I just completed the bulk of this project (minus the rear wishbone stone guards).
Some notes :
The whole process took about 4 hours. I ordered all the parts from E-ACCA for a huge discount from VW dealership prices.
I drove up on Rhino Ramps and installed the factory jack pad kit. That was straight forward and easy, and after watching DAP's video
, I probably completed it in less time than he did it in. I was nervous that the rubber would be difficult to push into the car, but it wasn't bad at all.
I was excited to use said new jack pads to jack up my car for this project, except I found that when you jack up the car using any jack pad, there is no way you have clearance to push a jack stand under a pinch weld because your jack is in the way! In the end it went like this : jack up front right side, put a jack stand under rear right pinch weld. Jack up front left side, put a jack stand under rear left pinch weld. Jack up whole front end from the subframe / dogbone insert location, and put jack stands under the front left and right pinch welds.
<rant> I'm a little underwhelmed with the jack pad kit only because of placement/location. I miss my old BMW M3, where the factory jack interfaced with a hole in the side valence of the car and was completely out of the way of the jack pads under the car. </rant>
I have the Harbor Freight low profile 2 ton steel floor jack, if anyone is interested, which looks identical to their newer 3 ton low profile floor jack
, except that the handle on mine has a T at the top and a open/close knob for the valve at the end of the handle. I also have 4 Larin 6 Ton jack stands
. I like these because they are so big, and can really lift the car off the ground to get some space to work under there. They start at a minimum of 15" and lift to almost 24". I also like that they use a captive lock pin, and not a ratchet mechanism. I worked under my car at 15".
For the skid plate / under engine cover - I did remove the forward lower most screw in the wheel well arch liner on both sides. This allowed me to push some plastic of the wheel arch liner out of the way. I obviously must have small / dexterous arms and hands because I didn't think it was that bad a job. The first side (drivers) I put together in less than 60 seconds. I was able to push the bolt through the hole in the crash frame, then line up the bracket to install and twist the screw in fairly easily. What was everyone complaining about?
The passenger side took me more than 10 minutes! Why? I finally discovered that my forearm was pushing the bracket I was trying to install to a funny angle. Although the screw was lined up with the hole in the bracket, if it isn't headed in straight it just will not thread in.
I used the 12 point "triple square" bolts that are recommended, not standard hex head bolts. I bought a cheap set of triple square sockets off Amazon
in anticipation for this project, as well as some stubby flex head ratchets from Harbor Freight
. There is an advantage to the triple square : a ratchet will have limited swing range in tight quarters. A six-sided hex head means you might have to move the handle quite a bit to mate the bolt head with the socket. The triple square allows interfacing the socket with the bolt at many more possible angles without having to move the handle as much.
The tools I had made the job fairly straight forward, especially the stubby ratchets with flex heads. Once I got the passenger support bracket it place. If you don't have them, I'd recommend them for this job.
The front of the exhaust tunnel - super easy. 5 minutes total. No confusion, just had to figure out which side was forward and which holes I needed to use.
The rear exhaust tunnel - I had to remove a speed washer that was fitted to one of the rear two locations (the out board side of the car), which wouldn't twist off. I had to go in with needle nose pliers and rip it out. Then placement of the plastic panel was fine. I used new speed washers at the rear attachment points, but the plastic nuts would probably be better. I did notice one area where there was some flex in the panel, and it would touch against something else at maximum flex, even with the speed washers pushed up as tight as they would go. I didn't want to ever hear the panel fluttering against anything and making noise, so I wanted to remedy the flex. I pushed out some of the aluminum heat shield around the gas tank so that it was in contact with the plastic panel. It supported the panel enough that the panel no longer flexed, and the only thing that changed was the gap between the heat shield and the gas tank.
The rear subframe panel. I have a GTI, and I bought the small panel. Fitting the bracket was easy and intuitive. I did end up marking a small amount of plastic on a loose test fitting that I wanted to trim/cut for better fitment. I marked the area with silver paint pen, and used a cut off wheel from a dremel tool. I shaved off maybe two strips that were 1/2" by 2 inches long. It was an extra 5 minutes of work, but the panel now fits much better around the strap area for the gas tank. I would say it is more 'flush' with less potential for air to flow over the panel, and now only flow under the panel.
I've kept gas mileage logs for the first 30K miles on the car. I have a pretty standard drive /commute, and should know within a tank or 3 if my gas mileage is improving. As for road noise, I'll let everyone know what I think in a couple days.