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Older Volvos?

I was listening yesterday and heard the guy recommend to a woman looking for cheap cars (around $2k) that she look into Volvos. I am in the same position financially (well maybe under $4K). I have looked into some volvo wagons. How many miles is reasonable to still expect something reliable?

I really don’t think Volvos are any better than any other car of like quality, and little better than those perceived to be of lesser quality. For $4000 you should be able to get a good solid Buick LeSabre, or Chevy Impala, far newer than a similarly priced Volvo. I’ve seen all three makes go to over 250K miles with reasonable care. Care of a Volvo will cost more than care of a domestic car. Parts are higher and their technicians think they are worth more per hour.

I don’t know of a car built in the last 15 or 20 years that doesn’t have the same “crush zone” technology that was pioneered by Volvo (not to mention Hudson and Nash in the late '40s)

I don’t think a Volvo is a good idea for someone shopping for a low-priced car. By the time they have become “affordable” they can be really tired and have tons of miles on them.

Besides, I don’t believe they were ever any “better” than any other car to start with. The reliability of Volvos has declined significantly since their heyday, and the cost to maintain and repair them can be quite high.

I understand the appeal of the wagons, as I’m a station wagon owner myself, but I would not choose a Volvo as a used car. Are there any Accord or Camry wagons for sale in your area? I know they’re hard to find, but a good one would be a nice, reliable car.

There is nothing magic about Volvos, or any other car. In general the selling price of cars represents their real value very well. What makes a difference between say $3,000 cars is your personal likes or dislikes.

Pick a car you like not what some guy was recommending to someone else. Likewise don’t rule out a car because you had not previously considered it.

As has already been stated, the concept of Volvos being safer than other cars is an outdated notion. Yes, they were once leaders in the area of passenger safety, but MANY other makes have caught up–or surpassed–Volvo in that area.

Then, you have the problem of repair costs with Volvos. When I had my '74 Volvo, virtually every system on the car required repairs during the 7 years that I suffered with that badly built car. Yes, I know that '73-'75 was probably the low point for Volvo quality, but the fact remains that repairing a Volvo is very costly and in the price category of “under 4k”, only older Volvos with very high odometer mileage are going to be available, as compared with far newer vehicles that will be just as safe and far cheaper to repair.

Tx for the info. I guess I was intrigued b/c I’d like to think the Car Talk hosts are trustworthy and they were confident in their recommendation. i know for the kind of $$ i am gong to spend it is a roll of the dice (with the odds against me), but I am trying to make the best decision possible. Any thoughts on this?

My humble opinions include…
Mechanic recommendations are usually for cars that are easy to work on, but still need to be. IMO, they struck out on this one. Line up several 2002 and earlier Chevy Prisms or Ford Focus in your area locate on line for the cheapest reliable bang for the buck.
Larger cheap reliable car would include the Ford Taurus/Sable .
More importantly would be to line up an independent mechanic that you can trust, cause you will need repairs on a clunker sooner or later. Check Click and Clacks service referrals for someone in your area to start.
That you can trust them for.
DO NOT be tempted by cheap Chrysler or European products.

The brothers must have had good experiences with old Volvos, they seem to recommend them often, even though those are ‘the good old days’. No longer the case, I’d see what 4000 can get me on You’ll probably get a much newer Ford than Toyota or Honda. See what pops up.

Yeah, I disagree with click+clack here, too. If you’re looking at a sub-$2K car (and somewhat less so at 4K), you’ll be limited to cars that a. have a low selling price because they’re mostly “all used up,” or b. have a low selling price because the make, model, options are very unpopular.

My advice for the caller (and the OP) would be to look at used, smaller domestic sedans (“mid-size” or “compact” seem to hold less marketplace value than “sub-compact” domestics, IMO). Had the OP been in the East US, I’d also throw in the “land yachts”: Chevy Caprice, etc, but in CA (where the kids were going to school) I think “lowrider culture” would elevate prices too much. If you can find a car without the “obligatory” options (A/C, auto trans) you can save even more!

Also, if you have $4K to spend, you really need a 3K car that can be made “street-legal” for an additional $1K.