10th May 2004, 11:27

Judging by all the problems you've had with your Volvo 850 and how uncharacteristic your problems are compared with other owner reviews of the same car, I have a feeling that your Volvo 850 may have been a possible rebuilt salvage without your knowledge. I am quite knowledgeable with the 850 and know of common problems experienced. Most of the problems you experienced are not at all common for this car. Rear main seal, O2 sensor, knock sensor, shifter selector failures, and power seat failures are all common problems on all 1993-1997 850s. Most 850s experience these problems sooner or later. I'm sorry you got the lemon of the bunch because the 850 is better than the average car of the '90's in terms of safety, reliability, and longevity.

13th Jul 2004, 09:24

I experienced problem in opening the gas cap when I try to refill, especially when there is line behind you and you have to search the manual to open it. And the manual has instructions about this! That means the manufaturer knew sometimes you cannot open the gas cap! What a design!

7th Sep 2004, 20:24

Update to the list

First: a retraction - no head gasket fail at 176 - happily it was an uninformed misdiagnosis. Sincere & humble apologies for the inaccuracy.

184 A/C fail - replace a/c receiver dryer and o-rings

186 Left front brake caliper replacement

186 Liftgate gas struts replacement

194 Thermostat required replacement

198 Right front brake caliper & all 4 rotors replaced

199 Failed idler pulley - replacement

201 Steering system universal joint worn out

205 Right headlight wiper motor required replacement

205 Steering stabilizer links worn out (this regular event has become part of the mtce. budget)

213 Exhaust manifold and muffler require replacement.

Despite its faults, the car was recently treated to a new set of Michelin tires, new windshield and full paint job. In an agonizing way, it remains a joy to drive.

8th Sep 2004, 05:42

Author's note on the brake failure mentioned in the main post: The flexible rubber hose going to the left front brake broke. If I recall correctly, the breaking point was just above a protective metal braiding. The root causes of this fail were not determined so it may have been the result of any number of events dealing with the initial design, wear of the rubber from age and continual flexing, damage from objects (stones, etc) on the road, and/or incorrect servicing. I have not seen this problem mentioned on any other Volvo sites so consider it a rare event.

30th Jul 2007, 22:18

I had a 1995 850T Wagon for five years and loved it! As a musician, I needed the cargo space and didn't want an SUV. In the matter of two years I put over $2600 in repairs: fuel pump, rear brake calipers, flame trap, tires...etc. at 150,000 the transmission went (saddest day ever!). Now with other repairs, altogether $6,000 + I am sad to have to get rid of it. Smooth, fast and reliable car: Volvo for life.

16th Jan 2008, 19:08

I take exception with the blanket implication that the Ford Taurus is unreliable. It really depends on which models you are writing about. Those built before 1996 were VERY reliable cars. I have had 4 of these cars and I sold three of them after they had 200k plus. One that I sold to a friend now has 260k and I was not a stickler for maintenance at all. Those after 96, with the new design and the Mazda transmission have a lot of problems from what I understand. Also, the cars with the 3.8 engine have a few more problems. Unfortunately, I don't have one of these great cars now though. I could really use the SW in a 1993 to 1995 model with low miles.

4th Feb 2009, 12:48

I own a 1995 850 GLE wagon 5 speed manual and I must say it's a great car, excellent on gas and reliable. Also it's built like a tank.

Beside the routine brake work and oil changes, I never had any problem with it considering I drive like a crazy.

Did I mention that it has 315.000 Kilometers...

9th Sep 2009, 00:53


The issues you describe may not be a fault of the manufacturer. It is very possible that the car has been in an accident (or 2) in its lifetime. With older cars, electronics die and need replacement.

I encourage only to lay blame evenly, not all on Volvo.


4th Dec 2009, 05:12

Great car with low maintenance.

23rd Feb 2010, 16:10

I have a 97 Volvo 850, I bought it from my dad after his lease was up. It has 422 000 Km now and have never had more than minor issues. I change the oil every 5000km and the compression is in factory specs. Brakes last me over 100000km, all the time, one clutch since new and a main bearing seal that is dry to this day.

Minor issues: glass lenses break on occasion, headlight and main wiper gears have been replaced, fog lamp replaced, I drive in a snowy climate.

That's about it. Does well on gas, Never had injector fouling issues, I use 91 fuel and injector cleaner every 10000 km, and wash it a lot, no rust yet either.

25th Jun 2010, 22:59

Excellent car, reliable and long lasting.