Or the aircon compressor - a Sanden compressor used to replace one for a Ferrari 308 at my mechanic's only cost NZ$650 (US$526).
To answer your questions:
Is it reliable? Most likely not.
Is it expensive to run? Most definitely yes. As you can see by the numbers, some repairs and parts in imported cars cost 3-4 times as much as with domestic cars, let alone trying to find a mechanic who will work on a Volvo. Most likely you will have to go to the dealer and pay ridiculous prices, as they are the only ones that will work on it.
I don't understand why people spend so much money on European cars and expect them to be reliable and inexpensive to run. I prefer not to take chances, and have always bought domestic cars. Everyone in my family has always owned mostly GM and Ford and never had any problems, never replaced engines or transmissions, they usually run over 300k easy. Why buy anything else if they have never broke down?
I get a laugh from the type of people who own imports and think everything made in Detroit and any American car is garbage, no matter what. I had a friend who bought a brand new VW, and within 2-3 years I was always having to drive him when it started breaking down, or I would lend him my spare truck, a 25 year old Chevy with 340000 on it. It still started every time; something the VW didn't do.
I buy and sell cars, so I've owned pretty much every brand. I would never recommend a European car to someone looking for something reliable and/or affordable. I would recommend most GM and Ford products, some Dodge, some Japanese cars; Toyota, Honda and Subaru products are mostly excellent and reliable, but other brands (ie: Mitsubishi, Nissan, Suzuki) are down right horrible.
As with pretty much every manufacturer, even the better ones (GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota), there are always still lemon models to stay away from. Do your research on the model and known problem areas before buying, look at ownership history, inspect/test drive the car well, and get it inspected by a trustworthy mechanic before buying.
4 shocks are $1200 in parts + 6h labor.
The point with imports, and especially Volvo, is that the dealer doesn't make money on new cars; they make money on repairs.
No dealer makes money on new cars. They make more on trade-ins and selling used cars, and servicing/repairs.
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