Stage 0 means to get your Volvo’s critical systems as close to new as possible, or in another sense, to get your Volvo’s components replaced or rebuilt in all areas that can cause problems.
It’s done to increase reliability, economy, in preparation for performance modifications, or all three.
Think of it as a Comprehensive Tune Up
Example: here’s an MVS Volvo Forum thread where I detailed the many fluid flushes on my V70 R that were part of its Stage 0.
It’s called Stage 0 because performance modification levels are Stage 1, Stage 2, etc. Typically it goes up to Stage 3, and 1-3 can come in kits that include a bigger turbo, a chip tune, and a performance exhaust, for example. After Stage 3 everyone stops counting — after that you just have various crazy-fast modifications.
Smart tuners always do a Stage 0 before any performance mods.
How To Do Stage 0
In rough order of importance:
- Spark plugs
- 5-cylinder Engines: 850, S70, V70, XC70, XC90, S80, V60, S60, XC60, C30
- Cap/rotor Cap & rotor DIY: Volvo 850 & S70, V70, XC70, C70 up to ’98 & install MSD ignition
- Coils for 1999+ Volvos V70 2001+ coils DIY
- Oil/oil filter (Oil change tutorial 2001+, Oil change tutorial up to 1998)
- Transmission fluid flush or drain and fill 2001+ (read about the trans flush pros/cons)
- Vacuum lines and elbows: white plastic and black rubber
- Software updates via VIDA or VADIS — these used to be dealer-only services
- Radiator hoses: medium gauge black rubber hoses
- Air filter: K&N air filters for Volvos discussion and see K&N filters on Amazon
- Plug wires make a bigger difference than you’d think: we recommend OEM/Bougiecord — see more about this here
- Braking: overhaul DIY, brake line replacement, brake fluid theory (DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5, etc.)
- Clean the fussy PCV system
- N/A cars: check your airbox for stuck flap (Very common! Much difference!)
- Clean intercooler and its plumbing
- Clean injectors (Injector refurbish thread)
- Fuel filter replacement (on 2001+, on 850, on pre-2001 AWD, on 740)
- Fuel pump(s): depends on how far you want to go – they tend to either work or not
These will bite you when you least expect it, and where you least want to be. I blew a hose off the intake on a highway on ramp, a typical place where the first full-throttle boost of the drive cycle will stress all parts of your engine. Many of us adding extra boost have replaced with silicone hoses and T-bolt clamps.
www.stylinmotors.com [Nope, site’s gone — looks like they went under] has hose kits for Volvos. Here’s a Mishimoto silicone hose kit sold on Amazon. Fits 1997-04 Volvo 850, S70 and V70 turbo cars. Even more of a sure bet is to go to the MVS Sponsor’s sites and look for these. Sponsors are the banner ads at the top of every MVS page.
After Stage 0
Once everything is like it should be, then begin to mod your car — look to downpipes and different, performance exhausts for Volvos, manual boost controllers and ECU upgrades to add horsepower. If you mod before things before this Stage 0, the upgrades themselves will cause weaker systems to fail. Here’s a list of all MVS Fast Friday posts, a category dedicated to Volvo speed, horsepower and overall performance:
- Fast Friday #1: Manual Boost Controller Install
- Fast Friday #2: Stage 0 Parts Ordered
- Fast Friday #3: Lucky talks Chip vs. MBC
- Fast Friday #4: The Boost Variance Problem
- Fast Friday #5: Injectors, MAFs, and Power
- Fast Friday #6: Injectors, MAFs, and Power pt. II
- Fast Friday #7: Three… Two… One… Ignition!
- Fast Friday #8: Octane And The Turbocharged Engine
- Fast Friday #9: Making Power w/ Water & Methanol Injection
- Fast Friday #10: Suspension
- FF#11: Tune a Low Pressure Turbo?
- FF#12: Turbos and Exhaust
- Tune My Ride! ’98 V70 LPT – Fast Friday #13!
- Cam Timing – Fast Friday #14!
- Performance: what really makes a difference? FF#15!
- ECO-Performance(!) Fast Friday #17
- SEMA 2012 Wrapup – It’s Fast Friday #18!
- FF#19! Dear Intercooler, Make Volvo Faster. Regards, Owner.
- FF#20! Wastegate Adjustment
- FF#21! Turbo Upgrades!
- FF#23! Boost Be Gone! Do Volvos have Blow Off Valves?
- FF#24! Auto -> Manual Transmission Conversions Done Right
- Nitrous: Pray or Spray? FF#26!
- Piggybacks & SAFC… it’s Fast Friday #27!
- Melt Tires, Not Pistons FF#28!
- Ethanol in Fuel = GOOD for Performance?! FF#29
- A Monster Bolt-On Turbo Kit: Fast Friday #30!
- Exhausts – The Seven Things to Know FF31!
- Spark Plugs: Copper vs Iridium vs Platinum FF#32
- R32 Turbo Kit Installed and Tuned! FF33!
- Fast Friday #34: No Turbo? No Problem!
- Tunes: Does One Size Fit All? FF#35!
- No Turbo? No Problem! Part 2. It’s FF#36!
- Short Ram vs. Cold Air Intake FF#37!
- No Turbo? No Problem! Part 3. It’s FF#38!
- Fuel Injectors – Improve Performance & Economy FF#39
- Quin’s Monster S60 AWD – it’s FF#42!
Brakes, man, brakes!
Make sure brakes are good too. Brakes are sometimes overlooked, and when the realization hits that you have put all your eggs in the speed basket, and none in the stopping basket, it’s often at 100+ mph (too late). If you’re going to go really fast, don’t just Stage 0 your brakes, go to performance gear. A Stage 1 brake mod on pre-2001 Volvos would be a 302mm upgrade. OEM and standard pads will fade after repeated hard stops.
Tires however are probably the most prudent item you can upgrade. It doesn’t matter what’s in or on a car. The tires are still and always the only thing that transmits power, turning forces, and braking forces.