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1999 S80 2.9 Front End Clunking Noise - Subframe O Ring Fix

Help and Advice on S80 Volvo cars.

1999 S80 2.9 Front End Clunking Noise - Subframe O Ring Fix

Postby ohmfab » 21 Dec 2006, 02:52

Hello All,

This is an excellent site with great info and hopefully my first post can also help someone out.

My 1999 S80 is sufferring from a front end clunking noise. The noise is most prominent at low speeds (20-30mph) while on the brakes and turning sharply, for instance at an intersection. Since I live in the city and have quite a few of those to navigate daily the noise has been wearing thin on me!

I am a fairly experienced wrencher and between my father and I a few Volvos have graced the garage and all of them have had clunking noises at one time or another. I've gotten pretty good at diagnosing these unfortunately and have already inspected the Control arm bushings, ball joints, sway bar endlinks, tie rod ends, spring isolators and upper spring mounts -- they were all in excellent shape. I was a bit confused at this point.

I drove the car some more and could feel the clunk in driver floor just under the brake pedal and now I am 99% sure it is the rear subframe bushings. While the car is turning and braking the chassis of the car is shifting a bit forward on the bushing while the subframe is staying put which is resulting in the clunking noise.

I then found this site and some good information in the following thread:
http://www.matthewsvolvosite.com/chat/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=5819

After reading the thread I am sure that the O-Ring kit for the bushings is exactly what I need so I went to my dealer to order it and the parts guy looked at me like I was crazy. So I went back home and looked it up in Vadis. Found it in 2 minutes! It is RIGHT there listed as a TSB under Engine (in this section since the subframe is the engine's mounting point to the car).

Basically as the thread above also states these large "o-rings" take up any slack in the bushing and keep it from shifting in the subframe. You will need two o-rings and two new bolts. I will be ordering these from the dealer tomorrow and should have them in this weekend and will report back.

Here are the part numbers:
Description Quantity Part No.
O-ring 2 8638585
Screw 2 981062

I also created a pdf of the issue with part numbers and instructions from VADIS for anyone else who has this issue and they can take them straight to the dealer.

Click HERE to download the PDF

For the record my 1999 has been quite reliable with the only major issue being the cylinder 6 injector getting stuck open resulting in huge white plumes of smoke coming from the tailpipe. The car looked like a rolling factory! This clunking noise is the second issue for me. I bought the car a year ago for my wife with 101k on the odo and paid $8000. I consider it a great value and since I can do all the maintenance myslef I can actually afford to KEEP it. :D

Thanks!

Omer F. Khan
1999 Volvo S80
1992 Nissan Sentra SE-R
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Postby MadeInJapan » 21 Dec 2006, 03:27

Excellent information for other S80 owners. I'm going to pin this in the repair data base if you don't mind.
'98 S70 T5 Emrld Grn Met/Beige Tons of Upgrades Mobil-1
'04 V70 2.5T Red/Taupe Some Upgrades Mobil-1
94 850 Sedan NA Drk Blue/Tan
'00 V40 Purple/Grey Mobil-1
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Model and Year: '98 S70 T5

Subframe o-ring install notes

Postby ohmfab » 27 Dec 2006, 14:27

Everyone,

I got the o-rings installed over the weekend and the popping and creaking noises are gone. Amazing what $22 will do to make it feel like a new car again.

Here are some notes on how I did the install for those of you who wish to try and tackle it yourself. It took me about 25 minutes.

What you will need:
Ramps
Impact gun
Long breaker bar
Long pry bar
18mm, 14mm, 12mm sockets and rachet
Scissor jack
A 1' or 2' 2x4

Procedure:
1. Drive the car onto ramps

2. Remove the Plastic engine undertray

3. Place the block of wood under the rear of the subframe and then place the scissor jack underneath extending it just so that it has slight tension on the wood. Do not bring the jack up too much or you will start to raise the car off of the ramps.

4. Undo the two smaller bolts on each of the rear subframe mounts. These are 14mm.

5. Remove the large 18mm bolts out of each of the rear subframe mounts. Now the only thing supporting the rear of the subframe is that block of wood and the scissorjack so be careful not to move it.

6. Loosen (but do NOT remove) the front subframe bolts until you see about 1/8" to 1/4" between the body and the subframe. This will give enough slack to allow the rear of the subframe to swing down enough to put those o-rings in.

7. Lower the scissor jack until the rear subframe hangs down enough to drop in the o-rings. The passenger side is quite easy but the driver side has part of the body protruding into the bushing which must clear. On the driver side use the prybar between the body and the subframe and you will make enough room to drop in the o-rings. You might have to lower the jack so that there is no tension on the subframe to do this part.

8. Get the new bolts and put them in the rear. Do not forget the brace plate! Put all the bolts in loosely first and then hand tighten them with the rachet. Torque them to the spec in the pdf in my previous post. I torqued the rear mounts first and then did the front ones. I believe it was 77ft lbs then turn an extra 120 degrees. I marked the head of the bolt and a part of the body with paint to make sure that I turned it enough. Two flats of the bolt equal 120 degrees.

9. Double and triple check all of the bolts and then put the plastic undertray back in.

10. Go for a drive and enjoy the silence of no creaks or rattles.

Again, be careful and if you don't feel up to it then by all means take it to a shop. I think any competent mechanic or wrencher should be able to tackle this job without too much difficulty.

Thanks,

Omer Khan
99 S80 2.9
92 Nissan Sentra SE-R
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Postby MadeInJapan » 28 Dec 2006, 01:33

Thanks Omer! Great write-up. :D
'98 S70 T5 Emrld Grn Met/Beige Tons of Upgrades Mobil-1
'04 V70 2.5T Red/Taupe Some Upgrades Mobil-1
94 850 Sedan NA Drk Blue/Tan
'00 V40 Purple/Grey Mobil-1
MadeInJapan
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Model and Year: '98 S70 T5

2003 S60

Postby deepsea » 23 Dec 2007, 18:44

I think my 2003 S60 might have the same noise symptom/problem. Does it also have this same parts, which might be affected?

Thanks.
2003 S60 Platinum
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Postby Cyberwilbur » 21 Jul 2008, 20:08

Thanks for such great detail Omer! Very much appreciated.

I have a 2000 S80 (79000 miles) with the clunking sound (rattling) on the drivers side. Only heard when I drive slow over a slightly bumpy road. How can I confirm that that it is the subframe bushings and not in the Strut assy such as the upper spring seat or strut mount or the Strut itself? Rocking the front of the car up & down does not produce the noise and the struts still feel fine! To replace the complete strut assembly is costly (especially is you do both left & right at the same time)! I almost hoping it is the subframe bushing fix as you described and Volvo is aware of.

Thanks for your assistance.
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Postby ohmfab » 22 Jul 2008, 17:32

Most likely it is the subframe flexing, which the O-rings will fix. The easiest way to check it is to find a road that is sloped down hill. From about 10-20mph drive the car down the grade and while still going down apply the brakes moderately hard, not enough to stop the car though. If you hear the clunk its most likely the subframe moving around.

Another common clunking noise to check on these cars is the bolts that hold the strut tower brace on. The big black bar that runs from each strut tower has two large bolts and nuts on each end. My car had both nuts loose to the point where I could turn the bolt by hand! Gave these a good tightening and when that noise went away I noticed the subframe noise which the o-rings fixed. I've put 60k miles on the car since the o-rings were put in and no noises at all.

Good luck.

Omer
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Postby Cyberwilbur » 23 Jul 2008, 03:36

Hello Omer,

Thanks for the quick reply! It's really nice of you to help out like this.

Well, recently my local repair shop changed the stabilizers. The noise problem still existed. I then went back to him today and he replaced the subframe bushings and the noise problem is still haunting me! I guess I don't get off so easy! By the way, Ball joints are fine (both changed within the last 2 years). I think I am down to the spring seat! The same noise occurred on the opposite side (right) a few years ago and a dealer changed the spring seat and some bushings since the car only had ~50,000 miles at the time. Now with ~80,000 it kind of makes sense to change the struts if it may be the sping seat on the left side now. The problem is, if he (local shop) has to buy Volvo OEM parts and mark them up, it may cost more than having the dealer do it (even though they have a higher labor rate than the local shop). I may have to go to the dealer and pay the piper!

By the way, as a last ditch effort on my own, I was not sure of your last description about the possible loose nut?? From the top side under the hood I see only a cap, the Big nut that I believe is at the top of the Strut (torx head) with a big bushing with a washer below it (and a small space gap) and of course, outside of the dome is the 3 small nuts that hold the Strut mount studs. You mention 2 large nuts. Is the large one I describe and a second large one is seen from underneath the car? I do not see 2 Large nuts. Please clarify. Thanks so much in advance. Truly appreciated!

Best Regards,

Mjay
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Postby ohmfab » 23 Jul 2008, 15:31

The bolts I am talking about are the big bolts at each of the bar that goes across the back of the engine bay. If you see the picture below you will see the bolts on each end of this long black bar running from left to right, from pass strut tower to driver strut tower. The center of this bar also connects to the top engine mount. If any of the bolts on this bar are loose they can also make noises.

http://www.familycar.com/RoadTests/VolvoS80/Images/Engine.jpg

If the problem isn't the bar then it probably is the spring seats. I do recommend that you try to use some lithium or silicon spray on the spring seats first to see if the sound minimizes. The spray will wear off soon but at least you will know it is the true culprit.

Hope this helps.

Omer
'99 S80 w/ 170k miles. Original engine/trans runs like new
'92 Nissan SE-R
'02 Ducati Monster S4
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Postby Cyberwilbur » 24 Jul 2008, 15:12

Thanks again Omer!

Very clear now! I was hung up on the words "Large Nut & Strut" and did not process that you meant the bolts that hold the strut tower "BRACE". I had Strut on my mind since I was hoping that its not them! I will check out the bolts that hold the strut tower brace and also try your nice idea of confirming the spring seat by trying to temporarily dampening the noise with a light lubricant.
It may end up being the Spring seat and at that point I will have to replace all Strut components (Strut, Spring Seat, Strut Mount, etc) on both sides since I now have 80,000 miles.
At that point its down to the Volvo dealer or my local guy???

I'll keep you posted!

Thanks for all your OUTSTANDING assistance.

Best Regards,

Mjay
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Postby ohmfab » 24 Jul 2008, 15:36

Your local guy should be able to handle it. I have noticed that the struts for these cars aren't too expensive. I have seen quite a few OEM sets go on ebay for under $200. FCPGroton, http://www.fcpgroton.com sells a lot of parts for the car, including the spring seats. Also check http://www.swedishpartswholesale.com/

My car has 170k on it and I think the struts might have been changed once by the previous owner. I bought the car with 100k miles and the shocks are still in surprisingly great shape.

Omer
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Postby MadeInJapan » 24 Jul 2008, 22:33

FCPGroton is fine but avoid their ScanTech products on your suspension. You'll be disappointed. For spring seats, I believe the best thing going right now is the new IPD brand: www.ipdusa.com
'98 S70 T5 Emrld Grn Met/Beige Tons of Upgrades Mobil-1
'04 V70 2.5T Red/Taupe Some Upgrades Mobil-1
94 850 Sedan NA Drk Blue/Tan
'00 V40 Purple/Grey Mobil-1
MadeInJapan
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Model and Year: '98 S70 T5

Re: 1999 S80 2.9 Front End Clunking Noise - Subframe O Ring Fix

Postby wolfspiritky » 06 Jan 2009, 21:00

I recently did this repair to my 2000 S80. Took about an hour WITHOUT air tools. Got the O-rings from dealer (Volvo of Louisville) $7.95 for both out the door!!

Cheap easy fix!!!

I did find the lower control arm bushing fairly worn about a week before this repair. THAT was much more fun!!! If you plan to replace yours (LCA bushings) keep in mind, they have to be pressed out and in. Luckily I have a local machine shop who I trust completely and have been doing business with since I was 16. They charged $40 for the job!
Ordered the bushings from FCPGroton $80 with 2 day shipping.

$120 total cost!! Most likely 1/3 of the shop price. This takes time, there is a good deal involved and a lot of critical parts (Suspension, brakes) are unbolted!!

You save a lot of money by doing it yourself BUT, remember you are taking the lives of all you love into your own hands. One loose bolt could mean disaster!! Make sure you have plenty of time and for no reason get into any kind of a rush!!!
ALWAYS DOUBLE AND TRIPLE CHECK ALL BOLTS AND CONNECTIONS FOR PROPER TORQUE!!!
00 S80 T6
97 850R
95 850 GLT
94 850 GLT-Totaled!
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Re: 1999 S80 2.9 Front End Clunking Noise - Subframe O Ring Fix

Postby Cyberwilbur » 12 Jan 2009, 00:46

Summary:

Sorry that I forgot to post this earlier. However, I was not lucky enough to get away with just replacing the subframe bushings (O-Rings). The clunking noise was still there after replacement! Therefore, I replaced both left & right Strut assy's, upper spring seats and strut mounts at the same time (Car has 80,000 miles on it). The main culprit was one of the Spring Seats! The encapsulated metal sleeve that the Strut shaft goes through was broken away from the rubber seat. All is well now with a new front end.

Thank you all for your assistance.
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