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HELP! my 1999 volvo s80 headache

Desperately need any and all help.

See title “my 1999 volvo s80 timing belt failed”

I detrimentally trusted Stillman Volvo to service my car and recently dropped 3200.18 for new timing belt, etc. They replaced tensioner(s) but not front pulley which broke and caused timing belt to loosen and major engine damage in interfence engine.

Problem is they claim no fault based on these arguments: car has high mileage (210,000), unless they replace all parts, they won’t be responsible for engine damage and they claimed that engine was on its last legs because of the high mileage.

I have countered that because of high mileage they should have checked and replaced all necessary parts. As many times in the past, we pay thousands each yr for whatever they recommended just to have car peace of mind. They replaced timing belt at 105,000 miles and DID NOT

replace pulley at the time. They claimed that front pulley exhibited no need for replacement at 210,000, but pulley broke 3000 miles later. I would understand if they recommended replacement of pulley and I declined. I would understand if it was a mom and pop shop. RIDICULOUS! They should not have recommended thousands of dollars in repair costs if engine was on its last legs. Furthermore, I argued that if they could not guarantee work on high mileage unless they replace all parts, they should have some sort of disclaimer for customers before we agree to pay thousands and 3000 miles later have no car. I JUST BOUGHT AN ACURA TL- love it. Never was a Volvo person (if it wasn’t for my husband …I probably would have stopped paying thousands to this dealer a while ago.

HERE’s where I need your help and comments.

I have pursued this with the BBB but still waiting …

My lawyer just advised me that they will give me 2500 credit toward a 5000 plus engine replacement job- up from 1500 credit earlier. She advised me to consider it. She was a former judge and indicated that I may not have total success at small claims court since I must file case at the dealer’s jurisdiction and district judges make money from the community, via taxes and businesses? Can that be true? How is that just for consumers? Should I throw $200-300 to pursue this in small claims court or take their offer?

I have a new 2006 Acura TL now and I do not want to give this dealer another dime for engine work. I no longer trust their work. By the way, if I accept their offer of partial credit, they want me to sign a release agreement, “releasing them from all future responsibility.” As a loyal customer who has given them thousands over the yrs., I wish I donated my money to charity than give it to a place that is doing such bad business.

Should I pursue small claims court? Do I have any chance with Volvo Corp?

I have called American Express to complain. Now awaiting their response. Can take 30 days.

What do I do with a car that is not running and sitting at Stillman Volvo’s dealership. They are saying that I am responsible for $260 in towing fees from Swedish Motors to their dealership for them to take a look at it and assess the problem themselves.

Do I have to pay the $260 before I can remove the car? How do I find someone who wants this car to rebuild engine? How much is worth with such damage to engine? All maintenance records have been kept so they can determine car worth.?

Anybody with such similar experiences, pls advise. I am contemplating calling local TV stations. PLS PLS HELP

Playing devil’s advocate here for a moment, if the pulley was fine when the timing belt was done at 210k miles then there was no justifiable reason for replacing it.
It’s a 10 year old part with high mileage and the pulley, just like a 1000 other things on this car, are subject to failure at any time. Tragic luck of the draw maybe?

The BBB has no enforcement authority so don’t expect much help there.
It’s not likely at all that the parent company (Volvo) will get involved with this.
In regards to the towing bill, if you authorized the wrecker company or this Stillman Volvo to tow your car there for inspection then yes, you are responsible for the bill and that bill is actually irrelevant to any of the other goings on.

With a damaged engine the car is not worth much, maintenance records or no.
As to the replacement engine that’s a tough call as this “replacement engine” could be what: reman, new or used? If used you get into that fuzzy area again with worn belts/tensioners or who knows what.

Is There A Mr./Ms. Stillman?

First off, let me sympathize with your experience and also say that you have done an excellent job of explaining the situation. You seem to have a good grasp of it.
It sounds like you are “right on” with your understanding of the pulley not being replaced and then breaking.

Small Claims is a “roll of the dice,” as you know.

My question is, and this has probably been covered by both the attorney and you, are you dealing with the dealership owner or principal(s)? They often have more at stake in these situations than do the employees. Employees at a dearler where I once worked would try to keep a screw-up like this from the “old man.” He was reputable and would make things right, sometimes at the expense of those responsible.

I’m not sure what made the pulley break. That sounds unusual. You no doubt would have authorized it’s rplacement, if so advised. You trusted their expertise. However, this is water over the dam, with all of your loyalty to this place, the dealership “goodwill account” needs to step up and keep a loyal customer satisfied.

Sadly, your best bet may be to pay the towing bill, have the car towed elsewhere, and have a boneyard motor thrown in. You’ll have to find someone willing to do this before proposing it, however.

I would not venture to second guess the lawyer.


Ask the dealer to eat the $260 and be done with it.

Have a hauler come to take to a scrap yard. You may get a small sum for the car and forget this pile of junk.

Yes, the correspondences were first with the service manager and then with a Mr. Ed Stillman. Swedish Motors stated that timing belt tensioner failed ( mechanic with 30 yrs of experience), but Stillman Volvo stated that front pulley broke and they stated that they are the Volvo experts. Their inadequate goodwill was surprising to me since we have given them $24,000 for repairs since 2002. Yep, got more disgusted after adding all receipts. Either car was a POS or got robbed. Now know much better- get a trusted,independent shop with experience in my make car.

How Much Is This Car Worth With A “New” Engine?

How much could you get for it after accepting a $2500 engine offer? Would you or someone in your family continue to drive it “$2500 dollars worth”, or at this point do you just want to wash your hands of it?

You state, "Swedish Motors stated that timing belt tensioner failed ( mechanic with 30 yrs of experience), but Stillman Volvo stated that front pulley broke and they stated that they are the Volvo experts."
Would that Swedish Motors mechanic be willing to write up an affidavit for you? That could sway the dice roll in your favor at Small Claims.

Has someone deciphered the Repair Order(s) to confirm just exactly what was replaced/repaired? Is that failed tensioner on the R.O. for sure?

What about a parts warranty? Is it possible that if in fact the tensioner was replaced and failed while under warranty? Would any parts warranty cover engine damage caused by the failed part, beyond just the part itself?

You bring up a problem that I have with the service receipt. It contains a long list of complex sounding names of parts for a non-mechanic.

Lets see: in 2003, JOB#1( out of 4) was for a timing belt replacement. List included tooth belt, particulate filter, gasket, oil, filter insert, fuel treatment, and hose clamp. No pulley replacement, right?

2008 JOB #1 for timing belt replacement list included belt, tooth belt, damping element, 30K S80T-6, spark plug kit, gasket, pollen filter, brake fluid, fuel treatment, brake clnr,idler roller.

I’ve typed the list exactly as on invoice. Can you decipher what was done? Tensioner replaced? Pulley?

Took day off to rid of this headache. A junk yard quoted 300-600 for car. I really don’t trust Volvo to repair car correctly and don’t want to give car to an innocent potential buyer should something go wrong. Family have no need for car.

I’m Not A Volvo Person, But …

… It looks like in 2003 the timing belt (toothed belt) was replaced. The other items were not for the timing belt replacement.

2008- The timing belt (toothed belt), damping element (I believe is Volvo’s lingo for tensioner), were replaced in regards to the timing belt. Possibly the idler roller was part of this (tensioners should have a roller), but may have been used with “belt,” item # 1 (accessory or air conditioning belt, not timing belt, probably). Rollers are sometimes called pulleys, but again I’m not sure where “idler roller” was used, sorry.

Are you in a state that licenses auto repair facilities and mechanics through the state’s Secretary of State or Department of Motor Vehicles offices? These states have phone numbers to call with complaints about repairs.

Why would it cost $200-300 for Small Claims?
I thought it was less than $50 in most places and if you win the other party pays that, too.

Maybe some Volvo experts will read this and chime in.

I called district judge with jurisdiction where Stillman Volvo is located, West Chester, PA and was given that court fee which I must pay in advance when filing case. My lawyer was pretty clear that in West Chester, esp., affluence and business support/association will likely only cost me time and money. For her to pursue this case, which has a lot to do with good principles, will be time consuming and costly. Seems paying taxes do not get you equal treatment in this instance, perhaps:(

I will try to get some clarification from Swedish motors as to what broke, tensioner or pulley. They are far and I didn’t want to drag them into this mess.
What they stated was that it was Volvo’s fault and repeatedly said multiple times that they hopep Stillman will do the right thing. Stillman first mentioned a bearing that broke and now they are stating that it is the front pulley. Surfing the net , I see there is an idler pulley, tension pulley, camshaft pulley and belt tensioner. Front pulley is which? At this point, junk yard is coming out to take a look at the car. wish i could see a schematic. Thanks for your help! Appreciate it a lot.

You’re Welcome! and Good Luck!