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DIY: Front Suspension Rebuild (2005 XC90 2.5T AWD with 120K) Topic is solved

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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DIY: Front Suspension Rebuild (2005 XC90 2.5T AWD with 120K)  Topic is solved

Post by cn90 » Sat Nov 23, 2019 12:48 pm

DIY: Front Suspension Rebuild (2005 XC90 2.5T AWD with 120K)

- The usual symptoms: car drives “like a boat” with vague feeling.

- Inspection showed cracked rear bushing in control arm.

- Swaybar endlinks, C.A. ball joints, tie rods (Inner and Outer) are loose but no play yet. I think these have another 10K-20K of life remaining. I have done many suspension works on different cars, and do NOT want to do this work twice, so “while there” I replaced all of these using quality parts.

Useful videos...

1. FCPEuro Tie Rod:

2. FCPEuro Trick for ABS Bracket:

3. A1AutoParts Control Arm.
This is an excellent video.
You can see the struggle starts at 6:55, where the control arm touches the CV Boot!
So, find a way to push the C.A. further aft to avoid damage to the CV Boot.
Also, don't pound the C.A. directly with hammer, use a piece of wood to hammer it in.

4. The card board trick to protect the CV Boot during strut installation:

---> Budget a full Saturday for this front end suspension rebuild.

- Wrenches/Sockets: 13mm, 15mm, 16mm, 18mm, 21mm.
- Socket: 8mm for ABS speed sensor, 13mm for strut nuts.
- Wheel lugs: 19mm socket.
- Breaker Bar, the 1/2-inch type.
- Torx and Hex keys for counterhold.

- Pipe Wrench and Adjustable Wrench for INNER Tier Rod.
- Propane Torch ($15 at hardware store) is a MUST, this allows you to remove the seized bolts/nuts with much less effort.
The key thing: heat the nut for 30 sec (the rubber boot of the end link may smoke a bit!), then spray some PB Blaster and allows it to be sucked inside the threads as the nut cools down.
- Solid wire to suspend brake caliper or knuckle if needed.

- Bilstein B4 Struts (Germany)
- Coil Springs: Lesjofors (Sweden)
- Metal Plate/Bump Stop/Rubber Boot (and Ring) combo: Volvo
- Strut Seat: Rein (made in France with ? Volvo logo scratched off).
- Strut Bearing: Corteco (Germany)

- Meyle Control Arm (made in Turkey), good review on FCPEuro website.
- INNER Tie Rod: TRW (Italy)
- OUTER Tie Rod: Lemforder (France)
- Endlinks: Lemforder (Germany)
- Ball joint: Lemforder (Germany)


- Cleanliness is the key, wash the car the day before...
- The ABS speed sensor: 8-mm bolt, when tightening it just snug and turn a bit.
- Optional: remove/suspend brake caliper, remove axle nut: this will allow the knuckle to move freely.
I did NOT do any of these and did fine.

- Do one side at a time and use the other side as a reference.
- Loctite on nuts/bolts as you wish.
- Torque values are taken from "internet", so please verify the torque values yourself. I could not find a good source, so what I include here is from different sources. Feel free to chime in re torque values.

- Loosen all nuts and bolts but do NOT remove any of them. This allows you to tighten/remove other nuts/bolts with breaker bar while the knuckle etc. is still attached. The same is true for installation, hand-tighten the nuts/bolts, and torque them all at the very end.
- Protect/watch all rubber boots at all time. These include CV Boots, endlink, ball joint boots etc.

- A piece of 2 x 10 wood is very useful here to support the heavy knuckle/rotor/brake caliper combo!

- The Control Arm:
* Vertical bolt/nut: 18-mm/21-mm wrenches or 1/2" socket.
* Horizontal bolts: either 15-mm (my car) or 17-mm (similar 2005 XC90 2.5T at junk yard has 17-mm bolts). During installation of C.A., be very careful to line up the C.A. perfectly flat to avoid stripping this bolt! More later…

- The Strut: make a note of the existing 3 nuts where they meet the suspension tower for ease of installation. I re-used the factory 21-mm top nut and the small 3 nuts as they look better than the nuts that came with Corteco spring seat.

- The Strut Mounting bolts/nuts: 18-mm/21-mm wrenches or 1/2" socket.
The bolt heads faces forward from factory.
- The plastic bracket for the ABS speed sensor: transfer it from factory strut to the new strut and mark them “R” and “L”. Just use common sense, the plastic bracket sits aft of the strut. During removal of the plastic bracket, if you break the center plastic pin, no worry, get some household wiring (solid copper 14-gauge) and cut a short piece; strip the coating to get bare copper, it fits perfectly!


1. Safety first:
- Chock REAR wheels.
- Lift the front end, remove the front wheels and support with jack stands.
- For EACH side, I used 2 jack stands: one 4-leg and one jack screw.
The nice thing about the jack screw stand is that it allows you to adjust up and down infinitely (the 4-leg stand only goes by increment). This allows the load to be spread out evenly among these 2 jacks.
- Anyway, I set my 4-leg stand as low as possible bc I don't like to use extended position (unstable), plus I don't trust the elliptical eyelet in the 4-leg jack stand that much.

- Also, I find the lowest position of the 4-leg jack stand high enough for the job. If you need to go higher, then place a piece of wood BELOW the jack stand.
- Heat all nuts/bolts before removing them. This reduces the force to remove the nuts/bolts.
- Support Knuckle with 2 x 10 wood and string to prevent knuckle from falling outward.


2. The Control Arm:
- I cross-threaded one bolt just a bit at the tip bc the C.A. was not lined up correctly. Had to run to junk yard to get another one.
The trick: watch the video above, the control arm has to be perfectly level (this is when it hits the CV Boot!), so move the knuckle around to allow the C.A. to go up. Once the C.A. is perfectly level, install the horizontal bolts by hand to avoid cross-threading.

- The ball joint: put it in the freezer for 1h. I used 1-1/2-inch PVC coupler ($2 at hardware store) to pound the BJ in. In the plumbing world, 1-1/2” PVC pipe means the I.D. = 1-1/2”, so this 1-1/2-inch coupler joins 2 PVC pipes together. So the PVC coupler I.D. is more than 1-1/2” but it fits the BJ boot perfectly.

- C.A. ball joints: factory is T40 Torx for counterhold, but Lemforder BJ has 6-mm Hex key for counterhold. The Lemforder ball joint stud is M14 x 1.50. For some reasons, which I could not understand, the nut that came with the ball joint was very tight halfway through (maybe when I hammer the PVC coupler, I hit the stud end a bit, maybe…), so I removed it and noted that is started to strip but the threads on the stud looked good. No idea why…So I went to local parts store and bought Dorman 611-147 lug nut for Kubota, it was M14 x 1.50 and fit perfectly. I used Loctite here. When done with tightening, I also tapped the end a bit to ensure this nut does not come loose.
Btw, factory ball joint is M14 x 1.75, go figure why these mfg’s keep changing stuff…


3. The Strut:
- If you watch youtube videos, people use 2 compressors, which I think it is dangerous bc this is an SUV coil spring, which is stiffer than a car spring (such as a 1998 S70 etc.). Remember SUV is about 4500-5000 lbs, a car is 3500 lbs.
- The good news is: there is space for 4 compressors. Personally I think it is much safer with 4 compressors. See photos above.
- You can rent them for free at Autozone, O’Reilly etc. etc.

- If you are worried about compressing the spring, bring them to local shops, they usually charge $30/each side. Using professional compressor (wall-mounted unit that costs $800-$1000).
- The cross nut: no need for special tool: I used a pair of right-angle pliers. Note that cross-nut star part points upward.
- You may want to work with the mechanic to be sure things are assembled properly: the ends of the coil spring must sit properly.

- The Plastic Bracket for ABS sensor. See FCPEuro video above for Quick Strut. Good tips there. If you break one of the tiny plastic pin (I broke one pin!), don't worry, get some household electrical solid copper wire (14-gauge), cut a small piece, remove insulation and tap the copper pin in. The solid copper pin is a perfect fit.
- The Bilstein strut: the holes for ABS bracket are a tiny bit off, so I trimmed the ABS Plastic Bracket edge a bit so it sits flush.

- The sequence of assembly is in the DIY above, from bottom to top:
* Strut Perch ---> Metal Plate/Bump Stop/Protective Boot combo ---> Seat ---> Cross Nut (the stars facing upward) ---> Strut Bearing ---> Metal Plate ---> 21-mm nut.


4. The INNER Tier Rod.
- Do NOT lose the Steering Stop, which is the Black Plastic "Pipe", which may be removed together with the boot if you are not careful!
- I learned it the hard way, I did not cut the boot completely, the Steering Stop came out with it.
- I did not realize this mistake until the INNER Tie Rod is installed. I had to remove the INNER Tie Rod again to put the Steering Stop back in!
- Mark the new INNER Tie Rod so you know roughly where the Lock Nut should be.

- You will need to do an alignment later. I did it at home using Plumb Bob and broom stick (I will post this alignment trick later).
- The boot comes with silicone grease, which is for the clamp areas.

- I applied a bit more Castrol HD grease to the INNER Tie Rod's balljoint area.
- The INNER tier rod by TRW uses a 34-mm wrench. No need to buy the special tool (CTA 4014: $20 on FCPEuro). A pipe wrench works perfectly. Just watch the youtube video by FCPEuro on tie rod. They key thing is to turn the steering wheel to R or L to make the job easier. For the boot, bring the SW back to the center for the Oetiker clamp installation.


5. Swaybar endlinks:
- Factory is 15-mm (lower end) and 18-mm (upper end) with T30 and T40 Torx for counterhold. The new Lemforder has 16-mm at the small end. So watch for nut size depending the brand (Lemforder, Volvo, Meyle etc.).

All done, ready for road test…


That is all boys/girls. Not too difficult if you follow this guide.
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Re: DIY: Front Suspension Rebuild (2005 XC90 2.5T AWD with 120K)

Post by brunocerous » Mon Nov 25, 2019 11:45 pm

Incredible write-up and photos. I just added an '04 with 82k miles to our stable, and I imagine I'll have to do this in the near future. Such a great guide.
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Re: DIY: Front Suspension Rebuild (2005 XC90 2.5T AWD with 120K)

Post by abscate » Tue Nov 26, 2019 5:24 am

What an awesome write Up!

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Re: DIY: Front Suspension Rebuild (2005 XC90 2.5T AWD with 120K)

Post by matthew1 » Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:39 am

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