This post has been a long time coming and I am so happy to be typing this out and I am not even close to being done!
Since buying our Alltrack back in July, I have seen many inquiries about lift kits. Almost every day I was seeing a new post about it. I originally reached out to a company that does lifts for Subarus and I had also done a poll on two different Facebook groups to see what the legitimate interest would be if a kit were to be produced. After the company took a long time to respond, I decided to undertake the task myself. There was a huge learning curve for me since I had not used AutoCAD since high school (almost 15 years ago), nor did I have access to any of the resources needed to 3D print or produce a prototype.
I will fast forward through all of the trial and error bits but I did finally settle on a design that I thought was unique enough that I wanted to protect my intellectual property. I filed for a provisional patent for my front lift kit spacer and before I go further, I guess I should explain why.
The Mk7 Golf is on Volkswagen's MQB platform and like other platforms in the past, it has a MacPherson front strut and a multilink independent rear shock and spring. The concept of lifting a car with this setup is simple: a spacer in between the front strut assembly and the body and the rear spring and the body. The front has a rubber strut mount that is bolted to the body and my concern was, and still is, using a single piece spacer with longer bolts to achieve the lift. This is where my idea for a two piece spacer came into play and that is what I filed a patent for. This will use OEM strength and length bolts and therefore not be more prone to failure from torque.
Recently, I got the lift kit on the car and I first installed a 1/2" lift and then a 1" lift. These will be the two sizes that I will be offering through The Bearded Detailer so I wanted to be sure to install both.
After a week of driving on the kit, I went ahead and ordered the all terrain tires I decided on and dropped off the 16" steel wheels I acquired for powder coating.
I decided on the Nokian Rotiiva AT in a 215/65R16. The reviews were really good and they have a pretty good wear rating. I won't lie to myself or anyone about the amount of highway driving I do and that won't change with this setup so I needed to be able to have a tire that could hold up to that. The steel wheels got finished in a metallic silver very close to the OEM silver alloys and their specs are 16" x 6.5", et50. I also picked up OEM wheel caps (5N0-601-169-X-RW) that I believe reference to a Canadian Tiguan setup. I could be wrong on that but I have had them before and if I am going to run steel wheels, that is the only way for me to go.
Installation day finally came and before the tires were mounted, I coated the wheels with Opti-Coat Pro to make sure they stay as clean as possible when I do end up off road. The dealership was able to balance them with stick on weights since their finish was now similar to alloys. I stuck around and had my friend Connor align the car since the alignment hadn't been touched since the lift kit was installed. I will have more information on the alignment when the kit is finally available to the public but I am content with the specs.
I drove out to get photos that evening and I am so happy with how it all has come together. I will be spacing out the rear wheels 15mm as well. I am content with where the front wheels sit.
Also took the car to a small local show on a whim and the car and kit got some interest. Overall, the car now sits about 1.5" taller than a stock Alltrack and while the tires aren't meant for performance cornering, I am happy with the ride of the car. I do recommend an upgraded rear sway bar and some form of engine tune for a few more ponies due to the added unsprung weight.
Behind The Scenes!
First and foremost: I want to thank everyone that has shared and supported the release of the kit. This can only be a success if more people know about it.
I realize that I never went over the actual installation of the kit and I will have legitimate instructions with the kits when they ship. Be sure to use a proper lift or jack stands when working on the vehicle if you plan on doing the installation yourself. I do recommend allowing a shop perform the work just to relieve yourself of the responsibility.
Step 1: Remove the 6 triple square bolts from the inner axle flange in order to disconnect the axle from the transmission. This allows for more movement and clearance later.
Step 2: Remove the 18mm nut from the endlink at the strut, not from the sway bar, and remove the endlink from the strut tab.
Step 3: Remove the three 16mm nuts that connect the ball joint to the control arm and use a pry bar to separate.
Step 4: Remove the 21mm nut that connects the tie rod to the spindle. The tie rod might not come out easy so leave the nut threaded on and give it some taps to break it loose and remove the tie rod from the spindle.
Step 5: Remove the three 13mm bolts that secure the upper strut mount to the body of the car. At this point, you can lower the strut enough to work with the top of the strut mount.
Step 6: Making sure all of the holes line up, place the bottom spacer on top of the strut mount and use your factory bolts to secure the spacer to the mount. Torque them to 15 NM (11 lb-ft) + 90º. Place the top spacer on top of the bottom spacer and using a 6mm hex driver, tighten the provided bolts to 15 NM (11 lb-ft) + 90º.
Assembly is reverse of disassembly and repeat for the other side.
Torque the three provided 12mm bolts that secure the spacer to the body of the car to 15 NM (11 lb-ft) + 90º.
Torque the tie rod nut to 20 NM (14.75 lb-ft) + 90º.
Torque the three ball joint nuts to 45 NM (33 lb-ft) + 45º.
Torque the 18mm endlink nut to 65 NM (48 lb-ft).
Torque the six inner axle bolts to 10 NM (7 lb-ft) diagonally and then once all six are installed, torque to 40 NM (29.5 lb-ft) diagonally.
Step 1: Place an adjustable support or floor jack under the control arm so that it can be lowered later. If you do not do this, the spring will force the control arm downward once all bolts are removed and injury can occur.
Step 2: Remove the 18mm nut and bolt that secure the control arm to the spindle.
Step 3: Remove the 18mm nut and bolt that secure the bottom of the shock to the control arm.
Step 4: Remove the 13mm nut and bolt that secure the sway bar endlink to the control arm.
Step 4a: If you have a vehicle with factory installed HID headlamps, you will need to disconnect the level sensor on the driver side control arm. Take note to the orientation of the arm, as that is critical to the position of your lights and the function of the leveling system.
Step 5: Lower the control arm down slowly until the spring is able to be removed.
Step 6: Remove the factory top spring pad and insert the spacer.
Assembly is reverse of disassembly and repeat for the other side.
Torque the 13mm endlink nut to 20 NM (14.75 lb-ft) + 180º.
Torque the 18mm shock nut to 70 NM (51.5 lb-ft) + 180º.
Torque the 18 mm spindle nut to 70 NM (51.5 lb-ft) + 180º.
Ok, with installation out of the way, I will get to the alignment. I can't force anyone to get an alignment but do yourself and your tires a favor and get an alignment. You should be doing an alignment once a year at minimum as it is.
So this is a printout of my alignment and I will state that the BEFORE is not before the lift kit. That is with the lift kit as I drove it to the dealership and the AFTER is how I drove it home and how it currently sits. I never had the car aligned prior to the lift kit but based on printouts of others with stock Alltracks, I can say that the 1" kit added about .4º camber in the front and .13º in the rear. The factory specs call for -.27º ± .50º camber in the front and -1.33º ± .50º camber in the rear.
The front is what should be focused on since it isn't adjustable and the rear is. He was able to get the caster and toe as close to factory as possible and then he adjusted the rear camber about a half a degree to match the front movement. I think my next alignment, I will make the rear match the front closer.
My overall thoughts on the performance of the car? I love it. One thing you have to remember is that the center of gravity has been raised 1" so the will be a slight difference in cornering. This is also true of tires with larger sidewalls. But after a few days of driving, you will get used to the feeling and realize that it is not unsafe. I do about 18,000 miles of driving a year and many family trips with my kids and dog. The last thing I want is an accident with them in the vehicle with me.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, we took a trip up to my parents' house in Bradford County (about 300 miles round trip) and made sure to hit some rural routes that I grew up driving on and leaving the beaten path. The car performed exactly the way I wanted it to.