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2003 xc90 clunking in steering & veers to the left hard.

Help, Advice, Owners' Discussion and DIY Tutorials on Volvo XC90s. The XC90 proved to be very popular, and very good for Volvo's sales numbers, since its introduction in model year 2003 (North America).
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2003 xc90 clunking in steering & veers to the left hard.

Post by Wag84 » Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:38 pm

Hello everyone.

I've got a 2003 xc90.

I bought the car with these issues for $500 it has 136,800 miles on it.

It has two issues, one it does this clunking thing when turning right, you can see the left front wheel bob once when turning it right, like the wheel gets stuck and pops a little bit, only does it once when turning right, then starts again after straightening the wheel.

Issue two, when ever you hit the brakes, it goes pretty hard to the left, you can't go over 60mph in it because its very hard getting the steering right so as not to hit a oncoming car, why i get it for $500 bucks.

The owner before me had the steering rack, both lower ball joints, control arms and struts replaced, i've had both brake calibers, power steering pump, two alignments, both tie rod ends, sway bars and bushings replaced, and had a volvo dealer and another shop look at it and can't find anything wrong with it...

Could there be anything else i'm missing? the clunking anyway is pretty loud and you can hear it under the hood, just can't pin point where its coming from.

The car has more then paid for itself, as i'm in the city so never really go over 50mph, but i'm looking at a new job thats out in the country, so some interstate driving of which she can't do.

Any help would be great, thanks

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Re: 2003 xc90 clunking in steering & veers to the left hard.

Post by June » Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:49 pm

Check the subframe bushings and bolts. The subframe had to be dropped in the back to replace the rack. The subframe bolts are torque to yield and must be replaced every time loosened or removed. If bolts were not replaced likely they are loose. June

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Re: 2003 xc90 clunking in steering & veers to the left hard.

Post by SuperHerman » Tue Sep 03, 2019 9:29 pm

I find it hard to believe the dealer can find nothing wrong with the car based on what you describe. Are you saying it does not misbehave when they are driving it?

You do not mention when the part swap began. Did the XC90 have the issues and all those parts were installed with no results or over the life of the car those parts were replaced at random intervals as things failed?

Usually a bouncing issue like you describe would be tie rods or ball joints in very bad condition. Control arms that are completely gone could do the same. Common problem area on all XC90s is the strut mounts.

Why was the steering rack replaced? As June states start there and make sure all the subframe bolts are tight. Proceed to check that all the steering rack bolts are tight. Finally check the steering knuckle. Basically every nut or bolt that was removed has to be checked. After this you can eliminate the rack. Brake issue and rack don't seem to relate if the rack checks out.

Now you have to check the inner and outer tie rods, strut and strut mounts, control arms, sway bar, bushings and endlinks and ball joints. Problem I am having is I have never seen a shop able to align a car with any of these items have problems. The car will not align. Are either of the strut springs broken?

Last item to look at is the CV axles. Are the boots compromised?

Would not hurt to look at the AWD set up - at least the fluid condition and level.

On your brakes - are you sure you put the right size rotor, caliper and pads on? It varies with tire size - I think there are two rotor size options with related caliper/pads changing. Did you check the pins - make sure they are clean and not hanging?

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