Westfalia.org Community - Powered by vBulletin

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 27

Thread: Alignment questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Raleigh, NC USA
    Posts
    3,806

    Default

    This topic is for all alignment & setting questions. Although VW's have a rear suspension alignment adjustment, most questions are about the front, so please post all questions here.

    Transferred from another forum to keep similar subjects together.

    Dave Peirce, Junior Member, 10-09-2000 03:05 PM

    I have a '78 Westy which I've almost completely restored with a problem which has me and my mechanic and his favorite tire man stumped. I've put Cooper 195R14C tires on the original stock wheels. Max sidewall psi is 65 for these 6 ply tires, which are load range D. Ball joints are new, alignment is to specs, steering box is new, and all drop arm and relay arm connections are tight. I have a 7/8" stabiliser bar in place, replacing the stock sway bar. Problem is, no matter what pressure I try in the tires - I've tried 30/30, 30/40, 35/45, 45/50, 55/55 - the bus becomes extremely unstable when the steering wheel is turned in either direction at speeds greater than 35 MPH. Below that speed it's just an annoying tendency to wander if the road surface is uneven.

    Going in a straight line everything feels rock solid, but if I pull out to pass (or, more likely, pull over to be passed)the bus responds twice - once to the steering wheel and then, almost immediately, it seems to lurch harder into the turn, as if I've pushed through the sidewall's stiffness.
    It's making me crazy, not mention reluctant to take my finished project anywhere, and no one here seems to be able to help.

    Any ideas??? Thanks very much for your time.

    ---Dave Peirce - dpeirce@home.com

    Capt. Mike, Moderator, 10-09-2000 06:26 PM

    I've heard of Cooper tires but never known any VW owners that tried them. 195R14C or D is not so oversize it should cause any handling problems in and of itself. That it says 65 psi on the sidewall indicates it's probably a Load Range D -- most C's only go to 50 psi.

    I'd look at a few things. Did you check caster? Loss of stability is often caster related.

    Did you replace the front shocks and steering damper, keeping them OE or OEM? VW's come with the equivilent of HD components to match their load capacity. Going heavier or lighter can screw up the delicate balance of damping vs. performance. VW specifically warns against using heavier duty at one end than the other.

    Did the overhaul do any changes to the torsion bar and settings? Your suspension is all torsion bar and any irregularities there will cause problems. Shocks & sway bar do NOT 'suspend' the vehicle. Raising & lowering suspension with torsion bar settings can really screw things up.

    Why did you change the stabilizer? The OE is pretty HD and an excellent balance between reducing body roll without adding a "dartiness" to steering. Excessive stiffness of the stabilizer bar transfers more to the tires, which in your case are already non-standard size. Try disconnecting and (carefully and at slow speed in a parking lot) see what the results are. No sway bar should lean & 'plow' but not add instability.

    Last, I would not automatically eliminate the tires. Just because a tire has a good load rating and is correctly sized does not necessarily mean it has good matching sidewall stiffness or handling characteristics. My old Porsche came with a VERY stiff sidewall Michelin XWX 185/70VR15. It was so stiff in the sidewall machines had trouble mounting the tires. But handled superbly. Looking for a lower cost tire, I tried a set of Dunlops -- exact same size & specs -- but they were a nightmare. You could feel the tire set up, almost like shifting over on the rims an inch or two in every corner. A one-size oversize set (your scenario) of Pirellis wasn't much better. I went back to the OE Michelin XWX's and everything was back to perfect. So try a set of known tires and see what happens. The Michelin LTX 195/R14C is popular & readily available and seems to duplicate the OE 185R14r characteristics. Shoot, just borrow a known set from another Westy owner for a day to test them ought to give you some idea.

    You are right in caution. A Westy breadbox on wheels is tough enough to keep on the road when it's right!

    Dave Peirce, Junior Member, 10-10-2000 12:46 AM

    Thanks for the reply.

    I have not had the caster checked lately - will do so. Shocks and steering damper all R & R'd w/ stock parts. I made no adjustments to the torsion bars. The larger sway bar was an initial attempt to remedy both this problem and the tendency of the bus to dive into corners. It has eliminated (or, at least, greatly moderated) the diving, but the wandering is no better than before.
    I'll try the Michelins, and check the caster, and report back. Appreciate the help!!!

    ---Dave Peirce

    Capt. Mike, Moderator, 10-10-2000 04:32 AM

    Added thought -- don't forget the rears! The rear suspension does have camber & toe adjustment and can cause instability if it's fighting the fronts. And is your tracking correct? The front can be perfectly aligned to each other but not in line with the rear.

  2. # ADS
    Adsense Circuit advertisement
    Join Date
    Always
    Location
    Advertising world
    Posts
    Many
     
  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Raleigh, NC USA
    Posts
    3,806

    Default

    The post under "Front Suspension Overhaul" also includes alignment information for Syncro Vanagons.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Raleigh, NC USA
    Posts
    3,806

    Default

    Copied from the Wheel & Tire forum as it applies to sway bar changes & settings as well.

    Dave Peirce, Junior Member, 01-08-2001 02:58 PM

    With regard to my previous post re: handling problems with my '78 Westy: I installed the 7/8" rear sway bar to match the one in front, lowered tire pressures to 30F, 40R, having rechecked everything in the front end. No more problem.

    E-mailed Cooper tire on Sunday to inquire about proper inflation for the load Westies put on the tire (per Capt. Mike's suggestion) - got a phone call before noon the next day from Cooper's customer service people (not bad response time) and was told to keep the tires (SRM II 195R14r [load range D]) at 40F, 50R - they say this will give me approx. 1500 pounds of load leeway above a (guessed at) 5300 pound curb weight for my normal driving configuration.

    Filled 'em up, tried her out - still no problem with the handling. Quite a relief to have the bus go where it's steered, finally. Thanks to Capt. Mike for all the input.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Raleigh, NC USA
    Posts
    3,806

    Default

    I think what David has found out is that you cannot just change one item in a system and expect some superior results. VW's (and everybody's) designs are balanced and to a compromise condition. If you don't agree with a condition, changing is fine but it has to be done in a manner that maintains that balance plus be willing to accept the changes in that 'compromise'.

    Here, David wanted a heavier front sway bar (reduces body lean in corners). But he didn't change the rear, so the bus was no longer balanced and, in effect, corkscrewing with the stiffer front and softer rear. By going to balanced sway bars, and adjusting pressure to match the new tires and conditions, he has restored the balance and is satisfied with the changes in 'compromise.'

    Good luck and thanks for bringing us up-to-date with the final 'cure.' I wonder how many realize you can have the same problem with unbalanced shocks?
    Last edited by Capt. Mike; 06-23-2009 at 07:02 PM.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Raleigh, NC USA
    Posts
    3,806

    Default

    Transferred to consolidate similar topics.

    Leaning to the left!

    Boatman Junior Member # 2791 posted 11-21-2001 01:04 PM

    This is not a political inclination! I have a 2000 Westfalia California Generation and it leans to the left even without the water or me.

    I am in the UK and the vehicle is LHD so I'm driving next to the kerb. Because the crown of the road is higher than ditch-side the left leaning is enhanced. Going round right hand bends is most uncomfortable.

    Does anyone else notice their van leans like this? Are you bothered by it? Is there an uprated suspension system available? I wouldn't mind one of these anyhow because I think it's a bit soggy and could do with firming up.

    Thanks
    Boatman

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Raleigh, NC USA
    Posts
    3,806

    Default

    If you are only leaning in one direction, I would suspect you have a suspension problem, either something not attached correctly, a misadjusted or damaged torsion bar, or a disconnected stabilizer bar. If the suspension doesn't show any unusual softness, dip over bumps or nose dive when braking, I'd suspect the stabilizer. Stabilizers work on a torsion principle -- the resistance to bending of the metal bar. But BOTH ends have to be firmly connected.

    The Bentley section N40-14 shows retrofitting heavy duty front stabilizer bars, but as mentioned in other posts, it is imperative that you work with a balanced set front & rear.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Oak Creek, CO
    Posts
    44

    Default

    Greeting: My wacky 84’/1.9 Westfalia front suspension saga continues. My current and untrained prognosis is that the driver side coil spring is weak/failing as it is way more compressed than the passenger side. The vehicle seems to roll farther left in right hand turns and I have had two basic inspections by qualified VW techs. My visual sleuthing has made one basic observation. On the driver side the coil spring looks a little distorted and the top of the spring is blocked from view by the upper control arm. Whereas on the passenger side there is nearly 1 " of spring visible under the lip of the upper control arm. Stabilizer bar & links are solid, bushing intact and both coil springs are seated the same way on the lower (stamped) control arm.
    I've often wondered about the aftermarket Boge spring set available which at one point I was led to believe that it was to address getting later (88' & on Vanagons in standard garages. Mine isn't even close @ 6' 9" on the passenger side. I will assume that it is best to change springs as a set if it comes to that.
    Thanks for any help.
    Cheers, Steve

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Raleigh, NC USA
    Posts
    3,806

    Default

    The coils on mine rest up into the upper control arm so the top coil is pretty much hidden from sight. The damping ring covers the coil and it in turn is inside the upper control arm. If you have air-space above the coil, it sounds like something else, perhaps the bump-stop, is keeping the suspension from dropping down to a normal nesting. Or perhaps the damping ring is distorted and not allowing the coil to nest inside, thus acting like a spacer between spring and arm instead of a nest. There is a change effective with VIN 25A 007 7959 (~1982 models) concerning the spacer sleeve and thus I suppose possible a mismatched set has been installed in error.

    Although VW only discusses maintaining the same color-code of springs on an axle, my intuition says springs should be in pairs unless you have the facilities to do compression/rebound force tests (and can find out the specs).

    Sorry, have no knowledge of any aftermarket spring sets but I wouldn't be surprised to find Boge supplying VW since they supply shocks and other suspension parts. Thus those 'aftermarket" springs could be OEM. I have no qualms about the brand; Boge has always been a premium vendor.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    1

    Default

    I have a 1995 Westy from Germany. It too is leaning to the left. Mind you, the gas tank and propane take and cupboards and closets are all on the left too. However, It didn't lean that way when I got it, about a year ago. I've been on the road and loaded ever since. I put it on a hoist and couldn't see anything wrong but I don't really know what to look for either. I called the VW dealer in Toronto and they didn't seem to recognize the problem - but would be happy to work on it.

    I'd like to know how common the problem is and if I should simply get used to it or take steps to get it repaired.

    WC

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Raleigh, NC USA
    Posts
    3,806

    Default

    A 'lean' is not common at all and indicates something has changed. The extra weight of the left side galley is not significant -- it's countered by other features. The actual, weighed, side-to-side differential on mine is 100 lb. and including another battery on the left so I'm sure the original design weight is closely balanced.

    Something has probably given way -- a cracked spring, torsion bar, shocks, bushings. You can't expect a shop to diagnose sight unseen, please have it inspected by a qualified mechanic or dealer. It might be dangerous if left unrepaired.

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •