1997 Volvo 850-boots, bearings and bushings


Several years ago, my Volvo was rear-ended by a Lexus SUV. While his car was totaled, it appeared that the damage to my car was minimal. Short story long, I have ever since had an issue with fumes coming into the car. After replacing the entire exhaust system, I returned it to the place that fixed it, called the insurance company back several times, and finally took it to another shop. But here it is 3 years later and of course, the statute of limitations has expired. After replacing an intermediate pipe on the exhaust and suffering lots of speculation, the source of the fumes was finally identified as the PVC system, not necessarily related to the crash. While the car was up on the rack, it was noticed that the left CV joint was leaking, but still had grease. The mechanic asked me into the shop to look (really, to verify that the exhaust system was fixed - he was blowing smoke up my tailpipe to prove it) and I noticed right away, that the right CV joint was also exposed, but all of the grease was gone and it was running dry. I mentioned this to the mechanic as though I knew what I was talking about. (I had the added advantage that I had been hearing a clunking sound from the passenger side for quite a while.) The PVC system turned out to be a pretty tricky diagnosis, and I thought I better get the joints fixed while I was there. Here’s where the long story starts:

The shop agreed to repair the CV joint during the other repair. I told the office guy that I wanted him to fix the right side at the same time. I received a phone call halfway through the day to tell me that they had just seen the problem on the right side, but had not ordered the parts, so they kept it another day and ended up fixing all three problems: PVC system, both CV joints and whatever goes along with the CV stuff. Total price out the door: $1,037.00. One day later, I heard a light metal-on-metal sound from the passenger side. This was on a Saturday, but I called the shop where the repairs were done, and they couldn’t see my until Tuesday (after Labor Day). I made an appointment, but the sound got increasingly worse. I drove less than a mile, and the sound was a definite BAD sound, metal on metal, popping and grinding. I pull into a Sears Auto shop (which just happened to be on my way to the freeway), and after a desperate plea to please take a quick look, I was told that the problem was a bad wheel bearing. I had the car towed and had the car repaired on Tuesday/Wednesday of the following week, another $215.62, which the shop assured me was only a portion of the actual cost, but they would share some it with me. Good will being what it is, I picked the car up the next morning, and drove it to work, but on the way home, in the grocery store parking lot, I heard a definite clunking sound coming from the passenger side (I did not have a passenger.) I picked up my son and he assured me that I wasn’t crazy (and he would have told me if he thought I was crazy), and that I had to take the car back and complain that the noise problem wasn’t fixed. Reluctantly, I returned to the shop the next morning (by now, it was Friday). I had one of the shop guys ride with me, and sure enough, he diagnosed a linkage problem and talked about the sway bar, and of course, the bushings that were worn. The estimate was another $180.00. The shop folks assured me that this is not a safety issue and the repairs can wait, but now I am worried that it will get worse sooner rather than later. The clunking is loud, but somewhat irregular, depending on the bumps and the turning and the radio. (One guy at the shop suggested that I turn up the radio if I don’t want to hear the clunking. This doesn?t work as well as one might think.) I am inclined to get it fixed, and do not want to be hasty with a decision, but I also do not know the risk of driving with new pieces and parts in some places and old pieces clunking away in others. Any advice? My friends are split 50/50 on whether to fix it now, or whether to wait. Some of them are of the opinion that the shop should bear some of the responsibility for not diagnosing and fixing everything the first time they had it.


I don’t think the metal on metal sound was the wheel bearing. There is a dust shield on the end of the axle that can come loose and make this sound, but a wheel bearing usually makes a roaring sound.

Did they just replace the boots on you axle or did they put in reman axles. In either case, the axles can be responsible for the clunking sound. I’m guessing they used remans and the CV joint is really bad. My experience with remans has all been bad, most should never have been rebuilt. A couple of weeks with a split boot and the CV joint is ruined. They click at first but then start clunking right before they break or come apart.

There are companies selling brand new axles that are made in China for less than the remans and quality almost as good as OEM. I suggest your mechanic look into these if he installed a remans, and it should be at no cost to you. EMPI and GSR are two of the brands from China.


That may be GSP not GSR. Also, you may have a broken seal around your trunk that is pulling in fumes from your exhaust. A broken seal will suck in fumes from an otherwise perfect exhaust system. It may take a very good body shop to find the source of the bad seal, not a regular mechanic.


Thanks for taking time to read the litany. They did check all seals around the trunk and even around the engine. The continuing story is that I picked it up last night with the new boots, bearings, and bushings and it was absolutely noiseless, except now, my ABS and Tracs lights are one. I am on the bring of crazy! The good news is that the fumes are gone - I am inclined to think that the PVC system did the trick on that issue. (It should have done something! It was $650.00)


In addition to my other reply, I forgot to mention that they told me that they replaced the axles, too. My understanding was that they were no remans, but were not orignals, either. Is there such a thing as an after market new axle?


Yes, there are new, not reman, drive axles.
My experience with remans has been good for the most part, but there have been a few exceptions.

This PCV problem was 650 bucks! Ouch.
I’m by no means a Volvo expert in spite of servicing a few of them but the flame trap PCV is about 30-40 bucks I think. Surely it can’t be 650 bucks worth of big deal.?


My opinion especailly now, in reference to the ABS and track lights on, don’t pay the shop another cent. I they replaced the boots axels and everything else, there were in contact with ABS sensors at the wheel and are just finding more ways to soak you.