As you may have spotted in some previous posts, I have changed the suspension, wheels and tyres on the van for something a little chunkier. I must admit it was a tough decision to make, as I really like the lowered look with 18 inch alloys, its part of the reason I bought it after all.
But now, about 2 months into ownership of the T4 van, it was starting to dawn on me that the lowered look and alloys are not the best choice for the way I use the van. You see, I spend a lot of time travelling down Devon and Cornwall lanes to either surf spots or climbing venues on Dartmoor. The state of the lanes are, at times, absolutely shocking.
It seemed that a fair few T4 owners are fed up with the state of the roads in England. A lot are opting for a bit more comfort and strength by fitting larger side-wall tyres to standard 15 or 16 inch wheels. So I bit the bullet, and decided to raise the suspension and run some all terrain tyres on standard 15 inch VW steel wheels.
15 inch steel wheels
I must admit I was pretty lucky. I managed to pick up 4 steel wheels for £50 locally and Kwik Fit removed the old tyres for free.
Then I was able to refurbish them myself using an angle grinder with a wire brush attachment to remove the old paint and flakey rust. If you're going to do this, remember to wear gloves and eye protection, those little wires fly off everywhere!
Next came the paint which was just normal rattle cans found at any motor factors. I started with a few layers of red primer, and the following day it was on the "wheel silver" paint.
It wasn't a show winning finish, but more than adequate for my intended use. Especially when I'm going to be trundling around the local lanes with mud, horse poo and pot holes!
All terrain tyres
When it came to sourcing the tyres, I did some research online. It turns out that 215/75/15 is about as big as you can go without having to grind away parts of the bumpers at the front and rear.
So I started to compare tyre prices online, the BF Goodrich All Terrain was on my list, but was a just a bit to expensive for me. So coming in at second best for me was the Falken Wildpeak All Terrain tyre for around £70-£80 each. Another option was the General Grabber, but the good reviews of the Falkens swayed my decision.
More information on fitting larger tyres to your van can be found in our ultimate guide to fitting all terrain tyres!
So I ordered the tyres and they arrived in a couple of days. They looked pretty awesome in the flesh, better than the online catalogue photos! Then it was straight down to Quik Fit. The lads put the tyres on the newly painted rims, fitted valves and balanced them up. The price for this? A £10 donation to their coffee break fund! The guys were really interested in the ability to fit all terrains to a Transporter, so did it on the cheap!
Raising the suspension
Raising the suspension was just the reverse of the lowering process. Firstly you jack up the rear of the van up and securing on axles stands. Then you can remove the shock absorbers and lowering the trailing arms until the springs come out.
I bought brand new standard height springs and shocks and had the rear changed over in a couple of hours. Raising the front end was just a case of winding up the big nuts on the end of the torsion bars. Luckily they hadn't seized, which made the whole process painless. It's wise to soak the threads in WD40 or a similar penetrating oil for a few days before.
REAR: The rear of the van sat at approx 420mm from the centre of the wheel to the lip on the wheel arch on the standard springs.
FRONT: When adjusting the front torsion bar, moving the nut 10mm on the bar, adjusts the van height approx 25mm
The ride is great, much softer and less crashy. It soaks up pot holes and bumps in the lanes with ease. Despite this, I still like the look of it lowered on the 18 inch alloys! 😉