Friday, January 29, 2016

Flash gets new shoes

It's been a busy month and I haven't taken the time to post about it. I've said before, if I'm not posting, I'm probably having adventures. This last stretch has been no different. I've been improving my daily-driving Jetta lately, so today's post is about that.

Humble Beginnings
sample image. can't find an old pic
When I bought the Jetta, it was 3 years old and had about 50k miles on it. I got a fair deal on it, and concluded after the fact that the dealer still got the better end. It was a no-options TDI available at the time: steel wheels, cloth interior, no power anything, no sunroof, the base AM/FM/cassette stereo, etc. That was what I wanted, thinking that the fewer fancy bits, the fewer things that will break. That's mostly held true. Unfortunately, when I got the car, the interior had already been destroyed. I think someone let their little yappy dog loose in there after spending an afternoon swimming in a swamp. It stank. I mean it really stank. It stank like when someone takes their sweaty, dirty feet out of an old pair of sneakers. And everything was carved up. The gear shift. The door pulls. If it was plastic, it had scoring all over it. Or it was broken. The cup holders (front and back), the center console, the rear ashtray, the front ashtray... That wasn't all. The exterior had a small scratch or little dimple or dent on nearly every body panel. Both fenders, all doors, rear quarters, both bumpers, hood, trunk and top. Yep, every single body panel. Maybe the prior owner liked to follow gravel trucks on the freeway. The driver door lock barely worked, and there wasn't a remote key. The front struts were sagging, the brakes made noise, the sound deaden-er under the engine was held on with zip-ties.... Simpy put, I could get over 50mpg out of it, but it wasn't going to be pretty.

New Car Grip
new VR6 rims
I'd been suffering along with Flash being not so flashy for years, and I was even considering getting a new-to-me car. Fuel prices last Fall got me to go another way. Why give money to the bank for a car that costs me more to drive every mile? I decided to put the money into the car I already had. I started with the front suspension (see Daily Driving). Once the alignment was done, Flash held the road much better. Last weekend, with the help of C, I swapped out the old steel wheels for a set of 16" VR6 rims. Now, Flash holds the road almost as if he was running lowered coil-overs, but he's at normal ride height. He grips the road very well, and I can steer with one finger. Very nice improvement. I definitely recommend refreshing the front end, upgrading to the TT bushings and replacing the struts and rear shocks. I did not go with the Bilsteins on the advice from MetalMan. The ride could have been too stiff for comfort. YMMV. I installed COFAP instead.

That's it for today. More next time on my other improvements.