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Volvo 850 maintenance and repair issues

patpat Posts: 10,421
edited March 2014 in Volvo
We have a number of single question type topics on this vehicle. I'm moving them all to this more generalized discussion so that our members can more easily ask for and find information on the 850.

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  • Hi everyone. I have a 96 Volvo 850 and is happy with it. However, as time passes, the dash lights are burning off one by one... And now, 3 of the dash light bulbs are burn out. I took my car to the volvo dealer and they said that i have to pay for at least one hundred dollars to replace the light bulbs because they have to get their "specialist" to pull out my car's dash board... i mean... come on, it's just replacing light bulbs! and i have to pay a hundred dollars for it? And i would like to ask if anyone knows if there are other ways to replace the 850 dash lights? Thank you.
  • I have a 1996 850 to. The dealer wanted 140.00 to replace an antenna. It appears that the volvo repairmen work on commission. Major ripoff. I am trading my volvo in for an acura cl type s. No maintenance until 100,000 miles. Japanese cars more reliable.
    Look for a mom and pop volvo dealer they charge less than the car sales shops.
    good luck
  • kbarrykbarry Posts: 9
    Check out or

    There are instructions somewhere on one of these sites that explicitly lay out the steps to do your light replacement. It didn't sound hard, just time consuming. If I find it, I'll fowrad the excat location.

    And to you Acura person... good luck with it. Parts are just as expensive for Japanese cars as they are for Swedes. And guess what, Acura's break too. Just look at some of the posts for Honda and Accura.
  • I have a 96 Volvo 850 and it has 106,000. The car runs great although when I start it it seems to have a slow start. I an it takes a few seconds to turn over. Does anyone know of a problem like this? What can I do about it?
  • bobs5bobs5 Posts: 557
    It is possible the battery is getting weak, has dirty connections, or there may be an electrical connection in need of cleaning.
  • kbarrykbarry Posts: 9
    It was actually Brickboard that has the posting. What you'll need to do is select the FWD category and then 850. There is a search button on the bottom right of the page that you can type in dashboard lights. It will point you to various archives surrounding this topic. It will take a bit of reserach to find the exact one, but the cost savings of doing this yourself should justify it.
  • kbarrykbarry Posts: 9
    I have a 96 GLT with 92K on it and am experiencing a similar problem. I was told last summer that when my alternator went that I would need a new battery before winter. So far, the car has not not started, but is showing signs of a slow start. It only seems to occur when the temps drop below 20 overnight. So, weak battery is probably the cause but with temps under 20, the engine fluids have to be as thick as mud which would justify a longer start as well.

    Worst case scenario is that the bearings in the starter are starting to go, or the starter itself has a bad connection. Listen for a grinding or dragging noise when you start it. If you don't, it's probably the battery. How are the temps in your neck of the woods... it could also just be cold weather.
  • I have a 93 volvo 850. Only 75K. I want to flush the radiator. I asked a dealer what they use and he said "whatever they have". The manual says to use glycol based stuff, but a mechanic told me a year ago that it is hard on the car. Lastly, could anyone recommend a good radiator flush product. Seems like there are 100's.

  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Any glycol based antifreeze from any reputable manufacturer will work well in a 50/50 mix, if changed every 3 years/60,000 miles. Additives such as corrosion inhibitors will be depleted by then. Too many people confuse "permanent" with "forever". Permanent simply means it can be left in year round. To extend change intervals, consider GM Dex-cool or Texaco Havoline extended life antifreeze. Both are orange colour, silicate free, approved for bi-metal engines, and rated for 5 years/100,000 miles.
  • div2div2 Posts: 2,580
    I like Dex-cool as well. Just make sure that you completely flush all the old coolant out before switching over.
  • To remove the instrument cluster in an 850, you must lift the dash pad up and then reach back and remove the cluster. It involves removal of the a/c vents, taking out about 8 torx screws, then you lift the dash pad up, and remove the cluster. It's not nearly as easy as it sounds. Do yourself a favor, take it to a volvo specialist, dealer or independent, and have it done right! Just make sure you replace ALL the bulbs in there, instruments and trip computer. I've done several and it takes the better part of an hour to do it.

  • I have a 95 Volvo 850. Only 75k miles I really like the car but since I bought it last year it has had strange characteristics. The cold idle at is very high at about 1500 RPM. When warm it is still high at 1100. If I put it in park it goes up to 1300 or so. Sometimes when I open the door and sit down the idle surges down to 500 then back up. When the engine is warm I can feel a vibration in the steering wheel at stop lights that feels like it comes from the hard idle. I have also noticed that the emissions smell like gasoline, especially cold. When I hit the pedel hard particularly uphill the car does kind of a shutter. It also sometimes does this when I let off the gas around 35 miles per hour. At first I thought it was the trani, but it feels more like the engine now and the RPM's shoot up and down during the shutter. Oddly all the problems are worse when it is raining. It also seems worse with premium gas. It runs better after higher speeds (75) on the interstate The fuel pump was replaced when I bought it. I ran the onboard diagnostic and found nothing. I took it to a Scandinavian specialist and he replaced spark plugs and distributor and said to try some different brands of gas. 6 months latter no improvement. I installed a K&N filter and checked hoses for leaks. Engine now idles even faster. I replaced the fuel filter and ran several Tecron bottles through, which helped some. This weekend I will be searching for a hotter spark plug, I think it may be getting too much gas. My last thought is to replace the battery or find a hottor coil. I thought they may be robbing power. I am baffled, can anybody help?
  • reckorecko Posts: 1
    Hi, my wife hit a stone wall in our driveway and damaged the front bumper (don't ask how she did it..........). It looks like she damaged the bumper cover and the styrafoam behind it, but didn't damage the actual metal part of the bumper behind that. Is this something I could fix myself??? I had to cut off some of the cover and is seems that it's attached at least on the sides, by a bolt. (although I didn't look underneath, I'm assuming it's somehow bolted to the frame). I replaced a radiator on an old Jetta I had, so I'm not afraid to attempt it, but I don;t know if I'll need some special tools. The parts (the bumper cover and styrafoam piece) will run me about $4-500, and I'd like to save some $$$ by doing it myself (and also learn how it's attached!!!!)

    Any books/sites that will give me instructions????
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Physically replacing the bumper is probabl not that difficult as long as none of the mounting points are bent or misaligned.

    The real difficulty and the expensive part of the replacement is in painting the new bumper to match the rest of the car - if it's painted to match the car in the first place. Painting plastic requires careful preparation of paint and flex agent, or the paint will peel off the bumper. It may also not be easy to match the paint on an 8-9 year old car perfectly.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Have you checked for manifold leaks? This sounds like a vacuum leak problem of some sort, given the weird changes as the heat changes (metal expanding and contracting can cause more or less air through the mating surfaces of the intake manifold and the engine).

    You could also have 2-3 problems going on at once.

    I don't find your Scandanavian's solutions very logical given the symptoms, but maybe his meters did pick something up to justify what he did.

    What about new injectors...this will often cure a myriad of problems. If there are no leaks, no codes, and nowhere else to turn, well, it's a chance....
  • myvmyv Posts: 1
    1995 Volvo 855. Who would've thought that a gentle snow-skid of the left front tire into the curb would come to this? Is this price within the ballpark for the NY Metro area? Are there other Internet resources for common maintenance problems with this model?
  • stupenalstupenal Posts: 2
    Hi, i'm looking at several used volvo 850s, from 1993-1996. However, even though i know that Volvo's are reknown for their safety and reliability, i get the feeling that reliability is not that great on these 850s. i know that the 240s were great, but the 740s were horrible. i was just wondering if i should expect to pay a lot to maintain the car. Also, i'm currently driving an 89 Toyota Camry, thus, i'm used to spending little to maintain my car (just oil and filter change every 3k). Any advice would be great. Also, does anyone know if the manual transmission is more reliable than the automatic? thanks
  • roseprosep Posts: 1
    I just traded in my '95 850 Turbo Wag which I owned for nearly 6 yrs having bought it new. The car had only 65K miles on it,mostly city miles. I bought the car because of Volvo's reputation for safety and reliability and because my husband and I liked driving the car. Maintenance has been absolutely horrible though. Here's my quick list:ignition switch (see NHTSA serv. bulletin),ABS system,cv boots (right & Left), Headlight wiper motor,valve job,fuel door motor,exhaust systm leak and the miserable tire expense (class action lawsuit for that).Little nuisances-cupholders that always broke and hatch that always rattled until an ind. repair shop put a patch on. Good luck.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I'd certainly choose the manual over the automatic. The automatics on the earlier 850s do not have a good reputation.
  • javadocjavadoc Posts: 1,167
    Like Mr. Shiftright, I would favor a manual to an automatic, esp. in a '93/4 850 series car. The trade-off of not having to "row your own" is that they do seem to break. If you want a turbo 850 (highly recommended, btw), you are stuck with an automatic. Go for a 1995 or newer model, as the transmission was made better for those years, and is considered "bulletproof," if an automatic can be called that.

    I'm a firm believer in the idea that your car is only as good as you maintain it. I've had virtually no problems with our 1996 854 Turbo (854=sedan/ 855=wagon) and have seen many high-mileage models with very few service visits. The engines should run endlessly, and it should provide you with a high level of comfort, performance and safety for a great price (used), with a little preventative maintenance thrown in.

    Of course, my 854 is at the body shop after being broadsided by a Ford Focus... which totalled the Ford


  • supersubsupersub Posts: 1
    I am looking at a '96 850 GLT which is for sale in my area. It has a few minor problems, but after reading the A/C postings, I am a little more concerned about noise I heard in the fan motor when I tried the A/C. It occurs at low speeds when the motor is being turned on or turned off. Does anyone have experience with this problem? Is this just a characteristic, or is the fan motor and/or A/C trying to tell me something? If so, how much will it cost to fix?
  • 1. drove this car to Florida and even though its nimbleness saved us from an accident, I wonder if I hit something that caused an oil leak that I cannot find the source to. It is not the turbo problem that refers to, it seems to come from the inter cooler (is this oil filled?). Its particularly puzzling because it does not seem to effect my oil levels or pressure and my Turbo seems a bit more sluggish in the middle of the torque band (hence my reasoning for suspecting the inter cooler).

    2. there is a terrible rattle that seems to be coming from the latch on the 5th door. I put some Duck Tape on it and it relieved the problem, temporarily. But it caused me to lock the doors by attempting to open the back hatch. Is there an easier fix that replacing the entire latch. And were do I find parts?
  • My front seat heaters have gone out (again), and I thought that I had read about an up-grade some where.
    My lights on the console between the front seats are out hard is that to fix?
    All of the fuses are good, what next?
  • vguardvguard Posts: 78
    wonderful! I have the "base" model (non-turbo, cloth, no sunroof, manual transmission) sedan. We have already put 135,000+ miles on it (I say "already" because we purchased it new, long after the '96 came out).

    I can honestly say we enjoy driving this car as much today as the day we purchased it (can't say the same thing for the previous Volvo 960 we owned).

    We maintain the car very well and don't hesitate to fix something if it looks like it is going bad.

    Engine mounts are famous for breaking down on these cars, so check them regularly. Expect an expensive brake job at 100,000 miles (rotors, etc), but if well maintained, this car will treat you right. Follow the scheduled maint. and you will be just fine.

    As for the manual vs automatic debate, I would not own an automatic in a non-turbo Volvo.....The manual is a hoot to drive (however you won't find as many manuals on the used car lot, at least in the 1995 model anyway...back then you could not even get the manual with the turbo charged version in this country).
  • maw1982maw1982 Posts: 62
    I am looking at a 1995 Volvo 850 Turbo Sedan. It has 75k miles and is being offered for much less than its trade-in value. What issues should I look out for? I have read on this board about the self-destructing evaporators. I also know that the 740s had problems with the turbos destroying themselves at 60k miles. Is this also a problem in the 850s. Thanks

    Also, what type of gasoline is required or recommended for the 850 Turbo.
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    Not only will you get great advice here (especially from people like rollie) check for an encyclopedia of knowledge for all things Volvo. It's like for Volvos only. Great site.
  • chaddschadds Posts: 11
    IMHO 240s were the most trouble prone, the 740s not as and totally rust free in more then 10 years of ownership. The 850s are reliable but because they are so wonderful and don't show their quirks many don't do preventative maintenance. I've had a 544 two 122s wagons an 83 Turbo Wagon, a 740 Turbo, a 740, a 93 960, two 850 GLTS and an 850Turbo. I have three daughters. Two 760 Turbos gave their lives saving my wife and daughters. Find a private mechanic you can trust and do your maintenance and fix the little things when they break.
  • kld1958kld1958 Posts: 1
    Can anyone tell me how to turn off the service light on my 95 850 Turbo? This is the second time I got it back from service, and the light is still on! Thanks

    KL Diefenderfer
  • stewarhastewarha Posts: 3
    Go to Click on Volvo, Repairs/Maintenance. Now click on the picture of the auto service bay (Bay 13), next click on the link for lights and you'll see an article called "850 Service Light From Bay 13". While there look around, they have a lot of other maintenance tips as well.
  • khoonkhoon Posts: 85
    My air conditioning suddenly went on the blink. The dealer performed a "test" and suggested that I change the core/ evaporator/heat exchanger at a total cost of $1100. A mechanic I contacted quoted $500 to fix/replace the evaporator.

    Since the "test" was performed, the air appears to be working ok. My question is, how can I accurately determine whether or not the evaporator is truly the problem. I'm also uncomfortable with the wide disparity in the prices quoted to me. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance
This discussion has been closed.