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Volvo 850 Wagons



  • I drove both the 940 wagon and the 850 wagon when I purchased our 96 850. I went with the 850 because I felt like it drove like a nimbler car than the 940. The front wheel drive gave the 850 a tighter turning radius and a slightly airier cabin feel since there was no driveline tunnel bisecting the passenger compartment. The 940 feels like and drives like a much heavier car than the 850 which in some ways is not a bad thing in a Volvo. I felt like the 940 felt and drove much more like the Volvos of yor and that can be very reassuring.

    When I bought the 850 it was a "new" architecture car from the ground up for Volvo and it was the leader to all new Volvos sold today. That was a sort of scary prospect for me in the begining but over time I have found our 850 to be very solid and realiable. We've got just over a 100K miles on the car with absolutly no problems. We moved from LA to SF and are putting far few miles on the car per year but the automatic transmission is churning away just fine and is a near neccecity here on the steep hills of SF.

    LOL- I have been using regular gasoline in my 850 from day one since premium was not required by the owners manual. Maybe some day soon my mechanic will be the one having the last laugh . We drive a non-turbo so maybe that is the difference.

    IMHO- I'd buy the 940 because it'll remind you more of your old 1971 and represents a better value for the money. $2k more for 90K less milage is the way to go and the 940 is a fine car.


  • Yesterday I bought a '95 850 Turbo Wagon, and I'm thinking about replacing the cassette/radio with and the remote cd changer because I'm in Manhattan and I fear that the cd changer is an invitation to break the window and remove the cd changer. Has anyone had any experience putting an after market cd/cassette/radio with a removable face plate in this car? Any suggestions?
  • I bought an 850 turbo wagon from a mechanic at a gas station who had just rebuilt the engine because of an overheating mishap caused by the original owner at 160,000 miles. She just gave him the damaged car rather than pay to rebuild the engine. The car had been very well maintained prior to the collision that punctured the radiator which caused the overheating incident. The mechanic replaced the radiator, sent the head to a machine shop to be milled, installed new valve seals, sealing rings and the reinstalled the milled head. He installed a new waterpump, timing belt, drive belt, and new Volvo Turbo hoses. He also very graciously filled the tank before I left. During the 30 minute test drive and the 70 minute drive home, the car smelled fine. But when I drove home in that night, I smelled gasoline. The smell was rather strong when I picked up my wife and daughter for ride in our "new" car. I didn't touch the accellerator when I started the car, so I don't think that the engine was flooded. Any ideas?
  • The 850 has a fuel injected engine so "touching" the accellerator would have no flooding effect on the engine. Carburated cars sometimes require a pump of the accelerator to prime the carpurator before starting but fuel injected engines are entirely different.

    I am not a mechanic but if you have had continued problems with this gasoline smell I would wonder if the fuel injector rail was maybe not properly reinstalled after the head was refitted. There are of course many different possible reasons for the the gasoline smell but I check the fuel delivery system first.

    Best Wishes and please update us when you figure out what the problem was. :shades:
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    Its not hard, any competent audio shop can do it.
  • Hi,I've been looking at volvo wagons since there are so many of them around and it has been a dwindling commodity since the suvs and minivans! The fear to buy one is because of all I had read about the expensive repairs and the never knowing when something's going to break down and it will be expensicve to fix! Or just go for the reliable toyota sedans and forget wanting a cargo type vehicle!!
    Tired of unreliable cars, my current wagon the mercury sable had the 'famous' head gasket problem which will cost over a thousand since coolant has leaked in tot he engine and other problem s will soon following woul dmake this repair! The car is so comfortable to drive but the damn mechanics are so poor! please advise,, jeff
  • Wow- that is a large order to fill.......Toyota vs. Volvo 850 not even Mercedes or BMW can meet those standards. A Camery wagon might be just the ticket for you but it will not drive like an 850 wagon. The 850 has a crisper more secure road feel than either a Camery or a Sable however, the 850 is a "Premium" catagory automobile and not a beatermobile.

    There are 389 postings about 850 wagons in this forum. If you are serious about researching real life 850 ownership experiences I suggest you spend a few evenings checking them out. That will give you the flavor of what to expect should you decide to look to buy an 850 instead of a Toyota....dark chocolate vs. vanilla.
  • I am looking for a new car and am tempted to get a used 850 Wagon or Sedan, about 10 years old as I want a car I can pay in cash with some money I saved up. I like their reputation for safety and quality is comparable to Mercedes or BMW. However I am sometimes a bit apprehensive about Volvos because some people here and there complain about very expensive repairs. What are the odds of getting an 850 car that has a lot of problems vis-a-vis getting a newer american car (e.g. an '00 or later Focus or such). Can a regular mechanic service Volvos or can they only go to a dealer? Do they really require premium gas?

    Many thanks,

  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    ANY older car will cost more to maintain and repair than a newer one.
    There are quite a few indy mechanics who can work on them.
    Yes, the parts are more expensive than american car parts.
    Prem gas is recommended for best performance.
  • Thanks for the response! If you had to choose between a newer american car (eg 2000-2001 Saturn, Ford Focus or similar with 50-80 K miles) vs a 1994/95 Volvo 850 Wagon with 120-140 K miles, what is a better buy in terms of reliability and maintenance costs?

    I also read that non-turbo Wagons are pretty sluggish. Will I have problems with these if I have to pass a truck on the highway? Or drive up the mountain with the car full of camping gear? How much worse is performance if you only use regular gas? I am also looking for fuel economy and maybe I should think of a smaller car, it does seem Volvos aren't too gentle on fuel use and definitely out of the question for my budget if I have to put in premium. Any feedback is appreciated.
  • Hi - I bought an 850 GLT wagon '95 with 106k on it about 6 months ago. I sold my Grand Caravan minivan with 116k on it. My friends thought I was crazy to give up the van for a smaller car (we also have a Suburban so I didn't need two large automobiles) I just love the 850 - I love driving it, love parking it and we have had no (fingers crossed) problems with it at all. I fill it up with premium but my husband fills it up with regular - I cant really notice a difference. Recent cold spell and it starts like a charm. I have the non-turbo and yes, it is NOT very perky - my van with a 3.6L engine had a lot more pep. You may consider a turbo if you are in need of extra power. We plan to give this volvo to our oldest son in a few years so we'll be happy he'll have a non "drag racing" car, and, just how cool CAN you be in a station wagon? LOL We paid cash - Just under 5k and think we got a great little car - good luck!!!
  • Many thanks for the feedback. I ended up buying a 1999 Toyota Corolla with 85 K miles for $5700. I checked out a few Volvos in the local area and _all_ of them had check engine lights or ABS warning lights on. My girlfriend also mentioned that a friend of hers always bitches about her Volvo having the check engine light on for something as stupid as not turning the gas cap all the way tight to 3 clicks and whatnot. One Volvo I looked at needed to have the headgasket replaced at 110 K miles. That is really too soon for that kind of repair! My old clunker (1991 Pontiac Grand Am) has 172 K miles and still the original engine.

    From what I've read in other forums and JD Powers reviews (it does seem Volvos have their cult-like fans just like Mac computers or VW bugs so the postings here are a bit biased - no offense!), the 850 Volvos can have serious electrical problems that are expensive and time consuming to trouble shoot (e.g $1000 to fix an ABS control unit!). I guess all those electronic sensors are a mixed blessing. However I did not want a car that would nickle-and-dime me to death with $300 bills each time one of those lights goes on (I am not a do-it-yourself kind of guy) so I went for the Toyota which has consistently higher ratings. Maybe one day I'll be able to afford a new Volvo and then the warranty will take care of any check engine light problems.
  • gingcogingco Posts: 1
    Love my wagon. Bought it from original owner at 83,000 miles. All service records from volvo dealer; meticulous attention to service schedule etc. Now, at about 85,000 mi, automatic trans will not shift out of 1st gear if car hasn't been driven for a couple or three days. It takes several miles of stopping, restarting, driving (very slowly to keep RPMs under control -- most inconvenient!)and so on before shift occurs normally. At times "Winter" light comes on and stays on; at times "Check Engine" light comes on and stays on. Mechanic has replaced "Switch" ($389). Car starts right up all the time, no problem, and after going through the above described hissy fit drives normally and beautifully. Also, if driven every day this doesn't happen at all. Think it shouldn't be necessary to replace transmission at 85,000 miles, especially after sterling service record (which I have also continued to maintain). Help, please and thank you.
  • billsky1billsky1 Posts: 1
    I looking to buy an 1997 850 s/w, how relieble are these cars,this one has 87000/nonturbo? dont want an :lemon:
  • njvolvonjvolvo Posts: 1
    My neighborhood mechanic is stumped, and I am afraid of the cost of taking it to a dealer. The noise is a strange, mechanical sounding one, that could be described as a clicking that starts up arouind 15 mph then progresses to a spinning, and finally whirring sound when car goes over 40 or 50 mph. Engine and road noise drown it out then, but it is audible again when car slows down. The maddening thing is that IT WILL NOT HAPPEN when I take the car to the mechanic. This has been going on for months. It happens randomly, tho I have sometimes noticed that it starts immediately after I hit a bad patch of road which, because I live in northern NJ, happens frequently. the mechanic has checked the wheel bearings and they are ok. Any ideas?
  • calvinycalviny Posts: 13
    I have the bulb changed & tested the continuity on both terminal (it's ok)...but, still..I can not get 12volts on it....
    (everything on fuse box is good as well)

    Please advise if any brake switch I have to check in engine compartment..or any best bet to keep trying before I take it to dealer...

    thansk any kind of help..
  • tansycastansycas Posts: 1
    1993 volvo 940 turbo wagon. 165000 miles.

    White smoke from exhaust. So much smoke I could not see cars behind me in day light. Then car died and had to be towed home.

    What do you think the problem is? And should it be repaired? :cry:
  • whoops........sounds like you might have a blown head gasket. Not a nice thing to see. If that is in fact what happened you are gonna see that smoke again and again. If water seeped into the oil you will usually find white condensation spots on the bottom of your oil filler cap or on the dip stick when the engine cools.

    I hope I am wrong because if I am not this is gonna be a heft repair bill. If the car over-heated when this smoking occured then you could also have a warped head ontop of a blown head gasket. In any case.....this is probably not somethin you'd wanna just leave alone. :sick:
  • I have a very strong feeling that my ac compressor is not working due to an electrical problem. I have had my '95 850 GLT Wagon for a year and a half, and ever since I got it the A/C hasn't worked. The fuse for the A/C compressor is the same fuse for the cabin air fan speeds 1-3. Those have never worked either. The fuse for fan speed 4 is a different fuse and fan speed 4 works just fine. Now, the fuse for the ac compressor is not blown. But, I think there is a connection bewteen the compressor and fan speeds 1-3. It's not the fuse, but it must be electrical or a component is broken that governs both of these devices. Where do I look? Am I wrong altogether? Any Suggestions. Thank You, Monte
  • soneilsoneil Posts: 1
    New to group, hope this info still helps. I own a 94 850 Turbo Wagon with 210,000 miles on it. At around 110,000 my transmission started doing what your is now doing. You may have already heard about the PNP valve, but just in case you haven't, I had mine replaced by the dealer for a little over a hundred bucks and that took care of my transmission problems. I had read on line of owners replacing transmissions, for several thousands, and their problems not being repaired. The pnp valve is too cheap to not try and for 100,000 miles I've not had another problem with the transmission. Only other problems I've had beside routine stuff is I replaced the head gasket at 100,000. Fuel pump at 180,000 and last week the heater core blew, in rush hour traffic, downtown Boston. I'll worry about the heater core before next winter. I probably have a turbo replacement in my future but so far no problems.
  • ximbiximbi Posts: 1
    All of a sudden my transmission is set to winter and I couldn't figure out how to set it back to normal. Pressing the winter button did not do anything.
    What is the correct way to set it back to normal? And in case the regular way does not work, what are the tricks and workarounds to get set it back?

  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    Try hitting the Sport and Economy buttons.
    Failing that, its time for a trip to the mechanic.
  • avjohnnyavjohnny Posts: 1
    My 850 wagon (1995) has a new glitch .... the external temperature readout (beside the clock) began to give very inaccurate temperatures for about a week (about 10 degrees below the actual external temperature). Now, it does not even give me a temperature ... it just says "Lo degrees C" ( mine is set to display in Celsius up here in Canada). Is this just a faulty sensor, or is this trying to tell me something much more important?

    Any help would be appreciated.
  • stephfstephf Posts: 1
    Hi there. I recently purchased a '94 volvo 850 turbo. it was hesitating when starting out in 1st gear after the car warmed up. We had the transmission fluid flushed twice and that issue went away. The problem I am now having is that prior to this service, the check engine light went on while on the fwy and I noticed that that turbo no longer engaged. The check engine light is still on and while the car is changing gears just fine, the turbo still won't kick in. I was hoping that the light just needs to be re-set.. perhaps some kind of switch disengages the turbo when the light is on? Has anyone ever heard of this before?
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    Could be that the waste gate is stuck open. The Turbo always spins(unless it has seized) but with the wastegate opened the boost doesn't go to the engine.
    Also one of the turbo hoses could be cracked or ruptured and the air charge isn't getting to the engine.
  • sdepewsdepew Posts: 1
    I am new to this site so I apologize for the lateness of this entry. If your "white smoke" is what I think it is then you may have a problem with your PCV system. Your PCV system is a series of tubes that alow gases that have escaped into your crankcase to vent. On a turbo model this is done with an oil separator. to acess the oil separator it is necissary to remove the intake manifold. once removed you should see a plasitc canister sung against the motor, that is your oil separator. remove it an remove the hoses off of the block and check for any blockage. Clear the blockage with a scraping tool and spray parts cleaner like B12 chemtool. I had this experience once with my 850 turbo. After I reassembled the car it smoked for a little bit and then it went away completely. The total cost for me was about 10 dollars for a new intake manifold gasket. As far as not starting its hard to tell. What does it do? Does it turn over? Do service lights flicker?
  • I have a 1996 850 Turbo. For the past number of months I have had the check engine light on. What I am noticing is that when highway driving at around 100 to 120 kms the engine will hesitate or choke and shudder. This does not happen all the time and only last a for a minute or so then seems to smooth out. When running well the engine light will go off but the first signs of hesitation almost if going to stall the light is back on. If doing an hours drive on the highway may happen 2 or 3 times lasting a couple of minutes. I have installed new O2 senors and few other minor parts changed. Any ideas? Thanks in advance.
  • ccfooteccfoote Posts: 1
    Have a 1997 850 GLT and was looking for knowledge of anyone who rebuilds these code # 56 engines? My car is located in Daytona Florida. Thanks for any help.
  • boyatooboyatoo Posts: 2
    I would like to know if the front left wing, the front left door and the back left door of a 1995 volvo 850 wagon fit a 1995 volvo 50 saloon?
  • boyatooboyatoo Posts: 2
    sorry, it was a mistake in my previous message, as an 8 went missing from 1995 volvo 850 saloon. Psted again, my question is:

    I would like to know if the front left wing, the front left door and the back left door of a 1995 volvo 850 wagon fit a 1995 volvo 850 saloon?

    Thank you.
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