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I've never understood our hobby/industry's fascination with red urethane, especially it's continued use for many years for transaxle mounts and steering couplers.  I know I shouldn't be- it's cheap to mold and work with and adds (what some people think is) a little bit of bling, so the VW crowd being the cheap a*sed idiots that they are, we get what we deserve I guess.

As has been said, with age the material always fatigues and tears, which while being a grand pain in the petootie replacing mounts every couple of years is just downright dangerous as a steering coupler.  Al

I don’t like red urethane and whenever humanly possible I avoid it; especially the steering coupler and the rear torsion bar bushings. I try to use OEM rubber whenever I can but for this application this is the only alternative. I expect to have to do the same sometime with my front anti sway bar bushings. My car didn’t have one from the VS shop back in 2004 and, not knowing better, instead of sourcing a stock anti sway bar with the regular rubber bushings I went to my VW shop and got a Bugpack (now part of EMPI) 3/4” dia unit with the stainless steel clamps/ red urethane mounting kit. Live and learn. Ironically those don’t look bad as the compensator pads did, ironically you would think they are more exposed to the elements.

Since the early '80s at least, urethane suspension components were touted for racing and spirited street use for just about every kind of car. Sway bar bushings, end links, strut bushings, control arm bushings—basically everything rubber on a suspension should be replaced with urethane to stiffen up the chassis for competition, according to all the experts at Car Craft Magazine, etc.

These days I'm not even sure this was ever true. Maybe if I was racing I'd learn for sure, but for driving on public roads with street tires over any distance...maybe the stock engineers knew something Car Craft (and its advertisers) didn't.

At any rate, the urethane-everywhere-edict doesn't hold in the air-cooled VW world because those urethane parts are (usually) made as cheaply as possible. I don't know if Impala's friend is exactly right on the details, but I know from experience that @ALB speaks the truth on this matter.

 

Agree absolutely. Rubber is available in many different degrees of hardness. Urethane has some good applications, as I've said before. If it's encapsulated, as it is for swaybar bushings I don't see the problem. A failed swaybar bushing shouldn't cause a fatal failure, just a clunking noise in the suspension. But in a shear application it's just a fools game.

Last edited by DannyP

A word of warning from my side: I needed a new steering coupler, and seeing that plain black rubber was the same price as the red racey urethane thingy, I opted for the latter. Progress on my build was (is) slow, so when I accidentally touched the mounted coupler  a year later, it actually crumbled to pieces. Basically fully eliminating the coupling between steering box and column. When driving this would likely have resulted in more than just a scratch.

Lesson learned, and I duly bought a boring black OEM Made in Germany rubber....

@Marcel posted:

A word of warning from my side: I needed a new steering coupler, and seeing that plain black rubber was the same price as the red racey urethane thingy, I opted for the latter. Progress on my build was (is) slow, so when I accidentally touched the mounted coupler  a year later, it actually crumbled to pieces. Basically fully eliminating the coupling between steering box and column. When driving this would likely have resulted in more than just a scratch.

Lesson learned, and I duly bought a boring black OEM Made in Germany rubber....

NEVER NEVER use urethane for a steering coupler. Always use a cloth-rubber "rag joint". We've been warning of this since the SOC site inception.

I found a picture of the steering coupling. This broke out when I accidentally touched it. Upon removing it, it completely crumbled. Thinking back: the rubber one I replaced it with was fine, but actually was conductive, so my horn wouldn't stop honking when I installed it. So now it is replaced by a rubber one with canvas inside.

Wow, this required three tries, and this was just a steering coupling. Now I understand why my car is still not finished after 7 years.

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@Marcel

I had that happen, too.  I remember that the first replacement I tried was sort-of square in shape, rubber and had metal bushings in it where the bolts go through.  I bought it fro one of the VW parts sources online, CIP1, SoCal, etc (Can't remember which one).  Those bushings were not the correct size and shorted the horn to ground when the steering wheel was turned.  Not good.

I replaced that with a New Old Stock VW coupler (German) which had slightly smaller OD bushings and that version doesn't short anything out.

Just wanted you to know that you are not alone!

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