SlickDizzy PowerDork
April 7, 2014 11:00 a.m.

My Mk2 GLI is due for a suspension refresh. I was originally pricing shocks with lowering springs and all the other fixins, but the thing with VWs...there are some CHEAP coilovers out there. At $400 for a set of Racelands or JOMs or whatever I could have some ready to bolt on suspension for less than the price of a shock/strut set when you factor in the bump stops, mounts and other extras.

Now, the Vortex fanboys seem to think that anything short of $1400 Bilsteins is total garbage...but these guys are also trying to scrape their oil pans against the pavement. I would probably try to go no lower than 1.5" maximum. There seems to be a vocal minority that says the cheap coilovers are just fine as long as you keep the ride height sane, but I'm not sure I can trust anybody on the Vortex.

So, here I am. Has anyone used these cheap coilovers? Should I spend the extra couple hundred bucks and get new shocks and lowering springs? At $400 with a two-year warranty it really seems hard to beat the Racelands if they are halfway decent. There is also the "middle ground" which would be a set of FK coilovers, exact same price as traditional springs/shocks but supposedly much higher quality than Raceland/JOM.

chandlerGTi SuperDork
April 7, 2014 5:51 p.m.

I've run Rokker and racelands on MKIs, I didn't think they were bad. They don't have the ride quality of a set of H&R UltraLow but for 1/5 the price I could live with it.

 photo SU1HMDA0NzgtMjAxMDA4MTQtMTEzNS5qcGc.jpg

 photo 1325377832.jpg

I did about 12k on the truck sitting like that in 6 months.

DeadSkunk SuperDork
April 7, 2014 6:28 p.m.

I ran my previous 1991 VW GTI 16V on an Eibach Pro-Kit set of springs on Bilstein Sports. It was wonderful. I'm of the opinion that the extra spent is well worth it if you're going to drive the car a lot.

Swank Force One MegaDork
April 7, 2014 6:30 p.m.

Riddle me this: how cheaply can you get just a set of Bilstein shocks?

SlickDizzy PowerDork
April 7, 2014 8:33 p.m.

$600-800 depending on HDs or Sports (and the car was $1000). The only 'decent' set of shocks that is really reasonably priced is the Koni STR.T at $270 for a set, which may be the compromise I end up making.

Opti New Reader
April 7, 2014 8:47 p.m.

I used to be all about budget suspension, then I finally put some Konis on the Z28, and now Im not much of a fan of cheap suspension stuff. Id do some bilsteins and just freshen everything else, maybe cut a coil off the stock springs, this works pretty good with the Fbodys on bilsteins.

If its a 1K car that just sees DD duty, Id put some OE replacements on, not monroes offering though. I prefer KYB for the OE replacements.

Many of the miata guys liked the racelands saying the rode very well, and I saw one person who apparently did very well autox with them.

Guess it depends what your doing with the car and what you want out of it.

Travis_K UltraDork
April 7, 2014 8:54 p.m.

You can get used Bilstien HDs or Sports cheap enough that there is really no reason to get anything else. The VW people I know usually use cut Passat vr6 springs too.

z31maniac UltimaDork
April 7, 2014 9:54 p.m.

I tried my first "relative" budget suspension on my track rat Miata......and what was still a great value considering the price (but not horrible knock-off Taiwanese stuff).

Then I put on a properly setup set of coilovers........there is just no comparison. Any car in the future will never go with cheap/er stuff again.

A Ground Control setup will be the equivalent of the cheapest I ever plan to run again.

Paul_VR6 HalfDork
April 7, 2014 10:06 p.m.

I had Racelands on the mk4. The car was stupid low and drove horrible, raised 2" they werent too bad. I think they are underdamped for the spring rates they use. It was always quite bouncy over a bump. Swapped to some used Koni coils and it was night and day. Those handled well and had a ride just a touch harsher than oe sport suspension.

Cheap mk2, find good used shocks, cut vr6 springs to get height.

yamaha UltimaDork
April 7, 2014 10:25 p.m.

In reply to Paul_VR6:

Race lands are pretty crappy quality......heck, a close friend of mine has a hole in his '00 civic si's hood thanks to the E36 M3ty quality.

Buy something decent and don't regret it.......brought to you by the person who has koni/GC combo on a $2k taurus.

jimbbski HalfDork
April 7, 2014 10:41 p.m.

Why not just get a set of good or better shocks/struts and then convert them to coil over. I did a set of bilsteins by just cutting the stock spring perches off and then just buying the threaded sleeve kit from any number of suppliers for around $35-50 a corner. You end up with better struts and the same adjustability. Buying a used set of coil over springs is as easy as searching the net. I see them in various lengths, rates, and OD's. All of my CO springs were bought used from 30-70% of what a new pair sells for. I once bought 6 pairs at a race car parts auction for $3 a pair! I only needed one pair, the rest I sold for $50 a pair and had no problem selling them.

Swank Force One MegaDork
April 7, 2014 10:54 p.m.

Yep, i'd just get some used Bilsteins, cheap sleeves, and hit the local circle track swap meet for some springs.

Travis_K UltraDork
April 7, 2014 11:21 p.m.

Actually neuspeeed Passat vr6 front springs are perfect mk2 front springs if I remember right, for the rear cut stock Passat springs are better. The other thing that helps a lot (although they aren't at all cheap), are ground control camber plates, the ones that install without any cutting. And of course Audi tt bushings for the rear of the front a arms.

chrispy Reader
April 8, 2014 7:07 a.m.

The cheap coilover sets are for looks, the spring rates are universal (and high) and the dampening doesn't match. For around $500 I had a Koni Sport/Bilstein HD coilover setup on my MK2 Golf, but I looked for a year while riding on Raceland springs. Don't forget you can use MK3 and Corrado suspension parts too.

Ian F UltimaDork
April 8, 2014 7:16 a.m.

In reply to SlickDizzy:

The real question is why do you want coilovers?

SlickDizzy PowerDork
April 8, 2014 9:59 a.m.

I was just looking for the most cost-effective shock/spring upgrade, but I actually lucked into a set of Bilstein sports with Neuspeed race springs for $400 today, so I am going that route.

Vigo PowerDork
April 8, 2014 4:35 p.m.

I think in general a koni strt + cheapy coilover setup is going to ride and handle better than racelands, but it's more work.

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