RIP my 2004 Volvo XC70 what now?

If I’m not driving a pickup truck, I like station wagons and hatchbacks. I can’t seem to find anything I like more than my recently deceased Volvo, but I’m worried I have some kind of Stockholm Syndrome (pun intended). Is there anything that is as comfortable to drive but less expensive to buy/maintain/repair?

Here’s some more info–

I bought a used 2004 XC70 a little over a year ago with 140k on the odometer. It was the most money I’d ever spent on a car, but people were regularly surprised at how little I actually paid for such a nice looking car. Since then I put over 25k on it and, while it has needed some expensive repairs along the way (I told myself it was the roll of the dice on a high mileage used car) and ultimately suffered catastrophic engine failure when the timing belt snapped going 80mph (a mech assured me it had been replaced already, doh!), I can’t help but just want to find another 2004 XC70 to replace it. When I think about why that is, I guess it is the seats are so comfortable, it is very safe and quiet, the interior trim and dash are aesthetically appealing and well-designed controls. Things I dislike-- heavy and not the most responsive accelerating, the awd works well but it is a compromise (not really usable off-road without excessive wear or damage occurring, kinda boatlike handling on the pavement), the average of 20-22mpgs is not that impressive.

Besides this car I’ve had a 2002 Subaru Forester and strongly disliked it, mainly because the seat makes me sore after 30 mins, fuel economy not great, rear seats don’t lie flat, fugly.

A 92 4dr hatch Geo Metro. These cars are amazing, but maybe finally have disappeared from Craigslist (used to be you could find one for a grand, not matter the condition lol). I put 100k on that car, overloaded it on a regular basis and only ever needed to replace the clutch and a cv joint for like $100. 50mpgs! And then I almost died in an accident going 15mph. An almost perfect car, besides being a death trap.

Other than these three vehicles I drive mostly beat up old farm trucks. I feel like the Volvo really spoiled me for longer road trips, etc. Is it crazy to think I could find another one and have better luck? Just replace the timing belt first thing? Or is there another car I should be considering? I’m not interested in spending more than $3k on a car, so maybe that will explain my logic.

If you like the car that much, have you priced replacing the engine? You might be able to do that for the $3,000 that you want to spend. I’m not saying this is a good idea (because it really isn’t), but that might be a better option than buying another one if you can find one.

These days 3000.00 will not get you much of a vehicle unless you get real lucky . And looking for another used Volvo in that price range is not logical.

I have already found an almost identical replacement for $2500. My dead XC70 has new tires on it and the upholstery is in better shape. So I’m thinking swap the tires and front seats, keep the old one around for parts while I get to know the replacement for a few months and then finally scrap it. Is this not logical? Recommend a different car?

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Just a reality check. You’re pouring money into already older, higher mileage cars, and Volvos, to boot.

It’s your life. But these seem like self inflicted wounds to me.

I’d look for something newer that’s not a Volvo, myself.

Good luck.

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If you go with the replacement Volvo I’d suggest that a new timing belt kit be installed PDQ.

One should always assume that the belt kit is due and allow for it even if the seller, etc says it’s fine.


+1. Receipts or it didn’t happen. And anyone who tells you they can look at the timing belt and tell you if it’s bad or not is either lying or clueless. You can look at a belt and tell it’s bad if it’s got obvious cracking, but a belt can be close to its breaking point without showing any visible signs.


Yes, I learned that lesson on not trusting a certain independent Volvo mechanic ever again and also that the timing belt absolutely needs replacing as factored into the cost of the vehicle.

I opened this thread to ask for opinions on a better option in car and I haven’t heard anything about which other car to consider. I’d really like to kick my Stockholm Syndrome but there’s just no comparison it seems, except with similar problems. Only other vehicles comparable are Mercedes or BMW, but they have equal or greater associated costs of life. Maybe a VW Passat?

For 3 grand? Take what you can get that’s likely to be reliable. You aren’t going to get into a reliable luxury car for that price. Your best option, if you can find it, might be an Acura Legend from the 90’s, but those can be hard to find and at this point anything from the 90’s is going to need repair more frequently. They were fantastic cars, though.

Honestly if you want a good used luxo-car you need to up your budget by at least 6 grand, and then you can start looking at 3rd gen Acura TL’s.

No other options because of this 3000.00 price point. Plus every thing you have mentioned are not going to economical or reliable in that range. You want reliable ? Then if your driving is 12000 miles or less a year then find the lowest cost lease on a new vehicle that meets your needs.

I’m sorry to break the news, but any and all cars mentioned above are financial pits at $3,000 purchase price.


15 y.o. Volvos aren’t worth much. Dealers sell good looking ones for $4K and I’ve seen them as cheap as $1500.

I’m with the others, I’d probably drop in a used engine, if you like the car you drove. 170K is a lot of miles, but even my 2005 Neon knocked down 190K before I passed it to a relative. With maintenance, a Volvo should go 300K. (Mileage is limited by when your pocketbook gives out for regular maintenance.)

The one yard I contacted quoted $2300 to swap in an engine with 140k on it. I think $2500 for a while nother car plus my parts car makes more sense. But maybe I should take the advice and get away from Volvo, maybe lease sth.

I realize that I’m at odds with many but I like Euro cars and haven’t found them to be as bad as portrayed.

My oldest son bought a new VW Jetta in 2015 and there hasn’t been one single hiccup with that car.

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My older brother also has had better luck than most with his 2009 VW GTi that has been serviced by the local VW specialist since brand new.

Looking on Autotrader for around $3,000 give or take and similar to the Volvo doesn’t yield a whole lot of options other than Subaru’s or Volvo’s. If you’re feeling lucky there was an Audi Allroad for about 4,000 but i suspect the shop my brother goes to would advise you to run away.

They talked him out of a long list of cheap audi’s back in 2006.The new Subaru Legacy Wagon he bought on their recommendation is still his daily driver and will remain in the fleet to be handed over to one of the kids in a few years.

As long as this includes a new timing belt kit, and has a warranty of at least 6 months, you should jump on this. You’re not going to find a better car with the features you want for less than this. And buying a different used car is almost always a much larger risk than repairing one which you have owned for a while.

The Volvo that you are so enamored of is actually a really nice vehicle and it is a shame the T belt failed on you. (Hint, you always replace the T belt as soon as you buy a used car that employs one) So I personally dont view that vehicle as actually “letting you down”. It now needs a good used cylinder head, or at least valve replacement…to me, not a show stopper really, but if you have to pay to have it done its a different story.

I regularly buy vehicles that the masses consider “expensive to repair” or “unreliable” and as a mechanic I usually find that these monikers are completely false…it is the perception of the masses that is incorrect or rather their expectations that have not been properly set and they tend to label cars as “junk” for ridiculous reasons.

If you find a vehicle you really enjoy then keep it going because the only one who needs to be satisfied with it, at the end of the day, is you.

I have found that Political, Financial and Automotive advice are the top 3 things not to take from someone else, so I simply do not take it and instead form my own opinion from the facts as I see them and it works for me. The answers to your questions lie somewhere within that last statement.

If the original poster lists the purchase price of the dead Volvo and the repair costs for the year of ownership, we can more accurately judge his level of risk/pain tolerance. How much a mile is he willing to spend to drive 16 year old cars?

My neighbor has good luck with his Jetta too, but he didn’t pay any $3,000 for it. I’d feel pretty safe wagering that a $3,000 Jetta would be old, worn out, and problematic.

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saw a nice set of tires on a xc70 at boneyard. had been there 2 days. i went back 4 days later and they were gone. i guess volvo owners do look for parts in the boneyards.