I’ve always enjoyed Tyrol as a business. They’ve offered brake bushings for the longest time to allow users to have a “sufficient” brake upgrade that doesn’t crack the bank. After purchasing and installing them on my car, I’ve been a fan of Tyrol. So here’s a new take.
First, my problem was much more than just the standard subframe “clunk” seen by many who have a PQ35 platform based car with the aluminum subframe. After installing my front sway bar (and ECS spacer kit to prevent the clunk), I’ve had a slow change in driving dynamics over the last 10,000 miles. I noticed the steering was becoming rubber band like, or in other words, just plain loose. It lost that loving feeling that I had for so long. The car wandered at highway speeds which was a clear indication of my alignment being off, but how was that the case? My alignment was perfect after my DG Spring install but something “happened” that I was unaware of.
Upon my analysis, I immediately found that the subframe was shifted to the passenger side by roughly 3-4mm. What the hecK? I though the subframe was not supposed to move under proper torque specs…but apparently I was wrong. I manage to browse about 100 different resources and found that it is a COMMON issue with a planar subframe setup to float in different directions over time. No go for the engineering side of me. I HAD to do something.
My research for this case often included Honda forums, VWVortex, Golfmk5, Mk6, and various others I had been on. It seemed to be a glaring issue no one wanted to address. It wasnt until a special case popped up with indexing pins on the MKV repair manual, that the thinking wheels started to turn. I could spend $36 and “datum” or “index” my subframe to the appropriate holes in the whitebody (MFG term for Sheet metal Frame) of the car. I was gung ho. It was a simple procedure listed in the manual and seemed easy enough right?
Well, I started thinking…..”What happens in another 10K?” I didnt want to have to do this every other oil change. Lowering your subframe sucks enough, I didnt want to KEEP doing it. So I posted a thread up about it and got some immediate answers. http://www.golfmk6.com/forums/showthread.php?t=48672
I quickly found the Tyrol Rigid Collar kit that I had seen before, but never put any stock to. I figured, “I dont need to spend $200 on a kit when my torque spec has been met. It shouldnt be moving.” I was wrong. The more I looked at the kit, the more I realized the genius of it. Creating concentricity to thedatum holes in the body ushing bushings and a “datum” pin was pure ballsy. Over constraining a system like that would be a nightmare to install, but would provide so many benefits down the road.
The more I dug, the more I found that this kit was the real deal. I looked at reviews (very skimp in that regard) and all were very good, but didnt offer the level of detail that I strive for out of an opinion of another person. Out of nowhere, I found the Spoon Collar Kit for various Japanese vehicles. The more I read the more I learned about it. It made sense….it was perfect. THEN I found that Tyrol based their design off of these same collars and BOOM my mind was made up. Their plans also included the same bronze material they used for their brake bushings. I was already sold, so this was icing on the cake.
Purchase (Customer Service)
I purchased the kit directly from their website on November 6th, 2012. They did not have the kit shipped out until that following Monday, but I was not scheduling to do the install until a week after that. I dealt with Chris Harte when inquiring about shipping status. He seemed like a stand up guy and was prompt with his response. He had the kit out in no time, and now the waiting began. During this time, I reviewed their install instructions for the kit. Very straight forward and seemed like a 2-3hour job. I was dead set to do the job (No pun intended)
I received the kit 2 days later (Along with my replacement Audi bolts) and inspected the kit. Everything seemed to be there and nicely wrapped:
You can see the exclusive Tyrol “Chinese Finger Trap” wrapping for their machined pieces. The ARP bolts were quality pieces and qould not rust under Alabama’s harsh climate changes. (I opted for the $10 SS option). Also, noted the differences in the bolt types. You can clearly see the OEM stretch bolt vs. Audi Bolt vs. ARP Bolt. OEM Stretch bolt is just garbage. Its main purpose is to shear upon impact to prevent frame damage, but at this point, I didnt care. I was not going to trade off cornering performance for a slight “chance” of totaling my car upon impact.
Install time was around 2.5hours. I couldve had it done in two, but like mentioned before, when you over constrain a system, it takes a little time to wiggle it into place. Standard procedure went as followed:
1) Jack Car up
2) Jack Stands Placed
3) Remove DogBone Mount Bolts (Replaced)
4) Remove Exhaust Hangar Bolts (Did not Replace)
5) Loosened all Bolts on subframe. This allowed the middle section to center correctly when bolting everything up. Bolts included:
– Steering Rack Bolts
– APR Sway Bar Bolts
– Front Console Bolt
– LCA Mount To Subframe Bolts
6) Lower Subframe by loosening the 6 Main bolts
7) One by one, Insatll Collars
8) Tighten all main bolts
9) Tighten Secondary Bolts (Step 5)
10) Torque to Spec
11) TEST DRIVE THROUGH THE TWISTIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
One unfortunate situation was the fact that I did NOT use the supplied stainless steel bolts (added $10 to the price). Seeing as though the bolts are flat bottom ended, its hard to insert it into a hole and have the subframe shift with it. A tapered ended bolt (much like the Audi bolt I used) helped center the joint and allow the threads to engage.
The second I got into my car I rotated the steering wheel angle from lock to lock to ensure i did not have any clunking, ticks, or ANY noise related to this matter. Fortunately, there were none
I pulled away and could tell an immediate stiffness had returned to the steering. It felt solid and “normal” again as it did back before the sway bar installation. It was easy to pinpoint turns and the car responded well to subtle inputs. It was now a point an shoot vehicle again, but this time, I could fully appreciate the sways bars for what they did to the driving dynamics. The car felt alive and so neutral now.
Newly added traction was a surprise. I guess with the shifting of the subframe, there was a tendancy to under steer and allow the wheel to move around in hard turning. Though, there is more “tire talking” the benefit of the added traction will mean throttle modulation later down the road. Still, it was strange, but overall effective. I’m sure my camber evened out which would explain a lot.
Ride comfort was an unexpected surprise. The ride felt….smoother and more livable. I noticed recently a degredation in my ride quality, but I chalked it up to a cold weather symptom. Definitely not the case. It seems more force is transmitted through the dampers now and a lot of the after bounces have been removed so now its a plush and smooth ride, much like it was before the shifting occurred. (See Driver Gear Spring Review)
NVH has gone down as well. Similar to the ride comfort degredation, I noticed road noise was transmitted a lot more lately, but again, just chalked it up to cold weather. With it being quieter in the cab, I noticed an eerie “calm” now that wasn’t there before. Even the wife commented on the quieter cab. Cool. Another bonus I did not expect.
I’m sure my case was a little exaggerated due to the shift, but the same could be said for people that never made a point to center the subframe up during a clutch install, or front sway install, etc. etc.
Notice the markings on the ECS subframe spacer. These markings show the subframe actually MOVES even with the supplied spacer kit. Though, it made no noise, I was still happy to see them gone.
I was going to sit back and wait a week before I wrote this review, but after driving about 100 miles in it in 2 days, I am now a believer. This modification might seem like a steep price for “just bushings” but its much more than that. Its a great peace of mind to know my subframe will never move again and will never give me alignment problems. I love what Tyrol has done and they definitely have a niche in the market with this piece. If you’re into chassis stiffening (Braces and such) and suspension mods, or having that overall “solid German” feeling, pick up a kit today. I’m glad I dropped the money on it and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Tyrol is a great company to work with and has great people working for them.