looking for advice on purchasing a Volvo XC70!

martini.ss

New member
Hello all. Hoping that I can find some advice here. I've got my eyes on getting a new car. While I'd love to get a true overlander, the honest truth is, I'd rarely be driving anything worse than a forest service road. With that in mind, I've got my sights on a a local (MN) Volvo XC70. Its a 2001, 112,000 miles. I've taken a short test drive in it, and curvy lanes and back highways(think frost humps this time of year), and it drives nice. A little body roll around corners, but I'd certainly expect that out of a big car like this.

This was the first time I'd driven a 5 cylinder car. I could feel a roughish idle at stop lights through the steering wheel. The transmission felt a little akward too. Is this something that I should be worried about on this car? By all appearances, this thing has been babied for its whole life. For a car that is over ten years old, it certainly looks in good shape on the out side. Of course before purchase, I'll take it to a local shop, and I do have a Volvo specailist with in the region, as well as a good Volvo parts yard.

Price is right at KBB, which is certainly reasonable.

TIA!
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
The one brand a gear head, nut, custom high end car shop owner/friend threatend me with bodily harm over was the volvo. He actually flat out refuses to do anything on volvos in his shop. Asked why and he said absolute worst electrical components they have ever seen in modern cars won't touch em.

So I got another Subaru and replaced the old Toyota with a newer Sequoia.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
KBB prices are influenced by dealer asking prices even dealers never use KBB pricing when negotiating trade values. If its listed at KBB price its WAY over priced.
 

mallthus

Pretty good at some stuff
When it runs, the XC-70 is a fine car. I loved mine for long highway stretches.

Unfortunately, those times when everything was sorted were few and far between.

As calicamper indicated, they have particular quirks. If you're not familiar with Volvos or don't have access to a specialist mechanic, don't walk...run away.

If you do proceed, there are some known trouble areas. The transmission and cooling system should be your starting points. They are both known weak points.

Then check the coil packs and spark plugs. The coil packs are easy and cheap to replace, but they're prone to failure, especially if the PO used non-factory spark plugs. If the plugs aren't Volvo or NGK Iridium IX, budget replacing them and, probably, the coils.

Digging deeper, you'll want to check on the brake position sensor. It's a weird part that I've never seen discussed, let alone fail, on any other car and yet they seem to be a real problem with Volvos. Know that although the part's only a couple hundred bucks, changing it is ridiculously expensive. We dumped out XC70 when it failed...it's that expensive.

Finally, know that there are some unique things about the Volvo you're going to have to be able to live with.

If you don't like the stereo, tough luck...there's no practical way to put in an aftermarket head unit.

The 5 cylinder roughness never goes away. You have to live with it.

Don't put low octane fuel in it. You won't like what happens.

Need a filter (air, oil, fuel)? Plan on buying one online, as your local parts store will just look at you funny and laugh.

So, I'm going to say that you're probably not going to want to go down this road.
 

martini.ss

New member
Dang it.

I LIKE the look of the car. And it FITS me. Literally. I'm 6'5".

This is two bad. Anyone have anything GOOD to say about it?
 

bunce1260

Observer
As long as you're able to work on the car yourself, they're great. I have a Volvo 850 turbo (very similar underneath) with over 200,000 miles, it still pulls hard and is great at munching the miles on the highway. When I bought it I replaced all the filters, plugs, ignition bits and bobs as well as the PCV. The only issues I've had was a seal leak that grew in the radiator and a very cold time over some mountain passes in Montana ( a pit of a pain to replace), a sticky rear brake caliper ( replaced with refurbs ) and new rear shocks. I'm not a mechanic by any stretch of the imagination. I just follow write ups I find online and have at it.
I live in Chicago and have driven it down to Florida, Louisiana and Wyoming. It just keeps going.

I hope I haven't just jinxed myself.

I'm actually looking for an awd astro or safari right now as we want something we can sleep in. I'll be sad to see the Volvo go.
 

WagoneerSX4

Adventurer
I grew up with one and still get the job of maintaining it (was my mothers car, now my brother owns it).

Here are the weak points:

1. Steering rack. If it has more than 100k on it and it hasn't been replaced, budget for it. And it's a huge paint in the butt if you're not familiar with dropping a subframe.

2. AWD system. Even when it's working perfectly it's not much to write home about. Expect to change the angle gear every time you need new tires. They wear out at the same time like clock work. I gave up after I replaced it twice and it failed a third time (vehicle has 180,000km on it). I removed the rear driveshaft and gave up with AWD.

3. Transmission. While failures are pretty rare, they get really rough if you don't change the fluid often. There's a trick to changing it pretty easily though with a proper fitting, a hose and a bucket. So if you keep it fresh it's not a big deal. But the engine is a torque monster and likes to fry fluid.

4. Coil packs. It's already been explained above.

5. Sunroof. It will fail. They always do. Just hopefully it doesn't when it's fully open before a rainstorm 200 miles from a Volvo dealership (yes, it happened to me).

Those are the major ones you'll need to keep your eye on. If you keep up with maintenance (synthetic oil, tranny fluid changes, coolant flushes, spark plugs, coil packs and always use at least 91 octane), it'll last. But always keep some cash close by just in case.

Overall, I'm really not a fan of the car. The engine has loads of torque but zero top end, the tranny is super jumpy at slow speeds and the complete opposite at high speeds, it handles like a boat, the AWD is weak, the stereo sucks, and the steering is numb. The ONLY good thing, and it's actually a really good thing, is that it's one of the most comfortable high speed cruiser I've ever driven. It can demolish 200 miles without you even noticing and has the most comfortable seats ever.

If you need any more info let me know, I know older volvos like the back of my hand. I've owned 240, 740, 760, 960, 850, XC70, XC90. The post-ford Volvos left such a bad taste in my mouth the whole family moved to Suzuki and we couldn't be happier (until we need to buy new models of course).
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
Maybe you should be looking at a Subaru...

He wont like any of the pre 2009s they were tight on seating room. The 2010 Legacy / out back and newer are a Huge step up on seating room. Several big buddies have them now given they fit in it and its very comfortable for them.

As a road trip machine the New OB is a fantastic machine. High 20's low 30's mileage and reliable.
 

WagoneerSX4

Adventurer
If I were you I'd look at spending a couple more G's and get an XC90. Just for the love of all that is holy NOT the T6!

Both the 2.5T (not first two-ish MY's - many electrical issues still) and V8's are awesome vehicles especially considering the value. If I was looking for a comfortable family hauler and the odd fire road vehicle, I'd be in one for sure. That yamaha V8 is bulletproof and it is sooooooo nice. And surprisingly fuel efficient.
 

Lajning

Observer
Stay away from pre 2003 awd models all together. 2005 up are Great. Granted spare parts can be a pain I've heard. An autoshop who can't work on a Volvo? Not much skill there..
 
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mallthus

Pretty good at some stuff
Stay away from pre 2003 awd models all together. 2005 up are Great. Granted spare parts can be a pain I've heard. An autoshop who can't work on a Volvo? Not much skill there..
In the US, shops that are familiar with Volvos are as thin on the ground as shops that work on Heavy Duty pickup trucks in Sweden. They exist, but they're specialists and thin on the ground.
 

WagoneerSX4

Adventurer
I live in a relatively small city in Ontario and we have 3 separate shops that specify they work on Volvos (as well as Audi's, BMW's, Mercedes and VW). I only know of 2 or maybe 3 shops in Ontairo that JUST solely specialize in Volvos. Finding a shop in Canada that just specializes in one specific brand is not easy, so the fact that there's a handful is pretty impressive.

I think the ones that turn away Volvos because they aren't familiar with them are just ignorant. They're really no different than any other European car on the market today. Back in the 90's when they came out with the 760 and 960 they had complicated unequal independant rear suspensions with nivomat self levelling shocks and a lot of mechanics just weren't used to that in a RWD vehicle yet. Not to mention in the 850's that came after that it had a transversely mounted 5cyl with the turbo stuffed in just in front of the firewall and FWD. But now look at how stuffed engine bays are with modern vehicles? No different.

Maybe they just don't own a set of torx or metric wrenches? Or too hard to make a phone call to order parts instead of picking the part out of their catalogue? Who knows...
 

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