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To fix or not to fix

Hello…my '94 Volvo 940 Wagon just got bad news and I have a hard decision to make, hoping for some good advice! She has 190k on her and has had a definite radiator, multiple pipe leak, not holding coolant well at all. The repair shop has quoted me $860 to repair all that and then a soon needed 250 for a transmission repair…is it worth it?

We only use the car 6 months a year and not heavily even then as we live in FL half the year and Kenya the other half…advice is greatly appreciated!

The radiator replacement at $860 seems a bit high, but then I can’t think of any transmission repair that can be done for $250.

If the radiator replacement includes new coolant and all new hoses and maybe a water pump and thermostat, I can see it. I’m guessing that by transmission repair, you mean transmission fluid replacement, sounds like they want to do a flush.

The questions you should ask yourself is, what are you going to do without this car? Will you get another one? Will it be new or used? Can you get another car that you trust as much as the Volvo for $1110? If you do these repairs, do you think you can get another 11,100 miles out of it before the next big expense?

If you can get 11,100 miles, that means these costs amortize out at about $.10/mile. Thats usually my break even point on whether to fix or not to fix.

Where exactly is coolant leaking from? If the major expense is a radiator, I’d look for a cheaper aftermarket or rebuilt or salvage radiator and hoses. Shouldn’t cost $860.

You can’t “repair” a transmission for $250. This sounds too good to be true.

Hi, thanks so much for your response. I like the reasoning you use with .10 cents a mile, that makes a lot of sense to me. We got some advice from our trusted mechanic from where we just moved from who has serviced this car it’s whole life and he agreed that this price was WAY too high. Interestingly enough, the mechanic called me back and said he was going to work on his manager lowering the cost…I think I will probably take it somewhere else because their business methods are already a little questionable in my mind now. Nothing worse than trying to find a good honest mechanic in a new city…

About the transmission…I believe it was not a replacement but probably a flush and maybe some small part replacement but I can clarify that when I go pick it up. I know very little about cars (which is why I posted here) but do really love this volvo!

Thank you!

Are you handy at ALL? because a rad swap isnt difficult and you could replace it for under $150 by yourself. The estimate you got must have been on VUVU letterhead

Hmm…took it to mechanic #2 and got a quote for $800…I asked him to very specifically clarify what the hoses are that need to be replaced in addition to the radiator to see if this cost is justified and this is what new mechanic said:
3 heater hoses, upper and lower radiator hoses all need to replaced, and that the cost includes the volvo coolant at $10 a bottle…

so does that make these costs at all sensible? I am not at all handy and both mechanics have told me it is really not safe to drive the car in this condition…any more thoughts?


I’m trying to figure out why this would be. I just logged on to my favorite internet parts warehouse, and a new radiator should be about $150. Figure on another $150 for hoses (that’s a high estimate), and maybe 3 hours of labor…

Being generous, I just can’t get my guess over $600. I think both my hose and labor estimates are too high. But I’ve never worked on one of these… Maybe the bleeding process is complicated?

If I had to venture a guess, I’d say the mechanics were all looking at original parts. At 190k miles, there’s little justification to do that.

If you’re only driving the car six months a year, I’d say this is the perfect candidate for a repair. What’s the alternative, $600/mo for the next 5 years, for a car you’ll use half the time? Fix it; that’s my “vote.”

What’s so special about this $10/bottle coolant? Why not put regular coolant/anti-freeze (compatible with Volvo’s) into a 17 year old car with 190K on it?