Thursday, 4 August 2011

119,500 Miles

Think this is my first log since owning the car. I have done about 8,000 miles in it already and have had to do a bit of work.

Work recently completed includes:
  • New front wishbones, which include bushes
  • New front lower ball joints
  • New front drop links
  • New front tyres
  • Removed tow bar
  • Installed Device to enable MP3 playback though the HU803 Stereo

After driving the car for a while up and down the motorway to work, it developed knocking noise and loose/wobbly feelings from the front. Also, vibration through the steering wheel.

I seem cursed with cars that need the front end suspension sorting out. Anyway, a car this age, it is not unexpected.

So rather than beat around the bush, I bought new wishbones (inc. bushes) from Volvo (FRF Volvo Swansea), new ball joints and new drop links. I wanted to replace everything at the front whilst it was apart.

The knocking was becoming increasingly noticeable and was probably due to knackered drop links, but the loose feeling was probably due to worn bushes.

I will write a 'guide', but it will be more of an account of my experiences doing the work, as there are probably a few different ways to tackle it and my way is by no means the best or easiest way. I learnt through just getting stuck in. This meant the first side took about 8 hours to complete... then as always, the other side only took about 2.

Guide can be found here.

Doing the job was split in two for me unfortunately. The first day I started, I got as far as removing the wishbone only to fin I had been supplied with the wrong ball joints, so much to my dismay I had to reassemble the car, new wishbone, but old ball joint (just as well it didn't get broken removing it!).

After the first day I found both front tyres to be extremely badly worn on the inside edges. I was quite shocked as I had been going up and down the motorway every day to work on those. So I had to have new tyres fitted straight away even though the suspension bits weren't all new yet. But I could bare to drive any further on those tyres.

So I spent an anxious week driving on new tyres but un-aligned/replaced suspension components hoping I wouldn't ruin the new tyres.

Once I got the new ball joints, I continued the job and got it all sorted. I have to admit, it was a complete F***ER of a job. The worst bits being a) ball joint requires pressing (hammering) into hub, which is hard whilst hub is attached to car b) manipulating new wishbone under load to engage with ball joint, which is at full extent of spring travel and c) just generally trying to do all this on a drive. A 4-post lift would have been like heaven. I was so sore the next day.

Next day, car booked into the excellent PJ Hodge and Sons in Northampton to have the alignment and balance checked to make sure everything was straight (as I was still getting some vibration when driving). It was expected to be misaligned as I had changed many components.

They reported that the wheels were unbalanced and the front tracking was out, but the rear wheels were all perfect. All adjusted and running spot on now. They even cleaned it for me! Highly recommend them.

The tow bar I knew was removeable, but I did not think I had the keys. I kept meaning to get round to contacting Volvo to sort out a spare key. But luckily, I was rummaging through the wheel well in the boot and in the tool kit was a set of keys!

The key hole needed some loving with some WD40 but eventually got the key in and turning. Then the tow bar itself needed some encouragment from a lump hammer to get moving. But then it was out.

And to make things even better, there was a plastic cover in the boot which fits perfectly over the tow bar attachment point on the car, making it look very tidy.

I also got round to fitting my MP3 adaptor thingy (not sure what the correct name for it is). This is basically a little black box (literally) that I got off ebay from China, which interfaces with the CD Changer port on the back of the car stereo. It has a simple line-in for connecting any audio device with a standard 3.5mm jack (perfect for my phone) or you can insert a USB stick or SD card.

For the USB stick or SD card, you simple put your music files into folder named CD01, CD02, CD03 etc and these become virtual CDs in a changer. you can then control and select these virtual CDs from the car head unit, just as if there was a standard CD changer attached. The good thing is is that you can have up to 100 CDs! CD00 -> CD99.

Works perfectly.

There is a little guide here on how to remove the stereo and wire this unit in.

Here is a snapshot of the ebay page I bought it from...there doesn't really seem to be a brand to this thing.

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