Replacing Sub Frame Bolts in an MKV VW

I’ve been chasing this rattle that I have in my car for quite awhile.  It started as a minor shake, I thought it was just the wheels that were out of balance but it remained after getting new tires.  I then got new rims and took it to a different place when I needed tires again and purchased new Michelin’s.  These are nice tires and the shake was then significantly reduced.

However, over time the shake remained but then I started getting some clunking in the front end.  So I jacked it up and checked all the obvious culprits.  Tried to move the tie rod ends, shake the sway bar links, turn the wheel back and forth looking for anything that would clunk.  I could not find anything that would indicate that a bushing or suspension/steering component was loose or damaged.

One day, when getting off the Turnpike and stopping on the off ramp, I heard a significant clunk come from the front end.  I said, I know what that is, that’s a motor mount.  So I went home and took a look at the engine compartment.  Sure enough, I could move the transmission by hand so I decided to replace the top motor mounts.  To see how to do that, check out this post.

Unfortunately the clunking remained.  This led me to where I am today.  After doing some research online and trying to figure out what could possibly be making that noise, I found that the VW’s have some issues with the Subframe bolts coming loose.  So one weekend I get the car up on jack stands and find that I can tighten all the bolts significantly.  Oh!  That must be it.  So I purchase a bolt kit from ECS Tuning and replace all the bolts.  This is how I did it:

The below picture is a shot of most of the bolts that get replaced in the kit.  The kit comes with the 2 replacement “main” bolts for the subframe, the 4 bolts for the steering rack, and the 4 main bolts for the control arms.

VWSubframe001

The main culprit is the 2 18mm stretch bolts that tend to fail on these cars.  So I pulled them out and replaced them with the new ones which were much beefier.

Guess which one is the new one!

Guess which one is the new one!

I then went about attacking the steering rack bolts.  These are all 5/8” bolts for some reason, I could not believe it at first but they are, should have been metric don’t you think?  My car had 3 bolts for the steering rack and I thought that maybe the 4th one fell out, but there was no place to put the 4th bolt and after doing some internet research found that some models actually only have the 3.  Whatever, I have an extra bolt….

Next were the lower control arm bolts.  There is the one 18mm bolt that is closer to the passenger compartment that holds the entire bushing mount.  The kit comes with centering guides when you replace the bolts due to the large amount of play that can be had with the opening for the bolt.  I did not feel like taking the entire control arm down to put the second guide in so I just put the bolt in with the one guide.  I think that will be fine.

One full side, all the bolts that were replaced. It's the same on the other side.

One full side, all the bolts that were replaced. It’s the same on the other side.

Unfortunately the noise persists.  I am convinced that I am going to have this car forever because it always has a small annoying problem.  Nothing that would make you stop using it or anything but enough to make you chase it.  One of these days I’m going to find out what that is.  Then something else will pop up….

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