someone local to help.

What you said makes sense, though. About the whole less travel more harshness thing. Are there any (affordable) options for lowering + comfy springs? Does that even exist? I'm talking like an inch or less, no slamming or nothin. Mike mentioned the Eibach pro-springs - would that plus the Konis be crazy expensive?
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Old 07-12-2007, 12:34 PM
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I think mike was saying that Eibach has a couple versions of the pro-kit. If i'm correct, there's a kit that's just springs and there's also a kit with springs and struts.
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  #15 (permalink)  
Old 07-12-2007, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYBugman
I don't recommend running your tires at low pressures. Handling gets worse, tire wear/fuel economy can get worse, and there is less to protect your wheels from damage/bending...
I know from 170K+ miles of experience that that just isn't the case. I live in a rural area of Ohio--out of 88 counties my county is in the top 5 agriculturally. So, lots of chip and seal roads with lots of frost heaving and potholes. I drove my '98 90K miles here and I have driven my '03 82K miles on 17s running 29 front and 26 rear with no wheel damage and no uneven tire wear. These are the pressures shown on the inside of my fuel filler door--I'm not saying go lower than recommended. I average higher MPGs than most people report with the 1.8T, I corner aggressively and there is no sidewall scrubbing on my 17" tires, but the 16s on the '98 had a little bit.
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Old 07-12-2007, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wawalker
I know from 170K+ miles of experience that that just isn't the case. ...I have driven my '03 82K miles on 17s running 29 front and 26 rear with no wheel damage and no uneven tire wear. These are the pressures shown on the inside of my fuel filler door--...
Which means that they are the factory recommended pressures and are EXACTLY where you should run your tires for everyday driving. in other words, those pressures are not low, by VW standards.

I am talking about running tires at much more or less than recommended on a daily driver for the sake of comfort, handling, etc.

I run my tires at 35psi all around, but I am also on an 18" peformance tire, which are designed to work best with a little more pressure in them, although 35psi is not too far from the VW recommended pressures that are on my fuel filler door.

While we're on tires, the type and brand of tire will affect ride quality. A performance tire will have a stiffer sidewall than your typical all-season touring tire, which means the performance tire will ride a little rougher, but handle better. Some brands and models of tires have stiffer sidewalls than others, so 2 tires from the same brand, but different models, can ride differently.

Furthermore, as a tire moves down the road, it heats up, which meand the air inside will heat up and raise the PSI by a few pounds. Last time I tracked my car, I paid close attention to my tire pressures and found that they increased by 5psi after a 20-minute session of driving.

Bottom line, tire pressures make a HUGE difference in the way your car can behave.

But, this thread is about suspensions, not tires.

BTW, I'm from NYC. I know bad roads.
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Old 07-12-2007, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYBugman
Which means that they are the factory recommended pressures and are EXACTLY where you should run your tires for everyday driving. in other words, those pressures are not low, by VW standards.

I am talking about running tires at much more or less than recommended on a daily driver for the sake of comfort, handling, etc.

I run my tires at 35psi all around, but I am also on an 18" peformance tire, which are designed to work best with a little more pressure in them, although 35psi is not too far from the VW recommended pressures that are on my fuel filler door.

While we're on tires, the type and brand of tire will affect ride quality. A performance tire will have a stiffer sidewall than your typical all-season touring tire, which means the performance tire will ride a little rougher, but handle better. Some brands and models of tires have stiffer sidewalls than others, so 2 tires from the same brand, but different models, can ride differently.

Furthermore, as a tire moves down the road, it heats up, which meand the air inside will heat up and raise the PSI by a few pounds. Last time I tracked my car, I paid close attention to my tire pressures and found that they increased by 5psi after a 20-minute session of driving.

Bottom line, tire pressures make a HUGE difference in the way your car can behave.

But, this thread is about suspensions, not tires.

BTW, I'm from NYC. I know bad roads.

Let's not get grumpy over semantics. There are 2 recommended pressures inside my fuel filler door--I run the low one. The thread is about suspension for a smoother ride which should include tires too.

Anyway, I only wanted Gina to know that my wife and I both immediately notice the difference when the dealer pumps her tires to 35 psi in her Jetta, and that she can run as low as what's on the fuel door if she wants(even though she sees higher pressures recommended or being used by orgers all the time), and it does help ride comfort--that is all, nothing more. Peace. Out.
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Old 07-12-2007, 02:43 PM
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Ok ok, play nice. You both have good points. I'll play around with tire pressure (if I ever get my car back) and let you know how it goes.

Man, all this talk of new suspensions has me kinda excited.
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Old 07-12-2007, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GINA
About the whole less travel more harshness thing. Are there any (affordable) options for lowering + comfy springs? Does that even exist? I'm talking like an inch or less, no slamming or nothing.
Comfort and handling are both very subjective. Firmer could be considered more comfortable by providing a tighter feel and sense of better control. However, from what I read, you are looking for a more compliant ride with less buckboard bounce.

Spring length and rate determine ride height. A spring has a certain free length (no weight). The spring rate is the amount of weight needed to compress a spring a certain amount (how many pounds of weight are required to depress the spring by one inch.) A "soft" or compliant spring will compress and soak up bumps and rough roads well, but needs more suspension travel to avoid bottoming out. A firmer spring takes more energy to compress it, and so resists compressing over a particular bump (compared to the soft spring).

You lower a car with shorter-length/firmer-rate springs. They compress less when hitting a bump. They must be firmer to avoid frequent suspension bottoming out. Great for auto-crossing on a flat, smooth surface, but may not be as comfortable in the real world of potholes, ripples, bumps and debris. Suspension is a compromise of opposing characteristics.

So as to your question on lower + comfy, You have to decide what is the right combination to achieve the ride you want.

And there're about twice as many opinions as to what is just right, as there are people offering them.

Good luck and let us know what you settle on.
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Old 07-13-2007, 05:08 PM
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i have air ride suspension on my car, and i will never go with anything else other then air ride. it is very nice when i can controll the amount of air in the bags. too much air= really stiff, too little air=really bouncy, and somewhere in the middle= heaven. rides better then stock and actually lowers the car a little more then stock. another wards, best of both worlds= rides smoother and looks beeter. i wish more ppl lived around me so i could let them take my car out for a ride and see for them selfs. any questions just let me know.
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