Pre-1996 volvo 240

This particular model volvo 240 pre-1996 seats 6 with the last two rows that fold flat and rear-wheel drive. I’ve heard that this is a very reliable vehicle. Is this correct? Is a 200,000 mile vehicle worth considering?


Based on my experiences with that model, I can tell you that it was extremely unreliable.
And, when it broke down, it was usually expensive to repair.

Volvos of that era were comfortable and were undoubtedly safer than their peers, but–reliable?

This is the older model - pre-1996. Is this true nonetheless?

It is absolutely true.
Volvos have been unreliable cars since the mid-1970s, despite some people’s mistaken belief to the contrary.

And, no matter what a car’s reliability was when new–trust me–it does not improve as the car ages.
A 15+ year old Volvo is a money pit, pure and simple.

Old 240s are sturdy, but not very reliable. Their reputation far exceeds the reality. And most any 200k car (unless heavily rebuilt) is living on borrowed time.

japrile - The Volvo 240 seats 5. In fact, no 1990s Volvo 240, 700/ or 900/90 series can seat six unless you double up. Front bucket seats and a rear seat that seats three.

VDCdriver and texases - Beh. Beh. Beh. Beh. SOME model years of Volvo are unreliable. A four cylinder normally aspired (no turbo) from the model years I describe here are profoundly reliable so long as they receive the care any other make and model of auto requires so it too, also lasts.

Though Click and Clack have made many, many funny comments about the venerable Volvo 240.

Any vehicle with 100,000+ miles and is 10+ years old requires wear item replacement. THAT includes all belts, motor mounts, possibly engine gaskets, fluids replacement (engine, tranny [or trans-axle if front wheel drive], rear differential [if rear wheel drive or 4wd or all wheel drive], inspect, repack wheel bearings with fresh grease, new brake fluid [unless a silicon brake fluid] and so very much more) …

While Volvo and other European imports are known for engineering quality, reliability (WITH MAINTENANCE CARE), clean operation (low emissions), and luxury, you must learn to care for that Volvo. See, (thanks to Art Benstein), and

You can research these resources to learn how to care for an elder auto.

It is a mistake for people believe a “pre-1996 Volvo 240” is as new. Durable these cars are, yes, but if you DON’T care for your elder vehicle, it’ll fail you usually when you need it most.

Yes, texases, Volvo 240s are sturdy like BMWs and Mercedes, but are far simpler and more reliable at a far lower cost than any other Euro import including VW (unless an original Beetle). If you care for that “pre-1996 Volvo 240” (the last Volvo 240 made was in late 1993 and it was a wagon), and it has records, does okay with a AAA or trusted mechanic’s inspection, will last you as long as you desire.

The best Volvo 240 models you can own are the model years 1990-91 to 1993. From 1982 to 1987-88, yes, Volvo Cars AB of Sweden (R.I.P.) the bodies are prone to corrosion problems if in an area of snow and tonnes of road salt or damp or some damp ocean side (salt spray) conditions. Also the 1982 to 1987-88 240s used a biodegrading wire harness (the wire insulation degrades exposing bare wire) throughout the vehicle. That wire harness (or loom) of that year range fails in the engine compartment where heat is most intense. Many of the Volvo 240s have either had the engine wire harness replaced or is now part of some other vehicle or bridge steel. The 1974 to 1981 models are more mechanically simpler and are a generally a bit more primitive automobile but are as durable and reliable (with care) as are the 1989-90-91 to 1993.

Hope that hepkats.

Volvo “Buttermilk” MacDuff

I’ve owned only ever Volvo 240s since 1985.

RIP, yet beloved:

1975 244 DL (B20, M40, OHV B20F RULES!)

1976 242 DL (B21, M46, Moonroof - an SRO?)

1979 245 DL (B21, M46, From Midwest to West Coast)

1979 242 GT (B21, M46, Moonroof - an SRO? Grey Market from Holland-

-Failed West Coast Dreams, RIP, Taylors Junkyard,

St. Louis, MO, June 2001)

Currently owned, beloved, operating, and getting better all the time(!):

1990 240 DL (245, B230, M47 II)

1991 240 (B230, M47 II, Moonroof. Grey Market from Germany)

1992 240 GL (B230, M47 II, L-jet 3.1, Moonroof)

When in beautiful, beautiful Bellingham, WA, for all your Volvo needs,

see Larry at Rainbow Motors!

2729 Jensen Road

Bellingham, Washington 98226


All your factory Volvo alloy wheels issues solved here!

At 15 years of age and with 200k miles there is no way on Earth that any person on Earth can say that any car is reliable, no matter what make it is.

How it was driven and maintained is the biggest factor but sheer age plays a part in many failures too.

So how much do they want for this thing?

Volvos have good bodies, good seats and are confortable. Today everything else about them is no better or worse than any Japanese, Korean or US car. Owning a Volvo is more of a nostalgic religion than a rational, practical way to address your transportation needs. Socialists and environmentalists worship Volvos for some mystical reason. Ralph Nader was leaving court in the late 60s after his suite with GM and was picked by his girlfriend driving a … Volvo!

I have many friends who at one time owned them. Until the late 60s Volvos were more reliable, longer lived and had better bodies. These same friends now drive mostly Japanese and Korean cars. Nothing stays the same. Technical innovation and change is so fast now that old myths keep muddling our thinking.

According to a friend of my wife, I’m typing this email on a Chinese “junk” keyboard, attached to a Korean Junk computer, while watching a Chinese junk monitor and the whole thing is fed into a Chinese junk router through a Chinese junk cable. The whole system is remarkably reliable and very inexpensive. You get the picture. I worked in the computer business in the sixties when everything was unreliable.

I grew up in an era when Mercedes was considered the quality standard for all affordable cars. How far they have sunk over time. We now live in an era where German cars on average are less reliable than Korean cars and US cars, once admired around the world, are struggling to regain that reputation.

Since Volvo is now owned by the Chinese company Geely, lets hope they will become more reliable and cheaper to keep running. Jaguar and Land Rover are already benefiting from being owned by Tata Industries of India. Tata is now the second largest non-government employer in Britain, after British Airways. They own steel mills, chemical plants and insurance firms. The British reaction is that “The Empire Strikes Back!”.

Those who think Japanese and/or Korean cars are near infallible should try actually turning wrenches on them for a living and face them day in and day out. Odds are the opinion would do a 180.

There’s a post (not here) from several current Honda mechanics at the dealer level and while I’d like to cut and paste it here the language about Hondas will not permit it to be done in good taste.

Anyone here know the difference between “fact” and “opinion”? Beuller? Beuller . . . ?

Volvo is as reliable today as any car made in that era…that is the point. Have you looked at calendar today ?
Nader has a girl friend ?

You don’t have to turn a wrench for a living to know quality…Although I will say the domestics have increased in quality over the years. But I’m not convinced they are there yet. Day-in and Day-out…not one of our Japanese models have failed us…Every day for a total of over 1 million miles and NEVER left us stranded or needing to take days off from work to fix a problem or spend hundreds of dollars in repairs…or just drive it to the junk yard when it reached 120k miles because it was worth NOTHING and couldn’t sell it.

My brother-in-law is the marketing director for a number of radio stations and came up the ranks through newscaster and sports director (he grew up with Wayne Gretzky). He has never owned a non-US car. Last week his transmision on his Chrysler packed it in and he decided to shop for a new car.

After trying and testing Ford, GM and Chrysler cars, he decided to look at something “foreign”. He picked a 2012 Hyundai Sonata which totally impressed him and his wife. After owning a series of troublesome GM, Ford and Chrysler models we hope that the Sonata will be a total revelation to him.

Let me try to make a point about things promoted on the net as fact and I will ask Docnick this question.
In the past you have stated, more than a few times, that VW manufactures lousy timing belts that are often prone to premature breakage which then lead to engine damage.

Do you stand by that statement?

Ok4450; yes, in the past VWs like the Passat and Jetta had many timing belts break before their replacement time. This may not have been the belt itself, but likely the poorly designed tensioner which would bind and cause the belt to fail. My neighbor had one of those and it failed at 58,000 miles. The dealer had developed a routine of accusing the owners of mishandling the car. My neighbor, a 5’ 1" schoolteacher threatened legal action and got the $3000+ repair done under warranty.

I believe VW has now redesigned the tensioner and belts are no longer subject to premature failure.

By the same account, GM had weak intake manifold gaskets for many years. I had one fail on my 1988 Caprice V8, but I’m sure there are also many owners who did not have any problems with this.

The high frequency of problems on a certain models such as head gaskets on certain Subaru models would make it appear that this is a fact, but it is really the high probability of occurrence ( and lack of periodic bolt tightening) that makes this crop up frequently on the site.

For instance, I could not possibly recommend someone tow a trailer with a Ford Windstar in view of the weak transmission on those models. A retired couple with no camper, on the other hand might enjoy this vehicle for years without any transmission problems.

Engines sludging up on older Toyotas was partially a design problem, but also the very long oil drain interval specified by Toyoata at that time. A person who changed oil every 4000 miles, rather than 8000, would not have had that problem. GM had the same problem with their early 2.8 liter V6 engines.

If a car has too many design weak points it will soon develop a reputation as a “dog” even without the help of Consumer Reports.