1989 Volvo 740 GL 2.3L 4 cylinder from North America


A nice, simple RWD 4 cylinder Volvo; classy, safe and unkillable


Replaced sway bar end links and bushings at 174,000 miles.

Transmission was rebuilt at 175,000 miles, due to harsh shifting in all gears, rough engagement of torque converter, burnt fluid.

Motor mounts replaced at 175,000 miles due to excessive vibration in car.

Replaced plastic air vent cover (the vent was used for cooling in foreign market cars without A/C, but had a cover for US cars with A/C) in the driver's side footwell with a homemade cover made of aluminum at 176,000. The factory panel was allowing water from the cowl drain to flood the floor of the car.

The water leakage from the vent cover caused the floor to rot through near the gas/brake pedals over the years. New metal welded in at 176,000 miles.

Radiator replaced at 178,000 due to leaky transmission cooler fitting on the radiator.

Power steering pump replaced at 178,000 due to bearing noise.

Overdrive solenoid replaced at 180,000 to regain the ability to lock out the overdrive. Also spliced in a new wire for the solenoid.

Maintenance items fixed in the past year: Four new tires, brake pads/rotors, four new shocks, spark plugs/wires, distributor cap/rotor, cleaned flame trap, changed rear axle fluid, oil changes every 5,000 miles with full synthetic 10W-30, all new headlights.

General Comments:

My first car. I love it and plan to keep it for a long, long time. It is in great shape mechanically, always needs a little TLC, but then what old car doesn't? It looks nice too, just needs a little body work and a headliner. I am an American car guy, but this car has really made me appreciate the good old Volvos (240, 740, 940).

This is one of the last of the real Volvos, the classic 4 cylinder RWD "Brick". It's built simple and solid like the 240s are (no ABS or airbags here, just metal), but with some nice bells and whistles added. I have the GL model, which was the base trim in '89, but it has plenty of nice features. Power windows, locks, decent AM/FM/Cassette radio, heated seats, sunroof, power antenna. All fully operational. The beauty of this "stripped down" model is that it does not have the stuff that often breaks down with age and gets expensive/laborious to fix (power mirrors, seats, sunroof). Still has that luxury feel though.

Overall review:

Well rounded tank of a car. Safe, solid, heavy feeling car, with adequate power, sporty, tight handling, solid braking, and excellent interior comfort/ergonomics. The interior has good head/leg room for 5 and generous trunk space. This Volvo has the most comfortable cloth seats I have ever sat in, and they are tough as nails. Love the blue interior color, and great ergonomics, simple and easy to figure out. Great MPG (around 27 overall). I bought the car for highway commuting, and it performs this task well like I knew it would.


Engine/transmission: The B230F 2.3L four cylinder runs like new, and provides adequate power for the car. The four speed AW70 automatic transmission is smooth now that it's been rebuilt. The B230 has great low end torque, which makes the car downright peppy around town, but with only 114 HP acceleration is slow, not too much pick up. The lack of power is really noticeable when merging onto the highway, or climbing a steep grade. However, once on the highway, the torque once again takes over and the car cruises without breathing hard, in a smooth relaxed fashion. 70-75 mph is the sweet spot.


4 wheel discs without ABS, good stopping power, great performance in panic stop situations with no lock up or pulling, even in wet conditions. Gives that feeling of security that you expect from Volvo.


Full unitized body, feels solid and tight, although bumps are transmitted through the body more than I'd like. The front independent suspension, rear live axle 4 wheel coil spring setup is rather firm but comfortable. I have KYB GR2 shocks in the car, slightly firmer than stock. Great highway ride, smooth but not floaty. At lower speeds, bumps and potholes create some jolting/bouncing, could be better. The rear axle is a tough Dana unit, and is well controlled by the suspension, axle hop is minimal over washboard surfaces/potholes. Rack and pinion steering is fairly light, numb for the most part, but with enough feedback to be safe. There is some understeer at the handling limit, but the car has a great "tossable" feel to it with the RWD, and can be thrown around without fear of breaking loose. Sure footed in emergency situations, and makes daily commuting fun. I think the KYBs and Yokohama tires gave the car some extra sportiness. Turns on a dime, best turning radius I've ever experienced. Good in the snow too.


Except for the transmission failing on me, the overdrive circuit in the trans failing me several times, and the broken air vent cover flooding the floor, this car has been very reliable. These are common trouble areas with the car, everything else has been a matter of maintenance that I would do with any car with this kind of mileage. The trouble areas can take a lot of time to troubleshoot, but are not bad to fix. The car has never left me stranded, and at this point I would trust it on a long trip. Parts can be pricey from the dealer, but there is a good aftermarket for this car, and many parts can be sourced from mechanically similar Volvos: 240/940.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th May, 2014

17th Jun 2014, 01:06

I too have a '89 740 GL, 278,000+ miles, take it cruising to Tennessee from NY 3 times a year along with daily mileage, 75MPH/2600RPM, but I would never buy another car from this manufacturer, BECAUSE it's just not the same quality.

This model and year were made in Sweden, some computerization, but simplistic enough for a "mechanic", someone who understands the concept of the dynamics of a combustion engine to diagnose and repair.

Not so with the newer "overcomputerized" models made in the US! Cell towers can wreak havoc with the on board computers of all vehicles, Volvo's included... (information courtesy of a Volvo dealer in NY with a real time example!)

Love my "Old" car... "She's a Brick... House"! Mighty, mighty... built like an amazon!

18th Jun 2014, 17:02

I agree these old Volvo's are as tough as old boots, and I love them to bits, but I have to disagree about later Volvo's being bad. Yes they are not as simple, and they are probably 'overcomputerised', but guess what - EVERY OTHER CAR COMPANY SELLING CARS TODAY is as well! Not just Volvo, so that's a little unfair just picking out this brand. Anyway, look after them and they will look after you.

1989 Volvo 740 GL 2.3 liter from North America


I want my next car to be a Swedish Volvo -- if this one ever wears out


Car was in an accident and "totaled" at 200,000 miles. It got a lot of body work and a rebuilt engine and transmission. That's when we bought it.

Air conditioning wore out and was too expensive to repair.

Cruise control wore out.

Minor repairs.

General Comments:

I love Volvos.

There's great visibility from the driver's seat.

The turning radius is tight -- I can hang a U-turn on back country roads.

I feel safe driving my car. (As opposed to the recycled tinfoil feel of so many I've driven--Datsun, Toyota, PT Cruiser.)

Last summer we drove from Seattle to Chicago and back. Put over 5000 miles on the car. Our Volvo station wagon was one of the oldest cars on the interstates, but it was totally reliable.

And it probably got some of the best mileage of any of the cars we saw.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th July, 2010