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Hey all, I've been working on rebuilding my MK4 over the last couple of weeks. Thought I'd post it up somewhere to keep a track for my future self, and for others! I picked up a MK4 R32 last November after 5 years with a MK5 R32. I just couldn't get over the MK4 looks and decided it was worth swapping.

The car is 2003 with 85k on the clock. The service history was decent and there was nothing majorly wrong with it. It already had a Miltek resonated exhaust on it but otherwise was standard Since owning the R32, I knew there were a few things that needed doing.

The handbrake no longer held the car and the rear brakes barely worked. The handling when pushing the car hard didn't fill me with confidence.

I decided that I was going to strip most of the suspension components off the car and replace each rubber bushing with either OEM or polyurethane bushings where needed.

The car is old now, so some parts are probably not available, or some parts only come with bushes pressed in for example. My end goal was to make the car handle nicer. I wanted to invest in some high-flow manifolds and sports cats and then get the car remapped.

I didn't want to go over the top with the performance modifications and I had no intention of going down the forced induction route either. Overall, I wanted the car to be a real good example of how the car should have come out of the factory.

In the first lockdown, I had most of the car resprayed. There was a few rust bits in the roof sills that needed sorted, and it turned out both front wings were knackered from rust.

I left the paint gas off for around 6 weeks, then went to it with my DA and Menzerna Super Finish Plus 3800 (obviously after decontaminating the paint!)

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I proceeded to strip the rear brake system and remove the rear arms off the car.

I wanted the car looking and feeling like new, so I knew I was going to get some parts powder coated. To do this, I'd need to also remove the hubs and wheel bearings from the arms.

The car was in surprisingly good condition for a 17 year old car. Only powder coating the arms would still leave some surface rust on the rear differential cradle, so I decided to drop the rear diff and remove the bushes from the cradle as well.

Unfortunately when removing the rear trailing arms, the hard brake lines snapped due to their age and the nut being fused with the pipe. The ABS sensors also snapped when removing.

I started to remove the bushes and bearings from the arms and get them ready for coating.

I purchased a 6 ton hydraulic to aid with pushing the old bushes and bearings out.

I decided I was going to eventually put some Bilstein B14 coilovers on the car as these come quite highly rated on the forums. I thought that in order to best accompany the new suspension, I'd replace the anti-roll bars on the front and rear of the car with H&R which would provide better handling.

I started to place orders with TPS for most of the components I needed:
  • Wheel bearings
  • Wheel hubs
  • ABS sensors
  • Trailing arm bushes
  • Rear differential cradle bushes
  • Rear arm spring hats and bottoms
  • Drop links
  • anti-roll bar brackets
  • Dust shields
  • Rear callipers
  • Rear calliper carriers
  • Rear discs
  • Rear pads
  • Handbrake cables
  • Hard brake lines for the rear arms
  • Hard brake lines from the ABS pump to the rear trailing arms
  • Various brake line clips and brackets
  • All differential cradle and final drive support bushes
  • Brake fluid
  • New rear drive shafts
  • All the required nuts and bolts to cover this

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426 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Once I had the rear of the car dismantled, I moved to the front.

I first disconnected the anti roll bar from the drop links, then removed the brake callipers. My original plan was to fit braided brake lines, but of course, the hard lines snapped. These will be replaced later. I then dropped the subframe and steering rack from the car. I will be replacing the tracking rods and fitting new boots. More on this later.

I removed the front shocks and hubs from the car and then proceeded to remove the hubs and bearings. I needed to remove the ABS sensors before sending the hub assembly to the powder coaters. The ABS sensors snapped (of course) when removing them.

Pressing out the wishbone bushes was straight forward and removing the bushes from the dog one mount was also easy.

The subframe bushes came out easily since these are a two piece type bushing.

Parts ordered from TPS for the front of the car:
  • Inner track rods and boots
  • Track rod ends
  • Ball joints
  • Top mount bushes and cups
  • Subframe bushes
  • Anti-roll bar bracket
  • ABS sensors
  • Hubs
  • Bearings
  • Brake hard lines to ABS pump to the callipers
  • Brake soft lines from hard line to calliper
  • Drop links
  • Steering rack o-ring
  • Front discs
  • Power steering fluid, new gaskets and banjo bolts
  • All the nuts and bolts required


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426 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
All the parts were stripped off the car. All bushes, bearings and hardware were off the car. I sent the items off to be powder coated. Since we're in another lockdown, they'll probably take some time.


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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Waiting for my powder coating to come back, I proceeded to start with the exhaust manifolds. In order to do this, the intake manifold must be removed. This took a while to do as it is quite fiddly.

I was going to replace the exhaust manifolds and cats with a Lucifer high flow system. Luckily, I managed to pick up some second hand manifolds and placed my order for some sports cats.

This was a pain. The access to the nuts on the bottom of the manifolds were non-existent and took me a good amount of time to get these out

Parts purchased from TPS:

  • Exhaust manifold gaskets
  • Intake manifold gasket
  • Throttle body gasket
  • New breather hose to replace the one I broke
  • New manifolds studs and nuts
  • Various bolts to replace the old ones in the engine bay
Currently waiting for the sports cat to arrive


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426 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The parts arrived back from the powder coaters. They came out really well I think, considering they're all old parts!

Still waiting for more hardware to arrive from TPS and the exhaust bits to come, so im a bit stuck with stuff to do at the moment!


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426 Posts
Nice to see one being restored in this way. I'm sure that's cost an eye opening amount just in OEM parts .
Have u considered upgrading the rear disc size ? I fitted 300mm cookbot rear discs and retained the OEM calipers , and the braking increase is quite eye opening , which suprised me a lot as everyone says the rears don't do anything!
I'm sure those manifolds took you hours to do. I've only heard of people saying the engine ideally needs to come out or you'll be swearing till the next year fighting rusted studs that you can't reach easily
I managed to get new r32 lower control arms off eBay , so they came with bushes. And they were only £130 each side . Worth scouring eBay for bargain OEM parts. They do come up sometimes .
Same goes for the OEM front discs, seen them online for around £130-150 before.
Good luck in your build, love seeing old mk4s being kept alive like this !
Yeah going OEM for everything has cost a huge amount more than I was expecting to be honest. There are some things like the hubs which are silly money that I could have probably reused, but I figured that I'm only planning on doing this once. I have a pretty good relationship with my nearest TPS so I've got a lot of stuff at a really good discount which is good at least.

As I snapped the front hard brake lines I really needed to get the manifold off anyway, as I need to change the drivers side front line. I'm hoping to tackle that today and it looks like an absolute pig.

The intake manifold itself wasn't so bad, there is just a lot of fiddly bits. It's just those nuts under the exhaust manifolds that took a lot of time to get out. All of the studs came out with the nuts except for one, but I'm going to leave that last stud in as I'm sure it'll probably snap if I try and remove it, knowing my luck!

I didn't realise we could upgrade the rear discs on these to be honest. I think I'll struggle returning these ones to TPS now as they were a special order so I think I'm stuck with them.

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426 Posts
Had a good run this morning. Managed to replace both front hard brake lines and the rear passenger brake line which runs to the ABS pump.

Replacing the front drivers hard line to the ABS pump was a pain. The drivers side pipe intertwine around various other lines, like the brake servo and air con pipes. It took a lot of effort to feed the pipe.

Front and rear passenger side lines went on in about 10 minutes.

However, the drivers rear line runs down the passenger side, then over the fuel tank. So I'll need to remove the heat shield and lower the tank down as much as I can. The prop shaft is still in place, so I'm not 100% sure how much room I'll be able to gain. But, I can see the clips above the tank for the brake lines, so I should be able to reach in there if I have a few inches of room. I've ordered some new bolts for the fuel tank as they're not looking their best. Will have to tackle that one next weekend.

Before I put the manifold back together, I'm going to give the engine bay a really good clean. Its pretty dirty! The same applies for the wheel arches.


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426 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Fitted the rear drivers brake line today!

Because all of the brake lines from the ABS pump to the callipers broke when disconnecting them, I had to go and replace them all.

Last but not least, was the rear drivers side brake line. This was a pain since the brake line runs down the passenger side, over the fuel tank and then to its rightful place.

Lowering the fuel tank wasn't as bad as I was expecting.

New parts ordered from TPS:
- Fuel tank straps
- Fuel tank bolts
- Heat shield nuts and washers
- Fuel filter
- New clip washers for the heat shield
- New rubber spacers for the brake line


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426 Posts
Also had a good bunch of parts arrived this week!

- H&R front and rear anti-roll bars

- Powerflex front and rear wishbone bushes

- Powerflex steering rack bush

- Powerflex front and rear dogbone bush

- Powerflex rear control arm inner bushes

- Pipercross panel filter

- Lucifer sports-cats

From TPS:

- New rear brake callipers

- New rear brake carriers

- Dust shields

- Both rear drive shafts

- Handbrake cables

- Misc hard brake lines

- Misc brackets

- All relevant bolts, nuts etc

I am still waiting for the Bilstein B14 shocks to arrive, so I am kind of in limbo until I get those. I have placed the final order to TPS for the rest of the bits I need to finish the front of the car, so in the meantime I can fit the Lucifer manifolds and start pressing in the new bearings and hubs into the rear arms. The rear diff still needs to be raised back to the car, but the weather is holding me back from completing that

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426 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Excellent work. Very thorough. You will finish up with a first rate Mk4. All the parts prices add up don't they. I bet you do not want to list every last penny !!!! Lovely job on the piantwork too. Impressive .
Thanks! I am really looking forward to firing it up for the first time!

I am really trying not to add up how much I have spent so far. But I think it will be worth it when its all finished up. I was supposed to have booked it into Stealth for a remap for the first week of January, but since I'm still waiting on the Bilsteins I've had to put that on pause since I have no idea when they'll come

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426 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The drive is definitely different between the two. Honestly I found the MK5 to be quite a boring drive. I never reached the limits of that car to where it didn’t feel safe. Which is nice, and definitely more suited to a cruiser. It has all the niceties of a new car, but lacked the character of the older cars imo. The MK4, for me at least, is more exciting to drive for sure. I’m hoping the refresh will give me more confidence when pushing hard!

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426 Posts
I managed to get some time today to fit the Lucifer high flow manifolds. These went on pretty easily, just a little fiddly when you're on your own! More pictures to come when it stops raining! I also renewed the following parts whilst I was here:
  • Intake manifold gasket
  • Intake manifold grommets
  • Throttle body gasket
  • Exhaust manifold gaskets
  • Exhaust manifold studs and nuts
  • Various intake manifold bolts

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426 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
More parts arrived this week. Last thing I know I need are the coilovers. The company I purchased the Bilstein B14's from back in November have said they now don't expect to receive them from Bilstein till February/March, so I'll have to think of something else.
  • Inner track rods
  • Track rod ends
  • Track rod boots and clips
  • Bottom ball joints
  • Top mounts and bearings
  • Strut top hats and caps
  • Front disc dust shields
  • steering rack bush bracket
  • Front hubs
  • Front bearings
  • Front arb bush brackets
  • Rear drive shafts (finally)
  • Rear head light level sensor sensor, arm and bracket
  • Front head light level sensor arm and brackets
  • Drivers head light washer jet cylinder
  • Coolant expansion bottle
  • Passenger wing indicator housing
  • Compete battery housing
  • Various nuts, bolts and clips that I forgot to order previously
  • All the nuts and bolts needed for the front of the car


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426 Posts
Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Went to fit some new spark plugs since I haven't replaced them since I purchased the car in November 2019. I've only driven 1000 miles in the car since I've owned it, so when it gets back on the road, everything will be nice and fresh!

However, the gasket in cylinder 2 has completely gone. Unfortunately I'd only recently replaced the intake manifold gaskets. Guess they're going in the bin before the cars even driven...

Placed an order at TPS for the following:
  • Rocker cover gasket
  • Coil pack/spark plug cylinder gaskets
  • Rocker cover bolts and sleeves etc (must be gold plated since they're ridiculously expensive)
  • Intake manifold gasket (again)
  • Throttle body gasket (again)
  • Various intake manifold bolts (again)

Plugs are NGK IZKR7Bs for reference.


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426 Posts
Had a few weeks of terrible weather, so not been able to get much done. But here's where we're at now!

After fitting new bushes to the rear diff cradle, and then fitting the Powerflex bushes to the control arms, it was time to refit the rear differential. This was fairly straight forward, but was a bit fiddly due to the size and weight when you're on your own!

Fitting the new Bilstein B14's on the front was really straight forward. New OEM top mount bushes and bearings were used as well. The hub had new wheel bearings, speed sensors and hubs. All genuine VW of course!

Unfortunately, I forgot to wrap the hub, and it started to rain, so they were already starting to rust! So I'll need to give this a clean before the new brakes go on. New hub bolt will be used when it's time.


This was a total pain. The old dogbone bushes were so bad that the engine was around 2 inches too far back in order to get the dogbone with new poly bushes in. It took me quite some time to get the bolt holes to line up to refit this!


Fitting the rear arms wasnt so bad. Getting everything to line up was probably the hardest bit. New Bilstein B14 shocks and springs here, new hubs, bearings, speed sensors, spring tops and bottoms, brake lines, droplinks, brackets and bushes all round!


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The near-side post cat oxygen sensor snapped when I was removing it from the original cat, so I needed to replace this one. That was impressively expensive. The exhaust now consists of Lucifer high-flow manifolds, sports cats and non-resonated mid pipe and a Milltek backbox. The backbox will probably get replaced since it's past its best now.


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426 Posts
Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Impressed that you are managing all this outside. And in Winter.
Ha yeah it definitely has been quite sucky with the weather. I'm fortunate enough to work from home anyway (even before covid) and so I pop outside for extended lunch breaks where I can!

I don't mind the cold at all, I just can't stand the rain
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