20

Springs

By
q20v
1340

H&R Sport Springs

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The Audi came with S4 suspension, however, the front right spring was broken and tracking down a replacement was proving difficult. The easy way out is an aftermarket solution, and H&R offers Sport and Race springs for the B5 A4.

H&R Sport: 50396 1.25" Front 1.0" Rear

H&R Race: 29996-1 1.9" Front 1.5" Rear

I went back and forth on whether to get the Sport or Race. Obviously I live my life a quarter mile at a time, and even though there aren't any turns in the quarter mile, a stanced look has been shown to drop 1/8 mile times by up to 5 seconds. The Race springs with larger tires have also been reported to cause tire rubbing on the fenders, and shock life (mine are stock S4) is reduced due to the drastic drop. Also, people complain about scraping the undercarriage on speed bumps and getting stuck in the snow with Race springs. It became obvious to me that the Race springs are the clear winner, and that I needed them on my car immediately. If I plan to let other dads at play group know that I'm driving a super car, there is no other way than a 50 foot streak of sparks heading west on Standherd, just past Home Depot, where the bumps can launch a car 6 feet in the air at only 40 kph.

As I placed my order with AWE Tuning for the H&R Race Springs, Mike@AWE (that's his screen name on Audiworld) informed me that the Race springs weren't available in FLUORESCENT YELLOW to match the custom interior I plan to install. Damn. Stuck with All-Road suspension... Sports. To top it off, PURPLE they are. Gee, can't wait to lose my race to that red Pontiac Vibe down the street. Thanks Mike.

So, with my H&R Off-Road springs on their way from AWE, I decided it was a good time to disassemble the old strut assemblies. As it turns out, the lower spring perches were a bit corroded, right where the old S4 spring was broken. I noticed the same corrosion on both sides, and the left spring looked like it was on its way out.

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Disassembly - Front

The upper mount nut is recessed in the mount, and 18mm. The shock shaft just spins if I used a wrench, so it needs to be held with a hex. The proper tool for this is shown in Pic 4. I have this in 16mm, 17mm, and two other sizes, but not 18mm. I improvised.

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The first pic shows the underside of the upper mount. It was a bit bent out of shape but still worked. I bent it back (not shown in any of the pics) and re-used it.

The other pictures show the spring and lower perch corrosion.

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Disassembly - Rear

The rear assemblies came apart very easily, especially considering Blake came over to do it.

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SPRINGS!

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Front Suspension

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This is the old lower spring perch. In the old days it was all coated in rubber, which protected the spring, but this rubber coating has since worn away.

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These sell for $60 each from ECS Tuning. No thanks, that's like 4 boxes of diapers.

I sanded the corrosion away and prepped it for paint (as in, sprayed it down with Brake Cleaner - Professional Strength).

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Here they are after about 4-5 coats of VHT Caliper Paint - Black. Again, I consider this paint to be universal and use it everywhere.

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To help the VHT Caliper paint on the perch, and PURPLE powder coating on the springs, I decided to try shrink tubing on the lower coil of the springs.

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I had to cut it into little sections to get around the coils.

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Apply heat et voila. This will probably last about one or two laps down Strandherd construction between Royal Oak and 416.

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Install the re-painted lower perch on the strut, slide the new spring on, observe the shrink tubing on the lower coil - very nice -, compress the spring and install the upper mount. I had a hard time getting the spring compressed enough to start the nut above the upper mount, so I had to awkwardly manually compress the spring with my body weight while I attempted to start the nut. Took a while and too much effort for a normally simple job.

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Your strut should now be ready to be installed on the car.

However, after I assembled the strut assemblies and mounted the upper perches to the car, the lower control arm didn't line up at all, on either side. See next picture.

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This picture actually shows how the control arm and lower fork are supposed to align. My lower forks were at the incorrect angle, preventing me from sliding the control arm through.

After some more research (should have done this before), I realized the upper and lower spring perches are supposed to be re-aligned during assembly, especially if you're installing new springs.

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With everything disassembled, again, hammer the lower perch upwards. This will allow you to rotate it so that the lower strut fork (which connects to the control arm) aligns with the upper mount. Actually, they are offset by 11 degrees, +/- 2 degrees.

The last picture just shows that the hole that my thumb is pointing to points about 90 degrees relative to the strut fork (which is clamped in the vice).

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I realize I'm doing a terrible job explaining this and you can imagine me trying to figure this out after having fought so hard to compress those damn springs the first time, only to have to disassemble it all and figure out 11 +/-2 degrees upper perch to lower fork. What a gong show.

I used the side table and floor tiles in our entranceway to obtain the correct 11 degree alignment. First, square up your table and floor tile. Lean your strut assembly against the table and using a 24" straight edge (I used a level), make sure your lower strut fork is aligned with the floor tile.

Looking from above you can see the alignment of the two bolts against the edge of the table. These need to be rotated 11 degrees. Grab your protractor and visually line it up. No uncertainty in these measurements................. :S

The last picture shows 15 degrees from 90, so I need to readjust and try again. In the end I got both pretty much bang on 11 degrees, well, as good as my eyes could see. Everything assembled beautifully on the car, so I must have gotten it right.

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The ball joint pinch bolt, which is notorious for seizing, came out easily on this car. I cleaned the bore with a wire brush and brake cleaner, and installed the new bolt with copious amounts of Fluid Film.

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I wasn't overtly concerned about the nut seizing onto the bolt, in which case I would have used anti-seize paste. I doused the bore of the upright and shank of the bolt with fluid film, and then everything after it was assembled. It obviously got on the threads before I put the nut on, which is fine (torque accordingly). In the past few years, when I change to winter/summer tires on any of the vehicles in our fleet, I spray any exposed threads in the wheel well / suspension area with fluid film. This definitely makes a big difference when I go to take anything apart. - q20v October 6th 2014
Would you say fluid film performance/longevity is superior than anti seize brake paste? - ripcurl October 6th 2014

Rear Suspension

Compress the new spring, slide if over the shock, install the upper mount, and you're done.

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In this picture the car literally just rolled out of the garage. It will probably drop a tad more after the spring have a chance to settle.

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Thanks! I might be looking at installing Blake's B6 S4 Avus wheels (18") with his winter tires. They need 10mm spacers to clear the brakes, though. - q20v October 6th 2014
I cant wait to see it with the 18" Avus'ses on it! I know you are still undecided, but you can make the decision this Saturday during the move. - ripcurl October 6th 2014
That's actually a much nicer stance than I would have thought. Car looks good Barry! - booneylander October 6th 2014

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