Timing Belt

I am considering the purchase of a 1998 Volvo S-70 with 120K miles. Carfax gives no indication that the timing belt has ever been replaced. What is Volvo’s spec for replacement? Anything else in particular that should give me caution?

If you don’t have rock-solid proof that a timing belt has been changed, the only safe course is to change it at the original change interval.

I don’t know the recommended replacement interval, but the engine in this car is an interference design, meaning there WILL be internal damage if the timing belt breaks. You have to assume the belt has never been replaced, which means you will have to do it as soon as you buy the car. If you buy the car.

This will add hundreds of dollars to the purchase price.

I suggest you rethink this. I don’t understand why you’d even be considering a 12 year old Volvo with 120K miles. The previous owner, or owners, got the best there was from this car. From now on it could easily become a bottomless money pit.

Carfax may not show all important maintenance repair information. According to the Gates timing belt guide, this year had a 70K interval for timing belt. Time to ask for proof or deduct cost of repair off the top of the selling price.

There has been more then one Volvo post on this board where the owner had the timing belt replaced only to have the new timing belt brake because the tensioner, and or idler pulley had failed a short time after. So what I am saying is its a good idea to replace Idler pulley, tensioner, and water pump (if driven off timing belt) at the time of replacing the belt. This is true for all makes and modal cars that have a timing belt that needs changed as part of maintenance.

I owned 2 V70XC wagons, a '98 and a 2000. They had the 5 cylinder motor with the light pressure turbocharger. This is the motor you should have in a '98 S70. The timing belt interval is every 70K miles, I’m not sure of the number of years interval.

If you buy this car you should have the belt changed immediately. It is either way overdue if it has never been changed, or overdue based on number of months. Since you don’t know the history change it.

Otherwise I’d advise against the Volvo. Volvo recommends all the airbags get changed when a car is over 10 years old. Nobody goes to the expense to do this so your confidence in the airbags deploying properly is suspect. Also lots of very expensive repairs will be necessary with an old Volvo. If you are OK with spending about $2,000 a year on maintenance and repairs go ahead with your purchase. My Volvo cost a bundle to repair and eventually I just couldn’t justify more money to keep them on the road.

I’m sure the body and interior will look nice as these areas hold up great on the old Volvo’s however the mechanical and electrical systems are complicated, prone to failure, and expensive to have repaired. Don’t buy this car.

If the original owner didn’t consider the timing belt to be important . . . what do you think he/she did about the other routine items . . . like basic oil & filter changes? Can you ASK? Is it a sale from the owner? Is there a bill in the glove box or maintenance schedule filled in? Kind of an expensive car to fix once it starts to break. Go to the Gates site . . . my read is that it is either 70k or 105k, depending on which engine you have. You’re beyond BOTH intervals with this purchase. Rocketman

I am an advocate of replacing the whole she-bang while you are in there, especially when they are interference engines.

If you are shopping for 10 year old cars with 100K on them, why not just AVOID those with rubber timing belts and automatic transmissions with poor reputations, which includes most of the FWD cars…This simple filter could save you a LOT of money…

FORGET status, ego, image and just buy (and pay for) basic transportation…

I think you can assume the timing belt was changed at its first interval. Big ticket maintenance items coming due is a big motivator for some people to buy a new vehicle and dump the old, so you can also assume that it is now due for its second timing belt change. Check the maintenance schedule that come with the vehicle to see if any other big ticket items are due as well.

The vehicle probably has had a few non scheduled maintenance items recently, like brakes, tires and or battery. A couple of these really push some owners over the edge.

Knowing what maintenance is due and how much it is going to cost can be a good negotiating tool. Check the tires and battery to see if they are new. You should have a trusted mechanic go over the whole vehicle. Knowing what it needs will help you determine if you are getting a good value for the asking price.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard about used vehicles is, if the body is straight (not wrecked) and the interior is in excellent shape, the the vehicle has probably been taken care of and not abused.

The major word of caution on Volvo is below average repair record but prices for repair and maintenance are well above average.

If you are shopping 10 yr vehicles AVOID anything european. Also stick to manual transmissions if you can.