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).

General Comments:

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.

1992 Volvo 960 Wagon 2.6 inline 6 cylinder from North America


Useful and tasteful


Cracked oil pan (my own fault) 110,000 miles

Oil pump died (fallout from oil pan incident) 110,000 miles

Radiator cracked (while fixing above problems) 110,000 miles

AC lost R-12 charge at 126,000 miles

Rotors--all the time!

Pads--whenever you need new rotors

Heated seat wiring cracked 120,000 miles.

General Comments:

It's a real tank of an automobile. For being 15 years old, few of my friends or acquaintances know it's age. The body is in excellent shape; there is no rust and the paint still looks very good.

The seat leather is in quite good shape although the driver's side seat is starting to crack a bit. For weighing as much as it does, the 200 hp engine does a good job of moving you along when you want to push it. However, mileage at this point is pretty poor at about 15 MPG in the city--maybe 22 on the highway. Combined with a small gas tank (wagon tank is smaller than the sedan) frequent fuel refills are necessary on long trips.

The seats are extremely comfortable and the heated leather is very nice in those nasty winter months.

The biggest feature of this car is the amount of cargo room available when one folds the seats flat. I've fit a dishwasher, a stove, a dryer, an entertainment center (assembled), an overstuffed chair and ottoman, almost an entire sheet of 4x8 plywood (had to leave hatch open) and the meanest thing I ever put into it was nine full-sized railroad ties. That was actually a bit dumb as they were extremely heavy and I'm sure went well over the recommended cargo weight. However, she's still running.

One of the main mechanical problems is the brakes. This car eats rotors for lunch. I try to drive as gently as I possibly can, but the weight just ensures that one tears through pads and rotors. Perhaps some additional ventilation might help.

Also, the transmission seems to have a mind of it's own when it comes to choosing a gear--no logic behind when a shift happens, but it's a 15 year old car so I can live with it.

I've heard that there are many problems with the PNP switch (transmission mode selector), the automatic climate control system, the engine block, and the rear Nivomat self-leveling suspension, but I've never experienced any of them. Partly because I understand the previous owner replaced most of these items (excluding the engine block) before he sold it to me.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th April, 2007

26th Jun 2007, 14:33

Hi there.. most probably the PNP switch has been already dealt with. You wanna check the diagnostic codes to make sure, sometimes symptoms will show up (computer limp mode), sometimes they won't. In either case the PNP switch is likely a one-time replacement of a component that has been taking the abuse under the car (exposed to temperatures and moisture) for several years.

26th Sep 2008, 14:01

Original poster here.

In the time that I kept it, I had to replace the brakes and rotors several times and I elected to add stainless steel brake lines to firm things up a bit. Didn't help much, but the old brake lines were 16 years old so I don't regret it.

At one point the engine started to miss which required replacement of the six ignition coils -- that one cost about $450 for parts, but at least it was easy to do myself.

The AC discharged the next season after the first R-12 refill, so I elected to change over to a hydrocarbon-based coolant called Duracool. Though everybody says that you'll die in a fiery blaze when it explodes, my car did not explode. As a matter of fact, with the new coolant type, plus some sealant and hygroscopic lubricants, the AC ran better (and cooler) than it did with the R-12. Not to be a shill for Duracool, but forget Dupont and their R-134a junk. Duracool is where it's at!

I did just recently sell my beloved "Brown Sugar" to a friend who is happily driving it with no issues. His family has always driven American SUVs and after buying this, they got rid of their Tahoe! Hooray wagon!