Audi S3 Lower Stress Brace

Audi S3 (8L model) came standard with Upper and Lower front Stress Braces. The V6 Golf bodyshell has extra reinforcements from the factory, so it appears that VW did not deem an Upper Stress Brace necessary on the .:R32. To retrofit an Upper Stress Brace of any design requires extra holes to be drilled in the strut towers to secure the brace.

The Lower Stress Brace fitted on the S3 reinforces the subframe between the lower A-arm attachment points. It appears that VW did not deem a Lower Stress Brace necessary on the .:R32 either. I disagree and sense another OEM+ mod!

The same Lower Stress Brace is fitted to the Seat León Cupra R and early Audi TT's. It was also fitted to the New Beetle RSI.

The Lower Stress Brace is quite easily retrofitted as the required mounting holes are already in the subframe. It simply requires two rivnuts to be installed to create a thread for the Lower Stress Brace securing bolts.

There was a small but detectable improvement in corner turn-in response following installation.


Firstly, offer up the bar to the subframe to identify the corrent holes you will be using! There are a couple of random holes in the general vicinity of the correct ones. The holes are directly behind where the front A-arm pivot bolt is inserted at the end of the two subframe horns. The bar should pass directly under the dogbone mount in its correct position.

The most difficult part of the installation is correctly installing the rivnuts. Fortunately, a local mechanic had the correctly designed tool for this job, and installation in my case was extremely simple.

The idea is to insert the rivnut in the available hole in the subframe and tighten the tool, collapsing the rivnut to clamp the sheetmetal, and forming a captive thread for the proper securing bolt.

If you do not have the correct tool, it is slightly more complicated. You can make your own "rivnut installing tool" from a nut, bolt and washer, but be warned that this method may not succeed in crushing the rivnut correctly and you will be stuck with a semi captive thread in the subframe that spins around when you try to insert the securing nut (or worse). If it does not seat correctly, it would be extremely difficult to remove the partially installed rivnut to place another one in there.
I would highly recommend seeking out someone who has the correct tool. This would include a VW or Audi Dealership as the VAG 1765 B rivnut tool should be one of the standard tools that they have. It would be the same tool used to install the factory Skid Plate mounting supports in the chassis rail. An automotive body shop or air conditioning mechanic would also possibly have a proper tool as well.

Once the rivnut is installed satisfactorily, the Lower Stress Brace is simply secured to the subframe, taking note of the correct orientation marked on the brace with an arrow. The brace is installed with the foam side facing DOWN.

Closeup of installed brace:

The correct torque for the bolt is 30 Nm plus a further 90 degree turn.

The bolts should be renewed whenever you remove the Lower Stress Brace.

Note: this installation description only applies to the securing items I used from the Audi S3 (see list of parts below). If you use the alternative securing parts, I believe you may have to pre-assemble the rivnut and securing bolt through the bar and tighten everything down in position. It is your responsibility to confirm the installation method if you use the alternative parts.

Parts List

8N0 199 403 B         Lower Stress Brace

Securing parts used in Audi S3 fitment (these were the items I used):

2 x N 106 994 01      Shouldered Bolt M10 x 50

2 x N 908 106 02       Rivnut M10

Alternative securing parts used in Cupra R, Audi TT and New Beetle RSI fitment:

2 x N 104 679 01      Shouldered Bolt M10 x 50

2 x N 909 147 01       Rivnut M10 x 1.8-5

These alternative securing parts are relatively similar. The rivnut is a different design and appears to be more of an expanding nut with a much larger surface area. I can only confirm that the items I used work on the .:R32 fitment without any issues.

Note: there is also a washer listed on various sites however if you order it you will find that it is so small the bolt won't even go through it!

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