[200q20v] Update: Need advice: Koni or Bilstein

WARATAP at aol.com WARATAP at aol.com
Mon Jul 30 01:35:51 EDT 2001

Well, it never fails.  You always get the advice AFTER you've made your 
purchase ;-)

Well, actually I Really needed to replace things urgently and ended up 
ordering a set of Bilstein Sports from http://www.euro-car-service.com.  They 
had them in stock and I received them the next day (I'm in Michigan and 
they're in Ohio).  Tom (the owner) was very helpful and I have Chris Miller 
to thank for steering me in his direction (albeit for the beefed-up Samco 
Lower Intercooler hose).  I would have bought that, too, but had already 
ordered a lightly used one from DADS in CA.  Oh, well.

Originally, I was under the impression that both my left front and right rear 
Bilstein Sports were shot (as the right rear sat about an inch lower than the 
left rear).  After I removed the left front, however, physics made me 
understand that it was just the left front that was giving me such a 
headache.  Since I was just replacing the inserts and already had Bilsteins 
installed and alignment was fine, I marked the camber plates and was only 
able to remove the %^$#  Bilstein retaining nut with a chain wrench 
(definitely a good tool to have) and much force (aided with a chisel).  

Anyhow, usually it's a good idea to jack up the car a little before removing 
the camber plate nuts and strut insert, but this time it was really 
something.  As I was removing the last nut...BOOM! the plate and insert shot 
right up, bouncing the plate off the hood with the insert hitting it as well 
(but luckily, no dent).  The damn insert had seized in the full-upright 
position!  Actually had to disconnect the hood shocks and have someone hold 
the hood as the insert was removed, almost to the point of having to remove 
the hood entirely.  Needless to say, the car settled immediately and the back 
end was even again.  I'm theorizing that dirt made its way into the piston 
through the loose protective boot, causing the failure.  I used numerous rags 
to soak up all the spent hydraulic fluid from the bottom of the strut 
cylinder.  Installation was a breeze in comparison and I immediately felt a 
huge difference in handling and responsiveness.  This was late Friday night 
and I finished up the right insert Saturday after a good nights rest.  

My advice: Regardless what you have for struts, check to make sure the 
protective boots are not letting anything into the strut cylinder.  If you 
can see the insert, then dirt, grime, etc., can and will get in there.  
Replace/reseat the boot and check it periodically.

'91 200q20v with a few mods...
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