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Volvos good or bad?

I hear that Volvos really aren't as reliable as everyone says. But I love the way they drive. I'm in the market for a CHEAP older car. Should I go with an old Volvo wagon, or is that a bad idea?


  • edited November 2007
    It's near impossible to make a recommendation on an older car, no matter who makes it. One does not know how it was driven or maintained so it could be a peach or a heartbeat away from the car crusher.
    Normal wear and tear items are in-line price wise with other cars and odd parts that are needed can often be found cheap on eBay.

    They're not all bad either.
  • edited November 2007
    Bad and expensive both. Some used ones were rated well but not all. It varies from year to year. Everybody, collectively, can't make a car buying recommendation. Get your own copy of the reference that has pictures in the Annual Automotive Issue. Consumer Reports recommandation beats everybody, collectively. Did I mention the pictures?
  • edited November 2007
    I would not suggest that they have more problems, but repairs do tend to be more expensive. On any older car, the repair issues, are far more related to how the prior owners took care of maintenance and how they drove it than the make. I would not rule them out or in based on the make.
  • edited November 2007
    There's no such thing as a "cheap" Volvo.
  • edited November 2007
    I think your question is a little simplistic. The reliability of any older car depends on it's previous maintenance. I'm sure there are are some old volvos that have been beat to death by idiots and others that are in very good condition. Volvos are certainly capable of a good long life, but they must be properly maintained. I would not buy an older one without a very good pre-purchase inspection and some maintenance records.

    You do need to understand that even a "cheap" volvo is going to require some maintenance if you intend to keep it in good shape. I will cost more to maintain than a ricer/domestic because both parts and (competent) labor are more expensive. If you really just want the minimum cost per mile and don't care what you drive, an old volvo may not be the best choice.
  • edited November 2007

    I don't think Volvo's have ever been a reliable. Maybe a little better then US made vehicles in the 70's and early 80's. Then the rest of the market passed them and their quality in the late 80's and 90's was inferior to most cars. Then Ford bought them and brought their reliability up to Fords standards. So Volvo is basically as good as a Ford. If you're looking for a car that'll be reliable for years and hundreds of thousands of miles...Ford is NOT even on my list.
  • edited November 2007
    I would only buy a pre-ford volvo, if I was in the market for one. Hopefully, there will be post-ford volvos available in the near future.

    For maximum "reliability" (using the "consumer reports" disposable car definition of reliability) I would just buy some ricer (who cares which one?). Obviously, I would avoid domestics unless I was looking for dirt cheap transportation.
  • edited November 2007
    Volvos gained their reputation in the 50s and 60s for having tough, rust-resistant bodies, and near-indestructable engines. US cars were real rustbuckets at this time. By 1974 things stated falling apart, when high inflation in Sweden drove up the price and the newly introduced fuel injection and other advances all proved to be less than reliable. The 242, the square box on wheels, was the last Volvo worth the moeny in my opinion. A guy on my street has one in his driveway; he inherited it from an aunt (not sure what was in the will!)It still sits there rust free; not sure of the mechanical condition. Volvos still have good, safe bodies, and strong engines, but everthing else is sub-standard and very expensive to repair or replace. Where I live Volvo has changed into a status symbol for people with money who pull their noses up at BMWs. They usually are environmentalists. The fact that a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry is better in almost every repsect does not bother them; this group does no want to be confused by facts.

    Volvos will still last forever if you keep putting enough money into them!!
  • edited November 2007
    A used car, any make, is only as good as the maintenance and owner driving habits allowed it to be.

    When someone says that Volvos (or any other make) aren't any good or whatever, then simply ask "How many have YOU owned?" and if someone claims to have multiple problems then those problems need to be analyzed to see if it's a legitimate car problem or an owner inflicted one. It's the latter in most cases.
    (Example. See thread on problem van.)
  • edited November 2007
    If you want a cheap older car a Volvo is probably not a good choice. Yes, you can find cheap old Volvos, but they will be in pretty rough shape. The ones in good condition have a higher price tag. Now, the good part is that a lot of the problems with the old 240 series is their interiors fall apart. The seats are worn out, the interior plastic gets brittle and breaks, but the motor and transmission and body are all still solid. If you don't mind a ratty looking interior, you *might* find a cheap but reliable old Volvo. But you have to ask yourself, if the previous owners didn't keep the interior up, did they do the oil changes and other routine maintenance? So, it's a crap shoot.

    The only other good news is that you can generally find parts for 20 year old Volvos. The local junk yards around me generally sell old Volvo parts as soon as they come in, but things like tail light assemblies and mechanical parts are available from reproduction sources as well as Volvo themselves. I have found the repro stuff is generally 1/2 the price of Volvo dealer sources. My daughter has an old 240 that runs well, but it needs the occasional part or repair. I've always been able to find the parts on line.

    With all that said, if I were looking for cheap and reliable, I'd be looking at Crown Vics or similar "grandma" cars. Yes, they are big, but they have built that same basic car for 40 years. They are pretty darn reliable and every mechanic in the country knows how to work on them, and the parts are easy to get. You will get a much newer and nicer Crown Vic than any Volvo for whatever price.
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