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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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