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Volvo S40



  • calhoncalhon Posts: 87
    I wouldn't describe Volvos as bulletproof, but the question of what's "outside the norm" makes for an interesting discussion. The usual way of determining the "norm" is by looking at a frequency distribution; i.e., # of cars with zero problems, # with 1 problem, # with 2 problems, etc. That information is not available to the public, nor is the median; we only have averages.

    Let's look at the latest J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study of MY2001 vehicles over 3 years. Honda had an average of 2.09 problems per vehicle, the industry average was 2.69, while Volvo had 3.46 problems per vehicle. We know that every brand has a certain number of lemons that have many problems, so most cars have less problems than the brand average.

    However, we tend to focus on the relative differences (e.g., Honda is 22% better than average and Volvo is 28% worse than average) and fail to recognize that the absolute differences are small. This misconception is reinforced by the fact that we hear or read a lot more about the horror stories than the good experiences. Some owners of more reliable brands think quite erroneously that most owners of less reliable brands spend most of their time at the repair shop.

    My opinion is that average reliability is actually quite good in absolute terms and most owners of "unreliable" brands are having few problems. By the way, about 60% of MY2001 Volvos were in their first model year.
  • guyfguyf Posts: 456
    All we can read in this board is people speculating how good or bad the new S40 is. If anybody who actually own one out there could share it's experience, it would be appreciated.

  • I happen to own one. In this case, it is a T5 AWD that is pretty much loaded (Audio package (without Navigation system), Premium package, Convenience package, Climate package, DSTC, Bi-Xenon headlights, Laminated Side Windows and Geartronic A/T).

      + Small turning circle (little bit smaller than a MINI with a larger wheelbase);
      + Audio package is fantastic;
      + Ride with the re-valved shock absorbers and larger sway bars is not too firm (less harsh than a BMW 3 series with Sport package);
      + Seat cushions are firmer than those in the S60, but not too firm;
      + Low end torque of the engine is great for pulling away from stop lights;
      + The Bi-Xenons are incredible (perfect pattern and the light color is not as blue as the Xenon lights on BMW or Mercedes);

      - The power seat adjustment is not as flexible as with the other Volvo models;
      - Wished there was a plug-and-play integration available for iPod, however, that is in process from Volvo, so I will have to be patient;

    All-in-all, I think the new S40 is a definite improvement. If you are looking for a fun-to-drive car that has best in class safety features, you can't go wrong with the S40.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 22,655
    i agree, for the most part, with calhon on this. but i do want to add something. even something like JD powers survey is not very reliable for stats. Human nature dictates that (and this is not to say its a steadfast rule, but i'd say it holds true on average) the more someone spends on a car, the more they are apt to complain about the little things. Someone who has a piece of trim coming undone in the interior of their $15K Honda Civic is not going to complain the same as someone who has the same issue on their $35K Volvo.

    Before I bought my Volvo, I ran into my fair share of folks who were saying "volvo sucks," "horrible reliability," etc, etc. But the more I researched, the more I found that REAL problems were very few and far between. The "electrical gremlins" amounted to blowing out tailight bulbs on occassion (and, subsequently, fixed via a TSB). The second most common complaint I found was "sunroof trim came undone." Yet, with these small issues, owners who had these problems were up in arms and ready to lynch the next engineer they could find. On the flip side, when I research Honda models, you get owners who are more apt to say (and I'll give a direct example from my sister in regards to her Civic) "yeah, the key doesn't always turn out of the lock position and I gotta jiggle it for a while to get it unstuck AND I had to have both front brake calipers replaced at 30K miles, but its been a great car otherwise and I'd get another Honda in a heartbeat." (and she did.)

    now, don't get me wrong, I don't see those as big problems either and won't condemn Honda for them. But, I am fair in my assessments and, since I don't condemn Honda for minor (and relatively inexpensive) issues like those, I also don't condemn Volvo for the few minor repairs I've had on that, as well. And, for this, I'm definitely in the minority. As far as RELIABILITY goes, I don't expect any more out of a $40K car than a $20K car.

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • Thanks,Rob,
    It's nice to have some soul mates here. I have done the same thing 5 years ago, when I was looking for my first "upscale" car. It was a time of S80 bushing, but just like you I have looked into the substance of complains, and did not find much.
    And then, I and all my family are extremely happy drivers of S80 and, lately, XC90 (another "scape goat" for a while).

    I believe that the quality of design and engineering that defines Volvo grossly overweighs some inevitable reliability issues, driven by the limited production and relative complexity and sophistication. (the more complicated components you have, the greater is a probability of the individual component to fail, plus, statistically, it takes longer to discover a potentially faulty component with a smaller production volume). Examples - engine sub-frame bushings - problem derives from the unusual engine mount. But it gives a good foot of the interior space - so, I would rather have these bushing replaced once or twice, but enjoy all this interior space. Related problem - issues with the transmission on S80 T6 - was eventually corrected, but even if the absolute number of defected units was small, the relative effect was substantial. The same number of defected transmissions on Toyota Camry, for instance, will not be even noticed, I would think.
    So, even theoretically, Honda Accord should have higher reliability than Volvo. And subsequently, Acura, which shares most of the components with Honda.
  • ivan_99ivan_99 Posts: 1,681
    I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    I few years ago I owned a 99 Audi A6. The car was amazing and had all of the extras. I could probably count 10 items that I had the mechanics "fix". Fix may be a misnomer since a few items I had them adjust then re-adjust. Such as having the mechanics adjust the glove compartment latch to make it easier to open; then re-adjust it back. Since the Audi's have free maintenance it was like having my own personal mechanic at my beck & call. I was very quick to note ANY small problem and have the mechanics fix it.

    I now drive an 03 Accord and I've had just as many problems such as a burnt out tail light; as I did in the A6. I've also got a burnt out interior light...funny because when I had a burnt out tail light in the A6 I worried that...maybe I was having those electrical problems that are common among European brands (the thought never crossed my mind with the Accord). I've been waiting for my headliner replacement for over 40,000 miles and have many other small items. The Accord has also been out of commission for two days on two separate occasions. I'll probably replace the burnt out tail light myself, since they forgot to do it last time I was in, and I'll probably do the interior light myself as no unscheduled stops here.

    If someone asked me (or polled me) regarding the Accord's reliability, in relation to the A6, I probably would say I've had less unscheduled stops. This would translate into the Accord achieving a higher reliability than the Audi, when in reality it probably is the reverse.

    I'd buy a Volvo without any hesitation or reservation (XC90 V8, S40)
  • I travel a lot and rent a lot of different cars. The first 40 series Volvo was a V-40 in Spain with a 1.9 Turbo Diesel and a stick 5 speed. I was really quite impressed, although it was not much more of a road car than a similarly equipped Mondeo (read Contour) I had had the previous trip.
    But, talk to Enterprise rental agents about their experience with S-40s. They were off the road and in the shop and very expensively so, far too often to be continued as a part of their stable.
    I surely hope the new one is better. I rented an Enterprise S-40, but having been infected by the Diesel torque, the gas engined unit left me a little disappointed, especially with the mandatory automatic. I do know they have to use a different head on the US engine because our unleaded has so much more sulphur than the fuel available in Europe. There is quite a lot of discussion on the internet about that.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 22,655
    to be fair, the last s40/v40 was more mitsubishi than volvo, so i also hope the new one will be more reliable (i'm not a big fan of mitsu build quality).

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

    I drove an S40 the other day, and found the steering to be numb. There's no feedback, even in corners (15-40mph).

    Everything else about the car was great. Shifting is good and the clutch felt fine. The ride (2.4i non-sport) is much better than my BMW, body control is excellent, and turn in is very good. It does feel relatively front-heavy. The buttons on the stack feel good. The seats felt comfortable.

    Overall the steering seemed overboosted. Pulling out at slow speed, the steering wheel was extremely easy to turn, almost toy-like.

    It was a bit of a disappointment, because I was expecting the steering / tracking to be "good enough" to be fun, but it turned out that the fun factor just wasn't there. Even going up twisty Page Mill road, the car didn't engage me.
  • creakid1creakid1 Posts: 2,032
    “The ride (2.4i non-sport) is much better than my BMW, body control is excellent, and turn in is very good. It does feel relatively front-heavy.”

    BMW what? The sport-suspension 3-series coupe or sedan sport? Or the non-sport 325i/323i/328i sedan?

    The S40's base suspension is supple, if too soft & weak for its limited front spring travel to crash through speed bumps. I really think Consumer Reports must have sampled the sport suspension & thus complained about the stiff ride.

    “I drove an S40 the other day, and found the steering to be numb. There's no feedback, even in corners (15-40mph)...Overall the steering seemed overboosted. Pulling out at slow speed, the steering wheel was extremely easy to turn, almost toy-like.”

    The electro-hydraulic steering in the Volvo S40 version should be the least feel-ful, followed by the Mazda3, followed by the new Focus II.

    But I find the TSX even worse than the S40 due to excessive self-centering force to mask the weight change & therefore hard to sense the tire-grip change. Interestingly, CR found it communicative, but all I could feel was lots of road bumps through the steering.

    “It was a bit of a disappointment, because I was expecting the steering / tracking to be "good enough" to be fun, but it turned out that the fun factor just wasn't there. Even going up twisty Page Mill road, the car didn't engage me.”

    Good point! you gotta get a car that can provide you fun.

    Go check out the now reliable(see the reliability-history chart in the CR 2005 buying guide & find out the Focus' shocking reliability improvement since the adoption of Mazda engine in some models starting late '03) Focus I ST 2.3(stick only).
    creakid1 "Ford Focus vs. Mazda3" Nov 19, 2004 5:41pm
    (make sure you also read post #128)

    The U.S. Focus I also got rid of the excessively soft suspension & pwr steering a couple years ago. So now, the non-SVT U.S. Focus I' steering feels numb only at parking-lot speed. The Focus I, which, like the new BMW 1-series, has conventional pure-hydraulic pwr steering, & CR found it to have even more steering feel than the Mazda3, which is suppose to be less numb still than the new S40. & trust me, the steering feel of these Focus/Mazda3/S40 is not the misleading road bumps. ;-)

    creakid1 "Ford Focus 2005 release date" Nov 26, 2004 2:37am
    The Focus I, although now defunct around the world, is a fun-to-drift classic w/ a sharper, more communicative steering than the new Focus II, which doesn't just behave slightly like the new S40, but look like one as well!

    Just check out the taillights & profile of the made-in-Taiwan Focus -- the world's 1st production Focus II sedan:
  • "BMW what? The sport-suspension 3-series coupe or sedan sport? Or the non-sport 325i/323i/328i sedan?"

    My car is an E36 328i with the non-sport suspension, and 15" wheels. Overall the ride on my car is excellent, but abrupt impacts are not absorbed well at all. The S40 in comparison has a more liquid feel, and absorbs small abrupt impacts very well. Other than that it follows the road with the same fidelity as my car.

    When I react to ride quality, I first notice road texture and other relatively high-frequency impacts, like joints in the road: anything that might cause the interior to crack or shift audibly. It's these things that the S40 does better than my car.

    There are other aspects to ride, like how the car moves on the highway. Riding in a Acura TL on one stretch of highway, I noticed a oscillation, a fast up and down motion which was very uncomfortable. My car on the same stretch and same speed damps the oscillation somewhat, making it much more bearable.
  • What I value in steering feel is the communication from bumps or any unevenness. The steering wheel should tug and pull and even move as the car drives over anything but a perfectly flat surface. The steering wheel should constantly be alive with information, even when driving straight at moderate speeds. This is what I like so much about BMW steering. The absolute precision and connection with the surface.

    I'm ignorant about other aspects of steering feel, such as feeling loss of traction.

    In the S40 non-sport, I didn't feel anything at all; it was like a video game.
  • creakid1creakid1 Posts: 2,032
    pointed out that even going in a relatively straight line, you should be able to sense resistance from the Focus I's steering THROUGH YOUR FINGER TIPS! Not wait till your inner-ear fluid shifts in order to realize that you are changing directions, or, worse, wait till your eye sight sees the car wandering off a straight line.

    The E36 has better steering feel than any E46, but the ratio's pretty slow. There's also a difference between merely feeling the existence of bumps through the steering vs excessive kick back from bumps.
  • creakid1creakid1 Posts: 2,032
    "Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!"

    By the way, I did have a great Thanksgiving! 'cause, on the way to my Thanksgiving dinner, I happened to have a chance to follow a Lamborghini Gallardo up a curvy hill at about 85 mph passing all other cars. My easy-revving 2.3 that never sounded like I was revving higher than usual, my stable SVT/S170 shocks & sway bars, & my pure-hydraulic Focus steering simply made the whole experience fun & easy. & I bought this '05 Focus I ST for just over $16k(MSRP $19,520) including std leather steering wheel & shifter, ABS w/ traction control, & heated mirrors, plus optional heated cloth sport seats w/ side airbags, 500-watt MP3 6-disc changer w/ Sony speakers/subwoofer, & perimeter alarm.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...that you've now purchased a Focus and an RX8 in the last month? Or am I getting confused?
  • creakid1creakid1 Posts: 2,032
    while the RX-8 is for the folks.

    I test drove the Focus ST on the way to buy the 2nd RX-8 but w/ 16"s & non-sport suspension this time. Both the Ford & Mazda dealers are across from each other, so I decided to compare these 2 cars in the same bumpy fwy & speed bumps.

    My left brain sez the RX-8 has the best ride/handling compromise in the world, so I should take the comfy base RX-8. But strangely, I wasn't excited while thinking I was about to own this "best car in the world". & the salesman made a mistake over the phone that this stripped car is an '04 for clearance discount. It's an '05.

    It was the '05 Focus ST that made me don't want to let go driving it at the end of the test drive! & this probably has never happened to me before! Despite riding less supple & has a lower handling limit w/ a heavier nose than the RX-8, I find it more fun to play around its predictable drifting nature, plus the pure-hydraulic steering(as opposed to RX-8's pure electric, but even quicker, steering) has more feel, & the more comfortable ultra-tall seating position makes the car seem like 1/3 bigger, despite having the same length.

    The RX-8's high handling limit, even the base model, is too high to be explored outside the track. So I couldn't really have fun with it. Also the gas-guzzling rotary engine is so weak off the line that I kept stepping on the gas ending up speeding & still couldn't feel any push on my back. Besides, the comfy base model only comes in automatic!

    The ST's Mazda-Developed 2.3 has such great instant low-end torque(more so than the VVT version used in the Mazda 3S) w/o the noisy-to-rev nature of the S40 2.4i.

    After I bought the Focus ST, I did have a problem keep speeding up due to the somewhat firm suspension that just won't soften up until very high speed. 'cause the suspension & steering are so confident-inspiring anyway. But this is the best-tuned suspension softness w/in the Focus family. As the S40's sport suspension is down right uncomfortable, while the base is too soft for the not-so-long front springs so I have slow down on speed bumps. Maybe the AWD's slightly longer springs w/ the shocks & sway bars from the 2WD sport suspension is just right, but the AWD's heavy weight w/ turbo's lag is somewhat clumsy to accelerate. The Focus ST's suspension tuning is somewhat like the AWD S40! It's got the SVT/S170's shocks & sway bars but w/o the SVT/S170's lowered firmer springs!

    W/ '05's improvement on noise isolation, including a better ventilation air flow, the Focus ST's noise-level cruising on the fwy is tolerable, just a tad worse than the RX-8 & S40.
  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    I still like the S40 but the price of the car and people's horror story's of last generation and current Volvo's scares me as well. I have owned a 1998 Mazda 626 as a lease and alot of people had problems with them and I really didn't have any complaints about the car. Now I have an 02 Acura CL with none of the tranny problems that other people have been having. I just had the oil kit installed in the tranny as part of a recall by Honda Motor Co.

    I took a look at Volvo's raings and the S60 is fairly reliable. The 70 Series is very unreliable as is the 80 Series. I;m still a couple years away on my decesion about the S40. The XC 90's reliability hasn't been a thing of beauty either but I think will wait and see since its an all-new brand new model.


    S40 is small and compact which I like. I do not like the Camry and the size of it. Its just too big.

    Good customer Service.

    Excellent Exterior styling.

    Very Safe Car


    Volvo's shaky reliability history


    Resale Value: Do they hold their value well?

    Parts: How much will they cost me?

    Do any young people drive this car like say like 29 year olds?

    My summary is you have chance to get the younger buyer, just don't throw it away on bad reliability.
  • Guys,
    Where are you getting your data? S80 2001 and up has very good reliability ratings from all the major sources.

    XC90 has a good reliability record from the get go.

    And what are those "horror" stories about former S40? It held on, despite it's mediocre heritage.
  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    The S80 has worse than average reliability according to Consumer Reports as does the XC 90.
  • There are other sources besides Consumer Report.
    MSN Auto rates S80 and XC90 very good (all green)for recent years.
    JD Power rates S80 average - 3 dots, and XC90 - better than others or excellent (4-5 dots in most areas)., etc. etc.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 22,655

    we still talking about this?
    does anyone go back and read previous posts before posting to a discussion? Heck, we really don't have to go very far back to see this very topic. Its right on the previous page of posts, IIRC. Good grief.

    I guess Thanksgiving weekend just wasn't long enough. I'm too grumpy this morning.

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • Can not agree more, but I have given a pledge to myself to counter any strong negative strike against Volvo, to make this board "fair and balance".

    The format of this board does not encourage people to look back. I see the same questions/remarks posted over and over again, so I do not mind to answer from time to time.
  • So kudos to Volvo again, and one more proof that "platform" is just a few pieces of sheet metal and structural elements, but not a car itself, and that "shared platform" does not mean "the same car".
  • Hey guys, I'm new here. I decided to join because I love my 2000 S40 so much. I am 17 years old and got it in September with 65,000 miles. I have put almost two thousand miles on it so far. It's a dark blue one. I love the color. What year do you guys have? I love the 05s, hope to get a new Volvo someday.


    I've always wondered: what is the association of Ford with Volvo? I personally don't like Ford. They seem like they make shoddy products, and I have always thought as Volvo as a high quality company.
  • creakid1creakid1 Posts: 2,032
    you don't find in Detroit. & the reliability of the made-in-Germany Focus I didn't just out perform Volvo's but everything else as well including the all the Japanese cars sold in Germany!


    The S40/V40 is based on the Euro-market Mitsubishi Carisma, while the new S40/V50 is based on the Focus II/Mazda3 platform.


    & the new domestic Ford Five Hundred/Freestyle is based on the Volvo S80/V70/S60.
  • creakid1creakid1 Posts: 2,032
    “So kudos to Volvo again, and one more proof that "platform" is just a few pieces of sheet metal and structural elements, but not a car itself, and that "shared platform" does not mean "the same car".”


    Just different seats for the Mazda version, the Focus II(not sold here yet) also took the top honor in that whiplash test thanks to Volvo's technology.
  • Peter,

    One question - did you agree or disagree with me?

    Remember, I maintain a point that a floor plan does not make a car, and 3 different companies put quite a bit of the different technology in to each flavor to consider them as the different cars.
  • creakid1creakid1 Posts: 2,032
    the steering rack & suspension makes most of the driving experience. Since the Mazda3 got a different steering rack, only the Focus II & the S40/V50 share these pieces(& rest of the 62% parts sharing), although tuned differently to achieve some different results. But even the S40 sport rides totally different from the S40 w/ std suspension. In fact, the S40 sport rides much closer to the Mazda3 than the std S40. I haven't checked out the AWD S40/V50, which I suspect should ride in between but so far CR gave it a low rating of stiff ride.


    The S40 may be quite different from the Ford & Mazda versions due to different styling, features including sound insulation, etc., & a better crash test results. But since Volvo did all the structural engineering for the the Ford & Mazda versions, this also means their crash test results are limited w/in the S40's level, rather than some Japanese's better side-protection such as found in the Honda Accord/TL.


    But that whiplash test has nothing to do with the whole car but the seat alone. Just about any car w/ a Volvo-seat installed will score high.


    Yes, you can say they're all different, 'cause even an S40 2.4i sport is quite different from an S40 T5 non-sport.
  • I'm very excited about the T5, but aren't sure what options to get in addition to Premium and Climate packages (which are must-haves for me). In particular, I am considering whether to add audio, sport handling and/or the bi-xenons.


    Any thoughts? Thanks!
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