What Are The TOP 5 Things That Contribute To A Quality Riding VW Front Suspension?
I read yesterday that quality is subjective. The PRO's opinion of quality is X and your opinion of quality is Y. We all think differently, something one of my best friends in life made me aware of awhile ago.
The PRO's have come up with a baseline of 5 things that contribute to a quality riding front suspension. Quality is the key word because most of us that have been in the industry awhile understand that what we did in the past, wasn't necessarily quality, but it got the job done in an aesthetic way.
Shocks - Who would have thought that shocks have something to do with a quality of ride. But it is PARAMOUNT! Just because a shock comes in a collapsed length or extended length to fit the application, does not mean it is the right shock for the job. This has been the main reason for the PRO's advocating that KYB's are not the correct shock for the application or contributing to a quality of ride. Oil shocks are soft, most gas shocks are stiff and Adjustable shocks can be fine-tuned to get you exactly what in your quality of ride.
Torsions - (Spring Rate) - In a previous article, I talk about measuring your vehicle to document height differences from corner to corner. Why is this important? Let me explain. Used or old torsions are not consistent. How can that be? Well, the difference is the abuse each set of torsions has been through in the last 40-50 years. Or the fact that torsions will ride differently if a 350 lb man drives it 100 miles each day compared to 125 lb man driving 10 miles per day. Each set of torsions will be different and we haven't even discussed what the difference is from left to right. Mindblown. The PRO's recommend new torsions when lowering the vehicle and trying to achieve a quality of ride. Why? Because the spring rate is exactly the same, there is no history of fatigue or abuse.
Control Arm Movement - (Bushings/Bearings) - This is such a huge part of a Quality ride and it is the most overlooked. SMH. As talked about in previous articles, there are three types of bushings/bearing combos out on the market. The best in our opinion is Delrin bushings. Delrin is like your cutting board at home, slightly different but it drives the point across. It is frictionless and we machine it to indicate the entire arm for a play-less, friction-less fit and feel. Factory Roller Bearings with Micarta inner bushings are common on most OEM beams, some even have Micarta inner and outer. The early Link Pin beam having Micarta had a tendency to wear out based on abuse and heat. As years went on, outer bearings came out and only inner Micarta was used. This sufficed until VW stopped making the Beetle and Ghia. I have not seen the most arms in the world but I have seen my fair share and I can tell you with factual knowledge that because most VW owners did not properly maintain their suspension, a high majority of the arms had considerable wear where the bearings rode on the control arms. If they were greased often, this would not happen. But since more arms have wear on them, there is play between the arm and the bearing, negatively contributing to the quality of ride and feel. If they rock back and forth, you can bet you will feel it or hear it. Lastly and more popular on the new construction beam market is Poly Urethane. Developed for off-road applications like dirt and sand, where vibrations are often felt, most people never thought that it was an issue. Due to them being economic in price, shade tree mechanics started using them in new construction beams. Urethane is a squeezable bushing. it does not allow the control arm to rotate freely. Normally, the clear lube that is not available in a grease gun application has to be liberally applied to the arm as it will be the only lube in its lifetime. Normal chassis grease cannot be used in this application. So the chance of diminished ride quality is a certainty.
Tire Pressure/Load Rating - Did you know that the factory radial 165sr15 tires only have 1 ply sidewalls? What does that mean and how does that help the quality of ride? Let me explain. If you have less pressure in your tire, the side wall has the ability to flex to bumps in the road, thus helping the quality of ride. The heavier the sidewall ply and the higher the pressure in the tire decrease the quality of ride. As you decrease the overall tire diameter, the sidewall ply's increase, decrease the quality of ride but increasing the stability and performance of the vehicle. So it is a careful balance to achieve a subjective but ideal quality of ride.
Seats - How in the world do seats have ANYTHING to do with the front suspension? Everything. The springs in your seats actually contribute to the quality of ride by absorbing bumps and inconsistencies in the road. If you choose foam based seats or reduce the number of springs in a seat, (Bus Owners - Due to wheel tubs), bumps and inconsistencies in the road are felt at a substantially higher rate.
All FIVE of these items are what the PRO's at Airkewld have found that contribute to the quality of ride. Having a vehicle properly assembled, lubed, and aligned is critical for handling, steering, and proper tire wear, but we will get to that in another edition of the AirkewldArmy Newsletter.