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Friday, September 18, 2009

DEFCONs: Full Review + Cost Info

If you don't know what DEFCONs are, read up on MCPi/Vortex/AudiWorld/wherever first.


Anyhow a while back I noticed my tires were worn HORRIBLY unevenly, totally bald on the very inside. How? I had an alignment only a few months before! After asking online, someone on Vortex said that worn control arm bushings could cause such wear. I had definitely noticed my control arm bushings wearing out rapidly after lowering my car.

So I decided to upgrade while I was at it.

COMPONENTS:


Originally, before I purchased the DEFCONs, I had intended to just replace my worn bushings with new OEM bushings to save money. I remembered MJM Autohaus had a really good deal on the bushings...site said they fit all Mk4 cars and the TT...sweet! Got all four bushings for $45.

I received them and noticed something...the front ones were very small. Having seen a DEFCON setup in person before I had a sneaking suspicion that a call to my dealership verified...these were pre-recall style front bushings! The rear bushings never changed fitment so I could still use them. I called MJM and they said they don't carry any other version of the bushing...I informed them of the fitment issue with recalled TT's and that they might want to revise their website to reflect that...notice their website no longer says the bushings fit TT's...that's my doing ;)

Here's the link: https://www.mjmautohaus.com/catalog/product_info.php?info=Meyle_8N0407181B.4_Control_Arm_Bushings_4-PC_TT_R32&products_id=869

These aren't OEM manufactured bushings...they are OEM equivalent knockoffs. But you know what? For a piece of rubber, I could really care less when I can get all FOUR for the price a dealer wants for ONE.

So obviously this is what lead me to purchase the DEFCONs for $125 shipped. Buying OEM front bushings would have cost almost as much as a set of DEFCONs.

INSTALL:

I pulled the control arms off myself (easy, get a big breaker bar) and cruised over to a local tire shop to have the DEFCONs and bushings pressed in. Came out to $46 for the installation. Put them back in myself and got a front end alignment for $45.

IMPRESSIONS:

I took a cruise around a few back roads - and was disappointed. The steering felt better...but not that much better. I didn't understand what everyone was raving about. Going medium speed the turn-in still wasn't that impressive.

Then I hopped on the highway.

WHOAH!

I can see why Audi undid the control arms from this design. The car responds so well that I can easily see how some dumb bloke would send himself into a wall with an excessive, jerky steering input.

Overall the car is SO much more responsive and controlled at high speed. The steering even FEEDS BACK somewhat. The car's steering is far more accurate at the limit through a high speed turn; you feel much more in control. Amazing!

PRICING:

If you haven't been keeping tabs:
DEFCONs: $125 shipped from Modshack
BUSHINGS: $45 shipped from MJM Autohaus
BOLTS: Just reused the originals and put some Loctite blue on them.
INSTALL: $45 to press the DEFCONs + bushings in at the local tire shop.
ALIGNMENT: $45 at the local tire shop.

=$260

Had I just bought OEM bushings from the dealer, the bushings alone would have cost me $160. Even on online they would have still cost ~$120. A DEFCON setup using the MJM bushings is only marginally more expensive and is a worthwhile upgrade if you're into high speed cornering.

CONCLUSION:
If you track your TT or enjoy taking it around turns at high speed in some form or another, these are great. I couldn't find a cheap OEM/OEM equivalent rubber bushing kit ANYWHERE online for less than the dealer's insane price ($40 for a piece of rubber. Come on AoA...seriously) which makes the DEFCONs + MJM bushings an excellent buy if your bushings need replaced.



NOTE:
It's interesting to note that the Mk4 arms use the pre-recall fitment of bushings (OEM Mk4 bushings are softer though, hence pre-recall TT bushings are a popular upgrade). This makes for an interesting possibility...if you swapped Mk4 control arms (with the pre-recall TT bushings in them), Mk4 ball joints and bought a set of H2Sport spindles (see post about handling below) you could make a TT that handles extremely well...using Mk4 parts.

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