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Used Volvo vs. New Honda/Toyota/Subaru/etc?

Hi! My husband and I are looking for a second car. We have been looking at getting a new crossover (Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV, Subaru Forester, etc.) but today a friend mentioned that he would be willing to sell me his 2005 Volvo V50 (excellent condition, 68K miles) at a good price.

There seem to be some quirky electrical issues with the Volvo and I know that maintenance is probably expensive. On the flip side, we could afford that car without having a car payment and it’s much more of a “luxury vehicle” than what we were planning to get.

Or we can go with the original plan, get new and exactly what we want, but have to shell out more $, but possibly have more reliability.

Advice is welcome!!!

This one’s a no-brainer. Go with the original plan.
Buying a used Volvo with unresolved electrical glitches is a guaranteed mistake.

If the choice is a new small SUV or the Volvo, I’d buy the new SUV. If you drive 10,000 miles per year, it will take you 7 years to get to the same point in mileage that this Volvo is. Electrical problems are among the hardest to find. Just ask anyone that owned an old British car. The extra you spend on repairs and maintenance on a 7 year old luxury car will easily equate to several monthly payments. Edmunds estimates that the average 5 year repair cost for a 2007 V50 is $6379 and the average maintenance cost is $6247. Averages for a new CR-V are $797 and $2712, respectively. That’s over $9000 in M&R for the Volvo. that’s a lot of car payments.

New, for sure, a troublesome Volvo will only get worse. Much worse.

Why not get a used Rav4 or CRV? A used Volvo is just asking for trouble and expensive repairs are the norm with Volvo’s. Once a Volvo has gone past the warranty period it only takes a couple of multithousand dollar repair/maintenance bills to send most budgets into fits. This is the reason your friend is looking to sell his Volvo at a good price, it is called unloading a headache.

I’ve owned a couple of Volvo’s and never again. I simply spent more on each of them per year than I’ve spent on my Civic over 10 years. Comfy seats with an empty wallet was too much for me.

I would go with the new. I don’t think you will “possibly” have more reliability. I think you will certainly have more reliability, not to mention a new car warranty. And reliability isn’t just about which vehicle will end up costing more or less in total over the next 5-10 years. Reliability is also about no hassles or aggravations.

Good price for a 7 year old Volvo that has electrical problems? Is he paying YOU to take it off his hands?

bscar2 wrote:
Good price for a 7 year old Volvo that has electrical problems? Is he paying YOU to take it off his hands?

This is a bit of an exaggeration…but not too far from the truth!

I think that the OP must be operating in the sphere of those who mistakenly believe that Volvos are…
…safer than other cars
…will run “forever”.

Some will tell you that this reputation was justly earned years ago, but that the newer Volvos are just not as good as “the old ones” were.

I am here to tell you that the old ones were unreliable, labor-intensive, finicky machines prone to all sorts of weird and hard-to-diagnose electrical problems, and the newer ones are essentially just more of the same–albeit with much more expensive replacement parts. Or, in other words–I don’t know where this exalted opinion of Volvos originates, as I don’t think that it was ever warranted.

I had the misfortune to buy a '74 Volvo–brand new–and despite maintaining it BETTER than the mfr specified, it was the absolute worst, least-reliable piece of unmitigated crap that I ever had the misfortune to own. Just to give you a point of comparison, my next car after the Volvo was an '81 Chevy Citation (one of the legendarily “terrible” X-cars from GM). In truth, the Chevy spent less time in the shop, was far more reliable, and wound up costing far less for repairs than that accursed Volvo. The Chevy stranded me on one occasion. The Volvo stranded me…probably at least 6 times.

And, as to the safety factor…if you go back 15-30 years ago…Volvos were safer than most other makes of cars. However, in more recent times, other manufacturers have played “catch-up” so effectively that Volvos no longer have any safety advantage.

So, if the OP thinks that buying a used Volvo with known electrical issues is a better idea than buying a new Japanese car with a full warranty, all I can say is…I own a beautiful bridge that connects Brooklyn and Manhattan, and I would be happy to sell it to you.

Are you interested in buying my Brooklyn Bridge?


Volvo is known to have other quirky issues with their brakes and AC. I think the brand is overrated.

Actually, Remco, the only parts of my Volvo that were excellent were the seats, the brakes, and the tires.

Of course, they did not make the Michelin tires, which were still in decent condition at 76k miles when I dumped that car. Everything else–engine, transmission, A/C, electrical system, paint, fuel injection system, emissions system–was an unending nightmare!

NEVER buy a car from a friend you value ! A Used Volvo makes it even more imperative .

NEVER buy a car from a friend you value ! A Used Volvo makes it even more imperative .

You are all neglecting the important factor of image. If you remember the television show “The Education of Max Bickford” starring Richard Dreyfus, then the reason for driving the Volvo makes sense. Dreyfus played Max Bickford, a professor at an upscale women’s college. Bickford had a Volvo and, in at least one show, it broke down. The show only lasted one season, probably because that was all the longer that the Volvo would run. However, if the OP wants the scholarly image, then the Volvo makes sense. If the OP wants a car that runs, then go with one of the alternatives.

Thank you all for the spectacular (and universal) advice! To clarify, there aren’t any known electrical issues, but everything I have read online tells me that they are common in this model.

Mute point now – I followed everyone’s advice and bowed out of this “opportunity.” My friend commended me for my good research, which tells me that he might have had some issues of his own with this car.

So now it’s on to figure out what fabulously reliable car we want!!!

Thanks so much!

He tells you he “might have had some issues” ? With friends like that, who needs a shady used car salesman. Good choice moving on. Your first three choices are good places to start looking according to CR.

Yeah a guy a work had a new Volvo in the 70’s and just about every day he was complaining about it being back in the shop again for fuel injection or something or other. He got so frustrated he finally got rid of it. Another one at work talked about what was required to put a simple, I believe it was a water pump in. Just about had to disassemble the engine to get it out because of the bolt placements.

A friend of mine has a newer (post 2000) volvo and has had nothing but brake problems. They replaced calipers several times and the d-stealer treats it like something that needs to be done every 10-ish K or so, charging him buckets of cash for it. His AC apparently stops cooling at random and has weird electrical problems with mirrors and dash as well.
After searching the forums, he’s not the only one with very similar problems. Maybe most their cars are built on Fridays or the day after a bank holiday.

If you can find one, test drive a Mazda CX-5, I’ve heard some good things about it, plus it’s got pretty good MPG numbers for a crossover.

Around here Volvos are know for one thing…they tend to stay in the exact same spot for a very long time.