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Re: Suspension mods by VW - are they worth it? (fowvay1)

Actually there's more to the story:
This is a "canned" post of mine from perhaps 1.5 years ago now. Most of the info is still relevant though. Hope it helps.
Okay, lets go over this point by point:

Suspension. VW assembles the Passat in Germany. They assemble them with two different suspensions: Sport & Comfort. When the Passats roll off the assembly line, a label is placed somewhere in the spare tire well. This label indicates, from all the items which can be different for each car (A/C or no, V6 or 1.8, Leather or Cloth, Paint Color, etc. etc. etc.) which specific choices were installed for this specific car. The choices are denoted by 3-character 'option codes'. Each label has like 20 or so of these codes. Towards the bottom you can see a code "1BA". This is the code for the Comfort suspension. Right next to it is a code like "0JK" or something. This is the "weight code" which indicates which particular springs for the 1BA group are used. Since different cars with different options weigh differently, each car has to have a spring designed for the correct weight. If the car has the Sport suspension, it is given the code "1BE", in place of 1BA, and a different sportier set of springs, shocks, bump stops, and sway bars are used. The 1BE springs are made by Sachs. The 1BE shocks are Boge gas.
VW, in their infinite wisdom, feels that most customers in the U.S. & Canada will want the 1BA suspension. This is partly because Passat is a 'family car' and as such, competes with Accord & Camry, which also have mushy suspension, and partly because the Audi A4 & A6 (NOT the 2002 A4 though!) are from the same platform (and also have the 1BA/1BE option) and VW doesn’t want the Passat to be too much like the Audis. So VW imports ONLY Passats equipped with the 1BA suspension. However, VW has made all of the 1BE components available for purchase thru VW parts departments. All you need to do is find the right part #'s and order them. This is why, if u ask most VW dealership personnel, they will give u a blank stare if u query them about this.
If you take delivery of the car with the 1BE suspension already installed by the dealer, VW covers the 1BE suspension under the warranty. (Most dealership folks don’t know this either.) This suspension lowers the car about .5 - .75" and dramatically firms up the ride. When I say firm, I don't mean harsh. Remember, this is a factory setup. VW wouldn't make a factory setup that wouldn't be comfortable. I recommend you test-drive a car with the 1BE setup to see for yourself. How do you do that, you ask? Simple. Remember that the Passat & Audi A4 (96-01) & A6 are all from the same platform, and share MANY of the same components. We’re talkin' brakes, tranny, suspension, motors, chassis components and even seats and more. Audi DOES import A4's equipped with the 1BE suspension. So go to an Audi dealer and test drive an A4 with the 'Sport Package' (if you say 1BE to the Audi salesperson, you'll again be greeted by a confused stare). Make sure to test drive an A4 with same engine as you're looking to get in the Passat. And don't drive the A6. Audi only imports 2.7T's with the 1BE, and it's a much heavier car.
Once you have test-driven the car. Then set about finding the right part #'s for your Passat's 1BE package. This is easy too. First go to the dealer and ask to see a Passat which has exactly the same options & engine (color doesn't matter) as you want to buy. Go look at the 'option sticker' in the spare tire well. Find the 1BA code. Note the codes immediately next to 1BA. One of them is the weight code. Or maybe there are two weight codes. On my car (my wagon, I have a sedan too) it says 0JK 0YD 1BA. There may be codes for both front & rear. The parts guys will know. Anyway, write these down. Then go to the parts dept. Ask the guy/gal to look on his parts computer for the part #'s for springs for a new Passat. When he brings up the right page, he will see MANY springs. You are interested in the springs which say next to them "for sport-type running gear". These are the 1BE springs. Next, in the parts computer, find the 1BE spring which has next to it the weight code you wrote down. THAT is the spring you need. Write down the part #. Do this for front & rear. Next do the same thing for shocks. Shocks do not need a weight code. So this is easier. Get part #'s for front & rear. Do the same thing for bump-stops (also called 'helper-springs' by VW). Get front & rear. In the opinion of most folks, you are better off sticking with the 1BA sway bars. This is because if you upgrade, you should upgrade both front & rear. The 1BE only upgrades the front. This increases understeer, a bad thing.
Once you have all the part numbers for the 1BE setup. Its time to present this to the dealer. Ask him if he/she is willing to provide & install these VW parts if you reimburse him for the cost. Tell him you believe $1000 should more-than-cover the cost to the dealer for the parts & labor. A savvy dealer, to get your business, will be more than happy to do it. The dealer will of course want to find for himself what this costs, and say "I'll do some checking and get back to you". He shouldn't be much over a grand. If he is, ask to see how he came up with the number. Clair VW (online) will sell u all the 1BE components at a 20% discount. That's $805 (or used to be anyway). Cost is something like $670. Labor shouldn't be more than 4 hours of work. At $60/hour that's $240. So the total is $910.
Also, VW also offers "VW Accessory Sport Springs". These are different. They are a bit more aggressive than 1BE, and lower the car about .25-.5" more than 1BE. They are made by Eibach. VW has not yet made these available for the 2001.5 Passats, and it may take a while. But check with them. This may have changed. These springs are in fact the "Pro-Kit" which are also available thru aftermarket parts sellers. But beware, the VW-Eibach kit (and VW authorized) is the euro-spec version while the Pro-kit sold elsewhere is the U.S.-spec (slightly stiffer and NOT VW-approved). If you doubt this, look at the kit # listed on a box at a dealer and then call Eibach USA (800-222-8811) and ask if they have that kit in stock.
Also, if using the Eibach, it is wise to go with the 1BE shocks as they will not wear out as soon and are better suited to a stiff spring. (I was also told by an Eibach techie in Germany that they intended the pro-kit springs to work with 1BE shocks. Since then they have developed their own "Pro Dampers", but VW doesn't sell these. So warranty-wise the 1BE are a safer bet.) It also makes sense since there isn't any additional labor to switch out the shocks when already they are on the shop floor while waiting to be put back on with new springs.
Obviously, doing both the wheels & suspension has advantages. For instance the dealer will list these as "dealer-installed options" on the sales contract. The price for the car is increased accordingly, and you can finance it. It would make a $50/month difference on a 48-month loan.
If you have to go with one or the other. Again, I would choose suspension first, and perhaps trade in the tires at Discount Tire for wider rubber. A sporty suspension on 15" tires ain't bad. This is what you get on a base-model BMW 5-series for instance.
 

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Re: Suspension mods by VW - are they worth it? (RideUT)

The answer I received long-ago from VWoA regarding after-delivery installation was while the warranty on the rest of the car would be intact, the warranty would be 90 days on the new stuff.
 

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Re: Suspension mods by VW - are they worth it? (fowvay1)

Don't worry about it too much. There's really nothing that can go wrong with a spring. A damper is a bit more complex but I would still be surprised to see one go bad.
As far as a B5.5 having a stiffer suspension than the B5, I haven't heard that. What I have read is that the chassis of the B5.5 is slightly more rigid than it's predecessor. However, when I test-drove a B5.5 I couldn't tell the difference.
Before you go forward with the 1BE, it still would be a good idea to see if u can find an A4-sport at some used car dealer. I doubt u will find it too stiff but you may (as others have) decide its not enough.
For now, enjoy tomorrow as u drive home a great car
Congrats.
 

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Re: Suspension mods by VW - are they worth it? (WojoCReds)

Post a new thread to see if anyone on this (or Clubb5.com as well) forum has your car already. Otherwise u'll have to be creative and figure out a way. Good luck.
 
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