Category: Technical

How To Install Better Trunk & Hood Seals In Your Vintage Volvo

The Extra Long Alternative Hood Seal for Volvo P1800s available on eBay, pictured in Chapter Coordinator Dylan Osborn's 1967 1800S after install.

If you own an 1800, 122, or other truly ‘vintage’ Volvo and drive it in rainy conditions (or just wash it), you may be aware that modern cars have come a long way when it comes to sealing out water. The trunk lid on 1800s in particular is more or less horizontal, so water can pool around the trunk lip and then spill over into the trunk. Water = eventual rust = bad. What’s more, the “stock” trunk and hood seals available from most aftermarket suppliers are (like Volvo’s original seal) made from foamy rubber that has to be glued on. Over time the glue dries out, the seal comes off, and it never fits or looks that good anyway. If you are interested in improving your vintage Volvo a bit and looking for a trunk/ hood seal that fits better, looks better, and is easier to install, it’s worth considering this Alternative Trunk or XL Hood Seal available on eBay (if the link fails, just search eBay for a similar listing from user dunk-r). The seller also informs me that he sells many vintage Volvo products on his Volvo Solutions website. Volvo Sports America is not affiliated with the maker of these seals, this article is simply a DIY install guide and product review. Let’s begin:

1.) Order the alternative trunk and hood seals if installing both. Remember that eBay is not a professional marketplace and you may need to email the seller/ wait a couple weeks to get your seals. The seal material is PVC rubber over a flexible metal skeleton, more heavy duty than the sponge rubber seals the 1800 came with.

2.) Gather your tools. The hardest part of this job is actually removing the old seal and all the dried glue from the painted metal lip of the trunk/ hood. Necessary tools include a good plastic brush, Goof Off, Goo Gone, Engine Cleaner (pictured from Griot's Garage, but any household cleaner should work), rags, tin snips to cut the new seal to the right length, razor blades for really stubborn glue, and maybe some tape to pick up the bits. Gloves will help too.

3.) Remove the old seal. Chances are it will come off pretty easily, leaving behind plenty of grungy weatherstrip glue residue to remove. If it sticks, start applying the Goof Off (toughest of the 3 solvents pictured) into the trunk lip as you pull. If you are installing the new seals with your Volvo fresh out of the paint shop, consider yourself lucky!

4.) Remove the old gunk from the trunk or hood lip using Goof Off, then Goo Gone. Use plenty of solvent in the metal lip and scrub away with your plastic brush. In this picture you can see the right side has been cleaned, the left has not. Keep scrubbing and you'll get there! If you have to get a razor blade involved for stubborn glue, be very careful with your paint.

5.) Clean the trunk or hood lip before applying the new seal. Using the engine cleaner, spray and wipe down all around. It wouldn't hurt to get the vacuum involved too, so the whole area is clean and free of little glue bits.

6.) Start at one end and begin pressing the new seal onto the trunk or hood lip. For the hood, you should start next to the radiator support, and work your way around to the same point on the other side. For the trunk, you will need to start in the center above the lock (see below). The method that worked best for me was positioning the new seal above the lip, then turning it down onto it and applying pressure. You will feel the seal snap on bit by bit. After that, it helps to take a hammer and gently tap at the seal over the trunk lip to make sure it has seated properly. No glue here!

7.) Take extra care in the corners. To make the seal turn the corner, you'll need to really push it into the corner and tap with the hammer as you slowly make the turn. Once it's in, you can proceed down the next side.

8.) For the trunk, you'll need to spread out the ends. On 1800s, the metal box which the trunk lock attaches to is flush with the trunk lip- so you can't put the seal over the lip in its regular shape. Just take two pairs of pliers and spread out the metal skin of the seal until it is shaped to that box. Then attach the seal all the way around the trunk lip, and do the same when you return to the box. Finally, take your tin snips and cut the end of the seal off (it will be too long). If you do it carefully, you can make a pretty snug join above the trunk lock and water won't get in there. When cutting the seal, it helps to snip both metal sides, then the soft top part of the seal (three snips). With the hood seal, you'll need to cut it once you reach the final radiator support for symmetry.

9.) Ta da! Your trunk or hood will look much newer, and water will have a much harder time finding its way in. To keep all your seals looking new, periodically wipe them with an automotive rubber protectant (sold by Griot's Garage and other auto care companies). Thanks for reading and good luck with your install!

Got a tech tip or DIY install experience to share with your fellow Volvo enthusiasts? Write it up on the SoCal VSA Forum’s Technical section!


Upgrading your Vintage Volvo’s Handling with IPD Anti-Sway Bars

SoCal VSA member Tom Dougherty recalls his experience upgrading his 1973 1800ES with IPD’s famous anti-sway bar kit earlier this year. Volvo Sports America is not affiliated with any of the brands or businesses in this article.

IPD USA sells anti-sway bar kits for most year and model Volvos, 1800 kit pictured.

It was on New Year’s Day 2010 that my fellow Volvophile – Munyungo and I were driving over the Ortega Highway from Temecula to Dana Point in our 1800s for lunch. Munyungo mentioned that my ’73 1800ES was leaning in the curves and I did experience “sway”. Munyungo suggested looking into some anti-sway bars to improve the performance of the suspension. This became a worthwhile project for the New Year.

There’s a lot of physics going on in a suspension and in a curve. I found the following definitions as to overcoming roll, sway, and lean using “anti-sway bars”.

Anti-sway bar is defined in as:  A metal bar connecting the left and right suspension systems at the front or rear of an automobile or a truck, used to stabilize the chassis against sway. Also called anti-roll bar, stabilizer bar, also called sway bar.

Diagram of the front suspension on the Volvo 1800ES. The anti-sway bar is highlighted in yellow and referred to as a "stabilizer."

Anti-sway bars provide two main functions. The first function is the reduction of body lean. The reduction of body lean is dependent on the total roll stiffness of the vehicle. Increasing the total roll stiffness of a vehicle does not change the steady state total load (weight) transfer from the inside wheels to the outside wheels, it only reduces body lean. The total lateral load transfer is determined by the CG height and track width.

The other function of anti-sway bars is to tune the handling balance of a car. Understeer or oversteer behavior can be tuned out by changing the proportion of the total roll stiffness that comes from the front and rear axles. Increasing the proportion of roll stiffness at the front will increase the proportion of the total load transfer that the front axle reacts and decrease the proportion that the rear axle reacts. This will cause the outer front wheel to run at a comparatively higher slip angle, and the outer rear wheel to run at a comparatively lower slip angle, which is an understeer effect. Increasing the proportion of roll stiffness at the rear axle will have the opposite effect and decrease understeer.

I found a complete front and rear anti-sway kit for my car at IPD and had it delivered to Bob Workman’s European Auto Service in Vista, CA. Bob’s staff has experience installing the IPD kit in multiple cars so I was pleased to proceed with a custom installation. The front was the easier of the two in that it was a removal of the original and less resilient anti-roll bar and installation of the new IPD kit.

1800ES front anti-sway bar before.

1800ES front anti-sway bar after.

The rear kit installation is more involved because of my model car. Two holes have to be drilled in the chassis at specific locations under the rear “jump” seats. The IPD rear sway bar kit came with lots of hardware and good instructions that were easy to follow.

1800ES rear kit with large flat plates.

Of significance in the installation is that the two metal plates are molded by the technician using bending techniques and a ball peen hammer for the final shaping. Now the rear kit components can come together and complete the installation.

Plates are molded to chassis.

1800ES rear anti-sway bar before.

During installation.

1800ES rear anti-sway bar after installation.

So now I am set with a new anti-sway system and of course I went over the Ortega Hwy the very next day for a run through its curves. Needless to say it was a much more secure feeling and overall enjoyable ride. Thanks to Bob Workman’s European Auto for the ongoing expertise and excellent service in installing the kit. I highly recommend this suspension adaptation especially when considering the great old Volvos that we enjoy driving.

IPD USA Anti-Sway Bars for Volvo P1800

Bob Workman’s European Auto

Article by Tom Dougherty


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