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Replacing REAR subframe trailing arm bushings Topic is solved

Help, Advice, Owners' Discussion and DIY Tutorials on Volvo's stylish, distinctive "P2" platform cars.

2001 - 2007 V70
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- Pete -
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Replacing REAR subframe trailing arm bushings  Topic is solved

Post by - Pete - » Mon Feb 03, 2020 5:45 pm

One thing that’s always bothered me about P2’s is how the arse end of these cars reminds me rather vividly of a “sulky”. As in, the little trailer that is towed behind a walk-behind zero-turn mower - the operator stands on it whilst operating said ZT mower.

I’ve replaced quite a few parts trying to mitigate this handling annoyance but never successfully pinpointed the source of why the back end of these has always felt like it’s disconnected, along for the ride, just kinda wandering around back there...until now. Hit a bump & you feel the rear end squirm around in an unpredictable manner. I’ve seen the term “side-hop” used in reference to P2 Volvo’s, particularly the S/VR’s. I don't know if that's what I've felt for so many years, but after having done these bushings I feel like there's a greater sense of confidence & composure in corners, especially corners with dips, bumps, any imperfections really.

I’m sure lots of you have looked at the various moving parts in your rear suspension & have noticed there’s so many things connecting this to that, and that to the subframe etc. Amazing how it all works, well sort of works. You’ve also probably noticed torn bushings at the front attachment point for your trailing arms.

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For the longest time I just thought the area where the tear is plainly visible on the front & rear of where the bolt passes through was there for a reason; to allow movement as the suspension travels up and down. Well looking at the new bushings there really is no way for them to allow for as much movement as the bushings these cars originally came with.

My theory is that the old bushing allowed for, over many years of use and hundreds of thousands of push/pulls, too much movement, and as a result the loosey goosey rear end feel. I'm open to ideas here, but to me, the way the original bushings allow for this movement creates a condition where toe is constantly varying depending on how far the rear suspension is compressed or extended. Is that the loosey-goosey I've had my finger on the pulse of?

Let’s replace them then, looks fairly accessible & cant be that hard. So I researched unendingly & came up with a couple XC90 tutorials (which evidently have steel rear subframes & lots more working room), 1 decent V70R tutorial, and some horror stories about dealerships not being willing to do the job due to a significant risk of cracking the rear subframe. I have no idea how much credence there is to the supposed risk, but after having done bushings on (edit) 4 cars in the last week, I can attest that there does seem to be some validity to these stories. If anyone has more info on this please chime in.

Replacement of them is pretty straight forward. Keeping in mind the stories I’d read about dealerships not taking the job & there being a risk of cracking the rear subframe, I was very cautious on the first car I did, our V70R. This car had the most noticeable “side-hop/loosey-goosey” of all our P2’s, probably due in part to the oversized 245 series tires (which I’ve switched out to OEM sized 235’s in a separate attempt to quiet the symptom).

Where I feel the risk to cracking the subframe lies is as follows. To get access to the bushings you will need to remove the trailing arm. Very simple to remove, but you can’t remove the bolts unless the suspension is compressed. This is not a job to do on a lift because it simply doesn't make sense to use a lift. So get your jack under the knuckle/control arm (directly below the lower strut mount) & mash it back up, just to the point before it begins to lift the car off the stands. Now the bolts can come out & trailing arm can be removed.

I read that removing the bracket (pic below) that attaches the front of the subframe to the car is necessary so you can get your mini press tool situated to press the old bushing out/new one in. Removing this bracket simply is not necessary, for the record. I would leave it right where it is!

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So with my jack keeping the suspension compressed, I took that bracket off. Then, I ever so slowly began to back the pressure off my jack, and stopped almost immediately. I noticed that front corner of the subframe began to lower from the car. The suspension actually twists the entire aluminium subframe as it decompresses. I stopped instantly & realized this has got to be why cracked rear subframes exist due to replacing these bushings. So mashed the suspension back up & put the bracket back on.

You do need to take this bracket & move it out of the way. There is a plastic push clip that secures the hard brake line to the backside of the bracket I mentioned/pictured just above this paragraph.
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The rest of the replacement is good exercise, about an hour per side I would say, my quickest time was about 37-39 minutes start to finish on one side. The V70XC & V70R went rather easily, but I did run into issues with our 281k XC70 & also the V70 AWD & ended up having to cut slots in the original bushings with a reciprocating saw. They were just so seized in their cozy confines. Once that was done I could practically tap them out with a drift (but still use(d) the press). Seeing that 2 of the 4 cars I did these on fought me, I would recommend taking your sawzall right off the bat & cutting a slot in your original bushings. Try just the bottom or top at first, if it’s still stuck cut a slot in the opposite side as well. I think it’s a combination of the rapid vibration as well as the relief created by the removal of material. Obviously do it very carefully, checking the back side with a mirror frequently and don’t cut into the subframe! I kept a tub of grease nearby & would dip my blade in it periodically.

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Here’s the press tool I rigged up. A few 2” PVC repair couplings, one of which you cut in half (have a couple spares in case one cracks), a modified 2” galvanized plug, 7/16” grade 8 bolt, washers that fit on it, nut, and a couple steel plates cut & drilled to fit. I used a coarse thread bolt & even after doing (edit) 8 (technically 16) bushings with the same bolt and nut the threads hadn’t deformed at all. The 1/4" plate actually bends inward towards the 7/16" hole on the really stubborn ones, so flip it over when you start to notice it becoming concave. If anyone wants to borrow it just gimme a holler.

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Here’s my 2nd example of a cracked PVC “receiver”. Wear safety glasses, please. I may make a steel or aluminum receiver since I ended up cracking 2 of my PVC ones. Even being cracked they still allowed me to finish fully drawing the bushings in.

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On the car:

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I can make a dedicated thread of this if anyone thinks it’d be worthwhile to have on hand here. I took lots of photos & would be glad to share them. Tool is easy & inexpensive to make, but free to borrow it if you don’t want to make one. Just pay shipping & return it afterwords. The PVC repair couplers are really tough but do deform some with all the pressure. I had two of my couplers (which I had shortened by cutting in half) crack on me. Even with them cracked I still was able to draw the bushing all the way in to the subframes. Wear safety glasses!

By the way, the Meyle bushings on FCP are Chinese. The Volvo brand bushings are Slovakian made, as are the Lemforders according to the rep I spoke to. Funny thing, the Volvo brand bushings actually have the Lemforder logo & “Ford” embossed on the rubber.
I used 6 Volvo/Lemforder bushings and 2 of the Chinese Meyles just for comparison purposes.
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2001 V70XC 142k
2004 V70 AWD 134k
2004 V70R M66 142k
2004 XC70 278k
2006 XC70 155k Sold

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