1996 Volvo 850 SE 2.5 from Australia and New Zealand


Great car for the family


No major issues; mechanically it just goes on forever.

The car has a service every 5,000 kilometers by the same dealer I bought it from. The dealer is now an ex-dealer, as Ford-Volvo amalgamation saw all the small dealers gone. These guys are great with the models up to the V70. There has been normal servicing costs, but no surprises. Done by the book. Notice of expensive items for the next service, so cannot ask for a better car for maintenance and reliability.

I used the Volvo/Jag/Landrover dealer for 2 services over a 6 month period, when I had a rattle in the tail gate, and a squeak from the front suspension. They were super expensive and did not fix the problems. I took it back to the original dealer, and he identified the problems and fixed them.

The only bug I have had, is with the rear tailgate. The struts needed replacement (done with OEM units off eBay) and the lock rattles (due to slamming against a lock after the driver's door was locked).

The fan for the A/C & heater played up. It only ran on full speed. Needed to be replaced.

Interior has held up well (all leather), and still looks good outside. Stone chips to the front, and the lights have covers, so still running with the first set of headlights. The old girl has seen the Red Centre, and done several runs from Melbourne to Perth across the Nullabor. It is the normal 2.5 litre motor (non-turbo), so not the fastest car around. It has good acceleration in mid area for overtaking; 80-120 is good.

I carry a pod on top of the car (helps the wife to spot it in the car park) so economy is not as good as it should be. Around 7km/litre is about it. So 400 to 500 kilometres from a 70 litre tank. Without the pod, it gives a respectable 10 km/litre. So just air resistance. The suspension is good, no issues. Brakes need regular checking. Does not use oil between services.

BTW, I have a Jag XJ6, Land Rover Discovery and the Volvo, so the dealers lost big time when they failed to help me. Volvo 850 - I have 300,000 on her today, just had the service done. I will hang onto it and want to see the Magic Million - maybe before I die. She is our daily runabout, and does not get caned. Love it!

General Comments:

Do not use the dealer for these older models (pre V70 series 1). Find a good knowledgeable workshop, and follow the 5000 km service (oils and book checks).

Would love to try the Turbo and AWD models, but the reliability on this 850 is outstanding.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th March, 2012

1996 Volvo 850 Base 2.3 turbo from North America


It really does look like a brick..


Washer pump motor was not working.

Driver and rear passenger door locks broke.

Interior trim slowly warping.

ABS module needed replaced.

Exterior trim faded.

Trunk struts failed.

Cup holders are horrible.

General Comments:

I purchased this car as a beater for daily driving to work. For 1700 bucks I got a straight and narrow, solid running vehicle with decent gas mileage. The ride is comfortable and it handles quite well. All the issues (minus the ABS) are quick, easy, and inexpensive fixes.

I replaced the spark plugs, oil & filter, and the fuel filter as a start. A tranny filter and fluid change are on the horizon.

I'm looking forward to doubling the miles on this car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th January, 2012

4th Mar 2012, 17:54

The ABS-module issue is very common on 96-97 models.

You don't need to buy a new one. There are many easy DIY-guides. You only need to reheat and re-flow a few cracked solder points (probably due to use of RoHS lead free solder when manufacturing the module).

I did it myself with no prior knowledge of soldering, and it is now working flawlessly, 6 months later.