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Spring & Shock/Damper Installation Reference Guide

Hammersticks

Drag Race Newbie
Location
Bay Area, CA
Car(s)
'16 GTI, '18 e-Golf
Hey all,

This job has been around for a while, but I wanted to put together a list of things I found helpful after having scoured through various posts before and after my first time through it.

Despite the length of this post, hopefully it saves you some time!

DISCLAIMER: Please proceed at your own risk. This information has been put together to the best of my abilities but I ultimately take no responsibility for your actions. If you are concerned with performing this job, please take it to a professional mechanic.

With that said, if you are up for the task, please proceed!

How-To Videos:


Tools in the videos:
  • The basic tools outlined in the videos:
  • Spring compressor- May or may not be necessary depending on which springs and shocks you’re replacing. Use the Autozone rental program.
  • 1/2, 3/8, 1/4” ratchets
  • 18mm and 13mm wrenches
  • Sockets: 21mm, 18mm, 17mm, 16mm, 13mm
  • 14mm triple square
  • Small screwdriver
  • T25 Torx (rear fender liner & light leveling sensor – if applicable)
  • 10mm socket (front brake line bracket bolt)
  • Strut spreader: The DAP video uses 1/4” ratchet which works, but do yourself a favor and get a good strut spreader. Not all strut spreaders are the same size. After the first time through I searched for the widest spreader I could find and found the MetalNerd version (Part MN3424). It is slightly wider than a 1/4” ratchet and has rounded edges that won’t gnarl up the knuckle as much as a ratchet can.
  • Impact wrench (air) - NOT recommended (as not to spin the heck out of the damper piston and over-torque the top nut)

Additional Tools:
  • Breaker bar – Not required, but can be helpful if you don’t have air
  • Big round screwdriver (I used this to help align the holes on the lower control arms in the rear upon re-assembly)
  • Allen wrench set (use for the shock piston)
  • Torque wrenches
  • Pass-through ratchet/sockets for the top shock nuts and front endlinks. http://www.golfmk7.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3438&page=15
  • Strut nut removal wrench such as metalnerd MN2122 (alternative to pass-through socket...make sure you get the right size sockets, especially if you're changing your dampers)
  • WD-40 or other lubricant: Used to lube the base of the struts before removal.
  • 2x4 (24" or so piece) with a hole near one of the top corners. You will put your used pinch bolt to secure it. I have also used thick zip ties (through the hole in the 2x4) on the passenger side.
Required Replacement Parts:

MINIMUM REQUIRED*
(for complete front and rear spring / damper job):
•Strut Bearings: 5Q0-412-249-F* (Qty 2) (*New as of Dec '18. Replaced "E". Confirmed on post #193)
•Front Pinch / Strut Bolts: N-909-548-02 (Qty 2)
•Strut Lock Nut: N-101-064-02 (Qty 2)

EVERYTHING** (for those who want to replace all nuts/bolts regardless)
Front:
•Minimum required parts +
•Strut Mount Bolts: N-912-464-01 (Qty 6) (update 2-Feb-19, was N-101-277-07)
•Strut Top Nuts: N-910-216-01 (Qty 2 – for stock shocks/dampers only)
Rear:
•Lower Control Arm Mount Bolt: N-106-405-01 (Qty 2)
•Shock Bolt: N-106-283-01 (Qty 2)
•Shock and Control Arm Nuts: N-101-064-02 (Qty 4, in addition to fronts, 6 total)
•Stabilizer Link Bolts: N-107-765-01 (Qty 2)
•Stabilizer Link Lock Nuts: N-901-838-03 (Qty 2)
•Shock Mount Bolts: N-906-484-02 (Qty 4 –if removing rear shocks/dampers)
•Top Shock Nut WHT-007-127 (Qty 2 – if removing rear dampers - for stock shocks/dampers only)

*I have personally used the "minimum" list with the 2x4 method (See this related post from snobrdrdan, or video from zcspec). However, please do as YOU see fit. Please also see post #142 of this thread.

**If you are more comfortable replacing all of the nuts and bolts you touch and use the 2x4 method, purchase these parts. ECS and DAP sell suspension bolt kits but they often have either too much or too little. Best just to order the individual parts.

***Again, the bearings are the weak link with the front struts. GET NEW BEARINGS!!!


Optional Parts:
  • TT Pads (optional): Part number: 8j0-512-149. The pads are roughly ¼” thicker than the stock pads which can be used to correct reverse rake.
  • Strut Mounts: Part number: 5Q0-412-331-D. They are partially made of rubber, so think about other rubber components on your car. If in doubt, buy spares, and return if you don't need them. You don't want to get the strut out and then realize the mount is shot. Having said that, after 4 years and 30K miles, my mounts are still fine (Bay Area, CA). Note, there are aftermarket options for the strut mounts, but most should just stick with stock unless they go with camber mounts. There have been numerous reports of noise issues with the ECS mounts, and here's what happened to my 034 mounts after 15K miles: https://www.golfmk7.com/forums/showpost.php?p=665614&postcount=98

Process tips

Bump Stops:
http://www.golfmk7.com/forums/showthread.php?t=27947

Front Strut Replacement:

Before you take the front struts off, do yourself a favor and break the strut top nut loose (Don't remove all the way, just break them loose.). This will make loosening the nut much easier once you have the strut off of the car.

2x4 method: The VW techs obviously don’t do this, but it saves time and it works.
http://www.golfmk7.com/forums/showthread.php?p=113050#post113050
http://www.golfmk7.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7982&page=5
http://www.golfmk7.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13185

Callouts:
1. Before proceeding further, review post 185 here. With the 2x4 method, you leave the axle connected to the transmission. As such, you don't want to push or pull the control arm so far that you disengage the axle from the transmission OR, damage the inner CV boot,

2. Review this tip from mag611 onrc getting strut out.
3. #1 and #2 aren't mutually exclusive. I have been able to successfully move the knuckle down ~1.5-2" by hand many times; however, you need to be mindful of how much stress/tension you are putting on the inner CV boot when you are repositioning the knuckle as you pull out the strut.
4. Your 2x4 should be approx 2 feet long. I have holes drilled in opposite corners of mine where I secure the 2x4 to the endlink bracket on the strut. (One hole for each side based on the way it lines up) I have used the pinch bolt to secure the 2x4 to the strut, but I have found using long zip ties too (USE YOUR BEST JUDGEMENT TO ENSURE THE 2X4 IS SECURE).
5. Overall, it should take no longer than 10 minutes to safely get the strut out. Make sure you have the right tools, think about what you're doing, and be safe. If you find yourself getting frustrated, take a break and come back to it. Trust me, I've been there. It can absolutely be done though.

Front torque specs:

  • Front strut mount bolts: 15Nm + 90 degree additional turn
  • Front sway endlinks: 65Nm
  • Front pinch bolts: 70Nm +180 degree additional turn (tighten the nut while holding the M14 triple square in place. Updated from 90 degree turn)
  • Front (stock) strut top lock nut: 60Nm

Rear spring replacement:
  • If your car has a light leveling sensor on the driver’s side lower control arm, remove it before you do anything else so you don’t forget.
  • Bolt removal & re-installation: If you are working on jack stands you will need to use the floor jack to move the lower control arm up and down to the right position to relieve tension on the 3 bolts (endlink, shock, lower control arm) when removing and realigning on the install. This seems easy but can take some maneuvering. Recommendation to do the control arm bolt (closest to rotor) first and work inwards towards the sway endlink bolt on removal and install.

Rear torque specs:
  • Rear sway endlink bolts: 20Nm + 180 degree additional turn
  • Rear lower shock bolts: 70Nm + 180 degree additional turn
  • Rear lower control arm bolts: 70Nm + 180 degree additional turn
  • Rear top shock mount bolts: 50Nm + 45 degree additional turn

Rear shock/damper replacement:

Nothing special to note except the EVAP tank on the passenger side. The DAP video tells you there’s a bracket up top which is true, but you’ll soon find out the tank doesn’t just pop right out. No matter which direction you try to move it, it hits something and won’t come off the bracket. I reached in over the top and managed to press the tongue on the clip in which released it from the bracket. The problem is you can’t see back there and there’s barely any room. I’m sure there must be a trick to it. See the pic below to know what you are working with.

Conclusion:

Like most things, the first time through will definitely take more time. The people who say it can be done in 3-4 hours have had lots of experience. It's definitely doable though.

Hopefully this helps, and thanks to all who have contributed! [emoji41]
 
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Hammersticks

Drag Race Newbie
Location
Bay Area, CA
Car(s)
'16 GTI, '18 e-Golf
Additional pics

MetalNerd strut spreader (middle)


Other tools


Strut bearings, strut pinch bolts, and nuts


Evap tank clip and bracket


TT spring pad / stock pad comparison


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Last edited:

Mk7user

Ready to race!
Location
Midlo
Replacement Parts:

  • Strut Bearings: 5Q0-412-249-E.(Qty 2) = ~$40-50/pair. Best to replace regardless of miles while you’re in there. You also don’t want to get stuck mid-project if the old ones fall apart during the removal. (I’ve heard of this happening.)
  • Bolts: Using the 2x4 method, I took snobrdrdan’s advice and just replaced the front pinch bolts (2), strut lock nuts (2), along with the strut bearings. I’ve reused all of the rear bolts a number of times while trying different configurations and the fronts strut mounting bolts a couple times without any issues. Ultimately though, do what you are comfortable with doing. I know some guys would rather replace everything.
  • Front Pinch / Strut Bolts: N-909-548-02 (Qty 2)
  • Strut Lock Nut: N-101-064-02 (Qty 2)
  • Here are a couple other threads on bolt replacement:
  • http://www.golfmk7.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6860&highlight=springs&page=10
  • http://www.golfmk7.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9213

Why no axle "stretch" bolt as snobrdrdan mentioned in the second thread? Is that because you didn't take the axle out & used the 2x4 method?


Inner-1102 & outter -5437 stretch bolts?

I know that the 2 strut bearings you mentioned are $40-50 for the needed 2 fronts weren't on the list below from Yomny but neither is that outter axle stretch bolts - WHT005437.


The kit ECS sells its a little expensive for what you may need but it is complete if you do the "removing axle" method. I cant find the thread now but i made a list of exactly the bolts and nuts you needed for a spring removal, which in my case was via the 2x4.

Found it, its a lot cheaper. Front you'll replace top three bolts of strut top and lower pinch bolt

STRUT MOUNT BOLT x6 Part Number: N-101-277-07
STRUT "Pinch" BOLT x2 Part Number: N-909-548-02
STRUT LOCK NUT x 4 Part Number: N-101-064-02
STABILIZER LINK BOLT,x2 Part Number: N-107-765-01
STABILIZER LINK LOCK NUTx2 Part Number: N-901-838-03
LOWER CNTRL ARM MOUNT BOLT x2 Part Number: N-106-405-01

Total about $16.
 
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Hammersticks

Drag Race Newbie
Location
Bay Area, CA
Car(s)
'16 GTI, '18 e-Golf
Why no axle "stretch" bolt as snobrdrdan mentioned in the second thread? Is that because you didn't take the axle out & used the 2x4 method?

Correct. I use the 2x4 method per above. There is no reason not to. I also did not replace any nuts/bolts on the rear based on the recommendation of others. 5k miles later and everything is fine.

Also, I don't know where you can buy all of those OEM nuts/bolts for $16. Screaming deal if that's true.



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Mk7user

Ready to race!
Location
Midlo
Correct. I use the 2x4 method per above. There is no reason not to. I also did not replace any nuts/bolts on the rear based on the recommendation of others. 5k miles later and everything is fine.

Also, I don't know where you can buy all of those OEM nuts/bolts for $16. Screaming deal if that's true.
Thanks for the confirm Hammersticks! Excellent resource you've provided here!
I'm taking this thread to my installer & telling him there is more chance of mishap by unscrewing more things than necessary .
 

Hammersticks

Drag Race Newbie
Location
Bay Area, CA
Car(s)
'16 GTI, '18 e-Golf
So...I doubt a shop is going to want to use a 2x4 but will rather go "by the book." As long as you go to a reputable shop I'm sure you will be just fine.



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snobrdrdan

former GTI owner
Yes, they are stretch bolts

I've replaced hundreds of them, seriously. On my own cars doing tons of swaps and also other people's cars. They're only $6/pair

Are they going to fall out or cause damage if not replaced...probably not.
There's still a lock nut holding it there, and also the clamping force of the knuckle holds the bottom of the strut in place too....but still, VW recommends they be replaced and I always replaced them

(although after so many times of opening the knuckle up or overstretching it with a strut spreader bit...it can stretch out the knuckle's opening and the clamping force isn't there 100% anymore, so you DO rely on the bolt to clamp the knuckle around the base of the strut)

My 2 cents
 

Hammersticks

Drag Race Newbie
Location
Bay Area, CA
Car(s)
'16 GTI, '18 e-Golf
Yes, they are stretch bolts

I've replaced hundreds of them, seriously. On my own cars doing tons of swaps and also other people's cars. They're only $6/pair

Are they going to fall out or cause damage if not replaced...probably not.
There's still a lock nut holding it there, and also the clamping force of the knuckle holds the bottom of the strut in place too....but still, VW recommends they be replaced and I always replaced them

(although after so many times of opening the knuckle up or overstretching it with a strut spreader bit...it can stretch out the knuckle's opening and the clamping force isn't there 100% anymore, so you DO rely on the bolt to clamp the knuckle around the base of the strut)

My 2 cents
This. The clamping force of my front knuckles has diminished significantly. I don't even need a 2x4 anymore. Maybe the metalnerd bit is TOO big...and/or due to the fact that I've redone my suspension a few times.
 
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