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Suspension ride / alignment issue

Help, Advice and DIY Tutorials on Volvo's extremely popular car line -- Volvo's 1990s "bread and butter" cars -- powered by the ubiquitous and durable Volvo inline 5-cylinder engine.

1992 - 1997 850, 850 R, 850 T5-R, 850 T5, 850 GLT
1997 - 2000 S70, S70 AWD
1997 - 2000 V70, V70 AWD
1997 - 2000 V70-XC
1997 - 2004 C70

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Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:01 am
Year and Model: 1996 850 wagon plati
Location: Ca

Suspension ride / alignment issue

Post by Baker7 »

OK, so I replaced every single possible thing with quality parts to improve my 96 850 wagon's ride, 150k miles.
(Front: all engine mounts, subframe bushings, Volvo strut tower brace, all new suspension components including Volvo spring seats, Lemforder parts and Bilstein TC struts. Only thing I didn't do is swaybar bushings, still relatively decent, and springs.
Rear: new Nivomats, Delta link bushings, two bushings that hold the two arms together.)
Nothing else left to do right?

When I did the front end ride was nice and squishy until I went to Pepboys, only place open on Sunday, to get alignment done. Signed up for 1 year alignment service cuz I still had rear bushings to do. But installed Nivomats at this time. Ride tightened up considerably. I especially noticed when going over speed bumps the front didn't absorb so much I guess due to the taught TC's but rear absorbed nicely like any new shocks should.

After doing the rear end I drove for a day without alignment and the ride was beautiful and soft, although I felt a bit if wandering. Going over speed bumps you really appreciated this as you felt every piece of the rubber bushings doing what they are supposed to do.

Now, after getting the 4 wheel alignment done from the same shop it rides like someone replaced with racing shocks on it. WTF? It doesn't absorb bumps anymore and it feels like fimness went from a 3 all the way up to a 10. Now the rear end feels just as tight as front going over speed bumps. Like it lost its ability to dampen.

I checked air and it was 26 psi in the rear, so much for going back to Pepboys ever again, so after filling it to 32 the ride is unbearably harsh and rough, like I'm riding on rims. Tread is still at about 70%. I have 16 inch rims not even the 17s. After all that work and money spent this is what I was trying to achieve?

I've been going through this in my head trying to figure out what happened and I just can't figure it out. What did those guys do at that shop to influence the ride so drastically? What could they have done? Why did it feel so much softer and felt right just before the alignment job? I just can't get my head around this. Does anyone see what might have happened? I have to bring down psi to 30 to make ride bearable.

I was planning on keeping this car for at least 10 years after fixing every single possible thing on it, but I'm just really disheartened by the result of the ride quality. I may just cut my losses and go buy a Honda.
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Re: Suspension ride / alignment issue

Post by tryingbe »

Get all the tires to 26psi and test drive it.

Tire pressure is the only thing they could have change that affect the ride. Toe, caster, camber, thrust angle, none of them affect the ride.
85 GLH, 367 whp
00 Insight, 72 mpg
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Year and Model: 1998 S70 T5 SE
Location: Kelowna, BC

Re: Suspension ride / alignment issue

Post by slupul »

Following, because I've noticed that my suspension ride is also HELLA harsh.
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Re: Suspension ride / alignment issue

Post by oragex »

I remember when the alignment was off, the car would crash more over road imperfections. You can check the alignment yourself at home
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Re: Suspension ride / alignment issue

Post by scot850 »

Did the alignment folks do the adjustments with the suspension loaded? If they loosened the front control arms and tightened them without the load on them it can change the feel of the front suspension and potentially shorten the life of the control arm bushes.

26psi tire pressures? I thought they were much higher even on 850's? I can't recommend as Calgary is at 3500ft and I find we have to run higher pressures here than Volvo state or the tires wear prematurely on the outsides. I run 36psi on both the 15" wheels that were on the 98 V70XC we had and 36 on the 17" on my 2000 'R'. I recall the 93 850 we had with the Bilstein TC's on the front was firm but not too hard and we ran that on 32psi on 15" tires. Car handled superbly once the front suspension was rebuilt, but it was firm.

2000 V70 R - still being an endless PITA
2006 XC70
2003 Toyota 4Runner V8 Limited
2015 Kia Sportage EX-L
1993 850 GLT -Sold
1998 V70 XC - Sold
1997 Volvo 850 SE NA - Went to niece in California - Sold
2000 V70 SE NA - New project and test bed - Sold
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