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10105 Does your Volvo drive like it has a mind of its’ own?

Created on 2012-05-22 by Kevin Rutledge

Somewhere after 80,000 miles, the handling of my 2002 V70 2.4T started getting progressively worse. It eventually got to the point that it was very difficult to drive on some road surfaces.  It would make slight steering changes even when I held steering wheel straight. If I had to brake hard, it usually veered in a random direction.

I inspected the front suspension, but didn’t find anything definitive. I found a slightly loose left inner tie rod and the lower control arm bushings were starting to tear. It is very common to need control arm bushings and inner tie rods on P2 models every 50K+ miles.

I replaced the inner tie rods, ipd upper spring seats, upper strut bearings, installed Bilstein HD struts and installed some Meyle HD lower control arms. After the front end alignment, the ride quality was greatly improved but the steering drift was still present.

Needless to say, I was a little surprised. Our Volvo technician and I carefully inspected the front suspension looking for anything that might be worn out or loose but didn’t find anything else worthy of replacement.It was a little frustrating to say the least. The car was difficult to drive without white knuckles. I was seriously thinking about trading it in on something else.

I started looking for other less obvious causes for the steering drift. The only real thing left to look at on the front suspension was the subframe bushings. Mine weren’t torn but using a pry bar, I could tell they were a little soft. Subframe bushings are a pain to replace on these cars so another ipd employee suggested creating a poly insert to fill the air voids in the stock bushings. We thought it was a good idea because the bushings are quite soft and installation would be much easier than installing new bushings.

We created a few prototype polyurethane sets for testing. My car was an obvious choice for testing since it had a fresh front suspension and I drive it every day.

I can’t really describe how huge a difference it made!  It’s like driving a completely different car.All the steering drift is gone. The handling is very crisp. I actually like driving my car again. There is no increase in vibration, but I can definitely feel the road better than before.

We have since then installed the other prototype sets on a couple other employees’ cars and they are all very happy with the dramatic difference it made in the handling of their Volvo.

It makes sense if you consider how the whole front suspension floats on the subframe bushings. Any play in these bushings and your alignment becomes infinitely variable. Slight bumps in the road can significantly change your aligment geometry and affect your steering.

The differences in suspension geometry between P80 and P2 models makes this problem much more pronounced on P2 models but P80 models still benefit from stiffer subframe bushings.

UPDATE 2012-08-30:  I have been very happy with the improvement gained by the addition of the sub frame bushing inserts.  As an added bonus, my premature tire wear and edge feathering is gone.

These Volvo Models can use our ipd subframe bushing inserts:

  • 1993-1997 850
  • 1998-2000 S70
  • 1998-2004 C70
  • 1998-2007 V70
  • 1999-2006 S80
  • 2001-2009 S60
  • 2001-2007 XC70
  • 2003-2012 XC90

These products are linked to this Technical Article

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