Volvo Coupes/Sedans/Wagons 1970-1989 Repair Guide

Shock Absorbers

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Shock absorbers are also commonly referred to as "dampers," for the function they perform of dampening the oscillations created by the moving vehicle over uneven road surfaces.

The purpose of the shock absorbers is simply to limit the motion of the spring during compression (bump) and rebound cycles. If the car were not equipped with these motion dampers, the up and down motion of the car would multiply until the vehicle was alternately trying to leap off the ground and to pound itself into the pavement.

Contrary to popular opinion, the shocks do not affect the ride height of the car nor do they affect the ride quality except for limiting the pitch or bounce of the car. These factors are controlled by other suspension components such as springs and tires. The simplest test of the shock absorbers is simply to push down on one corner of the unladen car and release it.

Observe the motion of the body as it is released. In most cases, it will come up beyond its original rest position, dip back below it and settle quickly to rest. This shows that the damper is slowing and controlling the spring action. Any tendency to excessive pitch (up-and-down) motion or failure to return to rest within 2-3 cycles is a sign of poor function within the shock absorber.

While it is true that each shock absorber can be replaced individually, it is highly recommended that they be changed as a pair (both front or both rear) to maintain equal response on both sides of the car. Chances are quite good that if one has failed, its mate is weak also.

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



140 Series and 164 Models
  1. Raise and safely support the vehicle with jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Remove the upper nut, washer, and outer rubber bushing.
  4.  
  5. Remove the two lower attaching bolts beneath the lower control arm, and pull the shock absorber assembly down and out.
  6.  
  7. Test the damping action of the shock absorber. Secure the bottom of the shock in a vise and extend and compress the shaft. Definite resistance should be felt in each direction, although the amount of effort required in each direction may be greatly different. If the shock absorber is operating properly and is being reinstalled, be sure to use new rubber bushings on top.
  8.  
  9. Position the inner washer, spacing sleeve, and inner rubber bushing on top of the shock absorber.
  10.  
  11. Position the shock to its upper and lower attachments, and install the lower attaching bolts.
  12.  
  13. Install the outer rubber bushing, washer, and the upper nut on top of the unit. Tighten the upper nut until it makes firm contact with the spacing sleeve.
  14.  

1800 Series
  1. Raise and safely support the vehicle with jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Remove the upper nut, washer, and outer rubber bushing from the top of the shock absorber.
  4.  
  5. Remove the lower nut, washer, and outer rubber bushing from beneath the shock absorber.
  6.  
  7. Remove the two lower attaching bolts from beneath the lower control arm, and pull the shock absorber assembly down and out.
  8.  
  9. Test the damping action of the shock absorber. Secure the bottom of the shock in a vise and extend and compress the shaft. Definite resistance should be felt in each direction, although the amount of effort required in each direction may be greatly different. If the shock absorber is operating properly and is being reinstalled, be sure to use new rubber bushings on top.
  10.  
  11. Place the shock absorber through the lower control arm and install the two lower bolts.
  12.  
  13. Install the lower nut, washer and bushing.
  14.  
  15. Install the upper bushing, washer and nut.
  16.  

200 and 700 Series With MacPherson Struts

CAUTION
Use of the correct special tools or their equivalent is REQUIRED for this procedure. To remove the spring, a coil spring compressor must be used. Under no circumstances should you attempt to lower and disassemble the strut assembly without the proper spring compressor. Serious injury could result. Spring compressors can be rented from many repair and supply shops.

  1. Remove the hub cap and loosen the lug nuts two or three turns.
  2.  
  3. Firmly apply the parking brake and place blocks in back of the rear wheels.
  4.  
  5. Install the spring compressor on the spring directly beneath the upper mount. Make sure that at least 3 coils of the spring are between the tool attachment points. Tighten the tool and compress the spring.
  6.  
  7. Jack up the front of the car at the center of the front crossmember. When the wheels are 2-3 in. (50-75mm) off the ground, the car is high enough. Place jackstands beneath the front jacking points. Remove the floor jack from the crossmember, and reposition it beneath the lower control arm to provide support at the outer end. Remove the wheel.
  8.  
  9. Using a ball joint puller, disconnect the steering rod from the steering arm.
  10.  
  11. Disconnect the stabilizer bar at the upper link.
  12.  
  13. Remove the bolt holding the brake line bracket to the fender well.
  14.  
  15. Open the hood and remove the cover from the top of the strut assembly upper mount. Mark the position of the upper mounts relative to their holes.
  16.  
  17. While keeping the strut from turning, loosen and remove the nut for the upper strut mount.
  18.  
  19. Before lowering the strut assembly, wire or tie the strut to some stationary component (or use a holding fixture such as Volvo No. 5045) to prevent the strut from traveling down too far and damaging the hydraulic brake lines. Lower the jack supporting the lower arm and allow the strut to tilt out at about a 60° angle. At this angle, the top of the strut assembly should just protrude past the wheel well, allowing removal of the strut components from the top. Take great care to control the descent of the strut and prevent damage to the fender.
  20.  
  21. Lift off the spring seat, rubber bumper, and the shock absorber protector. On 700 series, the upper spring mount must be removed from the shaft. Remove the coil spring and compressor assembly from the strut.
  22.  
  23. While keeping the strut outer tube from turning, remove the upper shock absorber retaining nut.
  24.  

The shock absorber unit is a sealed unit. It cannot be repaired or overhauled.

  1. Pull the shock absorber unit out of the outer tube (casing).
  2.  

On some models, gas type shock absorbers are used. A special tool (such as Volvo No. 5173 or similar) must be used to remove and install the unit.

  1. Install the new shock absorber unit into the outer tube and install the retaining nut. You can stop the outer tube from turning with the nut by holding the tube at the weld with a pair of locking pliers.
  2.  
  3. Pull the shock absorber shaft to its uppermost position.
  4.  
  5. Position the spring and compressor on the strut assembly. On 700 series, install the upper spring mount. Make sure the spring end is properly aligned with the lower mount.
  6.  

Make sure that the compressor bolts face as they did during removal.

  1. Install the rubber bumper and the shock absorber protector. Position the spring seat on the spring, making sure it is aligned with the spring.
  2.  
  3. Carefully lift and guide the strut assembly into its upper attachment in the spring tower. Connect the stabilizer bar to the stabilizer link.
  4.  
  5. Guide the shock absorber spindle into the upper attachment and raise the jack beneath the lower control arm. Install the washer and nut on top of the shock absorber spindle. Position the upper mount according to marks made during removal. Tighten the upper mounting bolts. The smaller outer nuts should be tightened to 15-25 ft. lbs. (20-34 Nm). The large center nut should be tightened to 90-100 ft. lbs. (122-135 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Install the cover.
  8.  
  9. Attach the brake line bracket to its mount. Make sure that the brake lines sit properly in their mounts. Tighten the nut holding the stabilizer bar to the link. Connect the steering rod at the steering arm.
  10.  
  11. Release the coil spring compressor and install the wheel and tire assembly. Remove the jackstands and lower the car. Bounce the suspension a few times and then road test.
  12.  

 
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