This car would be a disgrace to Volvo's reputation if it was brand new.
It's not - it is 14 years old, has done 151k and has been standing for a year.
You can't realistically expect it to have the reliability of a new car.
You may want to have the gas filter cleaned and serviced. I had some problems starting my VOLVO and took it to a Dutch mechanic who specializes in VOLVOS. He cleaned the filter and no more problems. This is called a "gas service," so that's what you would need to ask for. Any Water is getting into your car. You need to clean it up and dry it out, fill any holes in the car and spot paint it. Take the carpet out to make sure there aren't rust holes in the floorboard. Park it in the sun if you can. The same water that is causing the mold could also effect your electrical connections.
I had a similar problem with my headlight filling with water, and the solution I found was to remove the entire headlamp assembly, drill a few small holes in the bottom of it, and I haven't had a problem since. Before I did this, every time I stopped sharply with my lights on I'd blow out a bulb (cold water on hot glass). I imagine that there is always a risk in buying an older car, but Volvos seem to have a far better track record as used cars than other brands. As for my experience, I could not have found a better car- three years, forty thousand miles, and about $200 in repairs.
Obviously, you should have bought your sister a new car, since buying a 15 year old car takes some car intuition. Consider that most cars are only designed to last not more than 7 years. To say your car is a disgrace to Volvo is a stretch to say the least.
Considering it was the 240, which between 1973 and 1993, contributed and pretty much made the reputation of Volvo, your comments are ironic. The 240 gets called a lot of things, but calling it a disgrace! Give me a break!
As mentioned buying a 15 year old car takes intuition and experience, and is always a risk. My 20 year old Volvo is still on the road, while my wife has been through 2 Fords, and it will still be on the road in 2 Fords time, and THAT friend is why the 240 has made the reputation of a company you say it disgraces.
My family has owned 4 Volvo's in the last 30 years.
The first one (1971) I bought a college guy used in 1977, I drove it 50k (210k total) and it was in a 5 car pile up, I was the only one to walk away.
The next day I bought a brand new one. It was a 1979 and I drove it 16 years 440k (I was in sales), the best car I ever owned.
The 3rd one was a 1987 my wife is now driving for it's 20th year with approximately 350k-400k. None of them needed any serious engine work. I bought one of my sons a college car a 1993 240 and we have slowly been fixing it up with eBay parts. We've done what I can standard maintenance, but yes a valve job. But what a great car. We bought it with around 200k and he's been driving it 3 years (50k).
And even when something breaks on a Volvo you are rarely stranded.
If this car was still in production, I'd buy my wife a new one. I do not car for the current models very much, Ford destroyed Volvo in my opinion.
My point is all our Volvo's have been great cars. You bought a car that needed some work. Get er done! It is probably cheaper than a car payment. And in the end lasts longer.
Be smart replacing the parts. Example, Auto-zone water pump has a lifetime guarantee. But Volvo distributor caps are the best. Use good oil, Castro Syntec. And change spark plugs often, this will make your valves last longer.
You can't say anything bad about Volvo. I have a 240 DL 1990 and I was in a head on collision with a semi truck going at least 65 - and I drove away from the accident; all I needed for repairs was a new front clip. had it been any other car that size, I would probably be dead and the car definitely would be gone. I will never drive any other car. I love my Volvo.
If your battery went out, you also usually need to replace the voltage regulator in the alternator - ALL new cars with electronics have a different kind of regulator that will burn up if the battery dies or goes bad - or could be the cause of the battery death... unlike the alternators of old.
Warning: my experience is anytime you buy a car from a factory/dealer mechanic and/or they claim only one owner, beware! As often as not, this is a tactic used to sell a problem car.