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Bilstein HD Struts/Shocks Review

 
  #1  
Old 08-22-2012, 08:40 AM
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Default Bilstein HD Struts/Shocks Review

I searched and searched this forum (and other) when I was debating getting the Bilstein HD struts and shocks for my 2006 X-Type and never found a single review. And so, here is my quick and dirty review of the Bilstein HD struts/shocks.

Preface: My strut mounts and bearing have needed replacing because they were bad and constantly made an annoying tapping noise over rolling bumps. The good, they're not that expensive for originals ($160 shipped). The bad, the labor and effort involved is the same as if you're replacing the struts. Meaning, you need to remove the entire strut assembly to access the mounts and bearings (obviously). So, I figured if I'm going through all that trouble, I might as well get new struts and not have to worry about it again for the remaining years I have with the car (5 more years is the plan).

My car (purchased new) originally came with the Comfort suspension. I drove it for about 9 months before I started to get irritated with the 80's like Lincoln ride. I ended up replacing the struts/shocks and springs with the factory Sport ones. The difference was immediately noticeable; the car handled much [much] better on turns and wasn't bouncing all over the place when going over a rolling bump at higher speeds. I was happy.

Fast forward 5 years and 40K miles later, the tightness of the suspension wasn't all there anymore. I also suppose that after driving late models of the Merc C350 (as loaners) a couple of times, I started to dislike the suspension on the X-Type once again. So, I thought about getting lowering springs first, but decided it against it because this my daily driver and I couldn't afford the 1.5 inch drop when the winter comes around, especially with the sport body kit. And in all honesty, I don't think they would offer what I was looking for anyway. More below.

Ok, to the Bilstein HDs now. Like I said, not a single review for the X-Type to be found. So, I researched BMW and Audi forums for their reviews. Needless to say, the HDs were HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. They offered a much stiffer ride even over the "sport" setup from BMW or the like and come with a lifetime warranty (original owner only) from Bilstein. They also come to match the original height of the car, which is perfect for me as I was keeping the existing sport springs I have.

After 2 days of driving, I can bang my head against the window for not getting these 5 years ago. I simply love them. They offer a much stiffer ride and don't allow the car to wobble even the slightest bit. I can certainly feel a LOT MORE bumps int the road (a lot), but that's exactly the kind of thing I like. I know some people don't like that, and a few complain about the HDs because of this. But personally speaking, if you don't feel the road, you don't have a "sporty" suspension.

The only con I found to the HDs is alongside the fact that you feel more bumps in the road (again, which I like), you also feel slightly more vibration coming from the road. But this is with no doubt the only con to the struts/shocks.

The day I picked up the car, the front of the car sat at least 2 inches higher than normal, which looked goofy to say the least. Two days and 50 miles later, the car settled perfectly into its original position. So don't sweat if you notice that at first, it will settle down.

I know some people here said the factory Sport setup was 10%-15% stiffer than the factory Comfort setup. I personally would have given it more like 25%. As for the Bilstein HDs, I would personally say 25% stiffer than the factory Sport setup. I'm sure Bilstein has actual factual numbers, but this is just my personal perception.

As for the installation, the HD struts (front) have a built-in bumper stop, so make sure that you do not install an external bumper stop.

Bottom line, if you're going to upgrade your struts/shocks, waste no money on the Jaguar original parts. Yes, they're made by Bilstein, but they're equivalent to the economy B4 line from Bilstein which are twin tube, unlike the HDs (B6) which are monotube.

As an FYI from my weeks of research, the HDs (B6) are not made to work alongside lowering springs. This is the official word from Bilstein. You need to step up to the B8 struts which as far as I know, are not made for the X-Type (go figure). The B8 struts have a shorter stack, where as the HDs (B6) are the same length as the factory.

Oh yes, did I mention how much I love driving my cat again now thanks to the Bilstein HDs? :-)

Update: I forgot to comment on cornering (da!). While I've had limited opportunity to take on sharp corners at high speeds, I can definitely feel an improvement over the factory Sport setup. I'm keeping in mind that springs and roll bars play the bigger role in this category, so I am not (nor did I) expect it drive like an M3 with the Bilstein HDs.



 

Last edited by spielnicht; 08-22-2012 at 09:15 PM.
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:50 AM
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thank you for your review
 
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:53 AM
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Nice write up review Spielnicht.............thanks for taking the time, I'm sure it'll help others
 
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:58 AM
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Nice review. Now question time;

So you've still got the OEM Sport Springs installed?

How is the ride height now? Same as before (now that the front has settled)?

Why don't they recommend using with lowered springs? I seriously doubt they would bottom out with a 25-35mm drop...
 
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Old 08-22-2012, 12:51 PM
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Thanks guys.

Cambo, the ride height is dead on the same as before, no difference. As for the use with lowered springs, I ran across several posts on various forums where owners used the HDs with H&R springs with great results, but the official word from Bilstein is that they're not meant to be used with lowering springs, they recommend the B8 line instead.

Judging for myself of how bloody stiff these struts are, I really doubt they would bottom out. Going over those wider speed bumps, it pretty much feels as if the wheels are directly connected to the car without struts or springs. That stiff. I really don't know why Bilstein doesn't recommend them for use with lowering springs, aside from perhaps aiding in premature wear(?).
 

Last edited by spielnicht; 08-22-2012 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 08-22-2012, 02:36 PM
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If you don't mind me asking, how much did you pay for the shocks and struts (parts only)?
 
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Old 08-22-2012, 02:50 PM
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The struts were $250 each (ouch, I know) and the rear shocks were $95 each. I got them from Tire Rack. They don't show up on their site for some reason, you have to call and order them, they do have them in stock. eshocks.com also sells them for the same price but I've never personally dealt with them.

Originally Posted by Nardoswiss View Post
If you don't mind me asking, how much did you pay for the shocks and struts (parts only)?
 
  #8  
Old 09-28-2012, 12:48 PM
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It's been a little over a month now and thought I'd post a follow up update.

Simply put, this is the BEST investment I've ever made to my X-Type, and you can clearly see from my signature that I've invested into quite a lof of projects. I can't get over how much better the car handles now and how tight the ride is. It feels like a German tank hugging the road. I will admit I contemplated trading the car in a couple of times in the past year, but now, you'd have to prey it out of my hands.

To illustrate how stiff these struts are, my wife, my brother-in-law, and myself sat on the front fender (~450lbs) and the car did not even get pushed down a single mm.

So I'll restate my advice, if you're in need for new struts/shocks, or if you just want to get that new [German-like] car handling feeling, use your money wisely and get these struts/shocks.
 

Last edited by spielnicht; 09-28-2012 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 09-28-2012, 01:19 PM
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Damn! I'm drooling!
But I'm a bit confused how the car behaves with these shocks on the track when you put it to the limit...
 
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Old 09-28-2012, 02:19 PM
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I can't help you there, but I'd venture to guess they'd handle 1000x better than the Jag factory struts/shocks as they're a lot stiffer for track use.

Generally speaking the X-Type is never going to be a proper track car because the sway bars are a joke and there are no aftermarket ones. Plus, you can use the Bilstein HDs (B6) with lowering springs, but ideally you would need the Bilstein B8 struts, which are the same, but cut shorter.

So in short, these can only give you better results over the factory setup for track use, but they're not going to get you WRX or M3 handling.

Originally Posted by Nardoswiss View Post
Damn! I'm drooling!
But I'm a bit confused how the car behaves with these shocks on the track when you put it to the limit...
 
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Old 09-28-2012, 03:19 PM
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No, we're not talking about WRX or M3 handling, but nonetheless occasionally I've got a chance to drive a couple of laps on a track + a drive a lot on mountain roads.

Probably I'll swap the original sport shocks and struts to the HD ones, sometime in the near future as I'm exited about what you've told us so far
 
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Old 10-07-2012, 05:13 PM
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ANybody know why a lot of the sites that sell these bilstein shocks/struts say that the B6 model is for the comfort suspension and the B4 model is for the sport suspension?
 
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Old 10-08-2012, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by akgambino View Post
ANybody know why a lot of the sites that sell these bilstein shocks/struts say that the B6 model is for the comfort suspension and the B4 model is for the sport suspension?
The B4 come in two variants, Comfort and Sport. The B6 line (for all makes/models) supports all variants, but its intended application is always a sporty setup. I've spoken to both reps at Tirerack and Bilstein about this.

If you're coming from a Comfort factory setup and like it as such, you won't like the HD/B6. If you're coming from a Sport factory setup, you'll definitely like the HD/B6 if you're looking for something even more stiffer/sportier.

Short answer, B6 supports both variants, but regardless of the installed factory springs (comfort or sport), you're getting a much [much] stiffer ride.
 
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:59 AM
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Thanks for the reply. My car is a Sport and I like the stiffer/sportier ride.

However, I notice on Tirerack that the read B6 (HD) shocks are cheaper than the B4 (Touring). Does anyone think there would be any real negative impact to running the HD's in the back and the B4's in the front? I not really wanna put out $250 each for the front HD's when the tourings are only $118 each.

I am also going to be running H & R lowering springs.

Looking to place an order soon so hope to hear some feedback from you guys soon!

Thanks!
 
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Old 10-09-2012, 12:01 PM
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I'm not an engineer but with the knowledge I have so far, I'd say you are going to ruin the handling and there is a big chance that someday you'll end up off the road.

If you want to save money your choice is the OEM sport shocks/struts. The other day I found them for $79 each + shipping.

Good luck
 

Last edited by Nardoswiss; 10-09-2012 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 10-09-2012, 12:41 PM
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Like Nardoswiss said, not a good idea. One is intended to prevent the car from bouncing even a mm, and the other taking its sweet time to cushion the ride for you. Mixing is not good.

Both the rear B6 and B4 are monotube, so the cost of manufacturing them is about the same, that's why they're priced about same.
 
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by spielnicht View Post
It's been a little over a month now and thought I'd post a follow up update.

Simply put, this is the BEST investment I've ever made to my X-Type, and you can clearly see from my signature that I've invested into quite a lof of projects. I can't get over how much better the car handles now and how tight the ride is. It feels like a German tank hugging the road. I will admit I contemplated trading the car in a couple of times in the past year, but now, you'd have to prey it out of my hands.

To illustrate how stiff these struts are, my wife, my brother-in-law, and myself sat on the front fender (~450lbs) and the car did not even get pushed down a single mm.

So I'll restate my advice, if you're in need for new struts/shocks, or if you just want to get that new [German-like] car handling feeling, use your money wisely and get these struts/shocks.
Just curious where you got the job done. So far the only place I have ever taken my 07 (bought new) is to the Jag dealer near me....but I'd like to get this upgrade. Seems worth it.
 
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Old 10-11-2012, 08:11 AM
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I got it done at Top Line Jaguar in Springfield, but as much as I wanted to like these guys, I'm very hesitant to recommend them. Let's' just say I didn't have the best experience and not happy in the least bit with their work. The cost at the end came very (very) close to the dealership. The headache these guys made me go through is not worth the extra $100 I would have paid at the dealer. If you're close to Chantilly, I'd give Jaguar of Chantilly a call, they're generally cool with you bringing your own parts.

Originally Posted by aluni2230 View Post
Just curious where you got the job done. So far the only place I have ever taken my 07 (bought new) is to the Jag dealer near me....but I'd like to get this upgrade. Seems worth it.
 
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:18 PM
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Hey,

Just curious how much do they charge for the front struts replacement (I don't count the rear shocks since it's just 20 min to replace both sides)? The other day I called a local dealership and they told me $610 in labor just for the front struts + additional charges for the wheel alignment. A decent independent shop on the other hand, gave me a quote of $750 in labor + an additional charge for the alignment.
 
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Old 11-05-2012, 06:33 PM
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Confirm every word. They feel nice.
But once they installed don't forget to re-check and reset the tire pressure. I had 37psi and the ride was annoyingly harsh. Reduced to 32psi - and now it's nearly perfect (225 40 18).

P.S. Did the replacement myself (thought it could be fun). I was mistaken. It's a pain in the a#&
 

Last edited by Nardoswiss; 11-06-2012 at 12:33 AM.
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