19th May 2010, 06:39

Now on my 5th Volvo wagon I've a few observations.

I've owned, 5 Mercedes, VW bugs and 1 sports model I can't remember the name of, Chevy's, Buick's, Mazda RX7, Several Porsche which were nice, Olds Tornado.

The first Volvo was a 240 wagon. It was a little underpowered climbing hills, which was something I did often. It was a miser on gas. Avg 30 MPG, 99% of my driving is country. I didn't like the center console as it was too close to my right leg, apparently a common complaint. Had to rock the seat far back to straighten my leg to increase comfort. The floor pans rotted out and the car was sent to the junk man. If it weren't for the center console I'd buy another 240.

The next Volvo was a 740 GLE. That was the double overhead cam 16 valve engine. What a gas hog. Sold it quick at a loss.

All the rest of my Volvo's were 1989 - 1992 740 wagons. No Turbo's. I found gas mileage to be about 25 mpg in the country, although one did hover around 30 MPG. No idea why I was so lucky with that one.

I've replaced the usual parts, Timing belts, water pumps, brakes etc. Nothing out of the ordinary, and certainly nothing unwarranted considering the number of miles I drive yearly.

Over the past 45 years of driving the only car I enjoyed more than a Volvo was a Mercedes. But I don't miss all their expensive repairs. I own a 1987 560SEC right now as a summer car, but the Volvo is a better car for daily driving and dependability. While the upholstery isn't wonderful, I can sit driving for hours quite contented. I prefer leather over cloth seats. Even though I'm in a cold climate, I don't like seat heaters.

Most of my Volvo's died in accidents. Actually they were repairable, but the insurance companies paid me enough to junk the car and replace it with another 740. Why bother rebuilding?

The present car has had some issues with the speed control of the engine. We haven't solved it as yet. But consider this car has over 270,000 miles and still going strong. No apparent rust anywhere.

One thing on Volvo's, if the A/C doesn't work, it is likely that there are rotten alum pipes in the system. Just replace them and upgrade to the latest fluid and you will have you're a/C back. About $300 - 500.

Keep up the timing belt replacement schedule, and when doing that replace the water pump and gaskets. They can be found as sets on ebay. I like to replace the fan belts at the same time.

Exhaust systems last about 4 years. Buy the brake pads from the dealer and it is likely they will last longer and not squeak. I've yet to replace a radiator or a transmission.

One quirk which we finally figured out. Every 50,000 miles remove the ground from the alternator to the block, clean both ends and the spot on the block, use an appropriate lubricant and put them back. This cures lots of problems with gauges, and strange stalling problems, especially in wet weather.

Another quirk is cold weather starting difficulty. Most Volvo's will start on a dime in frigid cold weather. If yours doesn't there is a sensor in the block just below the intake manifold. Aim a hair dryer at it for a minute or so when the engine is cold. If the engine then starts easily, order a new sensor. In the winter USE DRY GAS.

I think Volvo should make a kit of sensors, just buy the kit and replace them all at the same time. Costly, but well worth not revisiting problems with sensors.

I'm thinking of buying another 740 wagon soon. They are disappearing off the market and I want another before they become a collectors model. What a wonderful, dependable car. Simple and straightforward.

Brian / Hunt NY.

23rd May 2010, 20:40

Brian is right. The RWD Volvos (240, 740), and I will include 940, are amazingly dependable cars. I swear by them. My Mom bought her first Volvo in 2000, an '89 740 turbo. An excellent car that was driven hard, maintenance neglected, and lasted a quarter of a million miles until she sold it. She replaced it with a '95 940, lasting her 186k before selling it. It only needed 1 repair, totaling $80. Insanely good cars.

I was so impressed, I bought an '85 240DL when I went off to college. I owned it from 134k to 164k miles, at which point I sold it. It needed a new inner tie rod and the dash wiring shorted out. Otherwise it still ran and drove great. You just can't kill these Volvos!