1998 Volvo S70 GLT 2.4 turbo from North America


Nice looks, but a big question on reliability.


Oil supply tubes and oil rings for turbo and cams.

Poor or bad connection in headlight circuit.

Tends to run hotter than I would like (even for Southern California).

General Comments:

The following response was given for a specific post, and I have asked to relist it under its own heading. Keep these questions in mind as you read the post.

What is the mystery behind the electrical problems?

Why the poor cooling?

Why do the brakes need replacing so often?

My observations and opinions are:

This is a very informative list, and I think it should be reviewed by all interested in Volvo ownership.

Last week my son bought a 98 S70 GLT with 72K. He loves the car and seems very happy. However, by mid-week the engine lifter noise was such that he took it to an independent Volvo specialist, and the problem was diagnosed within 3 minutes. It seems these engines are designed with oiling tubes and "O" rings that fail with low miles on them (one for the Turbo and one for the Cam/lifters). The repair was done in one day and $500. Presently, it runs very quiet and seems to have correct power at the mid to upper RPM ranges.

Thursday, he changed the front lights with upgraded bulbs, and every time the lights are switched off and back on, the front right bulb fails to come on without going under the hood and moving /pressing on the rear connector.

Last night I took a look at his car (after he detailed the light problem), and I found the following: This series Volvo is full of plastic body components (i.e., radiator core support, etc) and the right side light housing was not tight. It is my opinion that these cars will have numerous electrical problems due to poor or intermittent ground conditions. By Volvo moving toward plastic body components (previously made of conductive metal materials), the circuit must have the additional ground wire included through a greater portion of the circuit length (i.e., the circuit must have it's ground supplied within the wire harness and not supplied by a separate attachment to the nearest body ground).

Additionally, the mountings for other high current demand relays are mounted in plastic. Over the next few weeks we will be adding additional ground wiring points (using 12 ga wire) to all accessories that draw 15 amps or more. Premature electronic component failure in newer cars can often be attributed to poor or floating ground issues that come and go like a bad headache.

Another area that seems marginal on these cars is the cooling system. Since automotive cooling is a large part of my design and manufacturing activities, I will be adding two electric "Pusher Fans" between the front bumper support and the radiator. It is bad enough that the dealers have failed to explain why synthetic oil should be used if at all possible, but Volvo seems unable to lower the operating temperature of these cars. The increased engine and engine compartment heat only serves to shorten both component and engine life. My son has already removed the big Volvo insignia that blocks airflow into the radiator.

The issue of brakes and replacement frequencies will always remain a topic that the dealers do not want to explain or correct. Owners of these and most "front-wheel drive" cars will experience low-life and expensive brake jobs unless they invest in high-performance pads and in extreme cases, rotors. Since front-wheel drive cars have engine, transmission and differential (or transaxle) all in the front, marginal OEM brake sizes, designs, and parts just don't last. Additionally, some manufacturers have opted to use softer rotor material and harder pad material to increase braking efficiency. This works, but so does the increased deposits to the dealers' accounts.

This was a hard thing for me to watch as my son looked for the perfect car and had to deal with my 2 Lexus LS400's and performance F-Bodies around the house. My cars have 143K (LS400), 203K (LS400), 292K (Camaro Z28), and 136K (Trans Am) with original engines, etc. The LS400s have been the best!!! The Volvo was not a 1st-3rd choice for me. But this was not my choice to make, so I will do all that I can to support my son's decision. We will be the upgrade team to make his Volvo a bit better/less problematic. Sorry for the long post!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 22nd August, 2004

13th Jul 2005, 16:08

Volvos are designed to run hot to increase the efficiency of the pollution control systems.

27th Sep 2005, 12:46

I think the initial review of the person who’s son got the S 70- 1998 is very good and hits many technical points. I do have a S-70 – 1999 AWD and I have similar problems with the lifter noise. I would appreciate if the initial reviewer can e-mail me with some more technical information on how he got around the problems that he mentions including the place of the “o” ring and oil tube repairs. I’m pretty technical oriented person and I do work in all my cars. My e-mail address is bmcoachmsicl@yahoo.com. I appreciate any technical input.

1998 Volvo S70 from North America


Bomb Shelter on Wheels!


The power windows got off track and had to be replaced. That was very costly. Now the window goes up and down slowly.

The headlights died and needed to be replaced.

The sunroof leaked a year after I got it.

The suspension got sticky at 23,000 miles.

General Comments:

I honestly like the car. It is comfortable and roomy. So many things have gone wrong with the car though.

I had to wait 2 months for Foxfire Red paint.

It is dreadfully unreliable.

The Volvo S70 is a very safe, but undependable car.

My wife's old S70 flipped over a guard rail in Los Gatos, California five times and she got a bruise on her wrist!

This car has curb appeal, too!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 21st August, 2004

16th Jun 2007, 11:12

Power windows falling off track shouldn't happen on any car with mileage this low. I don't know if you just happened to get a new lemon which sometimes happens or if it's a common problem on the S70. I've never heard of that issue on the S70 though. It is commonplace on the C70 though. As for having to replace headlight bulbs within the first 50k miles of ownership, gimme a break! They are what, $8 and take 5min. to replace? I'd rather have an S70 with bulbs that constantly blow out than have some other car that needs major engine or transmission work every 100k miles. Trust me, there are MUCH worse cars for the money out there.