Nimble, economical and easy to drive
Fuel pump relay solder contacts failed, rear main seal leaks, one rear cam seal failed, boot light fails to close. Ignition switch was loose. Driver's door stay broke.
We purchased this car purely because it was a Volvo & because it had incredibly low mileage at 112,000 kms, and an almost complete dealer service history. We haggled with the dealer to lower the price by $500 because it was still on the original cam belt after 14 years!!
Also the previous owner had either neglected the last oil change or had used terrible oil, because the oil light was glowing and the tappets were noisy after only five minutes of driving. After an oil/filter change, the oil light disappeared for good and the tappets no longer make noise, so we caught this just in time before damage occurred. Also the car consumes no oil, though it does leave a leak from the rear main seal.
After only one day of driving, we noticed that on some starts the indicators would not work and one of the warning lights would also stay on (can't remember which one) Upon returning to the dealer, he told us not to use the keyless remote, which solved nothing. Knew there had to be something we could do, so I started reading the forums, which revealed all. It was the ignition switch not returning home after a start.
Once I sourced the cam belt, water pump and pulleys/bearings/seals etc, I went about replacing them which took about six hours. A new ignition switch and driver's door stay was also sourced, which both took around 60 minutes to replace.
Once the fuel pump relay was re soldered, we overcame a hot starting problem. When I say "hot starting", I mean on any day over about 21 deg C the car would not start, especially if the car was left sitting in the sun.
Once the gremlins were sorted, we began to enjoy this vehicle immensely. The performance is adequate with 106KW available. It is ready to kick down and pass with ease. I am not kidding myself about the performance. My other Volvo, a 960, has far more performance.
These 850s have amazing road manners and steering feel. After driving a 740 Turbo, 760 V6 and a 960, I can easily say this is the easiest and most comfortable to drive. They are very nimble with light steering and great handling. Mid corner bumps don't jar the suspension, and the seats, dash and general ergonomics are great.
Ours has great air-con, which easily cools the cabin down after 10 minutes of soaking in the sun for hours. One point that I dislike is the tinny exhaust note. Either some baffles are a little worn or that is how these 10 valve models sound. Either way, it's not a sexy sound going through the gears until it's cruising at 100km/h.
The factory stereo, though only a tape/radio, sounds awesome. The leather requires a treatment right now, as it is beginning to dry out, but I'm not complaining after 14 years of use.
My advice for anyone looking to purchase one of these is to look for service history and originality.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 30th November, 2009