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Replacing front struts without being in a rush

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
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1997 - 2004 C70

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Replacing front struts without being in a rush

Post by 1337 » Mon Jun 06, 2016 11:26 am

For a beginner like me, no matter how long I think it will take to replace my front struts... it will probably take longer. Stuck bolts, missing tools, and any number of things can make this job take more than one afternoon. I drive my V70 quite a bit, and I'd hate to take it out of commission while I do this front-end work.

Here's my plan for how to take my time to do the front struts, with a minimal amount of time with the car taken apart.

1. Buy new spring seats, strut mounts, Bilstein TC struts, and bolts. (done)

2. Go to the junkyard and buy 2 front strut assemblies (springs and all). The local pick-n-pull sells them for roughly $30 each.

3. Take all this stuff to a shop, and have them put the junkyard* springs on the new struts and spring seats. (Yay, I get to avoid using a spring compressor.) If I forgot to buy any hardware, we can pillage it from the junkyard strut assemblies.
*From the shop's perspective, these are just "my car's springs," not "junkyard springs."

4. For the first time in this process, actually dig into my car. Follow rspi's video on how to take an old strut assembly out and put a new one in.

Sound like a good plan?

Questions:

1. What are the different versions of the OEM springs? Do the XC and R have different springs than others?

2. When I'm at the junkyard, are there any warning signs to look for to see if a spring may be bad? We don't see much rust in my part of California, but are there other ways that springs go bad?

3. Implicitly, I've been trying to avoid buying new springs for $130 each. Is there an argument that I *should* buy brand new springs?
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Re: Replacing front struts without being in a rush

Post by PS78 » Mon Jun 06, 2016 12:18 pm

Not sure about the oem brand. Lesjofors coil springs are $49each on amazon. Not sure what you're paying at the you pull it for one. The u pull it I have been going to charges 20 something a coil. They state that they're made in Sweden in their manufacturing facility. Might be worth checking out. :wink:
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Re: Replacing front struts without being in a rush

Post by Cees Klumper » Mon Jun 06, 2016 12:34 pm

Be a bit more daring and do the whole job yourself. You'll avoid having to do the pick 'n pull and the shop, save money and time, and feel proud about accomplishing the job. I did mine on Sunday and it took about two hours. Spring compressors aren't scary so long as you follow the instructions. I've only done this job three or four times so not a pro. Watch the videos on Youtube and have at it!

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Re: Replacing front struts without being in a rush

Post by Ozark Lee » Mon Jun 06, 2016 2:03 pm

I just "rent" the spring compressors from O'Reilly. I think Autozone also "rents" them. It is really a tool loaner program but you pay retail for the tool and then they credit you back 100% when you return it. Having an impact wrench makes it a snap to run the bolts down on the compressors but it can certainly be done with a ratchet, it just takes longer.

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Re: Replacing front struts without being in a rush

Post by abscate » Mon Jun 06, 2016 2:16 pm

buy brand new springs and enjoy the new volvo feel. Its about one hour for a strut place to disassemble your strut and put on a new set of mount, spring, bearing etc, so Im not sure the junkyard part saves that much time.
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Re: Replacing front struts without being in a rush

Post by rguzz » Mon Jun 06, 2016 3:49 pm

I have a set of oem stock springs from an 855 96t. They were taken off the car when it had less than 40k NC miles. I will never use them and they can be available to you inexpensively if you need a set. Shameless plug, forgive me but I'd love to pass them on.

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Re: Replacing front struts without being in a rush

Post by E Showell » Tue Jun 07, 2016 6:53 am

I've done struts and full front suspension twice now on different cars. I did not replace the springs. My Volvo factory trained mechanic said there was no reason to replace them if they hadn't cracked or otherwise exhibited signs of failure (excessive rust?). I have a cheap set of spring compressors -- generic auto parts store variety, probably "OEM" Brand. They work fine. Working with a spring compressor set isn't all that bad if you take your time, check positioning on initial installation, then frequently thereafter, and are prepared to work slowly and carefully. I tighten the compressors with hand tools, so it can be a bit tiring on the hands, but if you are prepared to work slowly and carefully, it isn't anything an average DIYer can't do. Plus, I agree the junkyard option seems overly cumbersome for what is otherwise a fairly straightforward repair.
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Re: Replacing front struts without being in a rush

Post by tryingbe » Tue Jun 07, 2016 7:03 am

Springs can wear out. My car was so low with factory springs so I bought coilover to raise my car to factory height.
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Re: Replacing front struts without being in a rush

Post by abscate » Tue Jun 07, 2016 7:07 am

Ride height is a good diagnostic of sagging springs. Remember to move the bodies out of the trunk (NJ residents) before comparing, then get measurements from the same car here by asking. I think I lost something like 1.5 inches on my 1999 towing boats
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Re: Replacing front struts without being in a rush

Post by erikv11 » Tue Jun 07, 2016 7:10 am

Grab the OEM springs from rguzz, assemble your strut towers in advance, and it will be a very quick swap. Otherwise, it is a very long day the first time or two you do it.

1. For sure R springs are different, I don't know about XC/AWD but I would assume so.

2. Others have addressed this, I have nothing to add really.

3. Also some good comments about this. Most people who buy new springs are lowering the car. I have never replaced the front ones, only the rears (to put in overload springs).
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'96 855 NA, 145k
'98 S70 NA, 220k (living out west)
'98 V70, T5 tune-injectors-turbo, LPT engine, 286k
'06 S60 R, 167k
'99 Camry V6 :shock: 125k
gone: '96 NA 850 210k, '98 NA V70 182k

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