1992 Volvo 960 Wagon 2.9L I6 24 valve petrol from Australia and New Zealand
Great secure solid car with heaps of performance
Engine block and cylinder head failed at 142,000kms.
Transmission failed at 148,000kms (may have been low fluid).
Main ABS controller fuse blew, speedometer failed.
Courtesy lamp stays on flattening the battery.
Windscreen washer pump defective.
Factory radio played through only one speaker.
Rear springs are sagging (only by 20-25mm).
Rear dampers failed.
Factory radio and/or amplifier was faulty (played through only one dash speaker).
After solving most of the above gremlins, I have finally settled into loving my Volvo 960 and appreciating what a fine car it is. The engine is super smooth, the transmission is silky (Aisin Warner used the same 'box in the '82-87 Toyota Cressida).
The ride is somewhat choppy, but well controlled. The body rolls around a lot when cornering, but that could be the uneven ride height. The body is very tight, with hardly a squeak or rattle other than the leather rubbing together.
Volvo's first attempt at the timing belt in 92-93 was abysmal with an interval of b/w 42k & 56k (depending on whether the cam mod is fitted), so look for a '94 or above, or one that has had all the '94 onwards timing components changed into it if you are considering high mileage.
My previous Volvo was a 740 turbo wagon, which was no slouch, but this straight six eats it alive. It surprises other six drivers and can keep up with many V8s.
Fuel consumption is around 14L/100kms during city/combined highway driving, but I am a bit of leadfoot, and considering the plus 1,500kg weight, this is acceptable. Highway cruising gives 12L/100kms while using the cruise control at 102km/h. I suppose a Japanese engine would be more frugal with the same power.
The load space is huge. I have considered trading up to the 850 or V70 wagon, but the loss in width and length would be felt, as well as the "squareness" of the load space allows tall objects to be placed close to the rear glass.
After buying an aftermarket stereo/DVD and having it fitted, I discovered that all speakers were fine as it now bypasses the factory amplifier, which is next to the steering column.
After sales support is great from Volvo, as all parts have been available, though prices are sky high. There are so many export parts sellers that almost all service items can be sourced very cheaply, but that takes planning as their delivery can be 5-10 days. If you can bring in most water hoses and timing belt components, you will save real dollars from dealer pricing (this applies a lot in Australia).
One must be aware that this vehicle has hundreds of safety & comfort features requiring maintenance and occasionally, parts. I sincerely doubt that current vehicles will last as well 16 years on.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 28th November, 2009
2nd Dec 2009, 05:15
The engine block failed at 142000 kms and you think that this is a good car? How much did it cost to replace the engine?
The 4 cyl Volvos are much more reliable and the engine blocks don't fail.
5th Dec 2009, 16:30
In response to the Volvo 4 fan above: Notice that my previous car was a Volvo 740 Turbo. Cylinder head and turbo failed at 310K (was second turbo) Rooflining dropped and all plastic trim cracked. The turbo 4 went OK, but the driving pleasure cannot be compared to Volvo's straight six.
28th Oct 2010, 07:36
I'm the writer of this review, and I am updating to let you know that after 18 months of ownership, the car has been reasonably reliable.
After almost 30,000 kms and bringing it to 170,000kms, the MAF (mass airflow sensor) and some coils have been replaced, as well as sourcing some new tyres and mag wheels.
The sunroof switch sticks, so I'm sourcing a used one. The car requires a reseal of the cam cover (leaking oil) as a nameless mechanic stripped three or four of the 48 bolt threads, causing a bad join of the two surfaces when the head gasket was replaced (the head gasket was not required, but it's a long story). It still has the original water pump, so this will be replaced this summer. I'm realistic that it's a 17 year old vehicle and will require more maintenance than a newer car, but it still drives like a limousine, and it looks great, with great paint and no rust.