Updated: May 6
Well this is going to be one of those things that most shops just don't do. But we are not most shops! In this industry, it’s a common understanding that you don't talk about the short comings of the brands you sell. This comes from the fear that the manufacture will bring down the wrath of said companies in full power! But you know what!.. If it’s real bad, then the consumers needs to know so.. hear we go!
Keep in mind that we give a supplier every opportunity to make things right and we understand that sometimes mistakes are made... shit happens. But when every option has been exhausted, and they offer no reasonable solutions to make it right for the customer... well !
KW is a very well known suspension manufacturer and offers a wide range of products, many are exclusive and the only option for some applications. For the most part, the products are of good quality but that is not the company's down fall... it’s the customer service. Did you know that if you have a failed or a defective part, the company will not send you a replacement? Well it’s true! They may claim that they will warranty the defective part, but also make it radically difficult to do so; in many cases, almost impossible bordering on dealing with the government level of frustration. Allow me to share some real world examples that we had experienced at our shop and to our customers. This first example is as cut and dry as could be. We had installed a ST sway bar for a mk5 Jetta that made a noise. Turns out, it was bent incorrectly at the factory, a known manufacture error to them, so easy solution right? Just send a new one out, we swap it, and customer is back on the road? NOPE KW wants the brand new defective sway bar removed from the vehicle sent back to them (no call tag, we have to pay shipping) and then once received they will send a new one out. Now why is this a big deal, well for you VW enthusiast out there, you may know that the entire front sub frame has to be removed to take the bar out rendering the car immovable (not even publishable) so in order to complete this repair the customer or the shop would either have to tie up a lift for a week or more or spend hours of labor reassembling the car to a driveable condition then take the car apart again to install the replacement. Seem insane? Especially when they could just send the replacement and a call tag for the old one to go back on one easy action. Nope not their policy and no way around it. Keep in mind this was their fault and their defective part. Who paid for this? Well in this case, we did as we supplied the part.
How about this one, customer gets a nice new set of full coil overs (v2) for their Mercedes, fast forward a year, the front struts are blown out. Not to worry! KW has a full warranty right? Yep they do but this is how there warranty works, they will not replace the defective part, they require you to remove them send them in at your expense and they will repair them and send them back. OK that seems fair right? 8-10 weeks to repair them is the quote we have always gotten. So how is a customer supposed to use his car with no front suspension for 8-10 weeks? How is the car supposed to be stored and where?.. And to what cost? Kinda insane. I suppose its fine for your dedicated race car siting in the corner of your shed, but if you just dropped your 3 year old Audi S4 on a new set of V3 coilovers, it’s kinda a major inconvenience. In fact if you do the math it’s cheaper to buy the new front coil overs and swap them out for the defective ones than it is to pay for the time it takes to get the car on roller jacks, if it’s possible depending on the car and the 2+ month of storage at any given shop. And i think they know this and that is why they have this policy. Common sense would tell you that a customer is not going to want to be without his car for months, so have an exchange program or at least expedite service to get them back in a few days. And if you are that backlogged with warranty rebuilds that it takes 2 months to turn a 4 hr job they you have a serious quality problem!
OK if you’re still with me you get one last bonus example. 2014 Audi A4 with full set of KW coil overs, every 6 months the rear springs sag to the point of full coil collapse, maxed out on height adjustment. After going through the previous mentioned ridiculous process to get the springs warrantied and installed, another 6 months later the new set does the same thing. The nightmare process is repeated and the replacement collapsed springs are sent into KW and are evaluated, then a new set is issued to us for a 2nd time. Wanna guess what happened? Yep this set collapsed as well. That's 3 sets of springs in total that complexity collapsed. We did our best to let know that they have a problem with the spring, they responded with "we have sent you 2 replacements and that they would not send anymore". We responded with "what are we going to do for our customer"? Return the coil overs for a refund as they clearly have a problem with QC. No, they told us that they could sell us replacement rear coils at full retail. Nice customer service! We opted to not buy what had failed 3 time previously from KW and instead ordered a set of Bilstein replacement spring for their coil over system. 6 years later the Bilstein springs still have not collapsed! And on top of that Bilstein even helped us get the part number for their spring and determine spring rates so we could be sure it would not have a compatibility issue. NOW that's good customer service!
In the end i superpose the evaluation is this, KW suspension USA is a poorly run company with some of the worst customer service in the industry. Hiding behind illogical made up polices that do nothing for achieving good customer service after the sale resulting in tying installers/shops in the process! Do they have a good product? ...Yes for the most part the products are good and perform very well, but... when they fail or have a defect, kiss any chance of a smooth remedy goodbye its going to be a nightmare!!!.
And for this reason, we only sell KW when no other option is available!