VW Sportline T5s use Eibach springs, and you can, too. Here's how to lower a T5.
Dropping your T5 is a relatively straightforward job to do at home if you possess the right tools and don’t mind working underneath your Van without the luxury and security of a ramp. As this how to lower a t5 guide will show, you’re going to be separating the front strut from the hub so it’s vital that you have your alignment and tracking checked once the job is complete. The pair of pinch bolts that secure the front struts to the hubs will inevitably require soaking with releasing agent unless your Van is almost new, and that was the case with the Custom Vanz offering you see here.
For this procedure, Custom Vanz used a set of specially commissioned, -40mm, Eibach Raceline springs and retained the standard shock absorbers as they had covered only a few thousand miles since leaving the production line. If your Van has had a hard life, you may opt to change your shocks while the hubs are apart. The general rule of thumb when lowering is you should change your shocks to suit the amount of drop, but as factory Sportline models come with -30mm Eibach springs and standard dampers, we were happy to retain them here. However, the aftermarket offers anything up to -100mm springs, should you choose to go for smaller diameter coilovers and it is important dampers and coils are matched.
There are two different ways to go about doing this job – the first is to remove the entire strut and hub assembly, in which case you can also carry out the through-hub modification we covered last month, or you can simply remove the strut on its own.Whichever way you go, a big hammer,
a pry bar and a burly mate will really help with this job.
Note: if you have trouble freeing the lower portion of your strut from the hub (which is likely), the best bet is to slot it back into position, tighten the lower hub pinch bolts up, then remove the large driveshaft nut (while a friend stands on the brakes), remove your brake caliper (21mm caliper bolts), steering arm balljoint (pry bar essential), and bottom wishbone balljoint. Then, with the anti-roll bar links undone, it should be a piece of cake to work the whole strut and hub assembly free, at which point that mate will definitely come in handy.
How to lower a T5: Need to know
TOOLS USED: 19-22mm sockets, 18-22mm spanners (use ring spanners for better grip), T30, T40 and T45 torx bits, Axle stands, Two trolley jacks, Piece of tubing smaller in diameter than hub opening, Lump hammer, Spring compressors
SKILL LEVEL: 3/5
TIME TAKEN: Allow a day to do your whole Van, and don’t forget a few custard creams and a brew or two for your burly mate
COST DIY: From £300+ VAT for Customvanz Eibach springs
COST PRO: Supplied and fitted for £500+VAT
CONTACT: www.customvanz.com – Tel. 01249 460081
How to lower a T5: Step 1
Park your Van on level, solid ground, loosen your wheel bolts slightly front and rear, then jack your Van up and support it on axle stands that are up to the job in hand.
How to lower a T5: Step 2
First job is to slide underneath the Van and unclip the brake lines and ABS sensor. The anti-roll bar (ARB) links will almost certainly give you a load of hassle, so give them a good going over with a wire brush to loosen any rust and dirt and douse them in penetrating oil or Plus Gas to free them up before starting. You need a 12-point Torx bit for the middle of the ARB, and ensure you have a good grip on both the socket and the bit, as if you round the splines off on this you’ll have to cut it off. If it all ends in tears, a replacement Torx-headed bolt costs around £15 from VW.
How to lower a T5: Step 3
With the ARB links detached, turn your attention to the 22mm bottom pinch bolts that secure the strut into place within the hub itself. Again, clean and oil them up sufficiently before going at them with a ring spanner and socket, or preferably a ring spanner and air gun.
How to lower a T5: Step 4
The next step is the tricky one, and the one that can easily go awry. To separate the strut from the hub, you need to free the bottom of the strut from its home in the hub so you need to find a way of jacking it up to force it free from underneath. You’ll have to get pretty Heath Robinson at this point. We’ve seen people use sections of smaller diameter tubing jacked into the gap from beneath and even sections of metal tied against the spring cup and jacked up to force it free. You can ease the clamping force of the hub by sliding a flat blade screwdriver into the pinch bolt jaws if necessary. Ultimately, you’re probably best removing the entire hub and strut assembly as one, but we’re trying to save you labour here.
How to lower a T5: Step 5
With the bottom of the strut freed up, attention turns to the top mounts. You’ll need to remove the plastic scuttle cover shown here to gain access to the front top mounts. Loosen and remove your wiper arms and then prise up the scuttle cover gently. You should be able to see the 21mm top mount nuts now.
How to lower a T5: Step 6
Undo the top mount nuts, ensuring the strut is supported from below. A friendly helper will come in handy here to wrestle the strut free.
How to lower a T5: Step 7
Spring compressors are essential if you plan on removing your top mount. Never underestimate the force that is exerted by coil spring tension. If you get smacked in the head by a rogue top mount, at best you’ll wake up in A&E wondering what just happened.
Wind the compressors evenly on both sides a little at a time each side and try not to dangle any body parts over the top of the strut whilst you’re doing so. A vice may help with this step.
How to lower a T5: Step 8
Loosen and remove the top mount, then lay out the components in the order you removed them so you know how they go back together. If your Van has racked up a lot of miles, it’s might be worth buying and fitting new VW front top mounts to restore steering feel and responsiveness.
How to lower a T5: Step 9
Pop the swanky new Eibach springs into place and ensure they are seated correctly in the cups before re-fitting the strut top bearing and nut. In some cases, depending upon how much lower your springs are, you may need to compress them again in order to re-fit the top mount bearing. Re-fit the strut to the front end, ensuring all bolts are tight.
How to lower a T5: Step 10
The rear. The good news is the back end is much easier to do than the front. Support the weight of the swing arm with a jack and remove the lower damper bolt. If you’re fitting coilovers or new dampers, you also need to remove the damper top bolt.
How to lower a T5: Step 11
Gently lower the swing arm down on the jack and you should be able to pull the springs free of their locating cups. Do the same on the other side.
How to lower a T5: Step 12
Position the new springs, checking they locate properly in the cut outs top and bottom, then jack the swing arm back up and replace the damper bolt.
How to lower a T5: Step 13
That’s it, job done. Well, almost. It is vital you have your tracking and alignment checked by someone with the right gear, preferably a laser alignment system. Failing to do this could result in tyre wear worse than a Pirelli-equipped F1 car, and a dangerous vehicle to drive.