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. Intercooler Review

This is a review for the 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  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
  • big intercooler and piping kit
  • 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.

Spyder Auto Projector Headlights Review

In the last six months I’ve noticed that my headlights on the Volvo 850 kept getting dimmer.  They were HID projectors that were installed by the previous owner, as shown in the picture below:


Doing some research, I found that it could be the projectors or the HID ballasts causing the problem, and I’d just have to replace them to find out.  Since the person who built these custom lights didn’t even use clear lenses (they were fluted glass intended for a regular halogen bulb), it didn’t seem sensible to spend any more money on a one-off design.

From searching around online, I found that a company called Spyder Auto made replacements for the Volvo 850 in both black and silver.  I chose the silver model (since they match the color of the car and the chrome grill), and bought them on for about $220 for the pair (here is the black version).

The headlights came well-packed, in a large box.  Each headlight was packed in styrofoam to keep it safe.  The fit and finish is excellent, and for this car, they are a one piece design.  The original headlights are two pieces per side – a turn signal assembly, and a headlight assembly.  Combined with the fact that these are clear projectors, this headlight upgrade automatically makes the car look about ten years newer.

The headlights came with bulbs installed, which I used.  The plugs on the back fit the car’s wiring harness well.  So far, the headlights have been water-tight in the last month or so of Oregon winter, but we’ll see how they are in a year.

I do have one complaint about the wiring.  The main headlight bulbs – the ones you need to be road-legal – all come pre-wired into the harness, just plug them in and go – great!  But the LED bulbs – on this model, the angel eyes and the small pair between the angel eyes – are not wired in at all – the wires are on the back of the headlights, but they are not hooked up.  So, you have to wire in three ground wires and three hot wires on each headlight.

To wire the LEDs, I spliced them into the circuits that were part of the Spyder headlights themselves, leaving my car’s wiring harness intact.  I simply cut the appropriate wire in the headlight, and used a crimping butt connector to wire in the very small LED wires.  Before the final crimping, I slipped a piece of heat-shrink tubing over the wire, then crimped, and then shrank the tubing with one of those long barbeque lighters.  A lot of extra work, that could have been avoided if these headlights came with the LEDs pre-wired from the factory!

In Spyder’s defense, there may be a good reason for this.  There may be different state laws regarding automobile lighting, or there may  owners that want to customize their lighting or not use the LEDs at all.  I wired the angel eyes to be always on (wired to the parking bulb) and wired the LED pair to blink with the blinker (wired to the blinker bulb), as shown:



My other complaint specifically has to do with fitment of these lights to Volvo 850s that came with headlight wipers.  There is NO provision on these headlights for the wiper support that bolts to the factory Volvo headlights.  All that would be needed is a small hole on the bottom of the light for the headlight wiper support to screw into.  I think it is a single M10 x 10mm screw on the bottom of each light.  Basically, it is a metal bar that sticks straight out from under the headlight, and the wiper arm rests on it when not in use.  While not all 850s have headlight wipers, the overwhelming majority of them DO, and so I consider this a design oversight on Spyder’s part.

You can see the gap where the headlight wiper support is supposed to be coming out, in this photo:


So, what to do about headlight wipers?  Will they scratch the plastic lenses of the headlights anyway?  After all, they are designed for glass lenses, not plastic.  When Volvo switched from glass headlights to plastic with the 2005 S60/V70, they also switched from headlight wipers to headlight sprayers.   So, I just unplugged the headlight wipers on the 850 (a brown plastic wiring connector behind the headlight on each side), and stuck the wipers in the gap below the headlight.  Not perfect, but it looks fine for now.  (In the future, I might try to find a plastic piece for below the headlight from a car with no wipers, and have it painted to match.  Then I would remove the headlightlight wiper assembly entirely).

Overall, I’m happy with these lights.  They are bright, the beam pattern and cutoff is very good, they look great, and the price is reasonable.  The install takes some time due to the extra wiring needed, but it’s not terrible.  And, Spyder is good enough to provide installation videos for most of their products, so it was easy to get started.  Long term, we’ll see how they hold up – I’m a little concerned about water leaks and UV radiation fogging the plastic (common with some cheaper aftermarket lights), but hopefully Spyder has done a good job with UV coating and weather sealing.  In about a year, I’ll update this with some long-term test results.


UPDATE, January 21, 2016:

It’s now been a year with these headlights installed and so far they are still good.  They haven’t leaked or faded from the sun.  They have a few small scratches from the car wash and the road but nothing visible unless you are really close to them.  Basically, they still look new.  I estimate I have put about 10,000 miles on them in the last year.  You can see two more recent pictures of them here and here.

The only problem I had with them was I burned out the original headlight bulbs that came with these headlights very fast – all four H1 bulbs (used for the high beam and low beam on each side) died within a month or two of use.  Maybe I just got a bad batch, or maybe they were just cheap bulbs.  The blinkers and LED’s have been fine.  But I replaced all of the H1 bulbs (one by one as they burnt out) with standard Philips H1 bulbs and they have been fine since then.