The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

200/700/900 Suspension Upgrade Stages

2011-03-03 - Cameron Daline

If you’re missing the Bacon, a BLT sandwich is just not quite the same! Your Volvo’s suspension is sort of the same way. For example, if any (or all) of your suspension pieces are broken, tired, or otherwise not as they should be it affects how everything else in your suspension “tastes.” Being familiar with how your car “feels” is good, but being too familiar can sometimes cloud your view of what is OK and what is not. It’s like cooking a lobster – try and throw him into boiling water and he’ll climb out, but if you gradually raise the temperature he will quickly become witness to his own demise. Freshening up tired parts can prolong the life of other components and save your back some aches too! When planning your perfect suspension it’s important to remember that beauty (and ride quality) is in the eye of the beholder. It’s very important to understand what kind of ride YOU want and to consider factors like road conditions in your area before making final decisions. If you’re unsure, feel free to call one of our Customer Service Representatives for some advice!

Stage Zero
Similar to engine maintenance stage zero, your suspension has some common parts that should be inspected/replaced as maintenance items. Although they need replacing much less frequently, they are no less important. Inspect all front and rear bushings and check your shocks and struts for proper compression and rebound damping and for any fluid leakage. While you’re there, check for torn boots on the ball joints, tie rod ends and inner tie rods. It’s also a good idea to check for any excessive play in any moving parts and inspect all your mounts.
Once you’ve determined the status of all your suspension parts you can move forward with replacement. If you’re considering upgrading, now’s the time to substitute performance parts for standard replacement parts

Stage One
With your worn suspension parts now properly ironed out you can move on to the fun stuff! The first building blocks to your perfect suspension are proper shocks and struts. These can also be one of the trickiest components to pick. Generally, the stiffer you go the better performance gains you feel. The trade off though is some level of comfort. Here’s a general scale of stiffness starting from softest to firmest:
Boge Automatics – These are the most comfort minded shocks we offer. They are the OEM shocks on many Volvo models.
Boge Turbo Gas/Bilstein Touring Class – Both of these represent a step up in performance. They are firmer than stock and allow for more “spirited” driving and a more precise road feel in all driving conditions. These are a good mid-range shock for those who want a noticeable upgrade without sacrificing too much ride compliance.
Bilstein Heavy Duty/Koni – If you’re looking for the ultimate shock that you will likely never have to replace these are what you’re looking for. Both of these represent a much stiffer ride than stock. Don’t be scared away though – although these are stiffer, they are also very precise in their damping. This precise damping translates into a ride that still feels very smooth. If you’re planning on tracking the car, or just want your Volvo to handle on the street more like their European brethren, these are the shocks for you.

Stage Two
In stage two we come to THE suspension performance part for any Volvo – iPd Anti-Sway Bars. Anti-Sway Bars have been iPd’s best seller for over 40 years and represent the most significant return on investment of any product we sell. It’s often remarked by customers and employees alike that “If you only buy one thing ever from iPd, it should be Anti-Sway Bars for your Volvo.” Anti-Sway Bars will drastically reduce the amount of body roll your car experiences around corners and increase ride comfort to boot. All this translates into much more precise handling and control over your Swede with absolutely zero trade-off in ride quality.
Stage two also encompasses upgrading your suspension bushings to polyurethane. Not only will you get a tighter, more in control feel; you’ll get parts that will last much longer than stock rubber replacement bushings.

Stage Three (& Beyond)
By now your vehicle is behaving much better on the road than it ever has before. At this point we are putting the icing on the cake and really dialing it in. Stage 3 consists of these additional components:
• IPD sport springs – These serve two distinct purposes. First, they bring down the car about 1.5 to 2 inches, which lowers the car’s center of gravity, and gives better lateral stability. Second, the spring rate is 15%-20% stiffer. Like stiffer shocks, this means a more precise ride and feel. Lowering coils also give your car a slightly more aggressive look.
• Adjustable torque rods and adjustable panhard rod – A lowered car has slightly different suspension geometry than a stock height car. Because of the static length of the original torque rods and panhard rod the body of the car and the driveline can shift slightly off center. The advantage of iPd adjustable torque rods and panhard rod is the ability to perfectly “true” everything up. This can help with issues of driveline vibration and rear wheel rub.
• Chassis Braces – Under stress, your Volvo’s chassis flexes. When it does flex the driver feels it as uneasiness in the steering or the feeling of having to constantly correct the steering in order to keep a constant radius turn. The perfect example of this is a freeway on-ramp. Next time you’re taking a sweeping, “set” turn, make an effort to really feel what your hands are doing and look at them if you can safely do so. You’ll notice that you are likely constantly making small corrections to keep the car going where you want it to. Upper and lower braces are the answer.