Oh, well– that muffler patch didn’t hold. A couple of the larger holes blistered out their patches and there is at least one small hole again, so now we need to replace the muffler. As mentioned in post #101, exhaust leaks are a safety concern with the potential for deadly carbon monoxide gas building up in the cabin.
This is a long and detailed post. If you’re interested in the topic, read on. Otherwise, here is the…
Summary: Previous attempt to patch muffler holes failed. Removed old muffler assembly (large muffler, long inlet and outlet pipes). Installed replacement assembly. Original exhaust tip/tail pipe was coming apart so I rigged it up temporarily while waiting for a new end pipe.
Details: In researching a muffler replacement I learned a few interesting things. First, it is unusual for Volvo mufflers to fail, unlike most other cars. The factory mufflers are made of steel and coated with aluminum (aluminized steel) for corrosion resistance. I read on the internet that Volvo has a lifetime warranty on their mufflers, but after checking with the dealer service shop this does not apply to North America, if it does anywhere, so that may be an internet legend. One local independent Volvo shop doesn’t stock mufflers because he never sees them fail and would have to special order the part. We surmise that this car was exposed to salty ocean air somewhere in its life because it came from coastal California originally and when we bought it there was a Texas beach parking sticker on the windshield. I suppose in colder climates where the roads are salted for ice they see more exhaust failures, or, more likely, the cars rust out faster and are scrapped at a younger age.
Second, this car has a large and unusually-shaped muffler and none of the exhaust repair places have a generic replacement, so we’re stuck buying a factory muffler or an exact-fit after-market unit.
Third, the muffler comes with long pipes permanently welded at inlet and outlet, so it’s more than just a muffler; there are also several feet of exhaust tubing. The whole assembly is about seven feet (2.1m) long.
The good news is that there is only one simple clamped connection aft of the catalytic converter directly below the hand brake lever. The rest of the muffler/pipe assembly just hangs under the car. So replacement is fairly straight-forward but it’s not physically easy.
For a replacement I hesitated at the price tag of a factory muffler assembly. The best price I could find on the only valid part number that a Volvo dealer shop gave me (31372150) is about $400. Add an hour of labor if I paid someone to do the work, plus any other parts that may need to be replaced.
So I decided to do the work myself and buy a quality after-market muffler assembly. I chose a direct-fit Bosal unit, part number 290-517 for under $200. The unit fits exactly and the quality and workmanship are close to Volvo OEM. At any rate, even if it doesn’t hold up as long as the original one, I doubt that this car will be around another 17 years.
The biggest surprise with the new muffler is that the supplier just slapped shipping labels on it and sent it via FedEx. Showed up on our porch with no box or packaging.
New muffler assembly arrived with no packaging; just as shown here.
At least they wrapped some protection around the pipe ends and it is in good shape. I guess these mufflers are pretty robust and don’t need much packaging. The supplier claims this is standard procedure.
To start the replacement, I removed the end pipe from the exhaust tube while it was still on the car to reduce the weight by a couple of pounds. With the exhaust still on the car another advantage is that the tube is fairly stable for wrestling the rusted end pipe off.
End pipe before removal.
End pipe before removal. Fixing bolt removed.
The end pipe was also pretty well stuck on the exhaust tube so I had to break it loose with a hammer and wood block, then rock and twist it off.
End pipe removed.
End pipe removed.
Unfortunately the fixing screw was corroded solid so the nut just pulled out of the end pipe.
End pipe fixing bolt was fused to press nut so it pulled through the corroded pipe when I tried to unscrew it.
End pipe before removing corroded bolt. It’s pretty corroded just at the seam.
To replace the muffler assembly I lifted the the car and set on jack stands as high as practical to get plenty of working room under there.
Lifted the car and rested on jack stands.
Then I unbolted the exhaust coupling beneath the driver’s seat. This took some effort as the bolts were rusty with years of heat working. I gave them a good shot of penetrating oil (PB Blaster) days in advance and another dose before trying to unbolt the clamp.
Sprayed penetrating solvent onto clamp bolts days in advance to help loosen them up.
I did this first because it was the big unknown that might cause lots of trouble or even make me resort to taking the car to a shop. Fortunately a socket wrench with long arm did break the bolts free so I was pleasantly surprised that it went easy and well. The clamp and fasteners were in much better shape than they appeared.
Once the bolts are loose, the nut on top will spin free. Need a short socket to hold the nut.
Clamp removed. Joint still stuck together rather solid.
Now that the exhaust pipe was unclamped I unhooked each of the exhaust hangers, starting with the muffler.
Released muffler hangers both sides.
Moving to the back with the two hangers near the end of the tail pipe. Note the muffler and tailpipe hangers are slightly different parts.
A shot of silicone lube really helps the hangers slide off the chassis hooks.
Tailpipe hangers released.
With all four hangers loose the whole exhaust is free and rests on the rear suspension arm.
Now we need to break the corrosion weld in the front joint so the whole assembly is loose. For this the easiest thing was to grab hold of the muffler and twist along the axis. The unclamped joint to the catalytic converter broke free easily this way and the whole assembly could now be removed.
Coupling freed up by twisting muffler.
Before pulling the muffler out I removed the rubber hangers so they wouldn’t get damaged or snag on the chassis.
Rubber hangers removed.
The whole muffler assembly weighs about 30 pounds (13.6kg) so it’s not too heavy to handle under there. Having a helper is best but I was able to muscle the thing around. Because of the way it fits under the car, the muffler assembly must be pushed towards the front of the car to remove it to clear the rear suspension arms.
Now comes the trickiest part of the whole process. The tail pipe has to snake over the rear suspension arms and through a small area between the fuel tank and the rear spring. The tail hanger hooks really stick out so the whole assembly has to twist around at different angles while drawing the muffler forward. For this to happen you need a fair bit of clearance between the muffler and the ground. I was right at the edge for height with my jackstands. The muffler hooks really scraped the driveway but I managed to pull it out.
Pulling the assembly forward requires a lot of pulling and twisting; need ample ground clearance.
Old and new muffler assemblies are very similar. Minor difference in hanger hooks and muffler shape, none of which affect fit. Dimensions are very close but I didn’t measure anything.
New muffler on hood for size reference.
New muffler has some dark spots but those are not rust; it’s heat discoloration from welding.
Only with the muffler removed could I see that the top was also rusted out with leaky holes. So it’s good that we replaced it, even if the patch had held.
Old muffler had leaks on top as well. Couldn’t be seen until it was removed.
The new exhaust gets installed in the reverse manner. First we have to roll the tail end in over the rear suspension arms. Once again this involves a lot of pushing, pulling and twisting.
New muffler being routed over rear suspension arms. Wrapping left on to protect ends.
New muffler twisted into rough tail position.
Now we can unwrap the protective plastic and carboard from both ends.
Protective packaging removed from both ends.
Time to couple the front pipe to the outlet of the catalytic converter. The connection is sort of a shallow ball and socket joint. No gasket, just the two pipes cupped together.
New muffler inlet pipe loosely connected to engine exhaust. Simple ball and socket coupling.
Before clamping the joint we need to position the muffler in its approximate location so things are stable and in place. Used the car lifting jack to support the muffler.
Supported muffler with jack to keep joint in place.
Also cleaned up the original clamp parts with solvent and a wire brush.
Cleaned up original clamps and fasteners.
Secured clamp over joint and tightened it. I pulled hard towards the back to make sure it didn’t separate.
Clamped joint with original parts.
Now it’s time to start hanging the muffler and tail pipe. Slipped the rubber hangers over each hook on the exhaust. It is easier to hang with the rubber hangers attached to the exhaust than it is to slip the exhaust into the hangers already in place. One of the rubber hangers was really cracked and coming apart so I replaced it with a new part. Then lifted the muffler and/or pipe and positioned the hanger on each chassis hook one -by-one.
Replaced one bad hanger with a new part.
Once again, silicone lube really helps the hooks slide into place.
There, we’re done with the muffler assembly. I ran the engine to check for leaks while the car was still on stands. No apparent leaks and it sounds just like a typical 850 exhaust note– good news! Took a couple of hours so far
But we’re not quite done and the rest took most of the afternoon. The exhaust tip or tail pipe is called the end pipe by Volvo. This is the last 11 inches of pipe that connect to the end of the muffler outlet pipe and through the cutout in the bumper. I removed the original one way back at the beginning and as mentioned it was broken. Turns out things were even worst because a big part of it–a internal tubing sleeve–was fused to the old exhaust pipe. So we need a replacement.
End pipe not only lost its fixing screw but the inner sleeve was stuck to the old exhaust tube.
Unfortunately it’s not a stock part at the Volvo dealers and they want $55 for one with one week leadtime. After-market tailpipes run about $40 but none are stocked anywhere in town. So I ordered an aftermarket part to be delivered next week and rigged up the old one to be temporarily functional. Ugly but secure. Just not good long-term.
Played around with various techniques and a visit to two hardware stores before I finally found something that worked, more or less. Basically added a pair of new fixing bolts to clamp the tail pipe to the exhaust tube.
Drilled a couple of holes near the original fixing bolt hole.
Ran a pair of bolts through the holes held captive by two nuts inside.
Shoved the end pipe over the exhaust as far as the nuts would let it go, then tightened the bolts against the tube to secure. Nuts want to spin so a screwdriver was used as a wedge.
Temporary end pipe looks OK and is functional.
Shoved a mass of steel wool into gap between end pipe and exhaust tube to minimize gases forward.
There, it’s all in and ready to roll. Sounds good now and no more concern about exhaust leaks. Test drive OK except it reminded me that I should have removed all the labeling from the muffler and tubing. I had removed what I could but some labels were really stuck on so I just gave up. Unfortunately they got very smelly with some smoke after the exhaust heated up. So next time (if there is one) I will go to the effort of removing all labels.
Couldn’t get these labels off easily so they started removing themselves in a smoky, smelly manner after the pipe heated up.
Update 7/27/14: Removed temporary end pipe and replaced with high-quality after-market exhaust tip.
Used a Walker 41827 end pipe, which was much cheaper than the factory part and it fits just fine. Note that the wagon part is slightly longer than the sedan pipe, which is a different part number (both Volvo and Walker).
Started by removing the label (see, I learn from my mistakes!) with xylene solvent and a putty knife, then wiping off with towels and finished with all-purpose cleaner and towel dry.
Used solvent to soften label, then scraped label off and wiped remaining residue off.
Comparing factory pipe (R) to new Walker pipe (L), you can see the after-market pipe is tapered to fit the exhaust where the factory part had a sleeve inserted in the end beneath the fixing bolt.
New pipe necks down to fit over exhaust tube where factory pipe had an internal sleeve.
Slid the new pipe over the end of the exhaust just past where it necks down and tightened the fixing bolt. I chose to rotate the pipe where the bolt was parallel to the ground.
Bolt turned parallel to ground.
Tightened fixing bolt on exhaust pipe before it necks down.
Positioned just right.
Looks great now with the new end pipe.
$197 for a mail-order muffler with free shipping and no sales tax (and no packaging!) +$40.90 for end pipe = $238 total.