Rear springs


villinski

New member
Hi-
Trying to quickly get the '85 Westy I just acquired roadworthy and have just installed KYB shocks, a great improvement over the originals with 101K miles on them. However, the rear coil springs are tired and sagging, rear end of bus is 1.5 inches lower than front. I know the only real fix is to pony-up the cash for new springs, but until that's possible, has anyone tried those rubber blocks they sell to wedge between the coils to add an inch or two of ride height? Worth a try, or will they just screw-up the spring rate so much the handling becomes worse? Thanks for your thoughts.

[ 08-25-2001: Message edited by: Capt. Mike ]
 

westfalia

New member
Paul:

I just installed an airbag kit to the rear shocks in my 91 westy. I did it primarily to rid myself of the body sway - which is from soft shocks I guess, but they also added over an inch to the overall height of the rear. They are called Airlift 1000 and I bought them at an RV dealer. Only took about a half hour to install. Hope that helps.
 

villinski

New member
Thanks for the info on the Airlift airbag helper springs - seems like a promising direction. I read a review of these things at vanagon.com and they seem to like them. I am wondering, however, if I will need to run the max air pressure (25psi) in them in order to lift the rear springs an inch or so, and if so, if that will make the ride too harsh over NYC's famous potholes. Does anyone else have experience with these?

I have measured the distances from axle centers to the wheel well lip with the bus unladen (and water tank empty) and get about 17-7/8" at the front wheels and 16-3/4" at the rears. Does anyone know what the measurements should be? The front seems awfully high, and boy does this bus look weird, nose-up like that.

A pair of new rear coil springs from the dealer costs a big bucket of ducats, and I'm not even sure they will restore the bus to a level condition. I am contemplating the
Airlift kits in the rear (one-sixth the cost of new springs) hoping to raise it half an inch, and possibly using those clamps sold at autoparts stores to compress the front springs a half inch. Some one else suggested replacing the rear shocks with air-adjustable shocks to level it?

Any thoughts and/or information will be highly appreciated!
 
Howdy:
If you haven't gone for the Airlift yet, don't hesitate further. At one time their was a post Capt. Mike on the issue of "sagging rear/elevated front". Which would reguire a great VW frront end person/place to determine. I found some wrecked vanagons @ juckyard and just for curiostiy checked the color coding. It was blue, same as the one I took out of my Westy, so I replaced the left rear only.
Good luck. Steve
 

jamescooper

New member
Yessireebob Airlift is the way to go! I bought the "outback" special which includes a gauge with relief valve and switch to kick on the included compressor. All for only $188.

Now, it took me much more than the 1 hour they said it would (no surprise) but that's only 'cause I wanted to do it "right." Now that its done, its beautiful!

Anyone that wants more details on install, feel free to contact me at jamesc@icebox500.com .

James
 

ronwolffjr

New member
Has anyone had the rear of thier bus 70-79 era lifted up to it's original glory?

The Bently guide seems to illustrate how to measure your angle with a protractor (VW Part 217)... rub some talcum powder on the seals, etc.

A little beyond what I'd like to undertake personally.

Wondering if someone can share how to lift the 'sagging back' by re-fitting the spring plates to a new angle.

Hoping to get this done without any kind of air-lift mechanisms.

THANKS!

Ron Wolff
'76 Westy
'78 SB Conv
'74 SB Auto-stick
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
I've never done it and hope to never have to. You're right, it sure looks complicated, but I also wonder if it's written for a torsion bar replacement and total reset as if a new installation? You'd think it would be just a matter of removing the trailing arm (spring plate) and rotating one notch!

I suppose the question that then arises is, "Have the torsion bars been permanently twisted to have lost their original spring back?" I suppose you try -- if the torsion bar can't handle the change in range, you have only invested the labor. Before you do either, double check your shocks for OE. It appears some aftermarket shocks are selling what "fits", not what was designed for the TYpe II. If not the heavy duty that is standard in the OE, they 'sag' to begin with or perhaps they have a different 'centered' or at-rest position. I'm seeing more & more cases of aftermarket shock fit problems.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
eostly Junior Member posted October 28, 2002 10:25 PM

I have a 86 Westfalia Vanagon with 220K miles on it.

We are using Bilstein shocks front and rear with great results. However, we still have the original OEM springs which are rather tired at this point. To help when towing (we tow a car on a trailer to the racetrack), we have added the Airlift 1000 system.

I'm interested if anyone has found non-OEM spring options for the Vanagon? I have seen some info on kits available in Europe but I haven't seen them in the US. New OEM springs aren't an option as they cost way too much (I can get three sets of Eibach racing springs for the cost of just one dealer OEM rear spring) and are too soft anway.

Thanks
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same topic.

jimthornton Junior Member posted November 06, 2002 01:05 PM

I have a really bad back and need a soft ride. I want to get into a 1995 or newer Euro camper van, but the Weekender (MV) seems to ride easier. Does anyone know what the suspension difference between the two are? Also, If I go with the MV because of the better ride, can I install the back and midle single seat of the Camper model into the MV model? Thanks for any information.

Jim
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
I'll refer you to Section M of the Bentley shop manual. You'll find several factors that can have an effect on apparent softness of ride.

Rear springs is just one; Vw used several springs and spring rates for different models so yes, there may be a difference. You will have to check your model vs. the original parts list to see which you have.

Other factors covered in Section M include tires & wheels. Different tires and even different pressures can have a marked effect on apparent ride softenss.

VW also used several torsion bars depending on model. Although torsion bars use as anti-sway don't have a marked effect on softness, they do have an effect on apparent feel as they control roll during cornering which is generally interpreted by the senses as softness of suspension.
 

Jamie Harris

New member
I have a 90 manual VW vanagon camper with 105k on it.

This problem actually concerns both front and rear springs. I've only had it about a year an a half and recently noticed that the driver side is lower than the passenger side. I had the suspension/coils checked at the VW dealer and all they said was that it's 1 inch lower on the driver side. They didn't find any problem with the suspension other than their theory that the weight of the camping stuff had over time compressed the springs on the driver side slightly. Is this a common problem? Now that I think about it, the weight of the frig and cabinets must make the weight distribution very unequal side to side. Are there any quick fixes to this other than replacing all four coils or adding weight to the passenger side to level it?

Thanks
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
That's a common MISCONCEPTION. Empty, they are well balanced. Mine has a 15 lb. differential. User misloading is another story . . .! See the Vehcile Weights post elsewhere on this site -- probably in the TIPS forum.

Look for other unequal wear first. The bushings in both front and rear set over time and can affect apparent ride hieght. It's also possible there have been repairs in the past. Springs are color coded to matched sets but in the aftermarket, that is often lost.
 

Ron1234

New member
Background:
I've owned three VW campers; 1976, 1980 and my current 1989. All were Westfalia Campers. All were purchased by me new. I put 120k on the 1976. At about 100K the suspension began to sag on the left. I had the dealer replace the torsion bar on the left. This didn't fix the problem. I traded this camper shortly thereafter for the 1980 model. I drove the 1980 120K miles without any problems. I traded it for the 1989 I now own. The 1989 started to sag on the left about two years ago, approximately 80K miles. I replaced the shocks all around with white KYBs. The ride improved/stiffened, but the sag didn't change much. Now it is less noticeable, but its still there. I don't believe, in my case, that the suspension bushings are deteriorated or bad. And I now know the shocks aren't the problem. Instead, I strongly believe this problem is due to weakened rear springs, primarily in the left rear. I haven't priced replacement springs yet but plan to do so. I do know that Captin Mike is correct in that there are different springs for the differing models of the Vanagons. You need a matched set to properly correct this problem.

My question is: Has anyone actually tried to replace these rear springs? How difficult a job is it? Please advise, thanks
 

Potato

New member
Ron,
I have an 1989 camper with 55,000 miles. My springs gave me problems at around 12,000 miles.The van had a noticable lean to the left.If I remember it was down about 1.75 inches. Various discussions with Volkswagen were useless, they refused to address the problem and said the lean "was within specs". I solved the problem by using spring spacers that go in between the springs and can be adjusted with 2 bolts. My van has been straight for14 years. I admit I do not have alot of miles on the van but it rides well and I check the spacers on a regular basis. It was a good fix and has caused no problems with the springs at all.
 
I now have an 84, 2wd@ 128 K, West-Jetta as they like to call them here in Colorado. I found other odd things about my van. I thought the butt end of the van was drooping 1.5 inches until I put rear Syncro springs to compensate for the additional weight of the South African engine and hoping to avoid anal retentive packing. After Karl M. and I put in the motor and the springs, lo and behold my vehicle is level and perfect for Forest Service Campgrounds. I suspect that perhaps the P.O. had body work done and they (you know who they are) replaced the front springs with Syncro springs. Just a theory.
Hope that helps , Steve
 

Ron1234

New member
Thanks for your responses. I plan to try the spacers first and possibly use the Airlift 1000 kit I've read about here. I plan to keep this vehicle for a long time. I don't like the price tag associated with the new EuroVan Camper. $40k kind of take the fun out of camping. I can purchase a lot of repairs for that kind of money.
 

jamesatraincity

New member
Also, are folks using this [Airlift 1000] kit on the front and back, or just the back. One more thing, when folks are noticing the 'lean to the left' and using the spacers, are they installing the spacers in the rear left only, or the front and rear left??? thanks, Jim. (Seems that on my 1991 the lean is mostly in the back).

[This message was edited by Capt. Mike on October 17, 2003 at 01:51 PM.]
 

daveinportland

New member
I have an 88 2WD Westy with about 150K. It is my normal ride, so in addition to the standard camping gear, canned goods, and full water tank, it sees a lot of road miles with may fat butt in the left seat and an empty right seat. Oddly enought, she started to lean to the left. Feeling I had nothing to loose, I took an afternoon (4hrs?) and swapped the springs left to right. It now seems to be universally low (a bit of a problem when droping down from the Island In The Sky along the shafer trail), but fairly level. When I had the springs out I compared the free lenght and found no difference.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Vanagons are typically overloaded on the left due to the cabinets, tank and heavy accessories. That can be corrected by proper loading but years of it can affect spring tension. You would have been better off just replacing the sagging spring; they can be replaced individually. What it appears you've done is put a weak spring on the lighter right and then put a heavy load on the left -- results, lower both sides.
 

elwhawoods

New member
‘85 Westy, 2WD; Boge shocks(4)installed 43,000 mi. ago by previous owner: What are normal or original vertical suspension spreads for front and rear when van is unloaded. Some posters to this topic refer to left side being abnormally low, which seems easy to determine visually (I have no left/right discrepancy). But when the front is higher than the rear (in my case, 1.7 in.), how do I know if the front is abnormally high, or if the rear is sagging? I’ve checked Bentley (Secs 40 & 42) and found no base numbers for determining normal. Obviously, I need to learn if the problem is with the front or rear before attempting to correct it (Consequence of this condition is an extremely short mirror view through rear window, and I suspect possible negative handling effects in wind-gusts.). If I learn that a rear-end sag is the problem, would new springs be recommended ($256 each at VW dealership)? How would I judge if used springs (assuming proper color coding) have not also lost strength? Thanks for any information.
 

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