Hardlymoving writes about do-it-yourself automobile maintenance on various makes and models.
This article will show you step-by-step how to replace all the wear components that make up the front suspension on a 99 - 06 Volvo S80 sedan. Most of the parts are interchangeable with the '01–'09 S60 and '01–'07 V70. The video shows the repair service being done on a '04 S80 2.5 Turbo.
My customer's vehicle had approximately 200,000 miles. He felt the suspension was soft, mushy, and noisy, and he wanted some front end work done to get back to the original ride quality. I recommended he replace everything: struts, strut mounts, spring seats, lower ball joints, stabilizer bar links, and lower control arms. He approved the repair. During the repair service, I found that most of these parts were indeed worn out.
Explaining the Suspension Components
- The Strut is a shock absorber that is integrated with the suspension spring.
- The Strut Spring works with the strut. It is partially compressed and held in place by the upper spring seat.
- The Bellow is an accordion-shaped plastic or rubber boot that protects the strut stem from dirt and moisture.
- The Bump Stop protects the strut from over-compressing the strut stem after hitting a hard bump.
- The Spring Seat holds the strut spring in place with the strut.
- The Strut Mount works with the spring seat to hold the strut spring in place. It provides a rotating pivot point (via bearings) for the strut to move with the wheel and connects the upper portion of the strut to the chassis of the car.
- The Stabilizer Bar Link compresses the strut spring when taking sharp turns to compensate for the hard spring compression occurring on the other side of the car during the turn.
- The Steering Knuckle provides a pivot point for wheel rotation or maneuvering and a mounting point for the brake calipers. It joins the strut to the lower control arm.
- The Ball Joint provides a rotation or pivot point for the steering knuckle.
- The Lower Control Arm joins the strut and steering knuckle to the lower portion of the car's chassis or "subframe" via the ball joint, allowing the up-and-down movement of the suspension strut.
- The Bushing allows tight, limited up-and-down movement of the lower control arm.
The Best Providers of Volvo Suspension Parts
Struts: The OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) provider for Volvo struts is Sachs. Other European brands are Bilstein and Koni. KYB is a Japanese OEM provider. They are all high quality and are not cheap. Monroe is American and their OESpectrum brand is very good quality, long-lasting, and reasonably priced.
Control Arms (and the other suspension components used in this repair): You can choose from Uro (European parts provider), Mevotech, MOOG, Beck/Arnley Delphi, Flennor, and ACDelco. They're all good.
Be leery of no-name brands from retailers such as AutoZone. They purchase parts in mass from who-knows-where, and repackage the parts under their Duralast label. NAPA does the same thing. They get the parts cheaper from the parts vendor by taking on the warranty responsibility; they do honor their warranties for parts, but do not pay for the labor to replace the failed part. Retail repair shops buy from NAPA all the time because they provide fast, free parts delivery and a 20 percent discount from their advertised price. And the repair shops want you, the customer, in and out fast, and won't wait for higher quality parts unless you insist.
Video of Volvo S80 Front Suspension Service
This 18-minute video will provide you with visual step-by-step help for completing the replacement of the front end suspension components on a Volvo S80. The steps are also described lower down in the article.
Step-by-Step Instructions: Volvo S80 Suspension Service
Step 1: Disconnecting the Tie Rod End, Stabilizer Bar, ABS Line and Brake Assembly
- Disconnect the tie rod end from the steering knuckle by removing the outer tie rod end nut. Disconnecting the tie rod end will allow the steering knuckle to rotate, allowing easier removal of the brake caliper assembly.
- Remove the nut that connects the stabilizer bar link to the suspension strut.
- Wiggle the ABS line rubber connector out of the strut's plastic clip.
- Remove the two bolts that hold the brake caliper assembly to the steering knuckle. Pull the assembly off the brake rotor and support the assembly on a makeshift stand to prevent the brake line from damage.
- Remove the 10-mm bolt that holds the brake rotor to the wheel hub. If the rotor is stuck on the wheel hub, a few sharp hammer blows to the inside portion of the rotor should vibrate the rotor off.
- Remove the three bolts that hold the brake dust shield onto the steering knuckle.
- Remove the ABS sensor plug from the steering knuckle.
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Step 2: Removing the Suspension Strut
- Remove the CV bolt from the center of the wheel hub.
- Remove the two nuts and bolts that hold the suspension strut to the steering knuckle.
- Remove the three nuts that hold the upper portion of the suspension strut to the chassis of the car.
- Separate the suspension strut from the steering knuckle by pushing down on the knuckle while pulling the strut away.
Step 3: Removing the Steering Knuckle and Lower Control Arm
- Remove the lower ball joint nut.
- Push the CV axle shaft through the wheel hub. The steering knuckle can now be pulled off the lower control arm.
- Remove the nut and bolt that holds the rear portion of the control arm to the chassis or sub frame of the car.
- Remove the two bolts that holds the front portion of the control arm to the sub frame of the car. You should now be able to wiggle the control arm out of the sub frame.
- Transfer the bump stop from the old control arm to the new control arm.
Step 4: Replacing the Lower Ball Joint
- Remove the two bolts that hold the ball joint to the steering knuckle.
- The ball joint is pressed into the steering knuckle. It must be pried or punched out using a combination of a punch tool and hammer.
- Apply some grease inside the steering knuckle hole for the ball joint.
- Mount the new ball joint into the steering knuckle hole and screw down the mounting bolts. The ball joint will not recess into the hole evenly and must be balanced out using a punch and hammer.
Step 5: Installing the New Control Arm
- Wiggle the rear end of the new control arm back into the sub frame.
- Install the two mounting bolts that hold the front end of the control arm to the sub frame. Just get the threads started; don't tighten the bolts down until the rear control arm bolt has been installed.
- Install the rear bushing nut and bolt. Then tighten the front mounting bolts.
- Remove the stabilizer bar link from the stabilizer bar (if replacing the link).
- Install the new stabilizer bar link to the stabilizer bar. The smaller stud of the link mounts to the bar.
Step 6: Replacing the Suspension Strut and Components
- Mount the spring compressors onto the strut spring 180 degrees apart from each other. Begin compressing the spring. To prevent over-compression, you can mount a third compressor between the first two compressors in order to compress that part of the spring that is protruding out the most (as shown in the video). A minimal amount of compression by the third compressor will relieve enough tension on the spring to separate the spring from the strut spring seat. The strut mount nut can then be safely removed.
- Remove the strut mount nut. You can keep the strut stem from moving using a torx socket attached to a socket wrench, then using a pass-through socket or a box wrench.
- Remove the strut mount cap and strut mount to expose the cross nut (looks like a X nut) that holds the upper spring seat. Again, use the torx socket attached to a socket wrench to prevent the shaft from moving while using channel-lock pliers to remove the cross nut.
- Remove the upper spring seat. Pull the strut from the spring and remove from the old strut shaft the:
• bump stop washer
• bump stop
• strut bellows
• lower spring seat insulator
- Transfer the parts listed in step 4 to the new strut.
- Seat the strut spring on the lower spring seat cushion and mount. The end of the spring should match the indention on both the seat cushion and spring mount.
- Install the upper spring seat matching the upper end of the spring with the indentation on the spring seat. Screw on and tighten the cross nut onto the strut stem. The cross nut cannot be just finger-tight; tighten it with channel-locks while preventing the strut stem from moving.
- Install the strut mount, brace, and nut. Torque down on the nut.
- Release the tension on the spring compressors. If a third compressor was used, remove that compressor first, then release the tension on the other two compressors equally.
- Transfer the plastic brake line support bracket from the old strut to the new strut. The bracket is held in place with small plastic pins that must be pushed out with a thin metal pointed tool. The bracket can then be pulled off and transferred.
Step 7: Re-installing the Steering Knuckle and Suspension Strut
- Mount the lower ball joint (attached to the steering knuckle) onto the lower control arm.
- Move the CV axle into the steering knuckle's wheel hub and screw on hand tight the CV axle bolt.
- Screw on and tighten the lower ball joint's nut.
- Position the three studs on the upper portion of the suspension strut into the chassis's three strut mounting holes and screw on the stud bolts. Torque down the bolts.
- Install the lower strut mounting bolts. Align the steering knuckle's strut mounting holes with the strut holes. The control arm must be pushed down to obtain alignment. The way I did it was to sit down and push down the steering knuckle with my foot while using both hands to align the holes and push through the first mounting bolt. The second bolt can then be wiggled in.
- Install the strut mounting nuts and torque down the nuts and bolts.
Step 8: Attaching the Stabilizer Bar Link, ABS Line, Brake Dust Shield and CV Bolt
- Attach the stabilizer bar link to the suspension strut. Installation is just the reverse of removal.
- Attach the ABS sensor to the steering knuckle and the ABS line to the plastic ABS clip on the strut.
- Attach the brake dust shield back onto the steering knuckle.
- Tighten the CV axle bolt. Do not over-torque it or the bolt will shear off.
Step 9: Re-Installing the Brake Components
- Mount the brake rotor onto the steering knuckle. Hold the rotor in place by screwing on the 10-mm bolt.
- Mount the brake caliper back onto the steering knuckle and attach the turn stop bracket with the caliper bolts.
- Attach the outer tie rod end to the steering knuckle, screw on the tie rod end nut, and torque it down.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have a 2015.5 Volvo S80. It has 40,000 kilometers (24,000 miles) on it and is serviced at a Volvo dealership. The ride quality has never been as smooth as I hoped it would be, despite all the suspension components being in top shape. So, I'm wondering what component do you think I could replace to improve the ride quality? Shock absorbers, springs, struts? I don't want to break the bank, but I'm willing to spend some money if I knew I could improve the ride.
Answer: I would start by replacing the front struts with either KYB or sacks. If that does not improve the ride, consider replacing the lower control arms.
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