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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I wanted to share my personal experience and set-up with using OEM and aftermarket parts to rebuild or upgrade the front end of the XC90. These are my personal opinions and hope you can benefit with real world experience, rather than heresay. After driving BMWs for 20 years I wanted more from the handling. The XC90 finally went from boring to sporty.

If I didn't put it in the pic, the parts replaced are original Volvo. For my 3.2 engine mounts, I used all Hutchinson from FCP. I noticed on some of them, they looked exactly the same as the Volvo part, but the Volvo logo was grinded off.



The main thing to talk about are the control arm bushings. I had replacement Meyle control arms, but when a winter sale for poly forward control arm bushings plus an addition sale on top of it came up, I jumped at the opportunity. I used original Volvo for the rearward bushings. My assessment, I love the poly control arm bushings because they remove the bushing cutouts that flex and since they pivot in the bushing rather than twist the bushing when the control arm moves up and down, the geometry is more precise without the harshness. Yeah, each time the control arm moves up or down, the front rubber bushing twists. The poly bushings were a little firm at first and it took about two weeks for the bushings to break-in. Now they are wonderful.

For those looking to press bushings out of the old control arms, I can assume most people mainly fall between either you want the factory ride or sportier. If you are going to spend a typical $20-40 per bushing to be pressed out and replaced, I would go straight for the original Volvo or the Polyurethane ones. For bushings that carry so much load in the suspension, it is worth skipping both Meyle and Lemforder, especially if you are already going to pay for them to be pressed. Why save a few dollars when they will be on for 70-100k miles and are essential to the suspension.

The next thing I might change are the Zimmerman brake rotors. I think they have more ferrous (iron) material because they can form light rust in humid or wet weather. This means you feel grinding first thing in the morning as the pads clean off the rotors. I might try the Ate ones next time. The Bosch rear rotors don't have the same problem and I like them.

The last part I want to share are the subframe poly inserts. This is well documented, but if you live in an area that uses salt, I would skip the forward two inserts. The forward bolt threads are exposed to the outside elements and rust. Water and salt sit in the threaded part like a pocket, making it worse. Thus, I and others, have had these forward bolts break when trying to remove them. So, my suggestion is you can use the rearward two poly bushing inserts to help tighten things up and those rear two get most of the turning load.

The rest of the parts are performing really well and have been documented in other threads. They are of good quality, either equal or better than Volvo in my opinion. I love this set-up and with the right alignment, it works very well. It is civilized in normal driving, but really sporty on the turns.

The last bit that does not require parts is the alignment. I personally believe the factory rear settings are too toe'd in and this gives that front corner pushing feeling on circular highway offramps. Especially with the front end sport build, I noticed the rear was pushing straight/forward when I turned, so the trick is to reduce the factory (around) +0.17 of toe in on each side or total toe of +0.34. You can instruct the alignment shop to make it zero, or if you want a little straight line safety for the highway/towing/carrying 7 passengers/wifey/teenager, reduce it to +0.10 each side or total toe of +0.20 (still within spec range). This will improve the rear to follow the front wheels on turns and still feel stable at higher speeds.


Long-Term Update May 7, 2020

Besides the changed parts below, the rest mentioned in the original post are going strong with 33k-38k miles them.
-I changed the brake pads to Wagner Thermoquiet Ceramic pads. They perform better in cold, wet, and hot compared to Bosch Quietcast and Centric Posi Quiet Semi-Metallic. The Wagner TQ Ceramic does not have the dark brake dust.
-I changed to Bosch rotors and they rust less than the Zimmermans. I now only recommend the Bosch Quietcast or original Volvo rotors.

At about 17k miles, I started to get a creak when I turned the wheel at slow speed, like out of a parking spot. Around 30k miles of use, it changed to a small pop. Around 35k miles, I removed one front wheel at a time with the front on a jack stand, then I placed one hand on the strut/spring and the other on the control arm. I had a 2nd person turn left and right. I could feel the pop in the upper area and not the control arm, signaling it is not a balljoint, but the strut mount.

-I can no longer recommend Lemforder for a strut mount. While it did not completely break, it did make noise creaking and popping. There are other accounts of this in the forum too. The bearing also made [scratchy] wear noise at 38k miles when I checked it after removal. I have now switched to the Corteco strut mount and the noise is gone. Corteco comes with nuts rounded at its upper area, so have a wrench or deep socket ready, otherwise you can strip the nuts.
-I still recommend the Rein spring pad/perch. With almost 40k miles, these still perform well.
 

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Appreciate this sort of post, really helps give a good summary of quality stuff for the big Volvo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I hope it helps with choosing the right parts. A picture is worth a thousand words.

I do hope someone who is using the Ate rotors can chime in on how they perform and if they also form light rust when it is humid or wet.
 

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Volvo doesn’t sell just the control arm bushings. At least, I could never find them when I was looking. If you want “Volvo,” you have to buy the complete arm with bushings. Lemforder is the only “aftermarket” bushings that hold up. That’s what I used, as well as others here, with no issues. Many will be keeping an eye on your poly bushings over time, as that’s most likely the best way to go for aftermarket, if they seem reliable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Volvo doesn’t sell just the control arm bushings. At least, I could never find them when I was looking. If you want “Volvo,” you have to buy the complete arm with bushings. Lemforder is the only “aftermarket” bushings that hold up. That’s what I used, as well as others here, with no issues. Many will be keeping an eye on your poly bushings over time, as that’s most likely the best way to go for aftermarket, if they seem reliable.
Please check before posting. https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/vo...arm-bushing-front-lower-xc90-genuine-31277881

FCP does sell original Volvo bushings. There isn't any questionability on Volvo reliability.
 

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FCP does sell original Volvo bushings. There isn't any questionability on Volvo reliability.
Interesting. They also sell Lemforder, for half the price, and both are made in Slovakia. Coincidence?
 

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Front bushing 31277881
Rear bushing 31304040 (Lisle parts webstore has a note “also order 1 x 999403, 1 x 985660”, this is the rear nut/bolt).

It’s come up a few times now.
 

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I replaced the 4C shocks in my S80 V8 with the Bilstein B4s for the same reason you put them in the XC90. I thought they would give me a slightly crisper ride than the Sachs.

Bilsteins are supposed to weep a little bit. The right side weeps significantly more than the left, and even though I replaced everything other than the spring from the control arm up to the nut on the top of the strut I get creaking noises like I used to get on my 68 Firebird. I put Lemforder control arms in.

Im curious to see how much fluid your B4s weep. I may replace them next year after about 40k.


These are the brakes I put in the V8 XC90. https://www.amazon.com/Power-ESK450...utomotive&vehicleId=14&vehicleType=automotive They have a better cold bite than the Akebono pads with Centric rotors we had on the 06 T5 XC90. But they are dirtier.

As an aside, the S80 has 110k on it and the front pads have plenty of life. I replaced the rear pads with textar at about 60k when I bough the car 3 years ago (BMW uses textar on their regular cars, and Pagid (same manufacturer) on their M cars. Got that from a rep).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My mistake. They’re on the 2nd page. As John C said, they’re both made in the same country. Very high odds they’re the same bushings, which is why we have such high success rates with them.
That is an assumption. Lemforder is a good aftermarket option to mention as this is an aftermarket and OEM thread ;)

However....the original Volvo only costs ~$20 more for those forward control arm bushings. Those bushings are the largest bushing (excl. subframe) in the entire vehicle and carry the most dynamic load in the suspension, responsible for the suspension geometry, the steering angles, braking, power delivery angle, absorbing bumps, taking weight from the hanging over-the-front-axle engine, and ride comfort. Switching to polyurethane bushings really revealed how much dynamic load that front bushing manages. Call it peace of mind, cheap insurance, or whatever, but for $20 I would suggest to get the original Volvo over the Lemforder.

This is also predicated on my personal experience. A number of years ago I did a comparison of a new Lemforder part to a new original part, albeit it was a German car, and the original part had updates to it. With the long production run of the XC90, the Lemforder bushing could be based on a 2004 model while Volvo continued to make updates. It is commmon to make running updates, like how Volvo did with the wheel bearing and rear trailing arm bushing. The only way to guarantee you have the most up to date part is to get the original. Who knows if the rubber hardness, material, shape design, metal, etc. have been updated.

It is also common to see the parts made in the same city and country because the specialized trades usually reside in those areas. There could be dozens of manufacturing plants in that specific area doing suspension parts. This is inline with places who have trade/manufacturing clusters like Shenzhen, China, or for tech start-ups in Silicon Valley.

So we cannot assume they are the same part or even made in the same plant. For $20, it is cheap insurance to get the original Volvo part. If you are going to replace the bushings, save money on the other bushings with Lemforder, but not the vital forward control arm bushing. That is my suggestion.


I replaced the 4C shocks in my S80 V8 with the Bilstein B4s for the same reason you put them in the XC90. I thought they would give me a slightly crisper ride than the Sachs.

Bilsteins are supposed to weep a little bit. The right side weeps significantly more than the left, and even though I replaced everything other than the spring from the control arm up to the nut on the top of the strut I get creaking noises like I used to get on my 68 Firebird. I put Lemforder control arms in.

Im curious to see how much fluid your B4s weep. I may replace them next year after about 40k.


These are the brakes I put in the V8 XC90. https://www.amazon.com/Power-ESK450...utomotive&vehicleId=14&vehicleType=automotive They have a better cold bite than the Akebono pads with Centric rotors we had on the 06 T5 XC90. But they are dirtier.

As an aside, the S80 has 110k on it and the front pads have plenty of life. I replaced the rear pads with textar at about 60k when I bough the car 3 years ago (BMW uses textar on their regular cars, and Pagid (same manufacturer) on their M cars. Got that from a rep).
Hi TOMM,

Shocks/struts are not suppose to weep. I don't have any weeping or creeking. Go get yours replaced via warranty.

Oh the stories I have of Textar and Pagid pads with the brake dust caking and gunking on German cars. With the XC90 weighing hundreds of pounds heavier than and S80 and the increased weight transfer load to the front on braking, front brake pads don't last long.
 

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Hi TOMM,

Shocks/struts are not suppose to weep. I don't have any weeping or creeking. Go get yours replaced via warranty.

Oh the stories I have of Textar and Pagid pads with the brake dust caking and gunking on German cars. With the XC90 weighing hundreds of pounds heavier than and S80 and the increased weight transfer load to the front on braking, front brake pads don't last long.
Bilstein says it's normal and not a warranty claim.
https://www.bilstein.com/us/en/technology-and-knowledge/warranty/
Waranty.jpg
"Coating of film on shock body or piston rod a completely normal occurrence not defective" Doesn't say how much. Shock was $80. Cost to remove and lay car up to get replacement is more. To get the warranty you have to send them the unit and wait. The warranty is basically worthless unless you don't mind a car on jackstands for a month or however long for an $80 part. Easier to just get 2 Sachs struts and install them. But I would also want to replace all the hardware because I don't like to reuse stuff that takes a lot of labor.
PHP:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Good info Tommm and I can't believe they say it's normal. If it was purchased from FCP, their lifetime warranty means you purchase a new set first and when they receive the old ones, you get the refund. That said, I never did a warranty claim on shocks or struts on any car.

Mine don't weep with 14k miles on them. I would still purchase them again when it is time to replace. It fits my driving style.
 

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The warranty is basically worthless unless you don't mind a car on jackstands for a month or however long for an $80 part.
Try going through the vendor. I've had new Bilsteins delivered to my door and never had to return anything. They've been very accommodating once contacted by the vendor.

That said, if you compress them and they extend by themselves, smoothly, they're still good to go. My replacements were all due to failed bushings. Seems they aren't field replaceable any longer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Since my feedback is for the 3.2L, I wanted to update this thread for the V8 and this thread https://forums.swedespeed.com/showt...-V8-R-Design&p=7237175&viewfull=1#post7237175. Regarding the front struts, the Sachs may have been developed for the 2.5t weight and might not be suitable for the V8 weight in conjunction with the R/Sport spring settings.

I have encountered underdamped front struts when dealing with sport springs in BMWs. When blueprinting and calculating the suspension, both the compression and rebound have to be spec'd for the spring rate and vehicle weight. The Bilstein B4 struts should have a higher compression rate and rebound rate than the Sachs and should better match the heavier V8.

If anyone with an XC90 V8 has experience with the Sachs or Bilstein B4s could chime in, it would be useful.
 

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Thanks. I'm glad I looked in your signature line and found this post.
Bookmarked for later use.
 

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How are the Centric Posi brake pads from a dust generation perspective? I'm entering my replacement window soon. Thinking EBC or Akebono but would be willing consider other options.

Sidenote: I knew you had posted this but I swear I couldn't find it. That's why I texted you.
I forgot I had bookmarked it on my old Windows and I'm back on Mac, that's why I couldn't find the bookmark. LMAO!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Glad you asked because I want to give updates when I can. The Centric Posi brake pads are good, but once in a while I did get the, losing some friction, when cold and wet. Not as bad as the Bosch pads. After ~5k miles, the pedal does have to be pushed more, especially when cold.

I still would not recommend Akebonos. They work well for only 2 reasons: to reduce dust and stop well when you push 90-100% force for immediate stopping. All other times, the pedal has to be pushed much further and very little grip when cold in the morning. They also do that thing where you try to stop and it has little friction towards the beginning, then after it gets warm, it grips hard at the very end. This can feel like you are about to rear end the car in front or seem like you like to tailgate people.

I don't have experience with EBC.

I guess we can't win them all when it comes to brake pads. I am due in the next month or two for new front pads and rotors, so I will be updating what I do. I already decided not to use the Zimmerman rotors because of the rusting issue on the friction surface.

The pads, I was set on getting Ate pads because their friction rating (GF) is higher than the OEMs (FE) like Pagid, Textar, Bosch, and others. But I just removed a set of Ate pads that was put on on a BMW 12 years ago because the dust was so bad and caked on. Trying to still search if Ate updated their compounds within the last 5-10 years so it dusts a little less. Others I am still considering besides Ate are Brembo (still some issues due to it being a ceramic pad), Wagner Thermoquiet Ceramic (the ceramic has a higher friction rating than their Semi-metallics and I put these on 4 different cars), and dusty Volvo.

I was trying to understand why the Volvo XC90 was the only vehicle I experienced with the losing brake friction when cold, wet/snow, not touching the brakes for some time, issue. I know in racing we look at the backspacing between the wheel and caliper. This area could contribute to debris getting caught. Also, the caliper design, same issue of debris staying in. The XC90 also does not have brake vents to cool or helps debris (including water) get moved. So, still trying to get a basic understanding of what the cause is and which type of pads would work best.
 

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Hmmm, good feedback.
I noticed how soft the initial bite on the XC90's brake pads and lack of immediate stopping power is in the rain or the cold (or both).
The duality of braking response dependent on temp & wetness is some of the worst I've ever experienced short of a Mazda B2000 I briefly owned way back in the 90's.
 

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Maybe something is wrong with your truck. Headlights get fixed yet or do you just drive during the day?
 
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