Volkswagen Passat Forum banner
1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 03 Passat GLX FWD with 140,000 miles. I started noticing the front passenger side riding low to the ground. Our driveway is a little bumpy, and the car even bottomed out once driving slowly down the driveway. I pulled the wheel off to take a look and part of the coil/spring has broken. A couple of questions:

1. How difficult/dangerous is it to try and use a spring compressor from Harbor Freight or the like to do it myself?

2. Would it be better to buy an all in one assembly so that I don't have to mess with a compressor? The only one I can find is made by OSC Automotive, and I'm assuming it's made in China, and is a crap part, but I'm not planning on driving this car forever so maybe it's ok...

3. If I choose to just buy parts and put it together myself with the spring compressor, what all should be replaced? Should I do both sides? Is there anything besides just the coil or would it be wise to do the struts on both sides? Any other components that I should do while I'm at it?

Thanks for the help!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
406 Posts
First stay away from Harbor Freight spring compressor. These are unreliable, don't get the work done and will put your life in danger. If you want to do it yourself just go to autozone they have good spring compressors at the loan a tool program and it won't cost you a dime.

All in one assemblies are convenient but may cost you more than buying and assembling the parts yourself if you do just make sure you use oem or an aftermarket of known good quality.
You need to replace not just the coil as the other components will be worn out if they ever are still there. Yes do both sides if one side failed the other one is just behind.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,997 Posts
DO NOT GO TO HARBOR FREIGHT or any other cheap discount store for spring compressors!!!
Suspension springs when loaded or under pressure have an insane amount of stored energy that can easily break bones or crush your skull if something goes wrong.

Now that I've said that, hopefully I didn't scare you to the point that you'll never touch your own car again.
Depending on how serious of a do-it-yourselfer you are or want to become will determine how this gets handled.
The other thing is your level of knowledge. If you have no idea on how to go about working with the suspension I would recommend you school yourself here on this site before taken on such a project.
It's not that it's horribly difficult to change out a suspension, but knowledge of how the spring and strut is held together and how to work with it safely is the key.

We here at this forum can and will teach you how to do it if you choose to go that route.


I purchased this kit from ECS. This is the best hand held kit I've ever used. The way this thing is built, gives me very high levels of confidence that I don't have to worry about the integrity of the tool.
Never let your guard down while compressing a coil spring, but there is nothing like the ability to work and being relaxed knowing that the tool is going to hold versus working all tensed up and being scared shitless every second of the duration of the repair.

https://www.ecstuning.com/b-schwaben-parts/schwaben-strut-spring-compressor-set/013845sch01a~sch/
 
  • Like
Reactions: jjpark

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,997 Posts
I have a 03 Passat GLX FWD with 140,000 miles. I started noticing the front passenger side riding low to the ground. Our driveway is a little bumpy, and the car even bottomed out once driving slowly down the driveway. I pulled the wheel off to take a look and part of the coil/spring has broken. A couple of questions:

1. How difficult/dangerous is it to try and use a spring compressor from Harbor Freight or the like to do it myself?
Read my previous post!


2. Would it be better to buy an all in one assembly so that I don't have to mess with a compressor? The only one I can find is made by OSC Automotive, and I'm assuming it's made in China, and is a crap part, but I'm not planning on driving this car forever so maybe it's ok...
I'm not even sure you can buy a whole assembly for our cars. If you can, it'll cost dearly.
The design of the strut assembly on a Passat doesn't lend it itself to purchased as an assembly. Many other cars the top end of the strut / shock bolts directly onto the car body / frame. Not ours.
The Passat has a different design to it and there are other components that go on top of the strut, there's the cup that attaches to the strut piston rod, and then that is bolted onto the upper control arm bracket and then that is bolted onto the car body.

By the way, the cup bolted to the strut piston rod is what holds the spring in place. Even when the strut assembly is out of the car fully extended, it still is under some serious compression and still considered a hazard.


3. If I choose to just buy parts and put it together myself with the spring compressor, what all should be replaced? Should I do both sides? Is there anything besides just the coil or would it be wise to do the struts on both sides? Any other components that I should do while I'm at it?
Depends what your outlook on this car is. If your on a budget, I'd just go to the salvage yard and buy the springs (it'll probably be more cost effective to both front springs - even if you are going to use only one)
Replace the broken spring, take to get the front alignment checked / adjusted and be done with it.

If your going to drive it for a while. I'd do both sides at the same time. Then you know both sides are sitting at the right height.

Word of caution. depending on where you reside in your country of origin, removing the strut / knuckle assembly can turn into a can of worms, especially with the pinch bolt holding the two upper control arms to the steering knuckle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
595 Posts
Step 1 is to buy a Haynes manual.
When I did mine, I borrowed the tool from Advance Auto. Even with a quality tool, I was thinking to myself "Oh shit oh shit oh shit !!! Don't break don't break don't break !!!"
You will need to compress the spring almost to the point that it is bottomed out. You don't want to tear the rubber boot.
When you go to reinstall it, make sure to place the compressors in a position to have good access when you go to release the spring pressure. Any questions, like AndreasPassat said, you will get help here.
 

·
Moderator/Administrator
Joined
·
26,311 Posts
I'm just giving my personal opinion on the Horror Freight spring compressors. https://www.harborfreight.com/macpherson-strut-spring-compressor-set-63262.html
They are identical to the ones you rent at AutoZone.

I have them and like them. I've used them many times and they work like a charm if you know how to use them and when to use them. Just recently did R36dreams' B8 S4 with H&R sports and it was like buttah. Removed the front spring on my B8.5 A4 for a look-see and also have used them on my Passat. They still operate like brand new.

The most important things to do with these: Lubricate the threads and make sure they are directly opposite of each other on the spring. The VERY first thing I did was liberally apply bearing grease to the length of the threads. Smooth, quick and easy for me.

If you don't want to take this on by yourself and don't want to pay a shop to do it, I know a guy in Norwich that may offer his services if he's available. For a fee, but likely less than a shop would charge.

Take a picture of the colored marks on the spring and post it up. I have a set of front springs that may be of use for you that will give you for only the cost of shipping.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,590 Posts
First thing is to check overall level of corrosion on your car to determine if it’s worth keeping for a few more years. Assuming it is, then get the loaner spring compressor as mentioned above, and replace it. I would go ahead and replace struts as well, but if you are destitute, at least replace the rubber mounts on the side you take out.
There is this one (not recommending any particular source, just showing the picture)
https://www.europaparts.com/strut-mount-kit-3b7412377a.html, and this one:
https://www.idparts.com/front-strut-bump-stop-b55-p-953.html
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,152 Posts
My 2 cents on coil spring compressors:

-Avoid using excessive impact gun as it deforms the washers. They collapse inward and may snap under load, leaving you or family pay a hefty hospital or funeral bill.

-I have used thrust bearings (1st pic) for easy compression. Works like a miracle.

-if you are not poor like me, buy yourself a hydraulic compressor for $118. (2nd Pic) Yes it’s $118 on amazon & and free shipping.

Peace :)






Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,997 Posts
I'm just giving my personal opinion on the Horror Freight spring compressors. https://www.harborfreight.com/macpherson-strut-spring-compressor-set-63262.html
They are identical to the ones you rent at AutoZone.

I have them and like them. I've used them many times and they work like a charm if you know how to use them and when to use them. Just recently did R36dreams' B8 S4 with H&R sports and it was like buttah. Removed the front spring on my B8.5 A4 for a look-see and also have used them on my Passat. They still operate like brand new.

The most important things to do with these: Lubricate the threads and make sure they are directly opposite of each other on the spring. The VERY first thing I did was liberally apply bearing grease to the length of the threads. Smooth, quick and easy for me.

If you don't want to take this on by yourself and don't want to pay a shop to do it, I know a guy in Norwich that may offer his services if he's available. For a fee, but likely less than a shop would charge.

Take a picture of the colored marks on the spring and post it up. I have a set of front springs that may be of use for you that will give you for only the cost of shipping.

I gotta respect your input. I'll admit 100%, my don't ever statement above is heavily biased because of two particular instances. A guy I used to work with bought a spring compressor from one of those Harbor Freight places and that thing didn't even make through the first spring. The second one, my father-in-law, he was doing a strut change and it let loose. Broke 3 of his ribs and punctured a lung. I was not present for both incidents so I can't speak for the way they were being used, but two bargain compressors and 2 failures gives me great concern.

On a side note, How is R36dreams doing? He doesn't check in really anymore. Man I remember that house fire he had. That was something.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,925 Posts
I would never use a HF spring compressor. I have used their pulley pullers and they snapped. I have no issues with Certain things HF sells but would not trust my life with their compressors.

If you are going to attempt to DIY. Start spraying all the suspension bolts and nuts with a penetrating spray. Being up North I am willing to bet that the salt in the Winters hasn't been kind to your car.

As others have mentioned.

Change both at the same time. If $ allows. Change all 4.

Read up on the forums here and You Tube suspension change out and you will have a wealth of information to tackle this. Unless it has been done I would also check out all the control arms to see if they need replacement.

Bilstein makes great shocks, do not cheap out on them or the control arms....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
595 Posts
Shouldn't need to; the spring needs to be compressed only enough to fit the nut onto the end of the strut rod.

One thing in favor of the OP is that the compressor will only be needed once, for installing the replacement spring.
I guess I should clarify. When I replaced my front assembly, I didn't separate any of the suspension balljoints. It was a pain, but not as much of a pain as having to deal with those upper balljoints. The only tricky spot was avoiding doing damage to that rubber boot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
55 Posts
Not only should you do both sides, you should also replace both the upper and lower control arms while you have the struts out. The control arms all have rubber bushings in them that wear out. The hardest part of this job is getting the top pinch bolt off. Start soaking it with PB Blaster now, several times a day until you do the work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
109 Posts
I have a 03 Passat GLX FWD with 140,000 miles. I started noticing the front passenger side riding low to the ground. Our driveway is a little bumpy, and the car even bottomed out once driving slowly down the driveway. I pulled the wheel off to take a look and part of the coil/spring has broken. A couple of questions:

1. How difficult/dangerous is it to try and use a spring compressor from Harbor Freight or the like to do it myself?

2. Would it be better to buy an all in one assembly so that I don't have to mess with a compressor? The only one I can find is made by OSC Automotive, and I'm assuming it's made in China, and is a crap part, but I'm not planning on driving this car forever so maybe it's ok...

3. If I choose to just buy parts and put it together myself with the spring compressor, what all should be replaced? Should I do both sides? Is there anything besides just the coil or would it be wise to do the struts on both sides? Any other components that I should do while I'm at it?

Thanks for the help!
I purchased an $85.00 MacPherson Coil Spring compressor tool kit from ebay similar to item # 392180676433 LOVE IT for the Audi a4 & Passat B5 front struts!
It is a clone to the tool that AndreasPassat recommended, and I agree with that pinch bolt being possibly the worse part of the job!

I have multiple Coil Spring compressor tool kits from HF but I do not trust them since I have seen them bend and the threads strip.

Remember that you have to align the strut top (control arms) to the bottom so you can easily install it back on the car.
You are "supposed" to change both springs at the same time, but some do not. If you install a used spring then that should be good. A tiny bit of rust seems to eat through these springs causing them to snap at that point like the torsion bars of the classic Beetles. So treat and paint any rust!

You can always buy a used complete strut and install it on your Passat and then you don't need the tool.
Or you can also sell the compressor tool if you do not need it again!

Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
851 Posts
I'll second the recommendations that "this is the car's way of telling you that it's time to do that front suspension rebuild." ;)
Of course, my wife's car did that to me last month - snapped a front spring, told me "hey, that rebuild you were going to do this summer? Well, you're doing it now!"

Front arm kit (Delphi), new (solid) outer tie rod ends (also Delphi, but don't come in the front end kit - kit comes with the stupid rubber-isolated tie rod ends), inner tie rods, tie rod boots, front springs, front & rear shocks (Bilstein B4)… Also, hers is a 4Mo, and I needed to replace both rear toe links (because the eccentric bolts were corroded solid in them)… I layed out about $900 in parts. Everything from PartsGeek, except for the eccentric bolts, and (IIRC) rear shock bump stops - those had to come from VW.
Yours is a FWD, so you don't need to deal with 4Mo rear suspension silliness.

When I did my FWD wagon last fall (didn't need springs), I spent about $550, I think. Front end, complete, plus rear shocks.

I think I have a PartsGeek coupon code around here that I could share with you....
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top