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Keep my 1998 volvo S70 or get a new (used) car?

My S70 needs new tires, new rear brakes, a new heater core & hose (my husband says he’ll do that), a CV boot, transmission flush & (possibly) sway bar links. It has 126K miles and has been well cared for. My husband says sell it (& buy a used Prius). My mechanic says fix it. Would I just be financing his boat? I replaced the heater core 2 years ago, and it’s leaking again. Most of the rest is standard maintenance, I realize but the car is only worth $2k

The heater core shouldn’t be leaking already. I would have to think it is just a connection problem to it but it may be a faulty unit to start with. That would be pretty expensive to replace and kill the plans to keep it in my book. With all the other things needed to be worked on I would look for a newer car and use the money to help purchase one. There are some good deals on used cars out there. Check them out on the site.

The problem with the Volvo is the seats are interior hold up so well that you want to keep the car. But, you will spend more and more on repairs in the future. If you haven’t bought a couple of boats for your mechanic already count yourself lucky. Sell it.

With a 12-year-old car, you are at the point where you either have to buy parts on line and do most of the repairs yourself, or think about getting a newer car. This car will likely go well over 200k miles, but if you go to a Volvo dealer for parts and repairs, this car will be cost-prohibitive to own.

The heater cores on S70s are notoriously poor, so although it should not be leaking after only two years, it is not shocking to hear it. The good news is that they are not hard change. It took only 30 minutes to do mine.

The hose connection to the heater core is sort of an odd plastic clip rather than a conventional hose clamp. I would suspect that clip connection and check it before dropping the $310 for a new core.

Rear brakes are easy, though if you need rotors, the old ones may be rusted in place which makes it a bit of a chore. Buy name brand parts on line and do them yourself. Bleed in fresh brake fluid when you are done if your brake fluid is more than two years old.

I would pay a good independent mechanic to do the transmission fluid change and the CV boot just because that is a messy job and I don’t like to do messy jobs in my garage any more. that job will cost you about $150 if you do it yourself or $300 or so to pay a mechanic to do. He can do it a LOT faster than you can.

Sway bar links are like brakes. Not hard. Get good parts on line and bolt them on yourself. They should cost you $55 each, free shipping.

I think it is time to walk away from this one. Caring for an aging Volvo is tedious and expensive.

As others will recommend, buy a copy of the Consumer Reports used car buying guide, and check out the most reliable models; there is plenty of choice.

I would stay away from a used Prius at this time. You don’t drive enough miles per year to really make this pay for you. And Prius vehicles, although reliable, require special care.

For the money of repairs, you would not be able to find a better used car… KEEP the Volvo and repair it. The repairs you are dealing with now are basic high-mile maintenance issues that you will most likely have to resolve with any high-mile used car.

I agree with the heater core problem being way too soon… must have been installer error, or a misdiagnosis to begin with (bad connector/hose vs. actual core).

Volvos have a fairly low TCOA in the long term, they will jo 200-300k miles without any major mechanical issues. The safety is still bar-none. The comfort is nearly unmatched.

Don’t play into the throw-away idea of just getting another car every time you have to perform basic maintenance. On second thought, please sell the car, so I can snatch up another great Volvo for little or no money.

Caring for an “old” Volvo is not tedious or expensive, as long as you are informed. Consumer Reports and the like are pointless and misleading at best, get on some of the Volvo owner forums and tuner sites.

I just replaced my 1997 Dodge Neon with 184,000 miles on it. It was nowhere near as nice as yours to start with, and it lasted for 50,000 more miles. Since 2007 I’d had to replace the radiator, water pump, timing belt, power steering belt, brakes, shocks/struts, stabilizer bar, and get an expensive engine repair. However, I would say repair your current car, for the following reasons:

  1. You have no car payments and your insurance is low. Yes, the car is only worth $2k according to KBB, but that’s not an accurate assessment. How much is this car SAVING you? Add that to its worth. Whatever the cost of repairs will be, it will still be less over, say, the next two years than buying and insuring a newer car would be. Heck, it would probably be less than the tax on the newer one!

  2. None of the problems you describe are dealbreaker problems. A transmission flush is not a shot transmission, and you report no engine problems. A newer Prius might be cooler, but as long as you view the car as a reliable way to get from A to B and not as an extension of your personality or something, your Volvo should last you for years to come. Also, many mechanics won’t even do oil changes on Priuses because of the risk of electrocution, so you’ll need to go to the dealer for most of your maintenance for it, which is more expensive.

Keep it. You have to figure that most of those things (tires, brakes, transmission fluid change, sway bar links, CV boot) you’d be doing on ANY used car at some point, if not the instant you bought it, then within a year or so. If the car is in good shape and you like it, you’re saving a boatload of money. Volvos are as safe as cars come. The S70 is easy to live with on a day to day basis. And I would not want to be footing the bill for the repair of the (enormously complex) Prius systems in a few years.

Fix it; keep it. Bank what would be car payments into a maintenance fund. You’ll be ahead in the long and get to keep your beloved (presumably) volvo. of course, as a volvo owner/lover myself, I’m just a tad bias.

Trade a volvo for a Prius? Did you recommend counseling :slight_smile: