Great car if you buy a good one
Received a completely new exhaust pipe, from manifold to the muffler when I purchased the car.
Ashtray light has not worked since I bought it.
Replaced broken alternator and battery at 153.000km.
Dashboard lights for rear window heater/fog lamps not working.
Got the dashboard light for my headlamps working after tapping the display :P.
Interior is starting to squeak a bit, but comfy when on normal roads.
Replaced muffler due to heavy corrosion at 154.000 km.
Leaking exhaust fumes from the manifold, somewhere. So it’s best to drive with a window open.
Leaking Oil like mad from the driveshaft or something (1L for every 1000KM of something)
Handbrake had to be cut at the rear left tire, when it refused to come off.
Temperature gauge on the dash has never worked
Brakes are beginning to wear.
Very, very slowly leaking power steering fluid.
I have such a hate/love relationship with this car. After the Seat Ibiza from '94 I drove for a year and a half, began falling apart at the seams whilst driving, I decided to buy a car that was both reliable and faster. My choice was a Volvo 440, due to their good reputation, and the fact that they were 5 seaters. You have to understand that before I bought this car, I was a complete car-noob. So when a Volvo 440 2.0 was offered for a thousand euros, with just under 150.000 km, I fell for it. Boy was that a mistake, as well as an excellent choice.
First of the dealership I bought it from was kind of shady, but I needed a new car fast, and what’s a thousand Euros anyway? Me and my friend went to have a look, and although it seemed shady to the both of us, we could not find any major flaws with the car. It has no rust, till this day, the paint is excellent and the interior looked, and looks great till this day. Yes it would not change into second gear smoothly, but it had been standing still for 2 years. So I bought it, and for the first 2000KM, I could not really find a problem, except from some lights malfunctioning; normal stuff.
After that, things went downhill fast, gear change improved though. I started to notice that my engine was running low on oil. And I mean low as in no more oil. It did not help that the oil light did not turn on when it reached seriously critical levels. We could not spot the leak, since it was not dropping oil on the pavement, so we presumed that it was just using up a lot of oil. This was during the time, the alternator gave up (bad luck) and had to be replaced. Easy stuff, and with a Haynes manual everyone is a mechanic :P. There were always some things wrong with the car (lights and electrics), but nothing which bothered me too much, except the oil level.
After doing 5000 KM in it, I started my internship. Which meant I had to drive 120Km everyday, a test for this car's reliability. After two weeks, I noticed a rumbling noise coming from the bonnet. The left strut had failed, and now the bonnet has to be kept up by just the right strut. But that did not fix the rumbling noise. After an inspection, we found out that the car was leaking fumes from the flexible exhaust part (no correct English names, sorry), and had it replaced (50 Euros if you do it yourself). The noise became significantly less, but was still audible on a cold start. We then took a look at the manifold, and it had a crack in it. Around this time, we discovered that the car was leaking oil, badly, from the driveshaft or something (not a mechanic). This, combined with the exhaust, was the reason for me to start looking for a replacement.
Enough about the hate I have for this car. The love side is bigger, since my next car (tomorrow) will be a Volvo 480. The cars from this model range (440-480) are immensely enjoyable to drive. They are comfortable beyond belief, with chairs that will not fatigue you, ever. The Seat I had gave me back pains after 15 minutes, so a vast improvement.
The noise level inside is excellent. Above 120 km/h, the car does tend to produce a fair amount of wind noise, but the engine (when I bought it), was quiet like no other.
The ride itself is typical Volvo; it just glides along and the suspension filters out any bump. The leg room is excellent, in the back as well, making my car the car of choice amongst friends, for long distance cruises (over Golfs, Balenos, and even an Audi 80). For highway cruising, the car is such an excellent piece of equipment.
With regards to performance…. The 2 liter produced a 110 HP, for a car that weighs just over 1000 KG, is not bad. However do not expect it to be a car to get off the line fast. The engine was clearly designed to cruise. In fifth, the car will accelerate from 120 km to 160 km in no time, without any effort. I have not taking it up to top speed, but at 180 with 4 passengers, the car still had much more to give if I had pressed the pedal further. This lazy engine is perfect for long stretches, although consumption is a bit harsh (1L:10km).
All in all, I love this car. It is boring to look at, it is poisoning me with its exhaust fumes, it leaks oil and has frustrated me like no other car before has. However for the price that I paid, I received luxury, comfort, and most of all, a relaxing ride.
If you want to purchase one, beware of what you buy. Find a good one, and you will have a supreme car, especially amongst the billion grey, lease, uncomfortable Golfs you see.
P.S.: buy a Haynes book. It has saved me hundreds of Euros, fixing lights, electrics and minor fixes. Working on these cars is easy, even if you are a complete car noob like me.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 10th December, 2010