Hi everyone! I just went through the grueling process of replacing my front struts in my 1989 Volvo 740GLE 16v. I had searched a lot and found precious little information on the job, and the coverage in the Volvo 740 & 760, 1982 to 1991 (up to J registration) Petrol was cryptic and honestly in retrospect, not the easiest way. I'll put it this way, with normal jobs and parts problems the left side took 3 days (I'm not skilled, my friend is but had never done struts before, as mechanics). Once we figured out what the hell was going on we put together a game plan and finished the right side in 1hr 26min. So I'm writing this is hopes that someone will find the information useful. The tactics aren't ones you'll find used at any dealership, and remember that there's a lot of restrained pressure in this job so be very careful!
Jack up the front corner of the car, use wood blocks or whatever in case the jack gives out. Take off the wheel. Take off the brake caliper and tie it up to ease strain on the brake line.
Take off the anti-roll bar link. It's about 8 inches long, connecting the anti-roll bar to the control arm. It has four bushings. (We used a curved jaw locking plier on the top to hold the link in place, then used a ratchet on the bottom.)
Disconnect the tie-rod end link from the control arm. One bolt, easy.
Disconnect the ball joint from the under side of the control arm. Two bolts pointing upwards. (At this point if you have ABS you will want to disconnect it and tie it up.)
Here's where we "rigged" it. Get a tow-strap and a Come Along. Our strap was probably 10-12 feet, and the Come Along was a 2-ton model. Take one end of the tow-strap pull it through the wheel rim of the opposite side you're working (through the inside to the outside), and tie it with a Buntline Hitch knot (look it up, it's easy and one of the most secure) to a steel pipe that can't come through the wheel. Put the Come Along in the strap, and tie the other end, securely (same knot), to the control arm. Tie it right behind the ball joint. There's an upward bulge there that will be secure. Now use the Come Along and winch the control arm down until it's not just away from the wheel hub, but down about three more inches.
Now that the wheel hub is free from the car, pop the hood and undo the two bolts holding the strut assembly/wheel hub to the car. Good idea to mark which way is forward on the top spring cap so that you're not putting it on backwards. With these bolts off (make sure a strong friend is there to take the whole assembly and gently put it on the ground), the wheel hub up the the top spring cap are free. Take it out and lay it on the ground.
Go rent some strut spring clamps from AutoZone ($50 refundable). We actually got two, for safety and so we had options for realigning the springs back into the cap afterwards. Clamp the springs down enough that the cap is free on the top. Now unbolt the strut top, take off the cap, bearings, cover, and whatnot. (Be careful, the bearings can get loose!) Take out the strut, put the new one in.
Assembly are the same steps backwards.
I hope this is clear enough. We had an air ratchet, which was extremely helpful. Those bolts can be a pain. Oh, the top of the original struts uses a T47 Torx bit, so have that on hand.
Replacement-wise I went with Bilstein Touring Class Economy. They were two $72 a piece at AutoZone (two days to get), and I couldn't be happier. They're extremely comfortable and stiff. Body roll is reduced incredibly. But who knows, maybe I'm just in shock from how bad my originals were after 20 years on the road.
Feel free to ask any questions. This is all from memory so I could be leaving something out. Also, this should apply to a bunch of other models, I just don't know which ones exactly. Hope this is helpful!
Thanks for your resourceful procedure - sounds like my kind of shady tree job. I've been contemplating the same for my 1989 740 GL, and if it goes well, possibly rehabilitate my retired 1988 740 GLE for my daughter - apparently considered a cool enough car for college.
Question 1 - what does your 16v refer to ?
Question/Comments 2 - I didn't see any indication that you replaced the bearing on top of the struts. Did you ?
Both of my 740s have had struts replaced by previous owners, which to date seem ok, but both cars after 250k miles developed "CLUNKS" from the front-end, first noticeable on my dirt road, later getting worse, then finally even on smooth roads when going into, or out of gentle turns...now even a predictable minor "lurch". Tire wear is normal. I was advised to replace ball joints by the State Inspection guy, but when I got both cars checked out by a front end guy (not a Volvo dealer), he said ball joints and tie rod ends are good, so it's probably the bearings at the top of the struts - apparently less than $10 each, but the whole strut replacement fiasco is needed to get at them. He and another Volvo mechanic/friend convinced me it's not dangerous, ie. the wheels won't fall off In the meantime.
If that IS my problem, my guess is that the strut replacement jobs on both my cars (neither at a Volvo dealer) did not include replacement of the top strut bearings.
Any ideas ? Kinduv' a steep price to pay, so I want to be reasonably sure that's it before I bark up what may be the wrong tree. Thanks. Ned