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I have a 2011 V8 XC90 Executive Edition with about 156,000 miles. I got it right before the pandemic, so I haven't put too many miles on it over the last 2 years. The handling was alway very loose and it wandered all over when driving. Over the last 4 months I've put in new tires, B4 struts and shocks (including strut mounts and spring seats) as well as new outer tie rod ends, sway bar end links and finally last weekend I put on new lower front control arms and ball joints. Each thing has resulted in an improvement in handling. The control arms were the part that really tightened up the handling and eliminated a lot of noise. But I still have a creaking noise when braking and accelerating away from a stop. I could be wrong, but I think it is either motor mounts or subframe bushings. I figure for the subframe bushings I would try the poly inserts first before replacing them. Motor mounts are expensive and a bit of a pain, so I'm not running the parts catalogue right away.

Can anybody advise me if I'm heading in the right direction and which one is the best choice for next steps? Or point me in a new direction.
 

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I have a 2011 V8 XC90 Executive Edition with about 156,000 miles. I got it right before the pandemic, so I haven't put too many miles on it over the last 2 years. The handling was alway very loose and it wandered all over when driving. Over the last 4 months I've put in new tires, B4 struts and shocks (including strut mounts and spring seats) as well as new outer tie rod ends, sway bar end links and finally last weekend I put on new lower front control arms and ball joints. Each thing has resulted in an improvement in handling. The control arms were the part that really tightened up the handling and eliminated a lot of noise. But I still have a creaking noise when braking and accelerating away from a stop. I could be wrong, but I think it is either motor mounts or subframe bushings. I figure for the subframe bushings I would try the poly inserts first before replacing them. Motor mounts are expensive and a bit of a pain, so I'm not running the parts catalogue right away.

Can anybody advise me if I'm heading in the right direction and which one is the best choice for next steps? Or point me in a new direction.
If I didn’t know any better I would swear that I wrote everything you just posted. With the exception of when purchased everything else is what I’ve experienced! We even have the same amount miles! I literally just got off the phone with the suspension shop for a quote to have my B4s, end links, and ball joints, and subframe bushing inserts installed; had the control arms and inner and outer tie rods installed a month ago. Like you, mine wanders all over the road and I haven’t really driven it because it’s my second car. Also like you I get that creaking sound when taking off. My doors also creak when opening…haha. I’ll let you know if the subframe bushing inserts stops the creaking.
 

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Both of you are headed in the right direction! Kudos to your work and research! I am assuming you both are using good quality parts and notifying the shop which part brands to use. I say this because people, including me, have had Lemforder strut mounts cause creeks and pops, even when brand new.

Subframe inserts are definitely a good first step that’s easier than engine mounts if you are still chasing a creek. Just a reminder though, still plan ahead when you will do the engine mounts because at 150k+ miles, they are most likely worn.

The B4 struts are such a good mild upgrade from stock struts. Glad you went for those.
 

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Both of you are headed in the right direction! Kudos to your work and research! I am assuming you both are using good quality parts and notifying the shop which part brands to use. I say this because people, including me, have had Lemforder strut mounts cause creeks and pops, even when brand new.

Subframe inserts are definitely a good first step that’s easier than engine mounts if you are still chasing a creek. Just a reminder though, still plan ahead when you will do the engine mounts because at 150k+ miles, they are most likely worn.

The B4 struts are such a good mild upgrade from stock struts. Glad you went for those.
Luckily I found a shop that will install what you bring so I went with IPD HD control arms and IPD HD end links.
 

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Volvo put together a "kit" of a couple large o-rings to resolve subframe creaking reports many years ago. If you're pulling the bolts for the subframe inserts, you could consider adding them to the mix. Rear subframe mount points only, 2 required.

IPD sells them as Volvo PN 8638585, there's a write-up below for general symptom and also a cheaper version of the rings (MTC same PN). I have a set of OE rings in a big box of parts for my Ocean Race that I bought more than a year ago and intend to put them on the next time I drop the subframe. Might not be your problem but if you're already there, it sure won't hurt.

Mount-wise, if your top torque rod is loose and you don't want to buy a new one, someone in this thread V8 Upper Torque Mount Bushing | SwedeSpeed - Volvo Performance Forum filled in the gaps with a window urethane with decent results. That will probably help firm things up as might checking the lower mount (double bushing) and see if the small side is broken loose. If it is, you can also do a refit- What did you do with your XC90 today? | Page 93 | SwedeSpeed - Volvo Performance Forum . There's a last big rubber mount under the harmonic balancer, gets oily from the motor after 120k or so and needs replaced outright. As member @Tommm point out the V8 mounts are nearly all Hutchinson rebrand Volvo so if you go that route you can save 10-15% off OE.

All the other advice is great and you've pretty much replaced everything that can cause an overt creak, I this is what I think could also help and I'm adding a couple things specific to your motor. Good luck in your repairs.
 
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That’s all good advice.

I followed the sticky thread about front noise with the front subframe bushing o-rings and washer. When I went to install them, I also did the subframe bushing inserts with new bolts. It didn’t fix the creak as it was always the strut mount. But these subframe items are good to do.

****Take caution. @ggleavitt mentioned the o-rings for the rearward mounting points for the front subframe only. If you live in an area that gets any winter salt or good amount of rain, perhaps delay doing the forward (towards the nose of vehicle) subframe inserts as a good number of us have had those two forward bolts snap from being rusted frozen. The threads of the bolt holes are exposed at the top so water (and salt) sit in it rusting the bolt into place. It is a huge bear to remove a broken bolt so I would suggest to delay or don’t do those forward subframe inserts. The rearward bolts don’t have an issue.
 

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Good point above, front bolts may require some prep and/or care to come out whole. I'm not sure that I would delay doing them, just need to know what you're getting into potentially before you get started. Good to get a mirror or a borescope camera and see what you have to deal with before you start, visuals in this thread- Odd Issue with Subframe Bolt should help with orientation.

Came across another creaking thread while I was looking for the link above, can't hurt to add as another data point- Suspension creaking from front end | SwedeSpeed - Volvo Performance Forum
 
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Just to add, I had those forward bolts break on me and let me tell you it was the biggest pain in the rear to deal with on the XC90 for all the work I’ve done to it. The XC90 should not be driven with broken subframe bolts.

The forward bolts are completely independent from any work besides if you want to change front sway bars. Being independent of the other work is why they can be delayed for such a high risk of breakage. It’s okay to reassess creaking noises and handling performance after only doing the rear subframe inserts, o-rings, & plastic washers.
 
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