$1800 and 3 weeks later and the car is still not fixed

Hi, first time poster here. I’ve got 2000 Volvo XC AWD. I also have a buddy who does great work and doesn’t quit 'til the job is done, so I haven’t had to go to an actual mechanic shop in a long time, and can’t remember ever taking a car to a dealership. I’ll try to make this as concise as I can but I imagine it will take some explaining.

I’ve been having (the perhaps infamous) ETS module issue with my Volvo wagon. ETS is the Electronic Throttle Sensor (or something like that). I knew this was a big expensive job that required flashing with a computer with Volvo software, which is out of the bounds of what my buddy can do. This throttle module was obviously not Volvo’s best work and rather than me giving a lame attempt to describe the problem you can easily look it up and find any number of really good detailed explanations, if you are so inclined. It’s not really relevant anyway. The main problem is basically, you hit the gas and the car doesn’t go. Before I took it to get fixed, the ETS light would come on and sometimes it would go into this “limp home” mode that would allow me to go about 25 mph max. Other times it would start up okay and would run, just poorly.

The Volvo dealerships are not at all close to me, so I tried a local Volvo Specialist. He assured me he could fix this, though he ended up having it sent to the Volvo dealership to have it flashed. I also needed a coil and plugs, and between all this it came to $1400. If it were fixed I would have been fine with that. But before I even got home the car started acting up. I hit the gas, it hesitates, then surges. Then it won’t go more than 20-25 MPH. No lights come on. I take it back to the repair shop. He keeps it a week, then tells me he can’t figure it out, maybe the new throttle is bad, but I’ll have to take it to the dealership (where he had also gotten the throttle module from) to figure it out. He assured me he would reimburse me if it turns out the throttle job wasn’t right. I’m pissed at this point but I go ahead and take it to the Volvo dealership. I showed them a list of what the original mechanic had done, and this included his suspicion that the throttle module was bad. I ask them to check that out.

The Volvo dealerships tells me the car has voltage issues which is causing the throttle module to behave this way and a new cable will fix the problem. The cable cost $415 parts and labor. When I drive the car away and get on the highway, there it is again, it hesitates and surges. I bring it back to find out that the throttle module that they had sold the original mechanic was bad and needs to be replaced (like I’d asked them to check out when I brought it). He tells me it will be $800 or I can bring it back to my original mechanic to do again. Things got a little heated at that point, and we’ll skip that part. To his credit, the original mechanic stepped up and told me he would take care of it and have them fix it, and I would definitely not be paying any more out of pocket. And that’s where things stand right now.

So here’s my question. Remember that $415 cable the dealership told me would fix the problem? It didn’t fix the problem at all. I doubt I even needed it. Okay, I got a new cable and there’s no reason that should be free. But the labor on that was over $200 and at this point that’s not chump change to me. Shouldn’t I be entitled to a refund on that?

Logically, sure. Realistically, best of luck. You have the ideal car for fixes that aren’t fixes and over charges. Expect more of the same unless you can get a handle on this repair and start over with a different ca. I have known several with this earlier model XC AWD and their story is the same as yours. It’s all down hill from here. Volvo techs, Volvo dealerships or indendents will all have trouble keeping the expense down.

Ever since cars incorporated computer electronics into their operation systems, this story gets told 10,000 times a day…Trying to repair 13 year old cars with major electronic problems is usually not worth the effort…Even more insights can be gained by reading the paragraph below…

“In 1999, Volvo sold its car division Volvo Cars to Ford Motor Company for $6.45 billion. The Volvo trademark was shared between AB Volvo, where it is used on heavy vehicles, and the unit of Ford, where it was used on cars. Volvo stopped posting profits in 2005,[vague] and in 2008, Ford decided to sell its interest in Volvo Cars. In August 2010, Ford completed its sale of Volvo to the parent of Chinese motor manufacturer Geely Automobile for $1.8 billion.”

Volvos, BMWs, Saabs, Volkswagens and Mercedes all have problems similar to yours as they age. It’s just the nature of the beast. That’s why many people, including myself, avoid these vehicles. They probably were once great vehicles but they are expensive to buy when new and are very expensive to maintain and operate. If you want to own a vehicle like that then you need to know the downside of driving one of these vehicles. All vehicles go downhill as they age but this group seems to go faster than others.