Rear Fender Trimming

In January 2013, I bought some new wheels. Real BBS RS from 1985, off of a Ferrari 308.  The front wheels are 16″ x 7″ and the rear wheels are 16″ x 8″.  You can read my writeup on these wheels here.  They came with an almost-new set of Goodyear Eagle GT tires as well.

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It was not an easy task to fit these wheels.  First off, while the wheels are the correct bolt pattern and offset (5 x 108mm, with the back wheels at ET -2mm), there are several issues to worry about.  First off, the wheels were originally designed for (relatively rare) ball-seat lugnuts.  Unable to find ball-seat lugnuts in a 1/2″ x 20TPI pitch (which is the correct nut for a 240 wheel stud), I had to use adapter washers, which I purchased from Brandsport.  While these washers are the perfect size, they are unfortunately chrome plated, and after the first torqueing of the lugnuts, the chrome began to crack and flake off.  Still, they’ll do the job until I can find something better.

The second issue is that the hub center of these wheels is smaller than a 240.  The previous owner used a dremel tool to make the centers bigger, but if you buy a set of these, you’re better off getting a good machine shop that specializes in wheels to redrill the hub centers to fit your car.  This is what I need to do, really, as I am not super stoked about the whole dremel thing.

The third issue is getting these wide wheels are tires fitted on the rear end.  The fender lips on 240s make clearance of wide wheels an issue.  While many people roll the fenders (or smash them with a hammer to fold the lips upwards), this break the seam welds, can crack the paint, and will deform the fender if you’re not careful.  Since my wheels are not extremely wide, nor my suspension extremely low, I went with the Volvo-recommended method of cutting the fender lips.  I used a DeWalt angle grinder, and took about 1/2″ off of the lips.

First I cleaned them and drilled out the rivet on each side that holds the mudflap up, and marked 1/2″ in, which cuts most of the seam welds in half, more or less.

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Then I started cutting with the angle grinder:

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Ugly  metal strips!

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Finished cutting:

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Then, lots of edge smoothing with the thick wheel on the angle grinder, then with a hand file designed for using on steel, and then with a 60 grit sandpaper.

Once that was done, I put the wheels on and checked the clearance while having  a friend jump on the back bumper as hard as possible to compress the suspension.

Satisfied, I took the wheels off again and started masking and getting ready to spray with underbody sealer.

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That’s about 5 or 6 coats of underbody sealer there.  Once everything was dry, I reinstalled the mudflaps, using long pieces of 3M strip caulk running up the fender edge.  The strip caulk should hold them in place, since the rivets are gone now.

The fit looks very nice!  I went back to my old 240 Sedan Overload Springs in the rear instead of the 240 Wagon Overload springs.  The Sedan version handles well, is very firm, and sits just about right, slightly lower than stock.  The Wagon version sits about 2 inches higher than stock, and really wrecks the handling – unless your wagon is *fully loaded*, in which case, the car handles wonderfully.

I also installed an IPD adjustable panhard rod and torque rod kit while I was working on the rear end.  An adjustable panhard rod is MANDATORY when running these wheels unless you really trim up the fender lips a lot more than I did.  Otherwise, the rear end will be too much off-center, and one side (one of the tires) will rub its sidewalls on the fender.  It takes a bit of work to get the adjustment right on the panhard rod, but the result is worth it.

I ended up removing the IPD adjustable torque rods because I just couldn’t keep them tight.  Here is my review of these things:

Had them for a year, took them off. I am much happier with the stock torque rods with fresh OEM Volvo rubber bushings pressed in. No matter what I tried, I just could not keep the adjustment bolts on the IPD torque rods tight. I called IPD, posted on forums, and tried everything just short of carving a pentagram in my garage floor.

Like other reviewers, I think a giant wrench helps, but it’s hard to get enough leverage under the car. Even with blue Loctite (TM) they eventually worked loose again. I even tried tightening them in a vice, off the car, so that I could use a longer wrench and have more leverage. I gave up before trying red Loctite.

I think the only way to really get these to stay tight would be to

1) sand off the powder coating on the nut mating surface so that it’s metal-to-metal when you are tightening them, and not powder-coat-to-powder-coat

2) get your car up on a lift so you have the room to use a large breaker bar to tighten the nuts, or possibly put the torque rods in a huge metal vice on a heavy workbench

3) get two or three guys on the breaker bar and torque the adjustment nuts down as tight as possible (but watch out and don’t bend your flanges on your car where the torque rod attaches)

Also, like the other reviewers say, be aware that the bushings on these are very loud – every time you go over a bump, you hear a squeak from the back end. Even with IPD’s blue bushing lubricant stuff. For this reason alone, much less the adjustment problems, I would not recommend these for a “daily driver” vehicle.

Really, I think the Achilles heel of IPD’s design is that the nut and stop are powder coated, and they slip when the rear suspension is compressed/decompressed, as this puts torque through the rod and and pressure on the nut.  I may end up putting the rods back on after sanding off the powder coat on the mating surface.

In any case, after some fender trimming and a lot of cursing, I got a good fitment with these wide wheels and tires.

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