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Time to junk a 1997 Volvo 850?

I’m at a crossroads with my beloved 1997 Volvo 850. I’d rather not get rid of it, but I believe that the current estimates - from non-dealership mechanics - are too high, considering that I don’t know what the next big thing will be, and with an older car, there is likely to be a next big thing.

The car has 137k miles on it, and some oil leaks. Two different opinions have yielded different responses about where the oil leaks are occurring and the extent of the damage. My trusted mechanic believes that I need to have the rear main seal replaced, and that there are oil leaks in other areas as well.

In addition, I have a coolant leak. A diagnostic test showed some issues with the steering system, a need to replace the engine mounts, and the need for a new timing belt.

All told, the estimates are $4200 (with just the oil leaks and coolant leak addressed) to about $6200 with all of the problems addressed.

Should I go somewhere else for a third opinion/price estimate, or cut my losses?

I can’t afford another Volvo. As much as I love the older ones, I can’t keep putting this much money into repairs.


How many miles can you drive before you have to add 1 quart of oil? If you can go 1,000 miles without being down a quart, forget about a little oil leak. Even 500 miles wouldn’t be too bad.

Is the coolant leak going into the cylinders or where is it leaking to? This could be bad if coolant is getting into the engine cylinders or bearings or oil.

If you don’t notice a problem with the “steering system” or engine mounts, maybe these you can live with too, depending on the exact problem. Volvo mechanics can always find expensive stuff to “fix” but a lot of the time you can drive another 100,000 miles without “fixing” it.

The rear seal is a common problem at that age, and hard to repair yourself. I just replaced a rear seal and AC evaporator in my '97 850T, then driving home from the mechanic saw 4 vehicles less than 5 years old in a used car lot for sale for less than the repairs I just paid for!

You have more problems that I did (do), at least this week.

I’d park it and seldom drive, or donate.

Volvos have a habit of becoming very expensive to maintain as they age. If you don’t want to continue writing large checks to keep the car on the road I suggest it’s time to move on.

You might need to fix the coolant leak. Oil leaks can be handled by adding oil every week or so. Motor mounts are important and should be replaced if they are bad.

Once a car gets this old, you just add fluids where and when needed. If the leak is so big as to leave a quart sized puddle every night then it could be time for the crusher.

this car would be worth at most $2000 after you did the repairs, it’s a no-brainer, Junk it.

hey good advice. just keep letting the oil leak out and you have a good possibility of a fire if it gets hot enough and leaks enough. carry full coverage so that the insurance company can pay for it