VW Pickup Poly Leaf Spring Bushings
a product of Visual
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VW equipped the rear leaf springs on the pickup/Caddy with rubber
bushings. From the looks of them, they were designed for ride comfort
rather than handling and/or control. They are made of very thick and
soft rubber with fat flanges. This allows lots of play in the bushings,
leading to a mushy, vague road feel that performance drivers demand.
Add to that over 30 years of time since the bushings were new and you
get the general idea. Up until now, there was no replacement available
anywhere, so you had to get by with what you had.
But now, Missing LinkZ introduces poly-urethane replacement bushings
for the VW pickup. They are made of strong 92A durometer polyurethane
for precise handing and control. Also, the front hanger bushing
features 1" dia. solid metal sleeve for the bushing and the
shackle bushings use a seamless steel sleeve to replace the OEM stamped
steel spacers in the stock bushings. The oversize spacers reduce the
amount of bushing material between the spring and the shackle for an
even more solid feel.
|A: Poly shackle bushings vs. stock
||B: Stock vs. poly bushings
||C: Poly bushing closeup
now available in black
Note: Shackle in above photo is shown for illustrative purposes only,
it is not included with the bushings. Photos A and B depict the stock
bushings compared to our prototype polyurethane bushings. Photo C shows
the current production version with the 4 shackle bushings (in red) and
2 spring hanger bushings (in black), washers and sleeves. We're now
able to source black spring eye and shackle bushings, so everything
will be of the same color. Also, on the shackle bushings, you can see
the slightly different shade of red on the small portion of the
bushing. This is the PVC/polyolefin heat shrink tubing, mentioned
below, that is used to adjust the OD of the bushing to match the ID of
the spring eye.
We also have a new option on the shackle bushings. That being a bushing
set that includes 4 new shackle bolts to replace the ~40 year old
original bolts. These new bolts require slighly enlarging the holes in
the shackle plates from 13mm to 14mm (or 9/16"). If you want this
option, add US$12.00 bushing kit price and you'll get 4 new shackle
bolts and nyloc nuts.
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If you are interested in replacing your worn rubber bushings with high
performance polyurethane, 2 options are available.
The first is a shackle bushing kit to replace the pair of bushings on
the top and bottom of the spring shackle. The stock bushings are split
rubber and easily removed and replaced with simple hand tools, with the
springs still on the vehicle. Cost for the shackle bushing set is
US$80.00 (bushings and spacers for both ends of both shackles).
The second option includes the front spring eye bushing in addition to
the shackle bushings described above. The spring eye bushing usually
needs to be pressed out with the springs removed from the vehicle. The
stock bushing is housed inside a steel sleeve that is pressed into the
front spring eye. With time, the sleeve rusts to the spring eye and
thus the need for pressing. The front spring eye bushing kit (enough to
replace the front bushings in both springs) is US$50.00.
The full bushing kit runs US$120.00 (a $10 savings over the individual
price) and includes both the front spring eye bushing set as well as
the shackle bushing set.
Add US$12.00 for a set of 4 new shackle bolts and lock nuts.
These bolts should fit in the ~14mm dia. holes in the shackle side
plates and replace the factory shouldered bolt that's likely badly
rusted and may need to be cut off to remove the shackle side plates in
ordert to replace the spring shackle bushings.
There is a range of inner diameters (ID) on the rear spring eye and
shackle hanger. We make the bushings sized to fit the smallest ID we
have encountered (~38mm), and then add one layer of heat shrink
material to bring the OD up to approx. 40mm which seems to work with
This is likely the main reason why none of the main bushing companies
have offered replacement poly bushings for the VW pickups. With the
soft factory rubber bushings, you can squeeze them into a variety of
sized spring eyes, but the harder (~92A durometer) polyurethane is less
accommodating. Since it is hard for the end-user to make the bushing
smaller (machining polyurethane is possible but requires special
machinery and techniques), making the bushing sized to allow it to be
made smaller if needed, makes a much more end-user-friendly approach.
And we are not making this up, we have seen springs where a 38mm OD
bushing fit fine, some where a 40mm bushing is needed. So short of
shipping 2 sets of bushings (and doubling the kit cost), we have chosen
the approach of supplying a bushing that fits most applications, and
that can be made smaller (or larger) as needed.
We can also supply additional heat shrink sleeves that the customer can
use to increase the size of the shackle bushings. Each sleeve adds
approx. 2mm to the bushing diameter to accomodate oversized spring
eyes. Additional sets of sleeves cost US$15.00. They are easy to slip
over the bushing and will shrink to fit in a 225°F (110°C)
oven in about 10 minutes.
Bushing kits are custom built to order, so allow ~1-2 weeks for
Current shackle and spring eye bushings are all black, as we've been
able to source all the material in the same color.
Parts are shipped from zip 94088 (CA), so add sales tax for California
orders (automatically added by Paypal if you use the Buy Now buttons
Domestic/US shipping is US$15.00 for regular or US$18.00 for insured
shipping, 2-3 day typical delivery time.
International shipping available, typical cost is US$50.95 to
Canada/Mexico and US$81.95 to the most other countries, 6-10 day
typical delivery time.
Ordering/payment options below:
|Purchase w/ regular US shipping
- Adds US$15.00 shipping automatically
|Purchase w/ insured US shipping
- Adds US$19.00 shipping automatically
|Purchase w/ other shipping option
- Add shipping to order total
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The old spring bushings must be removed from the spring eyes and
shackle hanger, as appropriate. Likely the shackle bushings can be
pulled out and the front spring eye bushing may need to be pressed out.
Clean up the spring eyes so they are free of rust, you may want to
paint them to prevent rust in the future.
The front spring eye bushing is a single piece that is pressed into the
spring eye, then the center sleeve is inserted in the center hole and
the two large washers slip over the sleeve on each end. If the bushing
or sleeve fit is too tight, an application of grease can make them
easier to install. Note that there is no outer lips on the front
bushing. When you get ready to slip the front spring eye and bushing
into the spring hanger, just be sure to center the spring eye between
the ends of the poly bushing. Then when you tighten down the hanger
bolt, the washers on each side of the bushing will compress it and
cause the ends to expand and trap the spring eye in between.
The shackle bushings are pressed in place, one from each side of the
spring eye and shackle hangre. Then a sleeve is inserted from one side
to the other for the shackle bolt to pass through. If the sleeve is
longer than the bushings, you can cut/grind it down in length to be
just shorter than the width of the bushings to ensure proper bushing
compression. If the bushings are too tight to fit inside the spring
eye, the heat shrink sleeve on the outside of the bushing can be
slipped or cut off to reduce the size approx. 2mm for an easier fit. If
you wish to completely fill the spring eye with bushing material, you
can cut the needed length off one of your old bushings and slip it into
the center of the spring eye. Only the ends of the spring bushing
supports the spring and shackle, the center of the bushing does very
little in this regard, so leaving it open is not an issue, but if you
want it filled up, go ahead. And if you need to up the OD of the
shackle bushings, slip a short length of heat shrink tubing (Missing
LinkZ can supply you 8 lengths of heat shrink tubing for the 8 bushing
halves for the cost of $12.00 including shipping) over the end of each
bushing half, then place them, with the small end down, on a tray and
place in the oven at 225F/110C for about 15 minutes to shrink the
tubing securely in place, you can also do one at a time with a heat gun
on a medium setting.
On the spring shackles, there are two options, one is re-using the
factory shackle bolts and the other option is using new shackles bolts.
For the re-use option, you'll receive a number of washers to make up
the extra length oh the OEM bolts, install 1 or 2 washers per side, as
needed. You want the overall width of the istalled busings + washers to
be just greater than the width of the shouldered portion of the
original shackle bolt.
For the new shackle bolt option, simply drill out the holes in the
shackle side plate to 9/16" or 14mm and then use the supplied
bolts and new nylon lock nuts. Tighten the nuts until there is no gap
between the side plates and bushings.
As far as maintenance, you may want to periodically grease the sleeves
in the bushings to prevent wear and squeaking of the poly bushing
material and also prevent the bolt and sleeve from rusting together, if
desired. Any sort of grease will work, we often use a graphite loaded
wheel bearing grease and over time, a graphite coating will remain as
the grease dries out.
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[Last updated: 18.February.2021]