1997 Volvo 960 Wagon 2.9L 24 valve I-6 from North America


Not perfect, but it's a keeper...


Existing issues at purchase (Sep 2012):

Sunroof will vent, but sticks and doesn't slide open (no leaks however).

Rear passenger door handle internal mechanism broken - does not open from the outside.

Driver's electric seat out of alignment and doesn't move freely.

One electric window switch on the driver's panel was inoperable.

Several dashboard lights were burned out.

Cup holder was broken - arms missing.

As of June 2015 (2 1/2 years of ownership):

Parking brake cable rusted/broke - replaced, along with a full front end brake job, rear pads & turned rotors.

Alternator light (exciter switch) operates intermittently.

New battery.

A/C system had to be recharged.

For a couple of months the power steering would whine due to low fluid level; had to be topped off a few times, but the situation was resolved (no leaks).

Over winter milky fluid was present on the oil dipstick due to repeated short trips when the engine would not get up/stay at normal full operating temp; after a few longer trips the moisture evaporated and the oil is now clean (no oil or coolant leaks).

One headlight lens housing and one rear light lens housing cracked due to old age and were replaced.

A couple of brake/turn signal bulbs burned out and were replaced, along with several dashboard mini-bulbs.

General Comments:

We bought the car for our 16-year-old daughter. She loves the boxy Volvo wagon, it's a safe car, all the essentials were sound (engine, transmission, suspension), and the price was right. She drove "Phil" to school daily for about 2 years, and the only problem she had was a dead battery due to the alternator switch issue I mentioned earlier.

I started driving the Volvo in late 2014 as my "bad weather vehicle" during winter (I ride a motorcycle), and after a little Internet research I learned the exciter switch issue is resolved by simply revving the engine upon startup to 3000 RPM, at which point the exciter switch is activated, the alternator begins operating, and the warning lights go out. The electrical system has been working fine - AC/heater/gauges are all OK. The stereo with 6-disc stacker sounds great, and I even installed a Sirius satellite radio kit.

I've started doing DIY repairs (e.g. light bulbs, oil change, brakes) and I'm planning a full timing belt kit/water pump install, and will replace the rear shocks soon.

I really enjoy driving "Phil" - he isn't fast, but he's comfortable, quiet, and can haul a lot of gear. As long as I don't encounter a major malfunction that will cost $1K or more, I hope to keep our 1997 Volvo 960 Wagon on the road past 200K miles.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th June, 2015

4th Jun 2015, 11:00

Crikey, you bought a 2.9 24v V6 as a first car for your 16 year old daughter?! Things really are different in the States aren't they!! That would be an insane first car in the UK for a first time driver, doing early 20s on MPG and a right ole barge as well..

1997 Volvo 960 Wagon 2.9 liter straight 6-cylinder from North America


A great, safe, comfortable long-distance hauler


Valve job performed at 150K miles

Various electrical switches fail.

Sunroof leaks during rain.

General Comments:

In addition to its well-deserved reputation for safety, the 960 is very comfortable over long distances; my wife has a lower-back fusion, and she swears the seats are the best.

The car's maintenance must be looked after properly if you want it to keep performing at factory level. The cost is appreciably less than a Mercedes or BMW, but more than a Honda, and there are parts available and specialist shops to help you.

If you do the above, there's no reason the 960 (and the S90/V90 of 1998, the same car and the last year for a rear-wheel drive Volvo) won't last 200K + miles. I have a friend whose identical car just turned 304,000 miles.

The straight 6-cylinder engine and auto transmission in the 960 are simple, robust and fairly bulletproof if you watch your fluids. I get 19/20 MPG in town, 26 highway, using 89 octane.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th February, 2013