Front Strut Replacement – And More
Here’s a superb supplement for working on Volvo front suspensions/ front strut replacement. These tips/tricks should make the job much easier for novices and veterans alike. It applies to all generation 1 FWD Volvos: 850, V70, S70, V70 XC and C70. It’s even close enough to the second generation (“P2”) Volvos that I used it for my 2004 V70.
Volvo Front Suspensions – A Little Background
At around 100k miles your Volvo’s front suspension components will be either worn out or nearly worn out. The usual suspects are strut seats, tie rods, sway bar end links, control arm bushings, cv boots and bump stops. Struts themselves will sometimes go up to 150k miles, but mine were ready for replacement at 100k. Springs often last the life of the car and are usually replaced only for performance (cornering) reasons.
This is actually more than a strut replacement; it’s an overview to understand how your suspension works, and how to go about replacing worn parts on it.
Equipment you need:
- Socket set
- Socket wrench
- Torque Wrench
- Pipe Wrench or Volvo strut nut tool
- WD-40/Liquid Wrench
- Floor Jack and 2 Jack Stands
- Quality Strut Spring Compressors
- Repair manual
- New strut mounts (2, Volvo part #3546189)
Front Strut Replace… Procedure
cn90 » This is not new to you guys but I just want to share some tips/tricks on Front Suspension that should make the job much easier for newbies.
– I learned the Front Suspension hard way, I first replaced the Outer Tierods 12 months ago, Sway Bar End Links 6 months ago, Control Arms 4 months ago, then CV Rubber Boots 2 months ago. Today, I just replaced my Front Strut! So this was my 5th time poking my head in that area! So if you have more than 90-100K miles and if you plan to keep your car for another 80-100K, then consider doing ALL of the items I mentioned at the same time, on the long run, you save money/labor/alignment costs.
The Facts about Front Strut:
- At 92K, my passenger side Front Strut Seat is broken (the way to diagnose it is to turn the Strut NUT in the Susp Tower, if it spins freely, then the Strut Seat is broken.
- The OEM Volvo Sachs Struts are overdue, it does not bounce back once I took it out to examine. I guess if you are tight on budget, you can push the strut another 20-30K miles or so.
- The Strut Seat is broken on passenger’s side. I replaced with XC90 Spring Seat (more solid, see below).
- The Strut Guide (with Bearing) shows slight-to-moderate play, so at 92K, it is on its way out.
- The Rubber Stop (aka “Spring Helper”) and Rubber Boots are OK but also on its way out. They are cheap so replace them after 10y/90K anyway. Note how they are assembled together and do the same with new parts.
The Strut Replacement options are:
1) OEM Volvo (i.e. “factory ride”)
2) Bilstein TC (Touring): I really like the Bilstein TC, it is just a bit firmer than OEM, and it rides very well through the road imperfections and bumps.
EDIT: 3 months later I installed Bilstein TC Shock Absorbers in the REAR, the car rides like a dream now!
3) Bilstein HD: I have no experience with it but it is stiffer than TC.
4) Koni is another brand, do some search on it.
Things to do. Read the excellent DIYs here:
a- Haynes Manual and on the Internet.
b- DIY section of this forum
These are my additional Tips/Tricks:
1. During removal, observe how things are put together so you can re-install the same way.
The parts I replaced are circled in “red” (except for #23 nuts which you can re-use):
2. You absolutely need 2 Jackstands, this will make removing the End Link much easier!
Otherwise, if you jack only 1 side, there is so much tension on the End Link that makes removal very very difficult!
3. You can re-use the 3 nuts (Strut Guide to Susp Tower).
4. The new Bilstein Strut comes with a new large 22-mm NUT (self-locking type).
You need 2 new bolts and nuts for the Steering Knuckle.
5. Observe Torque Values:
– Strut to Steering Knuckle: 65 Nm, then another 90 degrees.
– Strut Guide to Susp Tower (the three 13-mm nuts): 25 Nm.
– Swaybar Endlink 17-mm nut: 50 Nm
– Strut 22-mm Large Nut: 70 Nm.
6. The Swaybar Endlink:
Get a thin bicycle 16-mm wrench ($5 at bicycle shop) to hold it. Do not damage the rubber boot.
This pic is from my 1998 BMW 528i but it is the same idea for 1998 Volvo V70:
7. Place a rag over the Outer CV Rubber Boots to protect it!
Someone in this forum has nicked the CV rubber boot during Strut Job!
8. Loosen the Stock 21-mm Strut NUT a bit before removing it from the car. Do NOT ever remove this NUT completely while in the car!
9. During re-install, use Red Locktite on the new Bilstein 22-mm NUT. Probably not needed b/c the Bilstein 22-mm NUT is the self-locking type anyway. But better to overkill here.
10. The Bilstein uses 6-mm Allen wrench to hold while tightening the 22-mm Nut (Stock Strut uses 9-mm flat part). During install, slightly tighten it on the ground. Do the FINAL tightening to proper torque after installed in the car. Probably easier with impact gun b/c you will find out that the 6-mm Allen wrench barely holds the strut for you to apply 70 Nm torque on the 22-mm Nut!
If you use Impact Gun, do not overdo it because you can damage the Strut Seal (heat from spinning the Strut Rod)!
Best is to buy an O2 Sensor Removal Socket. It is 7/8″ = 22.2 mm, it fits perfectly on the 22- nut.
It is $5 at Harbor Freight:
11. I have 2 pairs of compressors (Autozone $35/pair, Harbor Freight cheaper pair $13.00/pair).
I work in healthcare and have seen peoples faces blown off by failed spring compressors. So I use 3 Spring Compressors.
I know some people here may call me a whimp (LMAO, safety first!).
The Autozone Spring Compressors are very good. The Harbor Freight Compressors are cheaper but I use them as “double insurance” just in case. For $13.00 more, it is peace of mind!
I like to overkill when it comes compressing the Strut Spring. It has enough energy to kill you —> So I used 3 Spring Compressors. It feels VERY SOLID and SAFE, especially when you struggle with the stupid cross-shape NUT!
12. If the Strut Seat is broken, the cross-shape NUT may be pushed down making removal very difficult. Get a pair of pliers and pull the cross-shape NUT upward out of the recess, then use a Pipe Wrench to undo it (of course ONLY after you have the Springs compressed!).
13. Use WD-40 as needed.
14. During install, watch the Spring Ends (both Upper and Lower Ends) to be sure they seat correctly on Both the Spring Seat and the Strut itself as you slowly remove the Spring Compressors. See the layout:
I put 2 lug bolts back on the rotor to help hold it in place while resting the rotors on some lumber while the Strut is removed.
16. The Bilstein Strut has an extra flange that can potentially rub against the ABS sensor wiring, Protect this section of ABS wiring with Fuel Hose (get a short section of Fuel Hose and cut it along its length, wrap it with zip ties!).
17. Lastly, Note how the parts come together, see pic.
Now Get an Alignment
But if you know what to do with a Plumb Bob and Carpenter Square, I did a DIY Alignment here.
Hope this helps you select the right Strut and DIY!
Read the Rest
- DIY: 1998 Volvo V70 Front Bilstein TC Strut Tips/Tricks – read the full write up in the Volvo Forum
- Looking for rear suspension help? Click on Volvo V70/S70/C70/850 rear suspension Tutorial.