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Thread: Vanagon Front Suspension

  1. #11
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    Start with correct shocks. If not specifically for your model of VW, the bushings may be different sizes. In many cases, aftermarket shocks are "what fits", not necessarily correct. I've seen several instances where the aftermarket shocks required moving the bushings, spacers and other hardware from the OE units. OE Boge's are reasonable priced; you get what you pay for when trying discount lines.

    You should also check all of the suspension bushings. Worn bushings, common to the Vanagon with time, will do the same clunking. See above re overhauling the front suspension -- the bushing comments are the same.

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  3. #12
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    Doing some research i have decided to not purchase a syncro but rather the vanagon 2wd model. I do have clearance concerns. Are there any after market lift kits or heavier suspension to get over some areas where the current clearance will not allow travel?

  4. #13
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    Lyle
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    WORN UPPER CONTROL ARM BUSHING

    I have two professional opinions telling me that I need a new uca bushing on the LF of my 87 Vanagon. It's very noisy. If I read the posts correctly, I should have the struts replaced at the same time? My van has very high miles. Should I do the bushings on both sides at the same time, or is it ok to do only one side? Many thanks.
    pablo (87 Westy)

  5. #14
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    If you were sure that one bushing had a single fracture (they have nylon component), the single replacement would make sense, but if they are worn, no. On a high mileage vehicle, since the suspension & struts get very similar use, loading and wear, I strongly recommend you rebush the entire front at the same time, including radius arms.

    VW's original Westy struts were very good and already HD. They typically last well over 100k. However, at any point above that, if the rest of the suspension is being done, change BOTH struts. VW does allow replacing a single strut but that's on the presumption of a failure or damage, not general wear over time. When I pulled mine, at 120,000, they 'passed' the on-vehicle 'bounce test.' But once removed, I found each exhibited a small collapse as it started the stroke. i.e. It would jump a tiny fraction, maybe 1/16 or 1/8" before developing what routine resistence through the rest of the stroke. But the new ones gave a noticeable improvement of ride & handling. That little bit of undamped movement can contribute to tire & suspension wear.

  6. #15
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    Transferred to consolidate same topic.

    darkroast1 Member posted April 02, 2004 07:44 PM

    The stabilizing link on the passenger side of my 1984 westy has broke at the shoulder where the threads meet the body on the lower portion of the link. I received a new link as well as a new bushing for the top "banjo".
    My trouble, as I expected when I first surveyed the job, is how to pull the old link off the stabilizing bar on the top. Is there a special technique for pulling off the link, does the link come off with the bushing or seperately? I tried simply pulling on it (since its in two pieces the bottom threads offer no interferance) and I've tried a puller but the jaws want to grab both the bushing and the link so it still won't make it over the bump on the end of the stabilizing bar on top., but rather it just compresses the bushing.
    The bently manual does little but offer a pictoral which is of little help. I'm also expecting issues fitting the new one on both the top where the bushing is while pushing the threads through the bottom bushing.
    Any insights anyone has on this problem would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks
    Rich

  7. #16
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    The link is meant to be pressed on & off in a hydraulic press similar to the procedures shown for control arm bushings. You can sometimes get away with a large vise. The usual procedure is to remove the stabilizer bar completely. Once you've unhooked from the frame at the two middle brackets, it get's easier. It adds work, but you should replace all of your bushings as long as you have to replace the one. Don't try to reuse a 20 year-old bushing -- it's hardened beyond saving. Since you'll replace the bushing, you can pull the two together.

  8. #17
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    No, you are wrong on several points in this write-up. Few will start this kind of work, so I shall not go on.
    Anyone thinking of starting this job please contact me first.
    Capt. Jim

    Actually, I will go on, because I hare just re-read your story of Front End Extreme efforts. At the present I am half way the same job. You are absolutely correct, that the lower arm rubber bushings are a bear to replace. I have been fortunate enough to obtain the VW 3053 sleeve for the job. What is not clear in the Bentley manual, is that the sleeve compresses the rubber portion of the bushing as it moves down the sleeve under pressure so that it arrives at the lower arm socket in the correct size. EVEN so, it is a tricky job. All is under great pressure...go too far and you will ruin a bushing (don't ask how I know) .. too little and you start over. Still,with the VW sleve, it is not so bad.
    The really nasty job in the front end department, the one that I expect experienced mechs send to the appretince every time, is the lower ball joint. I would like to know of ANYONE who has ever found the tools to render this job to be easy. With the VW 3051 press tool, it is possible. I know though, it is not easy. Pressing out the old joint is straight forward, but requires probably 10+ tons. Pressing in the new part is stricly touch-and-go, and requires almost equal pressure. The difficulty is that on press-in, the ball joint sholder available for pressing will tend to give way before than the joint is fully seated, with the result that the fit is imperfect, and doesn't permit full seating of the snap ring.. I ask whether any other member has different experience? The only relief is the fact that the snap-ring is unneccessary anyway, as it prevents the unit from pulling out in rebound.........Never going to happen, so I have accepted the condition of partial snap-ring seating. Otherwise, the front end overhaul, including all rubber bushings, and all ball joints is a reasonable weekend job. The wheel alignment is relatively easy, in that the camber can be set with the weight still on the car (the only problem is that the adjustment available does not quite reach ideal settings...but within specifications. Camber is easy, and toe-in is standard.

    Regards, and happy New Year to Cap'n Mike,
    James
    Last edited by Capt. Mike; 03-09-2010 at 11:58 AM.

  9. #18
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    Since the lower ball joint is retained by the circlip, you can polish & dress the opening in the knuckle and the new ball joint itself to reduce the amount of 'press' required, much along the lines of what is described in the CV joint topic. By the time a ball joint requires replacement the casting has gone through thousands of heat/cool cycles and probably exprienced some bangs and perhaps slight distortion from pressing the old out. New ball joint bases tend to be 'old original' full size -- even fudged towards oversize because the supplier doesn't want rejects for loose fit. A .001" or two doesn't seem like much but shows up when you are attempting to mate old & new parts. The press fit is meant to provide enough friction so the ball joint nuts can be brought to torque, not to weld the units together in an immoveable mass. Prior to installting the new joint, use a good polishing wheel on both, filing any rough spots until you are close to a fit.

    Then -- and this is one of those instances where only the right tool works -- you should be able to press in without damage using assembly lube.

  10. #19
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    Thanks Mike,
    And you are right again. It would be best to dress the opening in the knuckle before pressing in the new ball unit. Actually the ball joint itself is a serrated edge, not really suitable for dressing down. Still, the only reason I replaced them in the first instance, was because the suspension was in overhaul and best do it while things are accessable. The boots on both upper balls were torn while neither of the lower rubbers were suspect. Still after just over 20 years old and easy to get at...this was the time.
    The reason for suspension overhaul was the squeeking sound at slow speeds, and when getting in and out of the car. The cause, I believe was the upper sets of rubber arm bushings. I also replaced the lower rubbers but also doubt that that was needed. Both lower bushings looked just about as fine as the new ones. The upper arms are much shorter and therefore swing through a far greater arc. They also have a lesser rubber thickness to absorb that travel. One might expect then, that the upper rubbers will always be the first to go, and always fail at the inner sleeves, with much less surface contact. That is my story, and I will stick with it.
    Whatever the truth, I have stopped the squeeks. And if the new parts last as long as the originals, it will be my last time at this job. Next time they need changing, someone will have to dig the old bus up from its/our grave.

    Regards Capt. Mike
    James

  11. #20
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    I know the edges of the ball joint housing are serrated -- the friction to keep them from rotating in the housing -- but most serrations are swagged into the housing, i.e. stamped in under great pressure. But this also often leaves rough edges, sprue or die marks and some unevenness, thus even a little checking and dressing of those, without removing the serations or trying to grind them own for a free fit, can help. A burr left from the original swagging can be the difference between smooth fit and jambing or cocking.

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