1999 Volvo V70 20V 2.5 petrol from Australia and New Zealand


Wonderful engine, so much better than expected


Driver's side power window switch, radiator, head gasket, heater core, rear suspension bump stops, coil packs, engine mount, remote locking, headlining fell down, glove box latch, MAF sensor.

To be fair - this car was purchased cheap and had a hard life with myself and the previous owner. Kept outside in the weather, often driven on unsealed roads and in start-stop traffic.

General Comments:

I used to ridicule Volvo until I bought this car. I wanted a cheap family car with the ability to carry seven people occasionally, but hated the idea of a people mover or SUV and wanted reasonable safety. The V70 had the rear-facing seat for kids and fitted the requirement perfectly. I paid a low price knowing that the car had no heater and suspected it had not been looked after. It was only ever intended to be a short term stop-gap vehicle, but it ended up being loved by the family and giving me an appreciation for the Volvo brand.

The head gasket and heater core were done at 245,000km by a Volvo specialist and cost far less than expected. All the other bits and pieces, including servicing, I did myself. I found the V70 to be easy to work on parts weren't as expensive as expected. Not Ford/Holden/Hyundai cheap, but not typical Euro brand pricing either. I took a chance on cheap Chinese coil packs from eBay and never had a problem. MAF sensor was easily fixed with a simple clean.

The interior is both a strength and significant weak point of the car. The plastics didn't stand up well. The front seat are the most comfortable car seats I have ever experienced. I've driven a few luxury vehicles over distance and this old Volvo beat them all in the comfort stakes. I drove the 900km from Sydney to Melbourne and had no muscle aches or soreness whatsoever. I'm a 'larger gentleman' and found the old Swedish barge to be very accommodating. Even the back seats were soft and supportive. I ended up just pinning the headliner to the roof rather than replacing it. The light-coloured leather seats showed the dirt and were quite cracked. The factory stereo is outstanding. Easy to use and excellent sound quality. Integrated sun blinds and booster seats are a nice touch.

I LOVE the five cylinder engine. It sounds fantastic! Our non-turbo was no more than adequate off the mark, but felt under-stressed and cruised beautifully at highway speeds. In-gear overtaking could be surprisingly brisk considering the modest power and size of the car. Fuel economy was also a surprise. We frequently averaged about 7-8L/100km on the highway with 3 kids and a boot full of stuff. Suspension was soft and comfortable on smooth roads, but could get crashy on poor surfaces.

The car's safety credentials were proven when a car behind failed to stop at the traffic lights. What could have been ugly resulted in mild inconvenience. The other vehicle was badly damaged, but the Volvo suffered only a cracked bumper. The head restraints saved us from neck pain and even the strong brakes meant that we barely touched the car we got shunted into. There's good reason people call them 'tanks'.

I eventually decided to move the car on when interior shabbiness reached the point of frustration and would have cost more to repair that the car was worth. However, the engine didn't burn a drop of oil and pulled as hard as ever even with nearly 400,000km on the odometer. I have no doubt I could have seen half a million on this engine without a problem. I now find myself secretly wishing I had another Volvo inline-5 and often browse the classifieds in the vain hope of stumbling across a V70R at the right price or a V60 Polestar free to a good home.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th November, 2017

14th Nov 2017, 22:21

Well written review. I used to not think much of Volvo either, till I remembered some family members of mine had some great cars through the 1980s and 1990s, which all ran to very high mileages without any major trouble. A 740 saloon, 960 saloon, and an 850 estate. Excellent cars from times gone by.

Unfortunately post year 2000 cars from Volvo and many other manufacturers leave a lot to be desired quality wise. There is no denying security, safety, performance and general improvements have come a long way, but at the cost of greater complexity and electronic problems. Myself I have a modern S60 Volvo which I love, but it has cost me a fortune in repairs recently at a relatively low mileage and age. I hope to keep it for the long run, but I doubt it will age as well as some older Volvos I remember.

17th Nov 2017, 17:46

You are right, all modern cars are more complicated and therefore have a higher risk of going wrong. That said, not all modern cars are bad. We run 3 'modern' Volvo's - S60, V60 and XC90 and they have all been very reliable a good cars. Our last V60 before our current one was a 2012 car which we sold with 116k miles, and it drove like new and had zero problems. Our last XC90 was sold with 154k miles and never let us down, and the list goes on. Yes, they had wear and tear things changed, and the odd other thing here and there, but for their reliability, they were all perfect. We also have a old 240, which is a great old tank - but they are all now delicate in their old age. Great when new, but they are old now and the more modern Volvo's give better peace of mind. Anyway, that's my thoughts. The original review was great, well written.

24th Nov 2017, 14:40

A 2001-2009 V70 is still a good car; they had problems, but if you find a one owner car that had it repaired by the main dealer, these can also go many miles. Good to know that after 2012 Volvo have lowered the quality of the components on their vehicles, cheaper exhaust components, cheaper suspension components, problems with windshield assembly, problems with the engines consuming oil. So just don't expect the same long term reliability in the newer models. An extended warranty is absolutely mandatory on the latest models, along with a good prayer that Volvo will respect it. Keep in mind the base warranty is very short and Volvo will pay absolutely nothing once it's expired, even for well known design problems.

1999 Volvo V70 Base 2.4 gasoline from North America


Comfortable, smooth, quiet, roomy, nice details; just hope it will be as dependable as my Honda was!


The previous owners gave me all the service records from when the car was new. The common problems were fixed under warranty: upper motor mount, main window switch, light bulb sockets. Other than that, scheduled maintenance was carefully followed. Wear items fixed were the brakes, belts, tires, battery, one axle, and two windshields, because of rocks. Pretty much reliable.

I bought this car because my Honda got totalled, and I don't drive automatics! I was looking for a 5 speed, otherwise a Volvo would not have been under consideration. The only observations about driving it are that the steering is pretty light, and the shifter isn't as precise as the Honda's was, and it isn't quite as agile or fast.

General Comments:

Looking over the receipts, I have noticed that the car still has the original muffler, clutch, starter, alternator, water pump and struts. I guess I'll have to take care of each of these pretty soon, but I can do them myself. It speaks well of Volvo that these parts have lasted 15 years and 155,000 miles!

It has a rattle in the dash when it's cold - apparently this is fairly common. Also, the wires to the third brake light have frayed and need to be replaced; also a design fault, or poor quality wiring was used (probably the latter).

The seats are SO comfortable - they fit like a glove. There are lots of thoughtful details, like a clip on the left side of the windshield to hold parking permits. The sunroof slides open and also tilts up. There is little light that will come on if it's cold enough at the road surface for ice to be present. There are two hood latches instead of just one.

If you look at reviews of the most problematic V70s, the automatic transmissions eventually will go out, at a very high cost, and the AWD tends to cause problems. Mine is a non-turbo, 5 speed, front wheel drive, which appears to be the most reliable set-up. If you work on your own car and shop around for parts, the V70 should not break your bank. If you have to use the dealership to get your tires rotated, you're better off with a Toyota.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th January, 2014

17th Jan 2014, 13:35

Good luck, but as you've said, your model hasn't got the "complications" normally added to North American models, which make them expensive to own at a higher mileage - turbo, automatic, AWD. In saying that, as with any car, the mileage means you will encounter a few wear and tear items.

Personally first thing I'd do is change the fan belts, water pump, thermostat and hoses - overheating will cause either extensive or irreparable damage, but is usually caused by those three things.

19th Jan 2014, 13:24

I also had a "stripper" model Volvo (mine was an 06 S60 sedan with the 2.4 non-turbo engine and a 5 speed manual trans). While the car was comfortable and had the best HVAC system I've ever encountered on a car, I really don't think I'd get another. Things that you wouldn't expect to break, did! Things like suspension noises, electrical issues causing strange anomalies like bulbs to blow with regular consistency, and the car to run funny for no apparent reason, were just some of the issues.

Added to that the lack of easily attainable parts, and many mechanics outside the dealership who would service it at a "reasonable cost" after the warranty was up, made me realize that the allure of owning a fancy Scandinavian car was really not all it was cracked up to be. Sure I could have opted for the turbo model to make the car more enjoyable to drive, but ultimately the car was just a dog in performance, and the repair bills left me feeling like I'd rather go back to BMW (at least their cars are fun to drive, for the premium I'm paying to keep it on the road).