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Volvo 850 Wagons

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  • Hello everyone, I have been browsing through the messages here and appreciate hearing about everyone's experiences and expertise. I am financially challenged at present (!) (putting three children through college, etc, on my own) and am looking for a car in the 4000-5000 dollar range. I looked at this 83 850GLT, 2 owner, well maintained but not immaculate, asking price is 4500. It has a new transmission with 15K. Is this anything I should consider?
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    I write this as the owner of an older ('89) Volvo 740...I love my car, but it's gotten to the point where age, not mileage, is taking its toll. Maintenance has been heavy, especially over the past six months. It drives nicely and is wonderfully comfortable on longer trips (two trips from Cedar Rapids, IA to the Boston area and counting), but a maintenance-free vehicle an older Volvo is not.

    To give you an example, this is the list of things I've done in the couple years I've owned my car:

    Brakes (rotors and pads) $780.00 (I splurged a little and got Brembo rotors when OEMs were a little less.)
    Exhaust $300.00
    Tuneup $100 (bought the parts and did it myself)
    Thermostat $100
    Repaired exhaust manifold gasket leak $120.00
    Battery $100
    Tires $450

    Stuff that really should be done:

    New steering rack ~$600 (slow leak in the present one)
    Fix faulty A/C $? (I'm afraid what they'll tell me)
    Shocks ~$500

    This is in addition to regular oil changes and routine stuff. A lot of the items on the list are wear items and can be expected to be done to any car, but Volvo parts are not cheap (you can source them yourself for some savings...there are many good websites for this.)
    My point is, although these are really great cars, very safe, etc., they're also progressively more expensive to keep running in top form as they age. This is true of any car, but European cars tend to cost more to maintan than their domestic or Asian counterparts. I'm not trying to dissuade you from buying a Volvo; I'm just giving you fair warning so you know what you're getting into.

    Oh, and you should be able to get that '93 850 (I'm assuming it's a sedan; there was no '93 850 wagon) for about $4,000.

    Good luck.
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    No way would I shop for a 150K used 850 on a budget.

    Mind you, I have just spent $500 on a new set of not over the top tires, a third set of brakes brakes etc. know very well what a really nice older 850 can cost. I love the car and probable would do exactly as Lancerfixer has for his 940. However I have to agree that one should never own a modern Volvo on a budget. (BTW-a 93 850 is included as modern although barely)

    After the trans has been replaced then you'll need a new airconditioning unit......which then after replacing that there always seems to be incessant rattles in the dash.....etc., etc., etc.

    Do not buy a modern Volvo on a budget, they are seriously a luxury car with a low brow snob appeal. Believe it or not I bet we'd buy another one when our 96 850 is dead. Now how is that for a mixed review? Most modern Volvo oweners could have chosen and afforded a BMW or Mercedes but they simply liked the Swede better. Don't think you are buying some sort of modern European Chevy Caprice when you go for a Volvo these days.

    2 cent from a low brow-

    Peace,

    F.

    Now.... post that on your Volvo's bumper and people will believe you mean it.
  • phillyguy3phillyguy3 Posts: 88
    JAVADOC & FREDERICK: You seem to know these cars. My semi-retired father is looking at a sedan with 150K, Owned by a Volvo Master Mechanic for the past 3 years. A friend purchased another Volvo from him last year (760 Sedan) with same mileage and only had to replace the rotors.
    Price is $5,000 with new Turbo, Ac evaporator.
    He's also willing to repair anything up to 1 year for parts cost and he lives 1 mile from me.
    Yea or Nay???
  • javadocjavadoc Posts: 1,167
    A '95? I don't know... $5k isn't a huge risk is it? I like that it has a new evap. Those will set you back some bones when (not if) they go out. What about the abs module? Is it functioning properly?

    How's the rest of the car? I can't imagine w/ 150k it's pristine, but has it been in a major accident? How does the transmission operate? What about the suspension? It'll ride stiff (turbo, and 850s in general do), but shouldn't have rattling suspension pieces.

    However, $5k isn't a ton of money, right? But, that's just my opinion.
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    The new evap is great, the 850's always had to have those replaced.
    What worries me is the new Turbo. The turbos in the 850's were pretty reliable, it should not have needed to be replaced.
    I'd take a long hard look at hte rest of the mechanicals.
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    Philly-

    I like the idea of the way you found this car and the verbal agreement that this seller is willing to stand by and fix the probalems at no labor charge. Does he own the shop?

    The 850 is the "new" Volvo platform from which most current Volvo's are derived. The old rear wheel drive platform are completely different machines. They were more Chevy Caprice in their nature and Swedish road going tanks. The new Volvo's are quite buttoned down and sportier in nature.

    Do not relate your friend's 760 experience to what you might expect with an 850.

    Javadoc- maybe you can jump in here but it is my understanding that the 850 engine was a totally new power plant. Along with the fact that it is a front wheel drive car it was a nearly ground up new design from the Volvo's we'd known before.

    My final concern is that you have documented proof of the work that is claimed to have been done on this car. An automatic transmission replacement on 93-95 850's has been a common complaint and it alone could cost $2,500-3,000, of course a lot of that is probably labor.

    I own a 96 850 auto wagon with 82,000 on the odom. I have seen none of these problems with my car that you are reading about. If Dad is not a big mileage guy and the tranny is good, you probably are not too far off for $5,000.

    Best Wishes,

    F.
  • javadocjavadoc Posts: 1,167
    Yes, from what I know, the engine in the 850s was a new design, being an aluminum block/head design as well. I know of no issues w/the motor itself. I think I've heard it referred to as the 'white' motor, and the old iron block motors being referred to as 'red' motors... I assume that this is b/c of the aluminum (white) and/or iron (red) block materials.
  • cap99cap99 Posts: 4
    FREDERICK: I also experience an occasional deep hum.shudder to the brakes. It seems to happen after I've driven for more than 20 minutes and at longer distances/higher speeds. When it does happen, it's when I apply the brakes halfway and come to a rolling stop. The car almost feels like the bottoms dropping out. I have also had a pad replacement weeks ago. Anyone else with ideas on this?
  • javadocjavadoc Posts: 1,167
    Warped rotors, would be my guess. Did you have the rotors turned/resurfaced when you replaced the pad?

    I had all kinds of warpage issues w/the stock rotors, until I installed some quality slotted units. Haven't had the problem since.

    my .02
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    So that is your dirty lil secret.

    My car is on it's second set of rotots since new. The first set was resurfaced just before we bought the car the second set I assume was Volvo certified since it was done at a dealership. Where did these slotted rotors come from Jav and how much did they cost?

    My car's brakes still hum when you apply moderate pressure while stopping on a decent but I've been assured that this is most likely the ABS working. The car stops no problem and there is no shudder felt in the steering wheel so I left it alone.

    Peace,

    D.
  • javadocjavadoc Posts: 1,167
    Why Fredrick, I got them at none other than... Link coming...

    ipdusa.com. It'll be your favorite Volvo shopping spot if you don't already know about it.

    I have metallic pads, and they're pretty noisy. They squeek nicely when cold, but they stop nicely, for stock calipers. The rotors are about $200 a pair.
  • kcc455kcc455 Posts: 33
    I am interested in a 96 850 R with 137K miles and I am new to Volvo's and looking for advice. One owner, with all maintenance records. No Major repairs like trans. or engine rebuilds. It does not have the original 17" Volan wheels. Body is in good shape but has some scratches, fading, etc. A VW dealer has it listed for $8,900. I am thinking $7,500 is my top dollar. Any advice on future maintenance items to be wary of? What do you think about the price?

    Thank you.
  • ivyfchuivyfchu Posts: 21
    I own a '94 850 and I have the same brake shudder problem as described by cap99. The first time it happened was a couple of years ago and it cost me around $1000 to fix it at the dealer. (I believe they replaced all the pads and rotors). Now it is happening again.... I tried to be cheap and just replaced the brake pads at a local Firestone but the shudder is still happening. I really don't want to spend $1000 at the dealer again... Any suggestions?
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    Do not, repeat do not, bring it to the dealer for service. Find a reputable independent shop that specialized in imports, or even better Volvos in particular, that will do the work. The shudder is very likely caused by a warped rotor, which can be caused by any number of things, like if you've had the tires replaced or rotated. If the wheel nuts aren't torqued evenly and to factory specs, the rotors can warp. There are several brands of aftermarket rotor that will stop better and resist warpage better than the factory Volvo units. I replaced mine with Brembo rotors and haven't had a problem (though my independent shop torques the wheel nuts by hand, with a torque wrench, not an airgun.) For reference, I spent a little over $700 (including labor) for Brembo rotors and PBR brake pads, both of which are an upgrade over the factory parts, and it still wasn't as much as the dealer's price. My feeling is, if it's out of warranty, don't waste your money at the dealer.
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Posts: 228
    Kcc455-

    You are looking at a rare bird on that VW lot but I'm affraid I already see a lot of potential road kill with buzzards already circling in your future with this car.

    My recomendation, since you obviously have not deeply researched the past history of 850's posted on this board is that you not buy this car.

    Here are my reasons: You state it is being sold by a VW dealership, i.e. a total "As Is" purchase. Heck, I'd bet even they would not have a clue as to what potentially could be wrong with this car nor would they likely disclose it to you anyway.

    2nd: If you are going to buy the car used from a new car dealership they will not disclose anything to you about the true condition of the car beyond the summary of it starts, it drives, and the brakes and blinkers work. They will not have any of the previous owner's records on what repair history this car has been and if they did they would have immediatly chucked them in the trash for legal reasons before they put the car on their lot for sale.

    Potential Problems in a Nut Shell with 850R's:

    1. Transmission, has this been replaced?

    2. Evaporative Cooler/Air conditioning unit,
        has it been replaced, and now does your
        dashboard now squeak?

    3. Does this R still have all the orginal rims
        with the low profile tires and are the rims
        all in good condition?

    KCC- these are the major problems you'd need to know about before buying an 850. If any one of them becomes a problem after you own the car you are looking at an additional 1/4 of the bargain price you think you are gonna pay in repair bills. If you still want think you want to this car go to really qualified independent Volvo mechanic and get a total no $'s spared inspection on the car.

    If I were to hazard to guess, the owner of this Volvo traded it in for a new Passat Wagon or Tourage and probably knew some hefty repairs were lurking under the hood of this car.

    So think about it and research, research, and research this car some more.

    Peace,

    Frederick
  • javadocjavadoc Posts: 1,167
    I'm w/Fredrick on this one. I'd pass, if only b/c the tranny is original. I hate automatics and am just stuck w/on one my T5, but that's some serious mileage, even though the '96 trannies were stronger than the early year specimens.

    Be wary of this particular car, and have it looked at very closely. You said it doesn't have the Volan wheels... I wonder why. What kind of rims are on it? Some nice HREs or some cheapo rims? That will tell you volumes of what to expect from the vehicle, imho.

    Still... pass. There are others out there in seriously fine shape for good money.
  • kcc455kcc455 Posts: 33
    The VW dealership also specializes in used imports and provided me the service records since 10,000 miles. The salesman faxed me 20 pages of maint. records. The story is the original owner was unhappy with service at the local Volvo dealership. The 17" Volan were replaced with 16" Borbet wheels after the owner had two or three of them worked on or replaced for getting bent or warped. This was in the service records. The trans. was serviced, and all scheduled maint. seems to have been performed. It seems the owner (supposedly a local doctor) took it in for everything including simple things like light bulbs. The salesman even offered to call the previous owner and let me speak to him about the car. Despite all this I am leary about the 137K miles and should probably search out a local Volvo mechanic and get a Pre Purchase Inspection. I did not find any records of shocks/struts being replaced. Any idea how much shocks/struts are for the 850R?

    Thank you.
  • javadocjavadoc Posts: 1,167
    My Bilstein HDs just cost me about $500 plus install. FWIW, they're awesome. They feel awesome... a tad stiffer than stock but the ride actually improved over stock b/c the shocks seem to take a bit of the 'crash' out of bumps. 80k miles is about all I'd say you want to go on the stock rims anyway. Does the car have the Nivomat air-ride rear suspension? If so, I'd say go w/conventional shocks, b/c the Nivomats are very expensive.

    I also recommend getting some good rotors (Brembos or Zimmerman slotted rotors), or warped rotors will be the norm.

    Still... I'd be wary of this car, service records or not. The motor should still have tons of life left, but the miles worry me for the transmission. It'll set you back $3k-$4k if that goes out on you.
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    Given that you've seen the records, and that the dealer is trying to calm your fears(in spite of what Fred thinks of them) I think if you can get the car for @ $7000 its a good deal.
    Alot of people replaced the low profile tires on those cars because of ride and tire issues so no concern there.
    ANY car w/ 137,000 miles isn't going to be a paragon of reliability, there will be things that need to be replaced.
    I'd have an experienced Volvo shop look the car over and go from there.
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