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Volvo S40



  • fuselierfuselier Posts: 3
    My wife and I are on our third Volvo. I've never had anything but courtesy and great customer service from any of the three Volvo dealerships I've used.

    Unfortunately, there have been a number of times when I needed to resort to using those service departments. :?

    Well, to be fair, my wife's current car is a V70, and that model is pretty well known at this point for unreliability. Mostly electrical problems. From what I understand, it's a phenomenon that's limited to the V70. That would be consistent with my experience. My other two Volvos had a few problems here or there, but no more than any other car I've owned.

    The one thing about the service I've received at the dealerships is that, although they have exactly the right attitude, the actual quality of their repairs is sometimes off. I get the feeling that a few of their mechanics are ninnies. Like the first electrical problem we had with the V70 was that the ignition switch failed. Not the starter, I mean the actual switch you stick the key into. Dealership replaced it right away, but they installed it wrong, and in order to start the car you had to twist the key so hard that we broke the replacement switch! (Sigh.) They replaced that one too, in no time.

    Stuff like that. I love Volvos, their dealerships (3 for 3 at this point) are wonderful, but I'd stay away from the V70. I hear the S40 has great reliability in Europe, so you shouldn't have a problem.

    Hey, as a matter of fact, I'm getting ready to buy, and the two contenders left on my list are the S40 and the 3-Series. What are your reactions to the differences, being in a 3-Series now and having (presumably) test-driven an S40 and liked it?
  • If you are placing an auto on the 323, it might be a fair fight between the Volvo and BMW...well, maybe not fair...but comparable. The five speed 323 is a very fun car. It may not be as fun in heavy stop and go traffic every day...but on an open road, forget about it.

    The BMW had superior feel in the steering, braking and acceleration (I drove the 5sp only). I don't care for the dash layout, it seemed cheap and outdated on a car so beautifully built. The car I drove had the Harmon Kardon upgraded stereo and it played my test CD very nicely, nice bass, good treble and overall sound. The seat was firm and comfortable. I wasn't crazy about the seat position however (always difficult to get the seating position dialed in on a test drive) and thought the shifter was a bit high for a comfortable reach.

    The Volvo felt like a solid car, and maybe even a bit too solid (read heavy). The seats were difficult to adjust into a comfortable seating position (once again) but once that was accomplished, I did enjoy the drive. The auto is a decent tranny, after the first 2 miles of city driving, I had the tranny dialed in to respond with power at will. It is a bit tricky to feel when you should apply the power or let off the gas. The stereo seemed fine, not amazing, but not as bad as my little Honda Civic standard radio was (my litmus test needs to improve, I know). The fit and finish was fine and I liked the dash better in the Volvo. The leather seats were comfortable and firm.

    Overall, I liked the Volvo, but have read a few negative reviews here at the Town Hall. I liked the BMW more, but it takes a few thousand more to get the keys to the BMW. In a lease, it may add up to only a $50-70 difference in monthly payments, but you would still have to pony up more money at the end to buy it.

    I am going this weekend to drive the 323 again, and a 318ti from last year's line-up. I also intend to drive past Volvo and revisit the S40 for the third time. Monday I am scheduled to drive the Saab and may drive a Subaru Legacy one more time (they are on the same lot). My biggest hesitancy on the Saab is reliability. My old 900S was a real pain, with large repair bills that crushed my love for the car. I really did love that car too. The dash, the seats, the stereo (my after-market stereo), the engine, the extremely useful hatchback. I could load my bike inside the car and not think about it. I want to believe in Saab...but I am just not sure. Volvo might be the better choice for reliability and resale.

    Good luck with whatever you buy.
  • masdmasd Posts: 1
    Having driven the 328 for three years now, the nicest thing I can say about the car is that it is FAST! The comfort is so-so. The leather seats are hard, and you will really notice that on long trips. A huge factor besides the cost difference between the volvo and BMW is insurance cost. I have a perfect driving record, no accidents... and to insure that beast was $1800/year. The volvo should run about $1200/year. It was a very expensive little car between the lease payments, insurance, middle octane gas... Would I lease it again knowing what I know now? NO! It was a fun car to drive, but way over-rated.
  • dparesdpares Posts: 29
    I just bought a S70 SE.. so far so good.. comfortable..smooth..real nice car.. I originally looked at a S40.. (coming off a 318i lease - love the car, loaded with everything.. new ones are way too expensive).. anyway.. my impressions of the S40 was that the base model looked like a Corolla ..nice but no excitment at all.. I drove it and it in no way came even close to my BMW... was just a regular car with nice pickup and way too much torque steer ..havent been in a FWD car for some time I was real surprised by this...real low end feel.. I drove the S80.. nice car but too ponderous.. finally setteled on the S70 .. nice feel and real comfortable .. the down side to the BMW in my mind is price and rock hard seats.. for a car the same price as my S70 the monthly payments were about $90/ month more.. for my money the Volvo S70 was a better deal.. the S40 isn't even in the same class as the BMW... just giving my opinion after living ith the BMw and test driving the S40. As someone here said in a post.. , the S40 has no excitment to it!
  • perezrgperezrg Posts: 9
    I recently read an article, don't recall precisely which rag, that said the 2001 S40 would be an upgrade of the current model. Changes to the sheetmetal, interior improvements and the like. It also stated that a complete, from-the-ground-up redesign would be in 2003.

    So, I think there will be some changes. It's just that now that the S40's been brought into the States, we'll get the freshened design at the same time as Europe does.
  • Seriously thinking about buying an S40. Still have a hard time justifying $27000+ for an automobile still new to this country, relatively small and,I guess, a cross between a "real" Volvo and a Mitsubishi. I love the lines, the handling, suspension and response from the 1.9 Turbo and the interior appointments. I've read some negative comments about overall size, premium fuel usage, paint finish and overall fit. However, from someone who has compared this model with others in its class, what don't you like about it and why would you choose another similarly-priced/sized, equal in quality automobile. I really want it but am still torn (unable to make a decision) and feel that I made the right one without feeling that I let my emotions make the choice rather than what the best choice really is. I have never owned a Volvo before and am a little "gun-shy"
  • rdshaf94rdshaf94 Posts: 8
    As an S40 owner, I'll toss in my $.02.

    Regarding price, I recommend checking out My car, which has Sunroof & Touring pkgs, Metallic paint & CD prewiring, is listed under $26k at this time.

    Regarding "negatives", I'm 6'1", 265 and while I would not call the interior spacious, I do find the car extremely comfortable. Also, my wife, who is 5'1", does not find it too big for her. I did have the "paint blemish" problem with the driver's door, but the dealer repainted it so looks great now. Yes, you will have to shell out for premium which does hurt right now. But the amount of enjoyment I get driving it makes it worthwhile. The more I drive this car, the more I like it.

  • dparesdpares Posts: 29
    I never owned a Volvo before either but can tell you in the week I've had my S70, I like it more each day.. A very different car from the BMW I had but better in many different ways.. I'd highly recommend a Volvo.. As for the S40, it depends on what you want... but for 27,000 the alternative's are Audi A4.. a great car but needs a back seat, cant touch a 323i for that .. only other possible car is an Infinity G20.. I'd take the Volvo or Audi..depends on your space requirements
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    I read a report in Consumer Reports on an S40 a month or two ago. The report said the car averaged something like 23 mpg and DID NOT require premium fuel. Are you all putting premium in just because you think it needs it, or because the owner's manual or something else says so? Just checking. Also heard that putting gas in any car with an octane rating too high will cause excess carbon to build up in it. Plus, it is a waste of money to buy mid-grade or premium when the car requires premium. Check into it and you may be able to save yourselves some money.
  • rdshaf94rdshaf94 Posts: 8
    Per the S40 Owners Manual it's designed for optimum performance on unleaded premium gasoline with an octane rating of 91 or above.

    Per postings in various forums, the car will work with lower octane (others have tried it), but will have reduced performance.

  • wdrwdr Posts: 11
    I've been putting 89 octane in my S40. I guess I can't really say whether the performance has suffered, but the engine seems to run fine.
  • rdshaf94rdshaf94 Posts: 8
    Over on the Brickboard the same question was asked. Here are a couple of responses I'll toss in.

    "Your car, like most modern cars, has knock sensor(s). If knock (ping) is detected, the ignition timing is retarded until the knock goes away (probably also the turbo boost is reduced). When this happens your power and (maybe) fuel economy is reduced. Most likely the ignition timing on your car is optimized for 91 octane gas without knocking; if you use less octane, then under certain load conditions knocking will occur and the sensor will tell the computer to retard ignition/lower boost.
    So you have a choice: cheap gas and reduced power/economy, or 91+ octane gas and full rated power."

    "91 Octane is recommended due to the High Compression ratio 10.3:1 and the amount a boost 8.7psi. Normal cars without turbos might run 10:1 compression but its odd to have that high of compression with a turbo. Normal compression should be 8:1 with turbos to run higher boost."

  • I am trying to determine a good price for a S40 with the cold weather pkg., touring pkg., sports pkg., and leather. Does $26,380 sound good, avg, or too high? I have seen invoice on the base listed as $21794 here at Edmund's but at $21,100 at CarOrder does anyone know the reason for the difference?
  • akaplan1akaplan1 Posts: 2
    A friend of mine read in some magazine that next year Volvo will bring a higher pressure turbo version of s40 to the US. Does anyone know if this might be true?

  • rollierollie Posts: 337
    Regarding post #234:

    akaplan1, it is very possible. The T4 variant of the S40 has been out for a few years in Europe. It had serious ECU problems for a couple of years that Volvo has been waiting to conquer before importing to the US. I haven't heard any reports of ECU problems with the T4 in the better part of a year so I wouldn't be surprised to see the T4 next year (possibly with some refreshed skin for the 40s).

  • You can't go wrong with a Honda. But my husband and I are seriously looking at a Volvo S40 for the safety features -- steel frame and 4 airbags. Price is about $3k higher on the S40 but since we've both been involved in 2 serious car accidents in the past, safety is our #1 priority. Or should I say, it's a bit more higher than reliability. No sense in getting a safe car that's in the shop for maintenance a lot. Before looking at either the Honda or Volvo, I was interested in the Audi A4 but have turned 180 degrees away since I've been told that the Audis were built for European weather driving. That is, cold weather. We live in the desert (Southern Nevada) and it gets very arid and extremely hot. Hondas have never given us any mechanical problems here.

    Does anyone know if the Volvo has the same problem, or could, as the Audi since they're both European engineered/built cars?
  • (Ref. posts 208, 213) Have had the car in to the shop repeatedly for the brake problem. First was fixed (reportedly, the problem was a fuse controlling the vacuum assist for the brakes). While this seemed to improve things a bit, there is still a real difference in braking after first starting the car, until it's driven for a few minutes. Dealer's shop thinks I'm crazy, I think. Mechanic claims that the fuse problem was due to the factory placing the wrong fuse in circuit, and that it's happened more than once, including with a car currently on their lot. He thinks my car is fine now. What do you folks think? Am I nuts? Any suggestions? Right now, I couldn't recommend a Volvo to anybody; this is a shame, as I love the car in virtually every other way. (BTW, a little gremlin whispered into my ear that maybe, when Ford bought Volvo, they moved all the electrical quirks they found in Jaguars over to the Volvo line. My wife says they make medicines for things like this....)
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    I had a 1996 Cavalier with SEVERAL problems like that. One technician told me to drive the car and enjoy it (I am 21 and he took me for a stupid kid-- WRONG mistake). That little phrase cost him his job that day. Anyway, if there is a problem with the car, MAKE THE DEALER AWARE!! Leave it at the dealership overnight if you can, start it there in the morning, and PROVE IT to them!!! Speak and you will be heard, by someone eventually.
  • hiflyerhiflyer Posts: 79

    An Audi should operate the same in an arid climate as any Honda or Volvo. It is quite possible that the people you were talking to were referring to Audi's all-wheel-drive system, which would be particularly helpful in handling icy roadways in colder climates. Audi also produces front-wheel drive models that you may wish to consider.

    Another car that you might find attractive is the VW Passat. The GLX version comes with standard leather seating and other amenities. The Passat is equipped with many of the same mechanicals as the more expensive Audi, but at a price between the Accord EX and the S-40. It is also quite safe considering that it did as well if not slightly better than the Volvo S-70 in various crash tests.
    The cars that you had mentioned are all very good. It's just a matter of finding out for yourself which one best serves your needs. Good luck.
  • equalizer1equalizer1 Posts: 177
    Where did you hear such a preposterous thing about the A4 not being a warm weather car? I own an A4, and so does many other people I know. I am on the Audi forum here on the net all the time, and have never heard of such a thing. That is ridiculous. That means that any European car that comes from a coldish country cannot stand the heat. Please get your facts straight. All cars are made for all temperatures. That's why there is air conditioning and heat!
  • fog2fog2 Posts: 1
    I'm in the process of making my first car purchase as I'm moving to the bay area from NY. I'm torn between the S40, the Saab 93, the audi A4, and the Passat. So far I'm leaning toward the S40 as I had a great test drive and like the comfort and safety of the volvo. Does anyone have an opinion on the best car for the money of these four given that I'm looking for leather and sunroof. Also has anyone had any horror stories with any of these bay area dealerships.
  • Volvo is apparently coming out with a Volvo S60.
    The S60 is suppose to replace to S70.
    Get all the latest information at:
  • wdgravelwdgravel Posts: 1
    Hello everyone... I am getting ready to buy an s40 (month or so), and was wondering if anyone has had any problems with their's so far?

    I plan on having the car for a long time, and feel confident that I have researched completely. I am very excited, and would love to hear from other s40 (or v40) owners.

    Could you talk down the dealer? Is the car living up to your expectations? What do others think about your new car? Any information will help :)

    Thank you in advance for any help!!
  • HenryHenry Posts: 1,106
    I would not plan on having any 1st yea car a long time. If you want to keep the s40 wait till next year or at least later in the model year.
  • lateapexlateapex Posts: 1
    This is a valid topic, because it has been a serious problem with some of the European cars.

    Porsche-Breather box intake ducts cracking 928 series ($1200)

    BMW-Door panel delaminations. mainly on the 3 series 92-98. 5 series 88-95

    SAAB- Cracked Dashes and worthless A/C systems. 83-94

    These are the foremost that come to mind. However, most of the Europeans now do their Desert testing in AZ-NV. On any given day you can see the Mercedes and Volvo engineers running up and down I-10 from Tucson to Phx, to parts unknown. I passed a 5 car convoy of V70's coming out of Laughlin NV.

    This has been a problem, as in one of the posts, European cars are built to run in a milder climate. That's a fact. They have not spent a ton of finacial resources on things like A/C. In europe it is just not that necessary of an issue. The Japanese have done the R&D, so many companies simply opt to use Asian built compressors. Problem solved.
    The fact that they are desert testing is a result of the cars historical failings in some areas due to extreme climates.

    Is it a problem still? Not really. They have made great strides in producing systems that will hold up under very hot thermal conditions. We as consumers can help extend the life of our interiors by using window tints, venting our sunroofs while parked to allow built up heat to escape. Of course this probably only applies to those that live in Nevada, Arizona, or rare parts of California.
  • rdshaf94rdshaf94 Posts: 8
    All 4 cars you listed are very good. They were my finalists. I choose the S40 and have no regrets to this point (2000 miles). The more I drive the car, the more I like it. I purchased through and got $1268 off of MSRP, which at the time was about $1000 better than any dealer was offering. That might be changing. I picked up the car at Marin Volvo. The whole buying process was the easiest I've ever experienced.

    The only problem was with a paint blemish (others have reported the same with their silver S40's) on the driver's door which the dealer took care of. Also, I do have a problem keeping it under 70mph on the freeway. ;)

  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    You forget, the S40 is NOT a first-year car. It's been sold in Europe for several years now.
  • greenguygreenguy Posts: 78
    Are there any other boards that talk about s40's? U.S or European?
  • perezrgperezrg Posts: 9

    You might want to hop over to

    They have a discussion area for the S40.
  • cheatercheater Posts: 1
    My wife and I recently test drove the S40...and we both liked it a lot...specially her. But...we are also looking at the Ford explorer as an option....see we get the A-plan from Ford which is to get either of these 2 vehicles sold to us 1% below invoice. The S40 being a volvo is appealing, but since we already have a full size sedan, we're inclined towards the explorer being a truck can be useful for our active outdoor lifestyle. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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