Quick Review: 302mm Brake Upgrade


As you may know, I’m a big fan of safety.  As far as I’m concerned, the two items that you should never be cheap about are brakes and tires.  These are the main things that can kill you if something goes wrong while you’re driving.  (I’m also careful to make sure my wheel lug nuts are always torqued to spec!)

It all started with a bad wheel bearing on the 850 – the usual groaning around corners, always on the side opposite of the direction your turning.  It actually appeared to be two bad bearings, and since they all looked to be original, I replaced all four.

To access the wheel bearings, I had to take off the wheels, brake rotors, and calipers.  I knew the rotors were approaching the end of their lives and so I did a bit of an upgrade.  The early P80 cars, up through 1998, had 280mm front brakes.  The later 1999-00 cars, had 302mm front brakes.  They use the same calipers, but bigger rotors and a bracket that moves the caliper outward.


There are a lot of ways to piece a kit together from junkyard parts, but I needed new rotors and pads, so I just got the whole kit from FCP Euro here.

Options Abound

There are a lot of ways to upgrade Volvo P80 (1993-2000) brakes.  From 2001-07, P2 chassis cars can just put on S60R/V70R brakes.  But for the earlier cars, you’ve got to cobble something together.

The easiest, and least expensive setup is the 302mm kit.  It’s all factory parts, it’s easy to install, and it’s not terribly expensive, especially if you can get the rotors and brackets off of a junkyard car.  And, it will fit behind many 16″ wheels (just not most of the designs from 1998 and earlier – for example 16″ Perfo’s will fit, but not the older 16″ Columba’s).  Another nice thing about this kit is that it makes the front and rear rotors about the same size (the rear’s are 295mm).  You can get the kit from FCP in a few different configurations.

If you want a bigger kit, another option is 320mm brakes, done by fitting brake rotors and calipers from S40/V50 models onto the car.  They require 17″ wheels on P80 cars, but will fit behind almost any of the stock 17″ rims, including the popular Titan, Pegasus, Propus, Volans, and Canisto wheels.  More stopping power, but more costly than the 302mm upgrade (unless you can find some rotors and calipers at the junkyard).  Various 320mm kits are available from Viva Performance.

If you really want to go really big, and spend big, 330 mm kits are available from Yother.com.  Alternatives are the 330mm Stoptech kit from Viva Performance, or a 325mm kit from AP Racing.  The Yother kits use powerful Porsche calipers, and you would probably want to upgrade the rear brakes (Yother also sells rear brake kits) and the master cylinder in order to maintain brake balance.  These kits typically require 18″ wheels.

Of course, braking performance also depends significantly on your tire quality and width, and to a lesser degree, on the condition of your brake fluid, brake lines, and master cylinder.  Upgrading to a $4,000 330mm brake kit won’t be worth it if you haven’t also upgraded the rest of your stopping system.


Overall, the 302mm brake upgrade is a solid choice for a brake upgrade that doesn’t break the budget.  Part of it is the better rotors, part of it is the better pads, and part of it is the better position of the front calipers, further out on the edge of the rotor.  The pads themselves aren’t any larger, but the rotor is bigger and can absorb more heat.

Further, the kit really improves the cosmetics of the car.  The Zimmerman rotors are zinc-coated, so they don’t rust.  The front rotors are now slightly bigger than the rear instead of noticeably smaller.  And, I’m not significantly limited in what wheels I can fit, unlike larger kits.  (I haven’t checked that spare tire though, hmm…)

The 302mm upgrade was originally developed for UK police cars, according to this article.  I wouldn’t say I’m ready to outrun the police, but it’s a nice improvement.

Volvo 850 Wagon Spoiler Installation


Finally finished installing the 1998-2000 V70R style spoiler on my 1996 Volvo 850 Platinum.  The earlier 850R spoilers are similar but have single piece brackets that don’t actually bolt down to anything – the spoiler is intended to be held on by sticky foam, and the brackets just wrap around the hinges as a safeguard – so in my opinion the later 1998-2000 style two-piece brackets are preferable.

In addition, this spoiler is a very rare model with an LED brake light built into it.  Most spoilers for 850/V70 wagons up to 2000 don’t have a brake light.  So arguably, this could be considered a safety upgrade.

This was a real project; it took about a month to get it all done from start to finish. A lot of people buy and sell used spoilers online, but most never end up getting installed, or they are spraypainted black or dark gray to match the trim.  Of course, the factory spoilers were painted the body color – in my case, Platinum Pearl Metallic, Volvo #424

Here are all the steps if you really want to do it right:

  • Buy the spoiler and brackets used online – $200
  • Made appointment to get an estimate for paint shop
  • Got estimate for painting – $311
  • Dropped off the spoiler with the car, picked up car later that day
  • Several days later – Picked up spoiler
  • Next day, notice spoiler is missing four of the six screws I dropped it off with, threads in four of the spoiler bosses full of paint
  • Call paint shop to complain about missing screws and paint in bosses, since I specifically explained to the salesman why I left the bolts in the threads
  • Salesman contacts painter, who flat out lies and says I dropped it off with only one screw, even though they gave it back with two – I know I actually dropped it off with all six installed so I wouldn’t have to chase paint out of the threads
  • Whatever. I’m getting new stainless hardware anyway
  • Spend an hour cleaning out the threads in the spoiler
  • Sand metal brackets down to bare metal with wire wheel
  • Paint brackets with four coats of POR-15 black
  • Clean POR-15 paint out of threads on brackets
  • Go to Michael’s craft store and get peel-and-stick 1/16″ black foam rubber – $2
  • Cut foam rubber to fit spoiler where it touches the car
  • Install brackets with new stainless bolts and blue Loctite from the hardware store – $10
  • Attach spoiler to brackets
  • Run wire for brakelight down through factory conduits
  • Make custom plug and plug into factory towing harness

When it’s all said and done though, I think it’s worth it, even with $500+ into it at this point. It looks great, and even if the paint shop is full of liars at least they did a good job matching the paint.

do88.se Intercooler Review

This is a review for the do88.se Volvo 850 intercooler kit, reverse intercooler piping kit, and silicone coolant hoses.

I don’t review that many products on this blog, but I think this is worth a quick writeup.  do88 is a small company based in Nykvarn, Sweden, and they primarily sell intercoolers, radiators, and the related pipes and hoses.

The Project

While I was taking apart my Volvo 850 to put a manual transmission in it, I noticed that most of my rubber coolant hoses and intercooler couplings were in poor condition.  The rubber was getting old and starting to crack a bit.  So, I searched online and found do88.

There are a lot of other options out there for silicone hoses for you Volvo – it’s a competitive market.  IPD, Snabb, ARD, Mishimoto, and others all make or resell silicone hoses.  What I like about do88 is that I could get ALL the hoses, even the stupid little coolant hoses that no one ever replaces, and in black, red, or blue.  I went with black, since that is the only color that really went with this car.  As far as I know, do88 is the only retailer where you can buy every hose and pipe you need, matching, and in stock, for a Volvo 850.

What did I buy?  Radiator hoses, coolant bottle hoses, heater hoses, air hoses, drain hoses, reverse intercooler piping (metal pipes and silicone couplings), and the upgraded intercooler. I already had a set of the black IPD turbo coolant hoses, but do88 makes those too.

A side note on Intakes

I skipped the do88 air intake and inlet pipe (they also have a stock replacement pipe) and went with the Snabb intake combined with the IPD airbox (shown in the picture above).  While the do88 intake appears a bit larger than the Snabb and IPD kit, it unfortunately pulls in hot engine air.  Maybe not a problem in the cold Swedish climate, but an issue for me. The do88 stock replacement pipe would be nice, but it is primarily designed to fit larger turbos than the Mitsubishi 15g that comes on U.S. turbocharged 850s.

With the IPD airbox replacement, hot air intake is minimized, and the IPD air filter still has about a 40% increase in filter surface area versus the stock air filter.  The Snabb pipe is still a huge upgrade over the stock pipe as well.  I think the do88 intake would be great if you could separate it from the heat of the engine (maybe with a similar baffle setup like IPD’s design, or maybe a scoop cut out of the hood).  The do88 model also looks good if you are going for the largest intake possible or are using a larger air mass meter.



The Silicone

This is good stuff.  Probably as high of quality silicone as you can get.  Five-ply with a tough coating, not the usual three-ply.  It’s very resistant to changing shape.  But, good silicone is a commodity these days.  What really matters is the fit for your car – does it work, or will you go crazy trying to get it to fit?

All of the silicone fit fine for me, so that’s excellent.  If you are running a thicker intercooler or radiator (such as the do88 intercooler), then the main radiator hoses will be a little long and you’ll want to cut some off to fit your car.  Not hard to do – do88 has a good guide for cutting silicone here.

I also did follow their recommendation for the throttle body silicone and shorten it a bit, as I was still using the stock Volvo cold air intake pipe for the airbox, and needed some space.  Once of the nice things about the do88 kit is that you can get it for either the stock 850 Turbo throttle body, or for the larger 850 non-turbo throttle body (if you have upgraded).

A side note on Heater Hoses

Also, if you buy the 850 heater hoses, note that you will have to cut the metal collars off of the stock OEM Volvo heater hoses.  If you have aftermarket hoses, go get a pair of brass heater hoses from any 1994-98 Volvo 850/S70/V70 Turbo model at the junkyard.  Note that the collars need to be cut off carefully, cutting parallel to the length of the hose, and then pulled off with pliers.  A handheld hacksaw can do this.  do88 has some pictures of this on their website.



The Clamps

The do88 “BigPack” intercooler and charge pipes also come with high-quality clamps, no problems there.  Fitment was fine.

For the coolant hoses, one word of warning: do88 sells coolant hose clamps separately, so if you want nice shiny new hose clamps for their silicone coolant hoses, you will have to buy those as an add-on.  Or you can re-use your old hose clamps.


The Charge Pipes

The polished aluminum pipes fit well enough.  It’s only two pipes for the intercooler, and a third if you buy the intake as well.  They seem fine.  However, don’t expect them to stay pretty for long – you will almost certainly scratch them up during the installation or while working on the car at a later date. Scratches can be remedied with a bit of polishing compound, but you will want to test your polishing compound on a hidden area of the pipe to make sure it won’t be too coarse and leave scratches.


Since these pipes are larger than the stock ones, it’s a tight fit (see above pictures).  The car was engineered for a smaller pipe, so there’s less clearance around everything with the bigger do88 pipes.  It took me about five tries to fit the “hot side” intercooler pipe (from the turbo to the intercooler), and the pipe was scratched up quite a bit in the process, where it would hit the cylinder head (see above).

There is maybe 3-4mm of clearance on the underside of the hot side pipe where it passes over the cylinder head.  But with some careful test fitting, you can eventually get it installed without anything touching or rubbing.  The cold side intercooler pipe is a pretty easy fit without a lot of problems.



The Intercooler

The above image is from the do88 website.  The intercooler I received looked just like the one in the pictures. You can see some “unboxing” and comparison images in this review over at VolvoSpeed.

First off, this is a big intercooler.  While it is the same length and width as the original Volvo 850 intercooler, the core is much larger, and the overall dimensions are a bit thicker.  The outlets are also larger in diameter, and it is much heavier.  Overall, it is a much better-quality unit.

I don’t have the ability to test intercoolers properly, but do88 has some good graphs on their website.  The Volvo 850 intercooler is also notorious for its poor performance (the later 2001+ intercoolers were much better) so almost anything is going to be an upgrade over the original 850 intercooler anyway.

The fit of the do88 intercooler is very good.  It has the four bolt holes in the right location to fit right in to the stock intercooler location, and it comes with longer bolts to accommodate the thicker design. To fit the top charge pipe, I had to file down a little bit of the black plastic of the fan assembly, near the top intercooler port, but it is not a structural change.  To fit the bottom charge pipe, I had to bend a non-structural part of my radiator up and out of the way.  This was easy to do with a pair of pliers.

Warning: it is totally possible to install this intercooler upside down!  If you do, your charge pipes won’t fit right and you’ll wonder what you did wrong.  So, make sure you pay attention when removing your old intercooler.  The intercooler is displayed right-side-up on the do88 website in case you forget.  I installed the intercooler upside down the first time, and I was going crazy trying to figure out why I was having so many fitment problems.

A Few Other Notes

Customs Fees and Shipping

If you are in the U.S. and order from do88, prepare for a unique shipping experience.  I have ordered auto parts from foreign countries countless times – from Sweden, Norway, England, and Japan – over the last fifteen years.  This was the first time I had to pay a cash-on-delivery customs charge.  This charge can be paid to the UPS driver with a check only (personal check or certified/money order).  However, if you miss the delivery, or don’t have a check, you will have to pick up the shipment at a UPS distribution facility and pay with a certified check/money order only.

So, if you are in the U.S. and order from do88, I recommend emailing them first and ask them to give you a total shipping charge with customs fees pre-paid so you don’t run into this cash-on-delivery issue.  I would have gladly paid the fees in advance to avoid the three hours of my life it took to get my packages from UPS.  Heck, I would have paid an extra $100 to avoid that horrible evening, even if it just went straight into do88’s bank account.  What is your time and aggravation worth?

The upside is that the shipping was fast – halfway around the world in about three days.  Not bad at all.  Also, the boxes were very securely packaged, and arrived without damage, so that’s good.

Customer Support

One the positive side, I did have a good experience with do88’s customer support by email.  They were responsive to my emails and helped get me another throttle body hose after I damaged mine during the install.  Well, I thought I damaged it but really I just had the intercooler upside down, whoops.  So, now I have a backup hose I guess.

Overall, do88 was responsive and helpful, which is important because installing parts like these usually means that you car won’t be running for quite some time, and you may need help before you can get the car running again.  Further, if you have never taken your 850 apart to this level (removed the radiator and intercooler, and changed out all the coolant hoses), it can be a bit of a challenge depending on your level of mechanical skill.

Overall, I’m pleased with the products and the support, and I look forward to seeing what do88 comes up with in the future.

Ten Years Gone, Like Dusk to Dawn

Earlier this year, in March, we marked ten years here at K-Jet.org.  Over that decade, I’ve owned at least 14 Volvos, and documented them here on the website.  Tons of things have changed in my life, but one small consistency has been the cars.

Usually in these anniversary posts (which themselves are usually several months late), I end up writing about my future car plans.

I’ve been shopping for 2004-07 Volvo V70R’s for several years.  I’ve test driven several of them, but I just can’t pull the trigger and actually buy one.  I always pay cash for cars, so there’s that – it’s a big outlay.  But they are also incredibly needy and very expensive to maintain, and none of them are ever in as nice of shape as they appear online.  People list a V70R at twice the blue book, and you go to look at it thinking it must be immaculate, and it turns out it actually still needs $4,000 of suspension and drivetrain work!

So, I’m building what I call my “almost R” – taking the solid platform of the 1996 Volvo 855 platinum edition that I already own and building that up.

I also bought this:


A 1997 Volvo 850, non-turbo, that’s been beat up, is making some scary engine noises, and has a funky-smelling interior.  Sounds terrible, but it was cheap and has a very nice 5-speed transmission.  Since it’s only seen non-turbo power, the transmission still shifts smoothly even with 180,000 miles on the clock.

This past weekend I pulled the transmission out of this car.  It wasn’t an easy task, but was doable with an engine support beam, floor jack, transmission jack, and a LOT of patience.  Over the coming weeks I’ll be putting it into the 1996 855 platinum, with a list of other goodies:

  • Volvo M56H manual transmission, shifter, etc.
  • Replacement of wear items, such as hydraulic clutch cylinders, hoses, seals, subframe bushings, etc.
  • Euro 850R clutch kit
  • Quaife Limited Slip Differential (inside the transmission)
  • Snabb Short Throw Shift Kit (on top of the transmission)
  • Snabb intake pipe
  • Snabb 960 throttle plate
  • do88.se big intercooler and piping kit
  • do88.se silicone hoses throughout
  • Non-turbo throttle body and intake manifold (from 1997)
  • Non-turbo camshafts (from 1997)
  • Gates blue timing belt
  • OEM valve guide seals


  • Platinum-painted OEM rear wagon spoiler with LED brake light
  • Volvo windshield banner vinyl (silver text on black background)
  • European side markers

So, onward with the car projects and the Volvo adventures.  Who knows what I’ll be driving in 10 years – maybe a Tesla – but for now, still racking up the miles on my Volvo wagons.