Piston Slap: Butt Draggin' Bushings?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap butt draggin bushings

Craig writes:

My daily driver for a while has been a 1988 Volvo 240 sedan with about 100K miles. I do have some nagging maintenance issues I need to address when the weather warms up.

The main one is the suspension bushing, specifically the trailing arms. The car sits a little ass-low, and it gets worse if I put a lot of weight in the trunk. I have read that this is from the bushings, not the springs and also that they are a bitch to change. It this a doable repair for a home mechanic? In the last few years I’ve replaced the master cylinder, water pump, and my proudest moment took my broken wiper motor, another broken one from the junkyard and McGuivered the two together into a functional motor.

Thanks, Craig.

(the 240 is the Swedish Panther)

Sajeev answers:

The 240 (or 940, according to the B&B’s Volvo experts) is indeed the Swedish Panther! Who-hoo, thanks for making that connection for all of us!

I was surprised to see a control arm bushing causing the sag you described but–according to Google–it is possible! At the ripe old age of 24, do a visual on all of your bushings. Consider replacing ’em all. This is certainly labor intensive compared to your previous projects, but this website looks like a great big help.

With the age and low mileage in mind, quite honestly, it’s time for new shocks, springs and a lot of new rubber bushings. They are all toast: go do ’em all. Also consider replacing entire control arm assemblies to get new bushings in the process with less labor involved. I suspect the aftermarket for 240s can make that happen easily, and it might be worth it to you. So consider it, cost-benefit analysis style.

For what its worth, I have my independent mechanic do jobs like this. It’s too much time for me, and my shop is worth every penny in labor cost. And I’ll do it all over again, 15-20 years from now, if needed!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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4 of 24 comments
  • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on Aug 29, 2012

    So from the comments that I've read here, Volvos are tough cars but parts cost alot. I've been looking for a decent Volvo for a good while but the parts prices and their many "quirky" habits have always worried me. This would explain why I'd see 2 or 3 at junkyards on a usualy basis, thats probably a better place to get my parts.

    • See 1 previous
    • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on Aug 29, 2012

      @krhodes1 Actual parts or Fords cheapo junk? I'm looking to get a decent low mileage 240, I need to know what to expect as far as parts costs and gas mileage on regular gas. I don't drive hard (except for on occasions), and I try to maintain my cars by the book. I would buy a 700-900 series, but the 240 I've found is the better deal.

  • George Herbert George Herbert on Aug 30, 2012

    My parents drove a 145 wagon to about 350k miles with IDP suspension parts and ugprades, then a 245 to about 300k if I recall right. This was some time ago.

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