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Identifying the condition of your Beetle/Ghia Suspension
Last Updated: 11/26/2015

Let’s take the necessary steps to ensure the base you are working with is solid and straight.

  • Check the tire pressure in all your tires to ensure there is 32 psi in them.
  • Make sure you have matching tire sizes on the front and matching in the rear.
  • Make sure you are on a level flat surface. Measure from the ground to the upper arch of each fender and write those measurements down.
  • Measure the distance from your tire or wheel to the outer portion of your fender edge.
  • Measure the gap, the distance from the top of your tire up to the fender edge.

On an original Beetle, the distance from the fender edge to the top of a 165r15 tire would be about 8”. If the measurement you have is less than that, the vehicle has relaxed, lost tension in the front torsion bars or it has been altered in some fashion.

If you jack up your VW by the front axle beam, you will notice the body moving up and the wheels are staying put. As you continue jacking it up, the gap between the tire and the fender will grow. Once you see the tires almost come off the ground….. that is just about stock height. From the factory, in our interpretation, when “loading the suspension”, the car will drop about 1.5” or 38mm. If you notice the vehicle dipping more than that, the vehicle is lowered the additional amount you measured.

For example, if the vehicle was measured at 32” loaded, you jack up the vehicle and when the tires are about to come off the ground, it measures 38”. Put the vehicle under a load 1.5” and now you are at 36.5”. Your vehicle is already lowered 4.5” from stock. Even though you have stock components under the vehicle, they are just a little tired or worn.

On the rear at stock height, the spring plates should be resting on the lower spring plate stops. If they are not, the rear torsion bars have either relaxed or have been adjusted lower.

You might ask why do we need to do this. The big reason is to see how your ride has been treated in its lifetime. If you found that your car is sitting on a slant, you would have a larger gap on one side than the other.

If your drivers/passenger front measurement height is different from the other side it could be;

  • Torsions in the front end are weak
  • Frame head is bent
  • Different manufacture of fenders (China-Brazil-Italy-German-etc)
  • Different tire sizes
  • Vehicle could of been in an accident
  • Rear Torsion bars are at different degrees

If your drivers/passenger side front wheel is in farther than the other front wheel it could be;

  • Different manufacture of fenders
  • Body is not centered on the chassis
  • Beam has been altered (Narrowed incorrectly-Adjusters installed incorrectly)
  • Vehicle could of been in an accident
  • Rear Torsion bars are at different degrees

If your driver/passenger rear fender height is different from the other side it could be;

  • Different manufacture of fenders
  • Torsion bar has become weak and started to sag
  • Torsion bars have been adjusted incorrectly
  • If you have air shocks in the rear the pressures could be different (Let the air out and measure again)
  • Spring plate grommets could be worn
  • Different tire sizes
  • Vehicle could of been in an accident

If your driver/passenger rear fender to wheel measurement is different from the other side it could be;

  • Different manufacture of fenders
  • Body is not centered on the chassis
  • Different axle lengths (Not common but has happened)
  • Different tire sizes
  • Vehicle could of been in an accident

Why is this information needed? If you purchase new products and not do your due diligence prior, you will blame the new parts manufacture. Upon investigation, one of the above items was overlooked and was the culprit. It is always valuable to know this info even if the car is already lowered. Identify every area to make yourself more familiar with your ride.

Now that this is done, what are you looking to do?

Are you looking to lower the VW? Check out this article.

Or are you looking to put it in the weeds? Then you need to check out this article.



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