Keep the Volvo or move on?


Although I have always admired Volvos from a safe distance, I have been driving Hondas exclusively until a year ago.

Through a bizarre twist of fate, my ex-wife convinced me to buy her 1995 Accord wagon for our son who had just begun driving. For reasons that remain unclear, I did just that, paying for that Accord yet a second time.

Shortly after my son was “given” the car, someone ran a stop sign and crossed directly in front of him before he could stop. As a result, the car was totaled.

We decided, given this short history, that we would replace the Accord with a rebuilt, salvaged Volvo 940. A few months later, my son spun the car on a twisty, rain-soaked road and totaled that as well, this time entirely his fault.

At this point, I decided that if my son was to drive any other car, it would probably end up being the 1990 Honda Civic wagon I bought new two weeks before he was born. It was in good condition and would serve the cause of basic transportation.

The Volvo rebuilder offered me a generous $600 for the totaled 940 (which he would resurrect yet once more. This offer was as part of the purchase price of a rebuilt 1995 Volvo 850 wagon. I decided to take the offer and drive the 850 myself.

After 17 years of driving the Honda, the 850 felt large and heavy. It is much thirstier at the gas pump, getting about 27 mpg (as compared to the Civic’s 36-42 mpg.) But a I have driven the Volvo, I have become used to its size and its quirks. Compared to the SUV’s and Trucks my co-workers drive, 27 mpg seems almost as good as 34.

But here is my dilemma: At 150,000 + miles, the Volvo needs suspension work - maybe $500-$1,000 to replace struts, shocks, bearings, bushings, control arms, all those parts with rubber bushings or elastomeric bushings, or anything that has to do with smooth, quiet driving. In the year I have owned the car, I have replaced the radiator, the expansion tank, many hoses (fluid and vacuum,) bulbs of all sorts, wiper and turn signals arms, wipers, steering wheel, front rotors, pads and all tires.

I enjoy doing things to/with the car. But I do not enjoy having to do things in what seems to be an ongoing stream. At first, I felt as if I was recycling the car and that anything I spent for fuel was more than made up for by the low purchase price. But as the incidental repair priced continues to grow, I am not so sure of my logic.

To add insult to injury, my wife and I were visiting the local Honda dealer last week to pick up a part for my son’s car - my old Civic wagon. My wife managed to get me to drive a new Fit, as I had been talking about them since they were released in the US as a replacement for my Civic. Driving the sport Fit with a 5-speed was like coming home to a newer, better Civic.

Granted, the Fit only gets about the same mileage as my son’s 18 year old Civic wagon. But if my experience with Preludes, Integras, and Accords is any guide, the Fit should be fairly inexpensive to operate and maintain.

The question at the heart of this long story is, should I keep the Volvo for a while yet, repairing the things I know need repairing - like the suspension?" Or should I bite the bullet and move on to a newer car, a new Fit in the fall when the 2009’s come out?



Take the Fit, it will be under warranty and the Volvo is only getting older and more expensive as time goes on. It will porbably end up living at the mechanics or you under the hood on weekends.


Buy the Fit. Start over. And do NOT let your son drive it.


Your life seems to be full of problems; and owning an aging Volvo is almost as bad as having an unstable teenage child.

Simplyfy your life and buy a Honda Fit; it will keep you happy for at least 15 years!


Get the Fit. Say goodbye to the old Volvo. You’ll never regret it.


This is like hearing echoes of my own thoughts! Yep, I think the Volvo’s days are numbered. A 2009 Fit sounds just about perfect. Thanks.


What are you, crazy? After 17 years of driving Hondas, what would EVER make you think you wanted a Volvo.

I have news for you: you ARE crazy. Or at least you were suffering from temporary insanity when you let them talk you into buying a rebuilt Volvo.

You bought a REBUILT 1995 Volvo (!), and now you’re wondering if you should continue to spend money on it (a never-ending cycle). NO! Walk away from the Volvo and buy the Fit.

You will be happy every time you drive into a gas station, and every time you DON’T have to repair it.

Recycling is all well and good, but Volvos are very expensive to recycle, as you are now discovering.

With your background, you will quickly fall in love with the Fit, and the Volvo will soon be nothing but a bad memory.

The mileage for the Fit is the same as your much older Honda because your old Civic didn’t have all the federally-mandated “safety” features that all new cars must have. It’s a trade-off. These safety features add weight, which is the enemy of mileage.

There are many of us who would GLADLY drive a Civic or Corolla from the 1980s or older, just for the fuel mileage, and “safety” be damned. Unfortunately, unless you can find such a used car in pristine condition, you have no choice but to seek the modern alternative, which is the Honda FIt, the Nissan Versa, the Toyota Yaris, etc.

Personally, I’d go looking for a used Civic, Corolla or Prizm, but that’s just me. There are SO many good used cars from which to choose, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get good, reliable transportation.

Volvos (especially rebuilt Volvos), on the other hand, are, in my opinion, nothing but bottomless money pits. Unless you are in love with your Volvo, I suggest you dump it now, before it bankrupts you, and find something less expensive to maintain.

If, on the other hand, you are IN LOVE with your Volvo, then go for it. Spend to your heart’s content. There must be a Swedish God somewhere who will smile upon you. After all, it’s only money.


I’m just thankful it’s your money, and not mine.


I believe you are over-thinking this, which car do you enjoy more? It’s usually a better deal to fix you existing car than buy a new one, until the old car starts costing more than it’s replacement value (and I suspect the volvo has plenty of life left). However, if you like the new car better and can afford it, have a ball. You just have to decide if you want to write a $2000 check to fix the volvo or a $(I have no idea how much) check for the new car.