17th Jun 2015, 15:27

My Volvo S60 (unfortunately) is factory-outfitted with HID AKA "Xenon" bulbs. I say "unfortunately" because I've always hated the piercing white light they produce and how cars outfitted them have blinded me when driving. Also the price tag is very unfortunate -- around $100 for a single bulb.

My theory has always been that the Xenons are what produce the oxidation, though I am sure that the sun's UV rays are damaging as well. I consider this as a consumer to be a real problem. Surely something could and should be done about this. I'd rather have glass and have to replace them when/if they get broken, or like with my Acura, I had plastic chip guards on them that were much easier and cheaper to replace than an entire headlight unit.

17th Jun 2015, 15:59

Actually, according to the state that I live in, cars DON'T have to have frequent oil changes; a few years back there was a big media campaign put out by the governor's office encouraging people to change their oil at 10k (due to better engineering cars/oil and to help the environment). Yet Volvo says 7.5k, and my mechanic says 5k. Who can one trust? I would LOVE to only change my oil every 10k, makes total sense to me, but when my mechanic told me that the turbo replacement (which cost me so much that it cancelled our yearly vacation) was as a result of "too long between oil changes", it sent a strong message to me that if you drive a Volvo and have a turbo, you had better be conservative about your oil-change intervals.

Or, it could simply be that I got a rare turbo with a tiny defect in it and it took 78,000 miles for it to finally fail. Though rare, it must happen.

I agree that all cars, modern or not, have problems. As for the rear-view mirror, it's a self-dimming model that tends to leak out or form a large bubble in the fluid that makes the mirror dim. Just google "Volvo self-dimming mirror" and you'll see all the complaints about it. Replacing with a donor mirror unit (self-dimming or manual) results in loss of central locking and interior lighting functions -- unless you go to Volvo or an independent Volvo mechanic who can download the required software to "mate" the new mirror to your car. There is an ingenious hack though where people take the mirror itself from a donor and put it in their existing mirror housing. If I was to keep the car, I would go that route.

Same thing with the power seat. Mine works about 30% of the time, and then only for a 30-second window. After that, it's dead. There is power going into the power seat module though, so for some reason, the module does not want to send power to the switch and motor much of the time. I found if I disconnect the power cable to the power seat module, then it resets and I get the 30-second window again. This is the only way I can reliably adjust the seating position now. My independent Volvo mechanic (not a dealership) says all he can do is first update the software for the power seat module at a cost of $250 and see if that works. If not, then the power seat module must be replaced and then additional software must be downloaded to, once again, "mate" the new part to the car. If you google "Volvo power seat module" you can read more about it.

So my Acura Legend had 165,000 miles on it and the seat worked like new all the time. I had a Ford where the seat didn't work great (but still worked) and it just required a new motor (about $30), which was simply plug-and-play. If I want to get my Volvo to work though, it's going to be $250 - $700. Even the wealthy should be offended by that.

I don't know what it is about Volvo. I lived in the UK for a while and remember they were very highly regarded there. In the 80s/90s here in the States, they were viewed as very safe cars with great performance and a reputation for tank-like build quality. But my brother has a 2010 XC90 which I really coveted (and still do), but his transmission failed on that as well as a few other things. The S60 is notorious for transmission failures here, as well as strut and bushing wear. If the transmission ever decides to go on my S60, it's about a $5k-6k repair. I agree that the cars have a lot of soul, but I just cannot afford to pay for it, so I'm going back to Japanese.

18th Jun 2015, 01:15

I have done my oil and filter every 5k miles. Cold weather and hot weather combined put water in the crankcase. Also dirt and dust through the air cleaner. Oil is the blood of the engine. It's cheap. Why push it?

18th Jun 2015, 14:57

Wow, your family aren't lucky with their Volvos. It's almost unheard of a transmission failing on an XC90 of that age. They failed all the time on early XC90s which were fitted with a terrible GM gearbox, but that all changed after 2007 when the new gearboxes were fitted. And your turbo too, again almost unheard of. Sorry to hear you have had those problems.

19th Jun 2015, 05:49

Sorry to hear of your turbo failure on your S60, as well as the shopping list of other issues.

After years of owning 240s and an 04 S60, the PCV system is a silly setup dreamt up by Volvo in the late 70s, designed to destroy engines if they do not have their flame traps cleaned out. On the old cars it lead to hemorrhaging oil from every seal if it wasn't cleaned out. Usage of synthetic oil would greatly reduce the amount of sludge in the PCV system. This system is indirectly linked to the turbo and would have easily led to the failure of the seals in the turbo.

From someone who got out of the Volvo game early (mine was an 04 S60 non turbo with 5 speed stick) I also noticed the trouble looming ahead. I lost about 6 grand in the transaction of buying and then selling my S60, but it's a price I had to pay to learn a lesson. There was still about 4 months of transferable warranty left, but I let the new owners have that as a gift from me :)

I, like many of you Volvo owners, grew up in a house in the 80s and 90s where all we drove were BASIC 240 wagons with wind up windows and standard transmissions. Only one of 4 had A/C, and that lasted only a few years after we purchased it used.

I really wanted to believe the hype, and heck, to this day I still find myself browsing the classifieds looking at newer models, but I just cannot bring myself to the horrific waste of money that Volvo ownership brings. There are MANY cars on the market that are EASILY as safe/comfortable as a Volvo that are NOT European, nor as trouble prone.

Some (equally) safe and comfortable cars to consider:

Late model Buick Regal/Verano, Ford Taurus (SHO included), late model Chevy Impala.

Happy motoring!