1995 Volvo 850 4 Door Sedan from North America

Summary:

Love my Volvo, and looking for another one

Faults:

I have fixed the usual wear and tear items on my 16 year old Volvo. I leased it when it was 4 years old and bought out the lease at the end. It still has the original transmission and engine. I replaced the muffler in 2010. The odometer stopped working 3 years ago at 251,000km, so I'm thinking there is at least another 50,000km added in the past 3 years if not more.

My biggest pet peeve was with my windshield wipers, especially the driver's side. It would fly off the window to the driver's side during rain and/snow when on the highway, at which time I'd have to pull over at a convenient location to tighten the bolt down. Eventually the threads wore bare. In the end I got a new transmission for the wipers. Still have to tighten down the bolts sometimes.

The light bulbs went out and my dash is almost in darkness now because it's a big job to change them.

Other than that, I have loved my Volvo for being such a solid driving car and safe. I am looking to another one, given mine is 16 years old and the engine is getting tired.

General Comments:

In the past I have had Ford 1957 and 1959,

a Volkswagen, Oldsmobile, Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Mercedes Benz and my this one, my Volvo.

Out of all of them I have loved the Benz and Volvo best. I have found my Volvo has required less work than my Cadillac and others. The kids drove the Chev and the Benz to school in the end.

The Benz had 320,000 kms on it when my daughter got hit by another car. The Benz was written off when it was 15 years old and my daughter walked away from the accident thankfully. Today she drives one with her three children.

For safety, Benz and Volvos. That's what matters to me.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th April, 2011

1995 Volvo 850 GLT 2.5L NA from North America

Summary:

It's only a high-maintenance car if the owner is a high maintenance person

Faults:

'Loses' 1 quart of motor oil per 5-7 tanks of gas (since purchase at 99k) ; possibly a very light rear main seal leak, or else the engine is consuming oil. No oil stain where it's parked in the driveway, and I'd rather keep topping off oil than search for the fault.

Consumes power steering fluid; I replace 1 quart's worth about every 5k miles (since purchase at 99k).

Moonroof rail broken (105K), I forced the moonroof closed, disconnected the switch and have not used it since then.

Leather seats have worn poorly; major ripping on driver and passenger front seats, while the rarely-used rear seats are in as-new condition.

Paint on the roof has been fading since purchased at 99k.

Clearcoat on the hood has been flaking off since 120k. This car has been parked uncovered for most of its life in Arizona.

Driver's window switch broke (101K) ; replaced with a used part from a junkyard.

Odometer broken when purchased at 99k, replaced with odometer gears from a junkyard car at 132k.

Have replaced 5 speakers since 99k, all with used junkyard parts.

Rear hatch interior panel clips (wagon) broken (99k), shoved a racquet ball between hatch and interior panel to stop the squeaking.

Recirculator switch for climate control has made a thumping sound since purchased (99k).

Air-conditioner switch began to stick (115k), replaced with junkyard switch.

Rear hatch pneumatic openers do not hold the hatch open in cold weather (since purchase at 99k) ; replaced with aftermarket (which make terrible noise) at 115K, then replaced with OEM openers from a junkyard at 117k.

Electronic mirror adjusters failed (115k).

Dashboard 'leather' warped since purchase at 99k, has deteriorated since then.

Cruise control failed due to faulty brake pedal cutoff switch (at purchase at 99k), had a shop replace these at around 120k.

General Comments:

Purchased the car for $2500 three years ago, expecting to drive the crap out of it for 2 years and 'throw it away' if/when a catastrophic or expensive repair was needed. I have put maybe $1000 into the maintenance and repairs over the past three years and 40k miles, and now expect the car to easily last another 2 or 3 years.

I expected this to be a very high-maintenance car. In some ways, it is - many little things have gone wrong, but few of them have bothered me enough to fix. An 850 would be very expensive to maintain if every little fault was dealt with by a dealership. You can keep your costs low if you do the work yourself, and use junkyard parts for non-safety-critical items (window switches, speakers, etc.). Independent shops are not cheap, but are cheaper than dealers for having work done.

There is great DIY support from a variety of websites. Some jobs are tough (such as timing belt), but with some experience and courage, can be done at home with proper tools. A good set of Torx wrenches comes in very handy. Look for an independent shop in your area if you're not comfortable with this. I changed a timing belt for the first time on this car.

I have abused this car with lots of driving on washboard backcountry Arizona dirt roads; it has barely developed a squeak from this, though the wagon's hatch tends to squeak a lot if the clips that hold the interior panel to the hatch are broken.

The five speed manual transmission has perfect ratios, and helps deliver more power to the wheels. It feels good to shift. It may still have the original clutch. If you can find a five speed 850, get it.

Broken odometers are very common, but can typically be repaired in about 1 hour using aftermarket or junkyard odometer gears. When shopping used 850s (95 and older), you can use the on-board computer to read out the actual mileage. Details for how to do this can be found online.

Onboard computer can be used to flash codes for faults (95 and older), and an OBD II connector is available on post 96. This helps with DIY diagnostics and maintenance.

I typically get around 20mpg in heavy city driving, 25mpg in mixed driving (timing stop lights), and can sometimes get 27mpg on highway-only trips at around 65mph.

This is a comfortable car. I am 6'2", and have plenty of legroom. The seats are supportive, and I feel fine driving 5 or 6 hours at a time.

Cargo room in the wagon is incredible. I have hauled a full-size washer and dryer, at the same time, with the seats folded flat. I have hauled a twin mattress and boxspring with the seats folded down. I sometimes carry 2 mountain bikes, wheels attached, in the back.

This is a great car for someone willing to do their own maintenance, and who doesn't care about little things going wrong.

This would be an expensive, frustrating car for someone who freaks out about check-engine lights, or who insists on dealership servicing.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th November, 2010

20th Mar 2012, 21:28

I would recommend that anyone who needs a very reliable and safe vehicle, and who is mechanically inclined, buy a 850.

850s are tried and tested, and if you can find one with under 200,000 km, go for it. Look at the Volvo websites, and they will point you in exactly the right direction for maintaining these beasts (on the cheap).

These are a great car for a young person looking to save money, or any sensible person looking to save money, but still have a reliable ride.

Expect to fix brakes (flex hoses $12.00 X4 eBay), brake pads (50$ front and rear), rotors (front both $70.00 local... I have never had to replace rear rotors for some reason), exhaust (cat/flex coupler 110.00 replaced professionally), replaced motor mounts (right engine mount $25.00 eBay, upper bushing $15.00 eBay), replaced ball joints (39.00 eBay), tie rods (mostly outer $15.00 eBay, sometimes inner 20.00 eBay), CV joints $35.00 eBay (or just boots and grease $10.00), sway bar links (9$ eBay), timing belt ($20.00 local), possibly struts... 75$ used (though sometimes they last past 300,000 km), maybe the odd/minor electrical problem (e.g. blower motor...$50.00 new) starter (new $75.00 eBay)...

If you want to get fancy: possibly replace the PCV system at or before 300k (I haven't done this, I just vent the PCV to the atmosphere), you can also replace (or clean) spark plugs, and clean or replace the distributor cap ($20.00) and rotor button ($15.00), and replace the air filter (20.00 or blow the old one out with an air compressor, $0).

Watch out for cars with brown transmission fluid, oil leaks (especially turbo cars... but a leaky hose is only 40.00 plus one hour installation... or DIY).

If you do all of the above at once yourself, you are looking at about $700 in parts (excluding fluids changes and tires.. but these are all cheap as well.. and go with the cheapest oil and trans fluid you can find... why? Because 'cheap' oil factories and 'cheap' transmission fluid factories do not exist... they all come from the same bottling plant/refinery)... and you will never have to do this all at once, and few things will have to be done 'right away' (as long as you keep track of the condition of important things such as brake hoses and brake pads, CV boots and keep an eye out for oil leaks).

You are probably looking at about 40$/ month in maintenance costs (on average) over the course of the next couple of years... But most months are "payment free".