Volvo S60: Intercooler Replacement

My intercooler got damaged by some road debris, though they apparently have a habit of blowing anyway due to the high boost pressure used (particularly on diesel models).

This documentation details the process of removing and replacing the intercooler. No part of it is particularly difficult, but it's an involved process and takes some time (especially the first time). As a guide, it took me just short of 4 hours to do (fag breaks included).

I performed this process without lifting the car, however at times it was a little tight, so if I even repeat the process I'll probably put the car on ramps or stands.



Summary of process

What we're going to do, is remove the bumper, slam panel and then separate the radiator pack in order to pull the intercooler out upwards. It's tight, and care is needed but it does come out this way.

The alternative is to drain the coolant and remove the radiator and intercooler together by pulling them downwards (meaning you need to lift the car sufficiently to get them out). This is also a lot of work and means replacing coolant, so I decided to remove from above.

With a couple of exceptions, pretty much every bolt in this process is either 10mm or 12mm on my car (the headlight wipers being the exception - 8mm)


Remove Undertray

I actually did this step a few days before in order to check the intercooler whilst investigating the engine hesitation I was feeling in the early stages of boost (it sort of felt like engine braking).

The undertray is held on by two screws, one in each of the front corners - if you stick your head under the bumper you should see them (one on each side). Simply remove the screws and the undertray should drop out.


Remove Bumper

The first thing to do is remove the bumper, it's more or less the same process as for replacing a S60 headlight except that this time we must fully remove the bumper rather than pulling it forward.


Start by removing the plastic rivets from the top of the slam panel, be careful as they break easily

Bumper Radiator rivets removed

Next remove the grey trim from below the headlights. Slide a blunt flat tool behind them and carefully lever forward to disengage the clips. This will reveal a bumper mounting bolt under each headlight

Bumper retaining bolt

Remove the bolt, and then the next step is to release the bumper from the wing.

Hidden away in the arch is a small torx headed screw. You should slacken (but do not remove) this. The Torx driver in the emergency toolkit is a fit for this. If you turn the wheels slightly it'll dramatically improve your access.

Bumper to Wing fixing


 Once several threads are exposed, push down on it so that it slides forwards into the car. This will slide a piece of plastic inside the bumper forwards (the plastic acts as an anchor).

If you've got headlight wipers, these also need to be detached. Use a flathead to flip up the end of the arm and reveal the 8mm retaining nut

Headlamp Wiper Retaining Nut

Despite being corroded to hell, they come off quite easily. To get the wiper arm off, you need to wiggle it about to help it come off the splines on the shaft. Then, carefully disconnect the washer hose from the arm and repeat on the other side.


Assuming you've done this on both sides, we're now ready to take the bumper off.

Starting at one wing, carefully pull the bumper outwards and forwards (the top corner near the arch needs to slide forwards slightly to come clear of the internal anchor. If it won't budge, revisit the torx screw in the arch).

Bumper pulled forward

It should all release quite easily, carefully repeat on the other side.

You'll likely now have the bumper lying on the ground in front of the car. Whether or not you've got fog-lights, there will be cabling running to the bumper (where front fogs aren't fitted, Volvo simply connect the wiring loom to a plastic mount to keep it out of the way and water free).

Carefully disconnect these, and put the bumper somewhere you won't be constantly tripping over it.

Your car probably now looks quite sad



Removing the Slam Panel

The next step is to remove the Slam panel (or radiator support member if you prefer). It's secured in various places, and we will need to release (but not fully remove) the headlights in order to remove it.

To begin with though, we're going to remove the shroud which directs air towards the radiator. In the bottom corners there are some press clips, with another two hiding away at the top:

 The next step is to remove the (many) bolts from the top of the slam panel, including those holding the headlight units in place

Next, we need to remove the last two headlight mounting bolts (per headlight). The first is easy, its down the side of the radiator:

The next, though, should be taken as a reminder that Volvo hates you...

The wing mount for the headlight unit sits just under the plastic mount used to secure the bumper onto the wing. In the picture below, it's just behind my hand. There's room to pull the plastic forward to gain access with either a ratchet spanner or a shallow socket

Depending on the depth of your socket, there's room to pull the bumper forward enough to gain access.

Bumper retaining anchor Headlamp Wing retaining bolt

Be careful not to be too rough with the plastic, but get the bolt out and the headlight unit should now be free. So pull it forwards just a little.

Repeat on the other headlamp unit.

Assuming you've got all the bolts, it should now be able to twist the slam panel upwards (the bonnet release cable and wiring loom for the horn is still attached, so be careful):


Once you're happy it's free, move it back into place. We still need to disconnect a few things inside the engine bay (I tend to leave these until I'm sure I can get the slam panel free).


Intercooler Disconnection

The next step is to disconnect the intercooler feed and return hoses. Depending on your car, you may also have a MAP sensor present.

There's a large black hose on both the left and the right, going into the intercooler. Slacken the jubilee clips on these and disconnect the hose

On the left hand side, if you've got a MAP sensor, carefully disconnect the connector, but do not attempt to remove the sensor yet.

We've now reached probably the most fiddly and frustrating stage of the process.


Removing the Intercooler

The intercooler, radiator and Aircon Condensor are screwed together to form a pack. What we need to do is carefully split the pack, work the intercooler out (without damaging either of the others), slide the new intercooler in and get them to form a pack again. Sounds so simple huh?

The pack is held together by 4 screws like this one

There are two on each end of the radiator. On the right hand side you'll find one in the bottom corner, and one in the middle (just above the intercooler's intake).

On the left hand side you'll find one at the top, and one towards the bottom (pictured above)

These need to be removed, and should give you 4 long screws with varied levels of corrosion

At this stage I put a small jack under the A/C condensor to minimise stress on the aircon's piping. 

On both top and bottom of the intercooler, there will be a plastic wind guide held in by some plastic tabs. Turn the tabs 90 degrees and pull them to remove

At this point, the pack is split and you might find that you're able to work the intercooler out. However, mine was too tight, even after I pushed the A/C condenser forwards. If that's the case for you, the next stage is to put a jack under the radiator and undo the right hand (i.e. cambelt end) radiator support.

It's underneath the car and looks like this

Undo the bolt and you should get a thin bolt with a large washer come out. You can now push that end of the radiator back towards the engine to give yourself a little more space (I didn't need to undo the Left hand side as the radiator wasn't the issue for clearance there).

Now that there's a bit more space you should be able to move the intercooler about in the gap. Position it to give yourself reasonable access to the MAP sensor (on the intercooler return outlet) and remove it (both to avoid damaging it, and so you don't have to worry about it fouling)

Now the slow and frustrating process starts. You need to carefully try to work the intercooler out of the gap you have by wiggling it about whilst pulling upwards. It's very tight and you need to try and avoid letting it scrape too much against the other radiators.

I found that the best way is to try and work the inlet end free (as there's less room for manoeuvre there) and then try and rotate the intercooler up and out from that end. It will probably take more than a few attempts, and at times I had to use one hand to push the radiator back whilst moving the intercooler with my other hand.

If you've someone to help you, now might be the time to get them, but it is possible on your own.

Ultimately, you should end up with the intercooler out and just the Radiator and A/C condenser left in the car


Intercooler Installation

Hopefully you've got a nice shiney new intercooler sat just waiting to go in.

The installation process is still fiddly, but I found it much easier than getting the old one out. All the same, it's a near perfect point to take a break if you haven't already.

The first step, obviously, is to slide the new intercooler in. Whatever way you got the old one out, reverse it and carefully work the intercooler back into the gap (and make damn sure you've got it the right way round!)

Before we start re-packing them, you'll need to install the MAP sensor (if you had one) into the new intercooler

Now, we need to start the process of binding the radiators back together. Getting a single screw in loosely helps keep them reasonably well aligned, so I started with the easiest - the top left hand corner. Only do it up so the threads are biting at this stage as we want the radiators to be able to move while we align the others.

I then moved to the other end to fit the top (well, middle) one. It's a bit fiddly to get at, but easier to align than the other two.

This got me to the point where the radiators were reasonably aligned and bound, however to get the bottom screws to align, the next step was to re-attach the radiator to it's mount point.

I used the jack to help lift the radiator a little, and tightened the mounting bolt back up

That helped level out the few mm difference I was seeing in the radiators. However, the bottom right hand bolt didn't seem to want to go in, and I couldn't both press the pack sufficiently and tighten the bolt, so I used a clamp to help press the radiators together sufficiently

I then put the bottom left hand screw in, and tightened them all.

The next step is to put the plastic windguides back onto the intercooler (simply pop the tabs in and turn them 90 degrees again)

The intercooler is now, for all intents and purposes back in, so twist the slam panel back over making sure that the locating lugs at the bottom align properly, as well as those at the wing ends of the panel.

Pop a couple of bolts in to help hold it in place

Now carefully push the headlights back in (remember the alignment tabs go over the panel) and put the top screws back in

Now that the headlight is held roughly in place, you should be able to put both the wing mount and the front mount screws back in.


There are two bolts which pass through the slam panel and onto mounts on top of the radiator. These are the slot shaped holes at the back of the slam panel

You'll need to reach in and push the radiator forward slightly to align these. One at either end of the radiator.


Then, re-install the wind guide by carefully popping it back over the plastic tabs

The slam panel, at this point, is basically re-secured and the front end back in place.

Next, we need to reconnect the intercooler feed and return hoses (one at either end) as well as the MAP sensor. Take particular care with the feed hose, it's an absolute sod. In the past I've had a garage move it to get at other things and then unknowingly failed to properly secure it back on - the lip available to your jubilee clip is pretty small, so take time and care. Failure to do so may result in black smoke and a stuttering engine when it blows itself back off - you have been warned!

Now that things have been reconnected and the slam panel is securely in place, it's a good time to run a quick test. So, at this stage I started the car and gave it a good rev listening for the tell-tale whistling of a boost leak. If all seems good, continue on.

It's time to prepare to put the bumper back on. As you'll almost certainly have disturbed it during the work, remember to pass the hose for the LH side headlight washer back through the hole at the bottom of the headlight.

If you can get someone to help you put the bumper back on it'll make life much easier, but it is possible to do on your own.

Lay the bumper in front of the car, and reconnect the foglight leads either to the foglights, or if not fitted, the plastic mount they were originally attached to.

Offer the bumper up to the car and try and align the holes above the radiator grill with their corresponding holes on the slam panel. It should just hang there.

Pass the screenwash hoses through the hole just below the headlight, otherwise it'll get trapped between the headlight and the bumper (and there's a good chance you won't notice for long enough that you'll decide to just leave it trapped)

Now, on one of the wings, carefully get the bumper back over the anchor by the arches, and tighten the torx in the arch to hold it in place. To do this, you need to slide the wing section down slightly so that it slips over the top of this hook

Bumper Retaining Hook

It's possible that you'll need to slacken the torx screw to move the anchor forwards slightly - sometimes when they've been disturbed they move slightly

Then walk around to the other side, and do the same there.

Next, put the plastic rivets back in above the radiator grill.

Put the bumper retaining bolts back in, and your bumper is now back on.

Carefully re-attach the headlight wiper arms (make sure you align them), not forgetting to reconnect the screenwash hoses

Clip the grey edges back into place.

Pop the airbox scoop feed back in, and then carefully put the undertray back on.

Job done, your new I/C is installed and everything should now be back together. If you've any bolts left then either I've missed something, or you have.

Given the propensity of the intake hose to not sit right and pop off, it'd be wise to make sure you've got a screwdriver with you when you next go for a drive, so that if it does slip off you can put it back on. Once you've got it on right it'll pretty much stay there until next removed, but getting to that stage can be a bit of a pain


Old Intercooler

Once I'd got the actual work out of the way, I figured I'd take a look at the old intercooler to see just how bad the hole was.

There's a split like the following, running nearly a third of the width of the intercooler, centred around the impact point of whatever it was that passed through (it was a stroke of luck it went through the bumper opening rather than the bumper really)