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Volvo 850 maintenance and repair issues



  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    If you're looking between a newer model with higher miles vs. an older model with less miles, I'd say it's more important to look at the maintenance history of the cars. Proper maintenance is more important, IMHO, than what's on the odometer. 1993 was a unique year for the 850 in the US; it was the 850's first year here but it had already been out in Europe for a year; several minor changes were made in 1994. Therefore, 1993 850s will have a few unique parts to them, which might make finding some parts, like four-lug wheels vs. five lugs on later models, headlight assemblies, and a few body parts, difficult. Traction control is very good to have in the snow, but I think you'd be doing your daughter a disservice by getting her first car with traction control. If she learns to drive a car with traction control, she'll be used to having that "crutch" to lean on. If she then subsequently gets a car without it, she'll not know how to handle low-traction situations. I feel the same way about automatic transmissions, but that's a different subject entirely. Good snow tires, however, are important. Also, the traction control can be switched off in a Volvo; it would be good to at least turn it off in a parking lot or somewhere similar and teach her how to control a vehicle in the snow without it.

    Highway miles: Yes, highway miles are better; they put much less strain on a car, not just the engine, than continuous stop and go driving. Having said that, however, it's difficult to prove that the miles on a car are indeed "highway" miles and not "rallying up Mt. Washington" miles.

    Power- The 850 5 cylinder has more than enough power for a new driver, even in non-turbo form. In fact, make sure you buy a non-turbo; it's just one less thing to worry about--less stress on the engine, and turbos, when they fail, are upwards of a thousand dollars to replace.

    As always, make sure any car you buy has been thoroughly inspected by a specialist mechanic. In New England, Volvo mechanics are not hard to find.

    For more information than you ever wanted to know about Volvos, check out

    They've got tons of useful information on all models of Volvos. Good luck.

  • dwinerdwiner Posts: 13
    Does anyone know how critical it is to replace the timing belt at 70K miles? I've heard that when it fails in this engine, it can cause a piston to smoosh the valves. Is it likely to fail at 75K or 80K or 100K if not replaced when suggested, or is this another recommendation that is made to absolutely guarantee that it does not fail prior to the recommended service interval, and it will likely last for another 50K miles? Is there a way to check the condition of the belt without performing much of the labor required to replace it anyway?
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308

    That goes for any interference engine design, not just Volvos. Actually, I think the interval is 60k miles. Better to get it done and spend a little money now, or take the gamble and probably lose (I would NOT want to be paying the bill to rebuild a Volvo engine.)
  • javadocjavadoc Posts: 1,167
    I agree with Lancer on this, don't skip this service. The actual "book" time for the timing belt on a '96 is in fact 70k miles, although a few years do spec at 60k for this service (I think the '93s even say 30k). The motors on the 850s are "contact" motors, meaning if the belt breaks, the valves make contact with the pistons, which translates into contact between your platinum card and the mechanic, to the tune of about $4000. It's always prudent to change this belt early. Expect to pay $2-300 for this service at a competent shop, and make sure you use the Volvo belt and not a corner parts store belt.

    I've heard of many, not a few, 850 belts braking between 70k and 80k, so I'd not dare risk this. I changed mine @ 60k, and I have a '96 Turbo.

    my $.02.

  • If my a/c is not working (I've had it charged a couple of times, but it barely lasts half the summer) and dye added didn't show leaks, how do you know if it's the condenser or the evaporator? Garage told me it was probably condenser (to the tune of $600). Two months later my a/c is out of juice. I've noticed a lot of a/c problems with 850's. Are others also having problems? Recommendations? Just keep charging it (garage charges $90 each time!)? Replace the evaporator? I don't understand the difference between the two parts. Help would be appreciated. Any good mechanics in Mpls-StPaul area?
  • justinjustin Posts: 1,918
    for a 200o model S70. Out of the normal one, and the GLT, is there one that is more reliable than the other? The GLT has more power, but is the turbo going to be an issue? Since the S70 was the last year, do all of the bugs seem to be worked out from the older 850's?


    I really don't like the S60. No one makes a boxy car anymore, so I figure late model used S70 would be a good buy...
  • dwinerdwiner Posts: 13
    Do any of you have instructions for replacing the stabilizers for the cargo door on a 1996 850 wagon? It sure was easy on the 740 when they were exposed!
This discussion has been closed.