VW Passat Spring Install for B5 Platform

This information originally posted by our favorite Arizonan mghunt:

This is a set of instructions sent to me by Nathan Kear. These instructions were originally written by James Finn and subsequently modified by Herman H, and Nathan Kear. The original instructions are for the removal and replacement of the springs and shocks. As I replaced the springs only, I cannot comment on the accuracy of the steps related to shock replacement.
-HTML conversion done by Mark Hunt. -PHPBB Conversion done by Jay Gietl

Rent a McPherson strut spring compressor from you local auto parts store; Autozone, Checker, Pep Boys etc. will all lend spring compressors with a credit card deposit. You want a strut (external) type compressor which means that the hooks go on the outside of the spring as opposed to a conventional spring compressor which are used on the inside of a spring. The kit will actually have two spring compressors, always to be used together 180 degrees apart when compressing springs.

FRONTS:

Loosen the lug nuts of the front tires, or all four if your doing all four corners at the same time. Open your hood. Jack up the front of the car. Use jack-stands to keep it high enough to lift both wheels up at least 3". You will need to have both sides up at the SAME TIME!

Remove the front wheels.

Remove the nut (16mm) attaching the sway bar to the lower sway link and separate the link from the sway bar. Do this for both sides before doing anything else. This frees up the front arms to move downward independently.


lower shock mount and sway bar mount, left side

Remove the lower existing shock nut and bolt (18mm). The suspension arms may drop a bit at this point. The bolt comes out of the hole easy but the head of the bolt bumps into the lower arm. Do your best to remove it without too much scraping damage. On reassembly, put the bolt in from the front, it will be easier to if necessary. It makes it easier to remove this bolt if you can get your floor jack and a block of wood on the bolt and raise it just enough to clear the lower arm.


bolts removed from lower shock mount and sway bar mount, right side

The bottom of the shock will be behind the half-shaft. You need to get it in front of the half-shaft. Do this by pushing down on the rotor disc or caliper to allow enough room for the shock to pass over the top of the half-shaft. BE CAREFUL with the rubber CV boot. You can use a piece of cardboard to protect the boot if you'd like. You can get more clearance by turning the steering wheel to the right or left, depending on which side you're doing.

Remove the two nuts that mount the strut assembly to the top of the engine compartment. Remove the two plastic access plugs on each side, they are located inside (looking from the top) the triangle formed by the 3 bolts that hold the upper control arm assembly to the frame. You can't miss them. Remove these two nuts (13mm) and the struts are ready to drop. Make sure you that you support the strut from the bottom so that it doesn't fall out.


knockouts removed revealing upper strut mounting studs and nuts, right side

Repeat step 4 - 6 for the other side.

At this point you should get out your safety glasses. Compressing springs is somewhat potentially dangerous. Mount your spring compressor 180 degrees from each other on the spring as best you can. Also mount the hooks as far apart as you can on either end of the spring. Before you do anything else note the location of the upper strut mounting studs with respect to the lower mount, this will save you time with reinstallation. Use liquid paper or another good marker and place a dot on the bottom and top spring seats (the round things) exactly in line along the axis of the assembly. This step will allow you to line up the top and bottom mounts when you reassemble with the new springs. It is much easier here if you clamp the entire strut assembly to your bench when removing and installing the springs.


strut clamped to bench via screwdriver inserted through lower mount, compressor mounted but not yet compressed

Loosen the nut on the top of the shock stem. DO NOT remove the nut. Just loosen it a bit. Use a rag and vice-grips on the stem to keep it from turning.

If your spring compressor came with safety hooks, use them. They attach to the compressor and the spring so if something breaks, you're semi-protected.

Start compressing the spring evenly! This takes no time with an air-powered tool. If you compressed the spring enough, the shock stem will move up and down where you loosen the nut on it. This indicates that you can remove the stem nut all the way. If the shock stem doesn't move at all then the springs need to be tightened a bit more. There is no exact science on this one but do your best to tell if there is enough pressure removed from the assembly to remove the stem nut all of the way off. In my case, there was a little tension on it. In any case, use caution when removing the stem nut and be certain to "aim" the spring away from you if you decide to remove the nut all of the way. It may fly off or just bump a bit. Once you have it off, be certain to pay close attention to what pieces go where.


order of assembly

I did not have an impact wrench so doing this by hand and ratchet wrench proved to eat up about 45 minutes on the first shock (about 20 to compress the spring, 5 to uncompress, 10-15 to compress the new springs, and another 5 to remove the compressor.) The next one took about 30-40 minutes. I speculate that an air wrench would have saved me a good hour for both shocks (20 minutes instead of 80 minutes.)

If you are doing this by hand, I recommend you grease the bolt and washer on the spring compressor; this really helps when you doing this by hand. This explains why my first one took so long; I realized this when I kept seeing metal flaking off the compressor every time I tightened the large bolts.

DO EACH SPRING ONE AT A TIME SO YOU DON'T FORGET WHERE THEY GO!

Take the top assembly off. Remove the spring. You may have to tap off the spring base off of the shock (N/A for springs only). It will come off with a light tap.

12a. Remove the spring compressor, carefully. The spring will expand much more than what it was on the shock.

Put the spacer ring onto the new shock (N/A for springs only). It will slide all the way down to the c-ring Slide the ring that came with your new shock onto the top of the cylinder portion of the stock. You will have to tap it on. I used a metal tube that fit around the shock stem to hit down squarely. The ring is just to protect the seals on the shock (N/A for springs only).

Slide the old spring base onto the new shock (N/A for springs only).

Put your new spring on.

Slide the rubber bumper onto the stem. If you are installing the Eibach Pro-kits you need to trim about an inch (1.2 in) from the top of the bumper, a hacksaw works well.

Mount your spring compressor again on the new springs.
Tighten the springs down until the stem is just above the top of the spring. Put the top assembly onto the spring. The rubber is formed to meet the end of the spring. Put the stem through the hole. Make sure that the marks you made on the spring seats are lined up before continuing to tighten the spring compressors. You should be able to rotate the top seat to line up the marks.

Tighten the springs until you can put the stem nut completely onto the stem . Tighten the nut. Use some vice grips with a soft rag on the top part of the stem to hold it steady while you tighten the nut. IT IS CRITICAL YOU GET THE NUT ALL THE WAY DOWN!

Remove the spring compressor. Repeat for the other shock

INSTALLATION

Use your floor jack to support the strut assembly in position and start the nuts on the top mounting studs to hold the strut in position. Make sure the strut is in proper position and not 180 degrees out.


floor jack holding strut up to start upper mounting nuts


correct orientation, short side of lower spring seat faces out

Work the lower strut mount back over the half shaft. Position the steering wheel to maximize the clearance. Again, be careful not to damage the CV boot.

Install the lower strut mounting bolt, this time from the front of the car.

Tighten the top mounting nuts.

Reinstall the sway bar to the sway links and tighten the nuts on both sides.

REARS

Loosen the lug nuts if you haven't already done so. Jack the rear up the same way as the front. Both wheels up at the same time.

Remove each wheel.

Remove the lower shock bolt (16mm) for BOTH SIDES. This allows both sides to drop down.


lower shock mount removed

Remove the two bolts at the top of the shock where they mount to the body. They are facing downward. Remove the shock. Do this for both sides. (N/A for springs only).


upper rear shock mounting bolts

You can now remove the springs. You may have to push down a bit on the arms to get it out but not too much. I ended up using a crowbar to help facilitate removal.


left side rear spring removed

Put in your new springs. It should be easier since they are shorter.


Eibach rear spring installed

Remove the nut from the shock stem (N/A for springs only).

Swap any pieces from the old shocks to the new ones and reassemble (N/A for springs only).

Be sure to tighten the stem nut as you did for the fronts (N/A for springs only)

Reinstall by reverse procedure. IMPORTANT: The lower mount point on the new shock might have a protruding tube. This faces the wheel or outside. In this step, it makes things a little easier if you have your jack lift the trailing arm a bit to get the 16mm bolt aligned with the hole.

Tighten everything up and lower away.

Take a test drive and listen for any "clunks" or sounds you didn't notice before. In my case, I didn't get the stem nuts down tight enough the first time, which made an obvious sound.

Enjoy!

VARIATIONS: If you just do the springs you will still need to do most of the above steps except where you exchange the shocks. If you do just the shocks you will still have to most of the steps for the fronts. The rears are a no-brainer.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: James Finnigan, Herman H, Nate Kear, Mark Hunt, Jay Gietl and DubClubs.com take no responsibility in any way shape or form to anyone who is injured during this procedure. These steps are for reference only and are to guide you in doing this procedure yourself. None of us claim to be licensed mechanics.

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