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Looking for some advice, currently running 20" wheels on my T5, and looking lowering the van by about 40mm. Don't understand the difference between fitting coil overs or just springs. Can anyone explain in layman terms please.
 

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Coilovers give you the ability to adjust the height the van sits at and fine tune each corner so that the van sits level.
Just spring on their own will lower the van approximately by the amount they say on the box however if you have more weight in one particular area of the van it could result in that corner sitting lower.
my personal choice would be to go for coilovers
 

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Its worth thinking about how old and worn your suspension is now .
Do you buy just springs and hope your shockers are ok ? Or do you go for coilovers (which are adjustable springs and shocks together in a kit)?
Virtually the same amount of work is required to fit either option but you want to be doing it twice if you don't have to.
 

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Also depends on your budget - a decent set of coilovers will often be more than double the cost of a set of decent springs.
You can lower the van 40mm by just replacing just the springs, retaining the original shock absorbers.
This is the cheapest method but as Pothole says, you aren't able to fine tune the drop to level the van out if one side is heavier than the other or adjust the height front to back.
The advantage of coilovers is that they give you the adjustment options and replace the spring AND shock absorber.
The shocks that come with coilovers will be uprated over the original VW ones and designed to be run at lower heights and tend to give a firmer ride.
Shop around whichever way you go as some places do deals on fitting, if you've not the skills/tools to do it yourself.
 

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I'm currently running on 50mm H&R springs with original shocks, I find it's a decent set up for what I want from my van, however I'm looking at coilovers somewhere down the line so I can get a lower drop.
Comes down to budget and exactly what you're looking to achieve.
 

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Much as what has been said above but the reason I went with lowering springs over coilovers is I travel a lot of miles across Europe. If I damage a damper, get a leak etc I can easily get a replacement of a stock VW damper. Getting a damper to accept a coilover spring will involve a day or two wait while it's couriered over.

I run -50mm Eibach racelines and I installed them with new OE dampers at at 130k my original where tired.. Nice stance and rides great with my 20" wheels.
 

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My camper is sat on H&R 40mm lowering springs with 20" wheels. Perfect for what I wanted, ie just to take the gappiness away without ruining the ride or having to spend serious money. I had the kit 3 fitted which is firmer at the back to hold the weight of the camper stuff up.

Can't say I've noticed the van sitting unevenly and the ride is a bit firmer by still comfortable. Looks the part in my opinion.

If you are doing the suspension I'd definitely budget for new top mounts and drop links, they wear out fairly quickly. Mine were pretty worn at 60K miles. Also make sure you get a 4 wheel alignment at the same time too as the geometry will have changed. It a very cost effective way of getting the van lower, I paid about £450 for the springs fitted, plus new droplinks and top mounts and the alignment.
 
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