scardeal Reader
Dec. 8, 2009 4:11 p.m.

It turns out that the deal I got wasn't as much of a deal as I first suspected. Fortunately, I'll be able to justify the upgrades I wanted to do to the car in the first place, as a result.

  1. New struts - leaking struts
  2. New Exhaust - exhaust leak, not sure where in the exhaust. Will find that out tomorrow.

Priorities: 1. Has to stand up to rain/shine/snow.
2. Relatively inexpensive (max $500 total for the struts, similar for exhaust.)
3. Better performance than OEM Jetta, but still street-oriented. This is a DD.
4. Easier to install is better.

Would a good replacement for the struts be OEM GTI struts? I wouldn't consider (heavily) used struts, but used springs I'd be happy to put to a new home.

What about exhaust? Do GTI/VR6 exhausts work on the 2.0 motor?

BTW, the only way I can justify this (to myself) is because it's replacing a broken part, so the 1.8T engine swap will remain a dream for now.

digdug18 New Reader
Dec. 8, 2009 5:15 p.m.

check out

MDVDuber None
Dec. 8, 2009 8:01 p.m.

In reply to digdug18:

I second VWVortex - with a caveat. Lot's of the folks on there are interested in looks and not performance. And you've gone and asked the biggest question out there - the dreaded suspension question!! I have my opinions about both questions and will answer here.

First a qualifier - I drive a 1992 MKII Jetta - but your car isn't that different from mine.

1) suspension - you can NEVER go wrong installing a good set of aftermarket struts/shocks. I prefer Bilstein but many respected members of the forum like Konis. Take some time to read the FAQ in the Suspension forum on Vortex - it could take weeks if you really dig in.

FYI - I have the Full Shine suspension set up on my car. It replaced a Bilstein Sport/H&R spring set and I'd NEVER go back.

2) Exhaust - Any number of placed sell complete cat back exhaust systems - all are pretty much equivalent in power. I have a Techtonics on my Jetta and had one on my '97 Passat VR6 before both with great success.

3) BEWARE - this tuning/playing with your car will suck you in.

Feel free to hit me up on Vortex - MDVDuber - I'm happy to share my experiences.

fifty Reader
Dec. 8, 2009 8:16 p.m.

What do you want to do with the car? For a fun daily driver, Boge shocks / struts are an OEM replacement. Bilstein and Konis would be an upgrade and can handle a stiffer than stock spring and lowering. If you plan to autocross, Koni Yellows are what I'd recommend. For the exhaust, I'd suggest going with a reputable local exhaust shop that uses mandrel bends (not crush bends). Same performance as Techtonics etc, but cheaper. The 2.0 is reliable as a hammer, but unfortunately also a turd of an engine (I have one, but turboed in a MkII), cams will wake it up a little and aren't expensive.

scardeal Reader
Dec. 9, 2009 10:37 a.m.


Design affects hp/sound
Materials affect weight/durability


What materials stand up to snow/ice/salt/water best?

YaNi Reader
Dec. 9, 2009 10:45 a.m.
scardeal wrote: Exhaust: Design affects hp/sound Materials affect weight/durability Correct? What materials stand up to snow/ice/salt/water best?

304 Stainless. The aluminized steel and 408 stainless WILL rust.

Rufledt Reader
Dec. 9, 2009 12:36 p.m.

i had one of these a while back. i wanted to do the same, but i ended up spending my money keeping the thing running. i had a cousin with one too, he custom fabbed an exhaust at the shop where he worked for real cheap, but i bet it was all crush bent.

Travis_K Dork
Dec. 9, 2009 7:22 p.m.

Bilstiens work best on VWs from what I have seen. Konis are kinda bouncy on every car I have driven that had them. Techtonics exhaust is always a good choice, but not too cheap.

fifty Reader
Dec. 9, 2009 7:36 p.m.
YaNi wrote:
scardeal wrote: Exhaust: Design affects hp/sound Materials affect weight/durability Correct? What materials stand up to snow/ice/salt/water best?

304 Stainless. The aluminized steel and 408 stainless WILL rust.

How long do you plan on owning the Jetta? Stainless is great, but an expensive option. A regular aluminized steel exhaust should last 4 or 5 years, even in the snow belt. Weight is also a function of the diameter of the exhaust tubing, whether the system has a resonator and how much the muffler weighs. I had a 2 1/4" diameter exhaust on my A2 with the 2L ABA, I'd think that would be plenty.

The comment amount Konis being "bouncy"...where to start with that...the purpose of the shock/strut is to "dampen" the oscillation of the springs - Koni Yellows in stock form can handle any spring rate up to about 500 lb/in.

MDVDuber New Reader
Dec. 10, 2009 8:14 a.m.

In reply to fifty:

Another thought on both items is to troll the classifieds on VW Vortex. If you are semi patient you can often get a used exhaust system or dampers for a good price. I'd be careful buying used stock dampers - but a set of Bilsteins should last for quite a while.

The Koni vs. Bilstein "discussion" is ongoing. I think it's a personal preference. If you are really serious about eventually tuning this car (you did mention a 1.8T I think). You'll want to really investigate options, ride (better yet drive) in cars that have the suspension systems you think you might want etc.. What feels great to me might feel like a buckboard to you - and what feels great to you on first drive might feel spongie after trying a different system.

scardeal Reader
Dec. 10, 2009 9:27 a.m.

I'm not serious about an engine swap. That's more of a "If I won the lotto" sort of thing.

I've got a 350Z which is the fun car. That'll get plenty more mod-love once the Jetta is in shape. This is just a winter/DD car that I'd like to hold on to for 5-10 years. It's got leaking stock struts and a hole in the muffler.

Travis_K Dork
Dec. 10, 2009 11:16 a.m.

Yeah, the best thing to do is to drive a car with bisltiens and konis and see which you like. The reason i like bisltiens better are:

-monotube vs twin tube (bilstien hd vs koni sport)

-bilstiens are cheaper and last longer

-they are cheaper to rebuild, and made with better parts

-I prefer the ride of bilstiens, its hard to explain, but with konis if you hit a bump, after than initial compression of the suspension, the car bounces back up too much and gives it a choppy feeling, and i have ridden in and driven cars with bilstiens and other quality struts and they dont do that. The bouncy feeling gets worse if you adjust them stiffer too, close to full soft seems best.


scardeal Reader
Dec. 10, 2009 11:45 a.m.

What's the difference between Bilstein HD and Bilstein Sport?

GTwannaB New Reader
Dec. 10, 2009 1:32 p.m.

What about the 'Cup Kits', H&R, etc...the kits include struts and springs. I am looking for an A3 GTI and I see some of thes matched kits with reasonable prices. Personally I only want a small drop in height.

Travis_K Dork
Dec. 10, 2009 9:06 p.m.
scardeal wrote: What's the difference between Bilstein HD and Bilstein Sport?

HD = stock length, and on vws i think the fronts are only available as inserts.

Sport=shorter for more travel

Aug. 2, 2010 8:04 p.m.

i got a car several years ago as a upgrade to my 1980 MK1 vw jetta. my 1980 jetta had over 169k on it and still ran strong. yet problems were starting to occur more and more often to some jetta parts. any advice how to improve the performance. thanks.

DukeOfUndersteer SuperDork
Aug. 3, 2010 7:55 a.m.

for less than $500, you can get a set of Raceland coilovers. Id check ebay for them. They also go under the name Rokkor as well.

mad_machine SuperDork
Aug. 3, 2010 7:59 a.m.

if you are good on ebay and the forums.. you can snap up a good suspension system for cheap.

on my Ti I grabbed a brand new set of Bilstien PSS9 coilovers for less than $600 with shipping

16vCorey SuperDork
Aug. 3, 2010 11:07 a.m.

I'd second Techtonics Tuning for the exhaust. I've got two cars with their systems on them, one aluminized and one stainless. I've had them both for more than 10 years with no issues. And they sound great!

jungle New Reader
Aug. 5, 2010 2:52 p.m.

get a used chip for the car....they are tuned to run on crap gas...putting a chip in it adjusts things for premium gas. you will get an extra 2mpg highway and a decent butt dyno improvement. chip, K&N drop in, mod the air box, exhaust and call it good. you can go w/ the intake manifold setup & exhaust manifold off of the newer generation if you want a cheapish mod after that. Cams are available as well, which work well.

M030 HalfDork
Aug. 5, 2010 4:21 p.m.

FWIW: I just drove a Mk3 Jetta with the Shine Real Street suspension, and it was incredible!

I'm putting my money where my mouth is, too. I ordered said Real Street suspension kit for my own Mk3.

Raze Dork
May 4, 2011 6:23 a.m.


You'll need to log in to post.

Also on Grassroots Motorsports

Little Car Show: Celebrating All Things Quirky and Small

7 hours ago in Articles

As the name suggests, the Little Car Show is all about little cars.

Concours d’Lemons to Ruin Monterey Car Week Yet Again

8 hours ago in News

What started as the anti-concours has transformed into a major event on the Monterey Car Week schedule.

You Need This: A Quite Eye-Catching Green Over Red Ferrari

9 hours ago in News

Not your usual Ferrari color combo.

We're Back In Monterey for Car Week

9 hours ago in News

And so it begins, another trip to Monterey Car Week.

Your Projects: JDM Autozam AZ-1 Kei Car

10 hours ago in News

What are the realities of importing a JDM kei car to the U.S.?

Tonight on Grassroots Motorsports LIVE! Lee Grimes of Koni Shocks

1 day ago in News

This may shock you, but suspension is arguably the most important part of going fast.

Classic Motorsports Monterey Welcome Party Welcomes 2000-Plus Gearheads

1 day ago in Articles

Last night we threw a party, and more than 2000 people came to celebrate.

You Need This: E46-Chassis BMW M3 for $6000!?

2 days ago in News

Could this M3 donate its heart to your next project?

Deal of the Month: Free Trackside Companion!

2 days ago in News

Ever wished you had a handy guide on how to dial in your alignment or adjust your dampers?

This Tuesday: Join Us at Track Night in America

3 days ago in News

This Tuesday we'll be running at Palm Beach International Raceway

Experience Monterey With Us

3 days ago in News

We're on our way out to Monterey, California, for car week.

Tomorrow, August 15: Join our Monterey Kickoff Cruise-In

3 days ago in News

Our Monterey welcome party is taking over all of downtown Pacific Grove.


Grassroots Motorsports Magazine

Subscribe Today

Also get your instant access to the digital edition of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine!

Learn More