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Old 31-10-12, 10:17
drmagpie's Avatar
drmagpie drmagpie is offline
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T4 Post Icon Just Kampers Powerflex Bush review.

So Just Kampers advertised these bushes a couple of months or so ago on here, and asked for somebody to fit them and write a review. Luck me, i got my name in first . Anyway, i had to wait a little while as the kits weren't quite ready but i finally received the kit 3 weeks ago and got it fitted. I put a load of photos after my review, so keep scrolling to see them.

After an impressively fast delivery from Just Kampers; 2 days from the UK to France , i was presented with a box of Powerflex T4 suspension bushes still hot from manufacturing.
I couldn't wait to bring the box upstairs and examine the latest upgrades for my van.
On opening the box, i was presented with 9 Powerflex branded plastic boxes looking very clean and professional. Thankfully the high quality of the packaging was my first indication of the quality of the products within.

For the main suspension pivots and the steering rack mounting, all the bushes are a two piece, centrally split bush with a stainless steel sleeve that pushes into the middle. The front lower suspension arm rear bush also has a larger outer aluminium sleeve which needs to be installed before the bush. The bushes for the anti roll bar drop links are 'H' shaped single bushes, again with stainless steel sleeves. These will need to be pressed into place somehow. The anti roll bar attachment bushes are a split type single bush which simply slips over the bar itself.
All of the parts are of extremely high quality and finish. The bushes themselves are obviously made to a high standard with no flashing or extra material from manufacture which you may find on a lower quality product. The aluminium and stainless steel sleeves have been turned with a fine finish and all of the prominent faces have been chamfered to leave no sharp edges. It was evident during fitment that the aluminium sleeve had been manufactured to precise tolerances, fitting firmly and securely into my suspension arm but with minimal fuss.
Included in all of the boxes are little packets of grease to aid in the installation of the bushes and help everything move once in place.

Powerflex have used two different grades of polyurethane to make the bushes. Most of the components are made with a purple dyed polyurethane which is firm but springy, flexing readily in your hands with moderate pressure. The bushes for the front suspension upper arms have been made with a black dyed polyurethane which is clearly a harder grade, it still has a little flex but side by side the black material is obviously much harder than the purple. I suspect the different grades are due to the fact that the lower front suspension arms and the rear suspension arms are adjustable for alignment and therefore the bushes will have to flex to accommodate this offset during suspension alignment. The top forward suspension arms are fixed in line so the bushes will not need as much radial flex.

Side by side with the standard rubber suspension bushes, the Powerflex bushes are much firmer and less flexable. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Powerflex bushes also seem to be a much higher quality that the stock bushes. This should not come as a shock seen as one type are designed for mass production and cost effectiveness while the others are high quality specialist suspension components designed to utilise the best materials available to enhance the ride of your vehicle. Comparing the two together is like comparing a Kia with an Porsche (Or a VW T4 and a Ford Transit perhaps...), both drive and get you from 'a' to 'b' but there is an obvious quality difference and i know which one i would rather be driving. It is also worth noting that the standard suspension bushes will need specialist equipment for replacement; most likely a hydraulic press, whereas the Powerflex poly bushes can be fitted without the use of expensive tools.

So on to fitment.
Obviously you are changing bushes in the suspension, steering rack and anti roll bars. This means that all of the suspension arms, the steering rack, the anti roll bar and therefore the front sub frame have to come off the van. The fact that the T4 uses a torsion bar set up on the front only complicates this matter requiring you to brake down the torsion bars in situ or lower the fuel tank. I chose to move the tank. The rear suspension arms necessitate the breakdown of the rear braking system including the load compensator assembly and rear break lines, requiring you to bleed the brakes after re-installation of the components. Removing all of these parts is a time consuming and labour intensive job but should be no problem for a competent home mechanic. All in, it took me two days work to change the front bushes, and another day to change the rears.
Once you have the suspension arms on the bench, the most difficult part is removing the old bushings. A hydraulic press would make this job much quicker, but i did not have access to one (and i did mention earlier that the job can be done without specialist tools). Instead i chain drilled the old rubber bushes around the outside edge to weaken their grip an then used a three legged puller to push them out. It took a little longer than the press would have, but worked very well. Taking a look at the Powerflex website, they say that old bushes can also be burnt out with a suitable torch.
Fitting the Powerflex bushes is a 5 minute job. First, make sure to clean up the internal faces of the suspension components where the bushes will fit. This is especially important for the front lower rear bush as it has a close tolerance aluminium sleeve that has to be pressed into place first. After cleaning you simply lubricate the two bush halves and the central sleeve with special grease included in the box with the bushes, then the two polyurethane halves will easily slip into the suspension arm by hand followed by the central sleeve. The black coloured bushes required me to use a 'G' clamp to press the central sleeve home but the rest went in by hand. The new bushes for the anti roll bar drop links were a little more tricky to fit as they are not a split type bush. I used a bolt from the lower suspension arm and plenty of the supplied grease (see photo) to pull them into place. All in all, no drama and everything went very smoothly.

Bear in mind that after you have installed all of these bushes, you will need to get the suspension aligned professionally for the best driving results. Failure to align your suspension will result in the van pulling to one side and your tyres wearing unevenly and prematurely.

The ride.
Perhaps it is a good idea to give some detail about my T4's history before i changed the bushes. That way there is a starting point to compare my findings too.
I have owned the van for little over a year. It is a 2.5 Tdi 102ps left had drive. Currently the van has covered a not insignificant 440,000km (around 270,000 miles). I have found it to be a very reliable ride and it has now done 6 trips from Switzerland where i live to Newcastle upon Tyne where my parents live at 2600km per trip! I do not have much service history on the van, but i know that the engine was replaced at some point in time, and that it has had new front lower arm suspension bushes fitted in the past, but the rest of the bushes were original which was evident when i began to remove them. The van was on cheap lowering springs when i bought it which were coil bound, so i changed them to the factory original springs as i needed to use the van to move house and it needed to be capable of carrying its maximum load. It is still running completely origional, un-lowered factory suspension with a 23mm front anti roll bar and no rear anti roll bar.
Handling wise, i thought it was pretty good for a van of its age and condition. It always felt a little crashy over speed bumps and i would have liked the steering to be a little bit tighter and overall handling to be a little less wallowy but i put these problems down to the fact that it was a tall sided van not a car.

Having fitted the bushes and taking the van for a test drive, the first thing i noticed was that the steering felt lighter and had become more precise. Whereas beforehand the front wheels could feel a little vague and would need regular corrections by me to keep the van on track, now they feel sharp and direct, responding instantly to any input from the steering wheel. Currently i am attributing this change not only to the upgraded suspension bushes, but also to the steering rack bushes, which although not included in the front suspension kit, i decided to upgrade also (having no rear anti roll bar, the cost of these was offset by leaving out the ARB bushes from the rear kit).
It is safe to say that i was surprised that i could feel such an obvious change in handling from the moment i set off and i was further shocked when i reached the stop sign at the end of my road. The handling under braking had most definitely changed for the better. The van seemed to come to a much more composed stop, with less nose dive and in my opinion a much more stable feel. Obviously the braking force has not changed, but the brake feedback through the chassis is now more obvious, and lets me modulate the brakes better.
Driving on the road, the van now feels slightly more composed. The change was not as obvious or immediate as those of steering and braking, but i can certainly feel a subtle difference from before the upgrade. Body roll in the corners has been noticeably reduced and road feedback through the suspension is increased. The more i drove on the new bushes the more i came to realise that i was enjoying driving the van more than i used to. With the precise feedback and subtly improved handling i felt i could flow better in and out of roundabouts and junctions.
The final surprise for me came when i reached a village on my regular route to work. This village has the most aggressive speed bumps i have seen and i always wince a little when travelling over them, even as speeds of under 20kph. Here it was obvious just how much the new bushes had tightened the suspension up. There was a drastic change in handling when coming up and down the faces. Before i would crash onto the humps and crash off the other side with noisy suspension groans being emitted from somewhere beneath my feet, forcing me to reduce to a crawl for fear of damaging something. Now the groans and crashes have gone; to be replaced by the feeling of the springs and dampers doing their job correctly and efficiently.

One of the concerns i had with fitting these bushes was the possible increase in road noise, and i know that this issue was a concern for several people on here too. I have been in modified Golf Mk II's that have had poly bush upgrades and sometimes the noise is deafining. I am pleased to say that these bushes most definitely have not increased road noise in my van. By the same note, they have not managed to decrease it either but with all of the other benefits that they have brought to the table i am happy to let this slide.
Again, other cars that i have driven with similar bush upgrades have shown greatly improved handling capabilities but usually at the cost of a much harsher ride. This is fine if you drive a low slung hatchback with a powerful engine but not in a van. Thankfully this is not the case with the kit Powerflex has produced for the T4. They seem to have realised that the T4 market is looking for better handling ability which will also maximise driver comfort and have produced bushes accordingly. Hats off to Powerflex for recognising their customers differing needs.

Altogether i am very pleased with the results of this kit. It has noticeably improved both the breaking and steering of my T4 and had made the ride much more comfortable and confidence inspiring. I look forward to driving my van even more now and am exited to report back in a few months time with the long term results of this upgrade. I shall be doing another epic Switzerland, Newcastle, Switzerland drive at christmas when i return north to see my family. This will be an excellent test for these bushes which will hopefully prove to be just as comfortable and pleasant for long distances


Follow up.
I fitted this kit just over two weeks ago now, but the second of those weeks saw me on holiday. This gave me enough time away from the van to forget what the bushes had done to the suspension.
I just want to emphasize that i was again surprised at the improvements in steering and braking while driving after i had returned. The van is now much more pleasant to drive than it ever has been.
I would say that if you are looking to upgrade the suspension, as well as upgrading the shocks and springs, as is the standard practice, you should definitely consider upgrading to these poly bushes.


Below are several photos i took throughout the process.

The bushes as they arrived. Very professional looking i think.


The front lower arm rear bush, showing the aluminium sleeve.


A few photos showing the different grades of polyurethane and the bushes themselves.




Using a drill and a three legged puller to remove the old bushes


The fitment process.
Before cleaning the bush mounting point.


After cleaning the bush mounting point.


Lubricating the parts.


Bushes in.


Pushing the central sleeve in.


My hodge podge set up for installing the drop link bushes. Looks a bit dodgy but it worked brilliantly.


The arms are a tight fit with the new bushes, so i used clamps to pull them into place.


Some shots of the new bushes in place.


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  #2  
Old 31-10-12, 11:27
Fatboy35's Avatar
Fatboy35 Fatboy35 is offline
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Default Re: Just Kampers Powerflex Bush review.

Good writeup, thanks for posting.

Chris

'There's a lot to be said for understatement'
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  #3  
Old 31-10-12, 12:02
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josh_jk josh_jk is offline
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Default Re: Just Kampers Powerflex Bush review.

Hi Chris,

Thanks again for taking part and helping us out - the review is superb and we're really happy to have an 'outsiders opinion' on the bushes

We're also really glad that they stood up to your tests and that you're enjoying your T4 even more now that you've changed the bushes

Josh

Contact me via PM, or at: [email protected]
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  #4  
Old 31-10-12, 12:16
mr.Weener mr.Weener is offline
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Default Re: Just Kampers Powerflex Bush review.

I am pleased to hear how much it has made a difference to your bus.
I like your write up.
All i have to do now is find the time to fit my kit to my t4.
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  #5  
Old 31-10-12, 16:41
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davelikesdiesel davelikesdiesel is offline
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Default Re: Just Kampers Powerflex Bush review.

exellent read,well done
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  #6  
Old 01-11-12, 19:29
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Motters Motters is offline
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Default Re: Just Kampers Powerflex Bush review.

Excellent feedback report on the bushing kit, with some sound fitting advice.

Only query I have JK is from my memory the kit I have all the bushes are the same grade polyurethane (purple). I will double check this when I get home from work in a few weeks.

Will hopefully get mine all fitted in mid-November during said leave, and will report back on my findings as well.

Update 16/11/12 - just to confirm the front upper bushing in my kit is indeed black as DrMagpie stated

Last edited by Motters; 16-11-12 at 16:13.
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  #7  
Old 30-11-12, 14:22
upspex's Avatar
upspex upspex is offline
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Default Re: Just Kampers Powerflex Bush review.

Are these still available? Can't find them on the web site.
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  #8  
Old 30-11-12, 16:16
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el_stig el_stig is offline
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Default Re: Just Kampers Powerflex Bush review.

http://www.justkampers.com/search2?k...t&filter_by=-1
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  #9  
Old 01-12-12, 07:52
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upspex upspex is offline
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Default Re: Just Kampers Powerflex Bush review.

Nice one Stiggy.
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  #10  
Old 04-12-12, 10:13
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Thom.milburn Thom.milburn is offline
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Default Re: Just Kampers Powerflex Bush review.

Could there be a combined price for a full front and rear kit?
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