2006 Volvo S60 suspension noise

I have a newly purchased 2006 Volvo ST60. It was making a lot of clacking noises so I had the struts and shocks replaced. It still makes a lot of noises and now I distrust the people who did the job to give me a competent answer as to what is going wrong so I’m hoping to get some enlightenment from this forum. In the AM it also makes a squeaking noise mostly on the front right…maybe a bushing rubbing against something…not sure but that noise goes away after driving for a while. Short bumps in the road seem to elicit more sound that others but the car just seems to have very stiff suspension. This was also true before the strut/shock replacement. Sometimes it sounds like two washers without rubber bushings are rattling together. Any ideas?

Front control arm bushings my wag. Struts was not a bad guess.

I presume you took your Volvo to the shop and asked why it was making the noise, not to simply replace the struts and shocks. Generally a shop would then take it for a test drive with you along, and you could point out the noise to them. Did that happen?

If so, and a latter inspection showed a problem with the shock and struts, replacing them was a reasonable course of action. It is like that old saw “If you hear hoof beats, first think of horses, not zebras.”

Did you have all the struts, shocks, and bushings replaced? If not, it sound like a problematic one or two still remain. Engine and transmission mounts on the fritz can make a similar sound sometimes too.

If you aren’t satisfied with the shop, ask friends, coworkers, relatives etc who they use.

Thanks for the input, B-dog. but I think bad control arm bushings might cause loose steering or vibration, but this car has very nice steering and holds a straight line very well. It’s perfect on a smooth road or over a gentle bump and drives beautifully on the freeway with no hands. It’s the sharp bumps that cause problems, even small ones. Still worth looking at, though.

Subframe bushing failures are common on this car.

Has anybody taken a good look at sway bar bushings and links

That’s the first thing I would have concentrated on, before the shocks, actually

Sway bar links make a clunk

Sway bar bushings make a squeak

Replace outer tie rod ends. Then sway bar links.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but if you told the shop what to change, they changed it, and the problem persisted, you cannot blame the shop. Next trip, give them a detailed description of the symptoms and let them diagnose the cause(s). If the problem then still persists, THEN you have cause to distrust the shop.

And do not assume that because the car rolls smooth and straight you don’t have a bushing causing the noises. You have a myriad of rubber bits under there that do a myriad of jobs. If they get old, cracked, shrunken (or in the case of sway bar bushings that hold the bar to the unibody, the hole expands due to wear and rubber shrinkage), they can develop a wide range of symptoms.

Frankly, you also have spring bushings, mounts, and bump-stops in the strut assembly that can cause these problems. If you just had them change the struts without being aware of these rubbery bits, you make have left symptoms in the strut assemblies that could have been eliminated for an extra cost of probably under $100.

Again, no disrespect intended, but your response to Barky suggests assumptions that, while seemingly logical, aren’t accurate. I really think you need to tell the shop the symptoms without assumptions and let the tech do the diagnosis.

I did not tell the shop very much at all. I took them for a demo ride and asked them to diagnose and solve the problem. They then took $1,000 to change the struts and shocks which did nothing to solve the problem. They gave me the car back without even commenting on whether or not the noise issues had been addressed. Not going back to them after that performance seems reasonable to me.

I am now turning to the discussion board to try and get some perspective, realizing that my description of the sounds may be problematical.

Thanks for the update

You did everything correctly, because you did not lead them by the nose. You asked them to diagnose and resolve your complaint. And they did not

You need to go back to them and demonstrate that they did not resolve your complaint. Go for another test drive with the same guy as before.

If I were you, I’d give them another chance. Tell them you’d like to give them a chance to make it right. But also tell them you already paid them a lot of money to resolve your complaint, and you don’t want to pay again, if it was perhaps misdiagnosed

Clearly, it was misdiagnosed

If you’re polite, they may fix it at no cost to you. But if they want more money, walk away and seek another shop

I’ll give them another chance, as db says. After that it’s on to a new mechanic from the car talk files.

Thanks, All.

In that case you’re fully justified in distrusting them.
I hope they changed all the rubbery bits when they did the struts. Do you have a copy of the shop order? Does it list parts?

I understand the OP’ers frustration, but car repair has a certain amount of “try this first, if it doesn’t work come back and we’ll try something else” methodology in it. It’s just inherent to the process. In many cases there are multiple valid explanations for the source of the problem.

IMO the shop’s business philosophy, any auto shop’s, should be the same as you’d expect from your physician — “No worries, I’ll keep working on your problem until you are satisfied with the result”.

But – and again, just like your relationship w/your physician – I don’t think it is fair to require the shop to continue to work on the problem for free.

A valid question on the worthiness of the shop is, did the shop try the most likely thing first? In this case I think they did. Now it is time to dig further. The shop might offer a discount for this in the name of customer loyalty, but shouldn’t be forced to complete the job for free.


Even though I think OP should give the shop a chance to make things right, so to say . . .

They took a lot of his money, handed him the car back, and the problem was unchanged

So, in essence, the parts they threw at the car did not fix the customer’s complaint

If it had been me, I’d have looked closely at the sway bar bushings, links and maybe the strut mounts, before outright condemning all of the struts and shocks

Always consider the simple things first

For example, if something electrical isn’t working, are you going to check for a blown fuse first?

Or are you going to go way overboard, and start replacing modules, without doing any testing?

The guy that installed the struts must have known the problem wasn’t fixed, unless he wasn’t the same guy that went on the test drive with the customer. On the other hand, if he didn’t test drive the car after installing the struts, he also wouldn’t know

The test drive to verify the repair is very important

If the shop did the test drive, and knew the customer’s complaint wasn’t fixed, they should not have kept silent and told him the car is ready to be picked up

But maybe that’s what they did . . .

Control arm bushings can be perfectly tight and still make noise; usually squeaks, creaks, or groans. Think of it as fingernails on a chalkboard.

You might consider pushing down repeatedly as hard as you can on each fender and listening closely while you do so. Squeaks and so on could point to sway bar or control arm bushings.
Rattling or clacking could be the sway bar end links.

With sway bar or control arm bushings, noises in those can be subdued by removing a few bolts and lubing them without getting into the actual replacement of parts.

That reminds me of a large box van in our fleet

Everybody was convinced the van would need an extensive and expensive suspension overhaul. The van was making so much noise, you’d think it was literally falling apart

The front sway bar links and bushings were worn. The bushings were so wasted, when you went over bumps and dips, the sway bar would actually contact the frame, making a terrible racket

After I replaced those parts, the noises were completely gone, and the vehicle operators were amazed at the difference

Good comments @db4690 . I see what you mean. Those are definitely valid points. Hard to make a call with much certainty since we don’t have the shop’s point of view, only the customer’s. Hopefully the OP will work w/the shop to get the problem resolved shortly and post back with the results.

Finally put this issue to rest. My gut just would not let me go back to the very nice people who first worked on this problem so I went to Berkeley Bob who has a high rating in the Mechanics Files. He opened the hood and noticed immediately that both front upper strut mounts were broken; in addition, the rear shock mounts were loose. He fixed all that stuff and I was back on the road the same day. These folks get my recommendation.

I just don’t know what to say about the original mechanics who did not see two broken mounts that were sitting in plain sight under the hood.

Many thanks for all the thoughtful input.


Sincere kudos to Berkeley Bob. He deserves your praise and has earned your recommendations and your loyalty. It must feel wonderful to have found a good mechanic.

Sadly, there are probably more out there like the original mechanics than there are like Berkeley Bob.

If it were me, I’d head right back to the first shop, and insist on another test drive. Make sure to point out the noise is gone

Then, hand them the invoice from the second shop . . . the one that actually fixed the problem . . . and look them straight in the eye, and say “You owe me some money”