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80Q coil overs: complete report (long)
Well, last week I had the opportunity to install the threaded coil overs on my 80Q. It is quite a big undertaking, and because I did not have some of
the parts on time the installation got a little complicated.Though my 80 handled really well out of the box (with fairly new KYB struts from the PO),
there was about 4" in the wheel wells above the tires, the ride was very soft, and body roll was extreme. In the past, on both my 4kq and Coupe GT, I had installed lowering springs and Boge turbo gas stuts and shocks to improve the handling. I was happy with the way the other suspensions has turned out, but always wished I had done threaded coil overs w/ Koni's because of the
adjustability. Here are some notes on the installation and my thoughts on how I like it.
*The suspension*: Since I know the Bennetts and respect what they have accomplished thus far, I went with their kit. It consists of Eibach 8"
springs, billet aluminum top hats, threaded spring seat, threaded collars, and four weld rings. The weld rings are welded to the strut tube to locate
the threaded collar. I chose 380/340 lb. springs front and rear, a smidgen on the stiff side. I also used Koni struts all the way around. The fronts are externally adjustable by twisting an adjustment on
top of the strut, and the rears are only adjusted by compressing the shaft all the way down -thus the suspension must be disassembled. The rear struts
are actually intended for the Ur-Q and have a shorter shaft which better accommodated lowering. I used "blue" strut bearings all around, and modified
the stock bump stops by shortening them a little.
*The installation* (specific to 80/90 but also applies to 4k and others): Well, except for some cutting, grinding, pounding and welding, everything
else goes by the stock procedure. I have been blessed with the two piece struts on the front of the 80, so no messing around with axle nuts and ball joints. Looking back I wish I had upgraded the rear to the later (late 89 up?) two piece rear suspension while I was at it. In the future I may still do the upgrade, all I would need are the stock parts and new threaded collars
for the strut tube.. I won't go too far into the stock aspects because it is so well documented elsewhere.
Basically, pull the struts off the car, compress the springs, pull out the old struts, and get started. I have an air die grinder, so I used that with a small 3" cutting wheel to sever the stock spring seats and grind down the factory MIG weld. (Attn Ur-Q owners) When I cut the seats off, I cut
them very straight and close to the weld, thus they can be welded back on in the future if need be. This was probably the most tedious aspect of the installation...count on a good two hours of grinding and sparks. I basically smoothed the weld to the same diameter of the strut housing. Included are 4
weld on rings, but I only used two. The front threaded collar can rest on top of the weld for the tie rod arm. The trick here is to get the collar to
fit between the top of the tie rod arm and the bottom of the fully torqued strut cap. Unfortunately, this involves cutting the threaded collar to the right length, which I did with a trusty Sawzall. What I did was tighten the strut cap with the strut in it and measured the distance with my digital caliper. The end result was the threaded collar being slightly sandwiched underneath the strut cap. However, DO NOT FORGET THE WELD RING IN THE REAR before you press the collar over the strut housing. In the rear the cap was
tightened, the length of the collar measured down from the strut cap, and at the bottom of the length of the threaded collar is where the weld ring was welded. Again, the threaded collar should just fit between the weld ring and the strut cap. I used my trusty $250 MIG welder to do the welding, and a fine job at that. Only weld around the bottom of the weld ring. Remember,
the weld ring is welded in place before the threaded collar actually ever goes on!! (only for the rear). A thin coat of paint to inhibit rust was all I put after the grinding was done. The 80/90 installation of the threaded collar involves an
interference fit unlike that of 4k with narrower strut tubes. And I do mean a heating it up, pounding it down, swearing your head off type of interference fit! The collars barely fit over the tops of the threads for
the strut cap, so you know it will be a tight fit. What I did was first lube up the strut tube with some lithium grease. Using a propane torch I heated
the collars up quite hot, positioned them on top of the strut, and with a piece of 2X6 on top of the threaded collar, started pounding. This is a really tight fit guys, and it is hard to believe that the aluminum collar
does not just split from the force. Keep pounding and heating till you get the threaded collar flush with the top of the strut housing. Now, a piece of 2 1/4" ID pipe will get the threaded collar down the rest of the way till it seats on the tie rod arm/weld ring. This was probably the sketchiest part of the installation, but it makes for basically a permanent installation. Take your time and think four times before you do anything, and everything will come out fine! Now just reassemble the struts (without a spring compressor!!) and you are ready to go back on the car!
*Settings*: I probably lowered the car about 3". Now before you think I went low rider remember how high the car was before. Now, instead of 4" in the wheel wells I have about 1" above the tires...front and rear. It looks really nice! The struts are all set at about 60% stiffness, so I could get a lot stiffer or softer depending on how it is set. That is the beauty of this suspension, it can be set to however you like whenever you want, it can change from hour to hour.
*Result*: I am very impressed! I have driven it for about 4 days now. It reminds me that often the best way to make a car faster is to make it
handle better first. Where the other suspensions I have done on my other cars were stiff and bumpy, this seems so smooth and controlled. Sure, the ride is taut, you will feel every change in the road, but it is not sharp and clunky, just tight and controlled much like a stock M3 might ride. A friend in the back seat not wearing his seat belt hit the roof last night going over a rise on the freeway, the car rises and settles quite violently! The exciting part is that this is just the beginning. If it handles this good now, I have the room to further fine tune the suspension in the future...I am not stuck with static settings as I have been in the past. I can change it to ride just about any way I want. Handling is quite neutral, a little
understeer but the back starts coming around too and becomes very neutral. The chassis feels unflappable in the corners, the car does nothing without you first telling it to through the steering wheel. Inputs are just a twitch of the wrist away instead of fighting the bouncing and rolling of the stock suspension. Body roll has gone from sea sick to mostly nil. When you are in the corner the car just rides flat. If everyone on the list has this suspension there would never be another sway bar thread again.I do not believe any real improvement/reduction in body roll can be, or needs be, made from this point on. I am still riding on 195/60-14 tires, and I would estimate that they are contributing any remaining roll or slop left in the
handling. I will soon be upgrading to 205/45-16 soon, that will be a real treat ;)
*Conclusion*: For about $1000 this complete suspension is pricey, but I
do not believe that there is a modification out there for this amount of money that can so radically transform the way a car drives. I highly
recommend anyone with an Audi to use this set up, please feel free to email me with any questions or comments!
*for sale cheap* stock 80Q springs, the perfect way to raise your 4000Q! ...Jeryd??