Howard's Volvo Maintenance


Brake pads

Probably one of the biggest complaint of the original brake pads is the dust. The wheel seems to be always covered in that black dust.

The best low dust pad I found with still very good braking power is Akebono. This ceremic pad gives better bite than Mintex and is really low dust level. I had an indy that won't put on Mintex because they squeal, I tried it for a rear pad and well... they indeed squeal at times :) The OEM pads does have better bite than any of the aftermarket pads.

See's resource page for pad+rotor replacement directions

Common Mistakes

If you haven't done brake pads in awhile or is first time to do it on the Volvo. This is a common mistake. I made it and seems to have found quite a few other people making the same mistake.

If after pad replacement, you have to step really deep on the brake pedal, then you likely have made this mistake. Almost everyone instincts says to bleed the brakes. However, the most likely problem is the incorrect installation of the retaining clips. Here are couple of threads that outlines this problem

Here is a picture of the correctly installed retaining clips. Notice how top and bottom of the spring is properly tensioned against the caliper bracket.  

Bleeding brakes

Warning : If someone is going to pump the brake pedal for you during bleeding. Make sure you put a small piece of 2x4 under the brake pedal to prevent it from hitting bottom. This is to prevent master cylinder's o-ring from traveling to where it never goes and if brakes haven't been bled in say 100k+ miles, there may be corrosion in these untouched regions that may ruin the o-ring.

I generally use Motive's power bleeder (forced air pressure from the brake fluid reservior) to makes this job so easy. Here are some tips after doing this a couple of times.

Get different colored fluid if you can, it is easier to see when the new fluid has come through the bleeding nipple on the caliper. Fcpgroton sells both blue and amber colored DOT4 spec fluids.

I don't put brake fluid in my power bleeder as its messy. I just use it for air pressure. 

Be sure to never empty the reservoir as you air will enter the line circuit at that point. Check after bleeding each wheel to make sure you don't empty the reservoir and get air into the system. You probably need to refill after 2 lines. Be sure to loosen the reservoir cap slowly to let the pressurized air out slowly so the fluids don't slush around. When you are done, just top off the reservoir and you are done. The Motive bleeder used in this way is just a air pressure supply and much easier to clean up since you didn't pour fluid in the power bleeder canister.

I think the pressure you need is about 10 PSI. Motive bleeder comes with a gauge. Just pump (after everything is screwed on of course) until you reach 10 PSI.

Historically, people have bled brakes furthest from the master cylinder (just below the reservoir) first. But I read this car has 4 independent circuits so it doesn't matter. Volvo directions actually does it closest to the master cylinder first.

Uneven brake pad wear

My V70 T5 had uneven brake pad wear in the rear brakes. The outer pad on the driver side would wear out super fast (< 30k miles) while the other 3 pad surface was barely used. Eventually, I also heard squeals from that wheel. It didn't occur with braking action. Rather, it occurs when the car sway side to side while driving.

I first thought it might require a caliper rebuild. But as I went to take it apart, I discovered the source of the problem is a out of specification caliper bracket. Basically, the caliper bracket's seat for the outer pad ears was just a tad too small and caused the outer pad to jam in place. More info here

Brake Booster Seal

You hear a hissing sound in the driver footwell area. This is the sound of a vacuum leak. Some people succeeded on repairs. See the following thread. Part is $500, labor 2-3 hours.

Mine eventually failed with a constant hiss and engine making fog horn sound here and there due to the vacuum leak. So I finally replaced it and left some notes here 

ABS Light

I've had a couple of random ABS light that was present for only 1 drive cycle. Doing a bit of research reveals another commonly fail part on this car: The ABS module. There is a guy that knows all about how to fix this problem and have started a service to repair this unit at much lower cost than new unit. Furthermore, he improves the repair unit to be better than new.

Victor includes the directions for removal. You will need a E-5 Torx socket that isn't easy to find. I got a set at Harbor Freight for like $8. 

I got mine repaired for $35 from a retired automotive industry guy listing this service on ebay. You can reach him at

My transmission was also downshifting harsher while braking. 3-2 and 2-1 would randomly downshift hard and a bump can be felt. When I removed the ABS module for repair, this shifting problem disappeared (although some other shifting problems appeared without the ABS module in the car) Clearly, ABS module provides data for the transmission shifting software. When I finally got the repaired ABS module in there, the harsh downshifts under braking gradually went away (transmission software adapting). Therefore, logic suggests my intermittent failing ABS module was causing my random harsh downshifts under braking. 

Brake Rotors

The front and rear brake rotor replacement directions are about the same. Here they are

The rotors are likely frozen onto the hub with rust. When you take the wheel off, spray liquid wrench around the holes and let it do its work. Front disc can be hammered out easily. Just turn the wheel all the way to one side to give a nice exposed surface to hammer on. Rear is a little tougher since there is only a slight opening to hammer on and the wheel doesn't turn. Anyway, liquid wrench is your friend. Here are some notes on the rear rotor replacement. 

Be sure to a metal brush to smooth out the rusted hub face and apply some anti-seize onto the rotor+hub mating surface so it will be easier the next time.

Adjusting Hand Brake

If your hand brake has to be pulled really high to engage the emergency brake tightly, you can adjust it easily. Here are the directions

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