Was this cracked head pre-existing?

I bought a 1997 Volvo V70 Turbo Wagon from Rockbridge Habitat for Humanity. About 2,000 miles later the head cracked for no clear reason. The car had not overheated. When the mechanic opened it up, it turned out there were three cracks on the head. Each was a line that ran across the short axis of the head, and each lay between a different pair of pistons (ie., between pistons 1&2, 3&4, etc.) Piston 1 had been widened a bit (I do not know what that it called.) The rings had not been reset.

My questions are,

1. Is it possible that the condition that lead to the cracked head was present when I bought the car?

2. If it is possible, what is the likelihood that I did it and what is the likelihood that the contributing damage was there before I bought it?

3. If it is possible, would it be reasonable for me to expect the seller to reimburse me for some of the repair?


  1. possible
  2. low likelyhood you did it given limited mileage no overheat
  3. NEVER REASONABLE to EXPECT anyone to reimburse you for the repair on a 11 year car. You can always ask, I would you never know. If the car was not purchased for a lot of money they may take you up on it. The charity will drive it to the crusher and still get $300-$500 for it.

An car past the 150k or 7 year mark can have serious surprises lurking IMHO. The likelihood is not high but there.

Good luck.

Let’s see, you bought an 11 year old car with a turbo (bad combination) from a charity, didn’t have it checked by mechanic, and now you want the charity to chip in? Sorry, you made a few mistakes here, I wouldn’t expect HFH to bail you out.

Your asking a charity for money back?

The bottom line is that you bought an 11 year old car. If you did not have it inspected by your own mechanic prior to purchase, then you were very foolish–especially in view of the age of the vehicle, the presence of a turbocharger, and the reality that Volvos are much more expensive than average to repair.

Private sellers (meaning any entity other than a car dealer) do not have any legal obligation to provide a warranty, and as a result, they do not normally provide a warranty. So, unless Habitat for Humanity has taken the unusual step of giving you a warranty on this vehicle, they are not responsible for reimbursing you for this repair.

And, in addition to everything else, I think that it would be in very poor taste to ask a charity to give money to you.

Experience really is the best teacher, so I hope you take this as an excellent life lesson about the importance of performing normal due diligence (inspection by your own mechanic, as well as researching both frequency of repair and repair costs for a particular make and model of vehicle) prior to purchasing a used car.

I bought an 11 year old Volvo because 1) I have no money at all and 2) Volvos have a reputation of running for a many years and miles. I researched frequency of repair (low) and repair costs (high) for this particular car, although I did not see any information about the turbo in particular. I did have a mechanic look at; he did not see any problems. I do not know whether there was nothing to see or the mechanic did not do a good job.

The turbo has been fine, unless it contributed to the cracked head. Could the turbo have contributed to the cracked head?

I paid a bit more for the car because I was buying for a charity and because the original engine had been replaced with an engine with 81,000 miles on it. The seller talked about the replacement engine a great deal and the seller was sure the engine was in good condition.

I am a bit surprised about the comments about my wanting money back from charity. I chose to buy this Volvo that Habitat was selling because that way I could help myself and the charity. Yes, I would like some money from the charity, since I need a bit of charity myself. The cost of the repairs and the cost of the car are more than the car is worth, and more than I can afford. I also thought people representing a charity would be more honest - more charitable even - than other people.

Thanks, first poster, for answering the questions I asked :slight_smile:

Maybe it existed before you bought it but you can’t prove it to anybody. 2. Likelyhood is impossible to determine. 3. Not reasonable, but possible.

The turbo is irrelevant to the problem and a red herring. I would be more weary personally buying an 11 year automatic transmission car vs a turbo car. Turbo’s are not that expensive to replace compared to some other components of cars.

I don’t think any dishonestly happened here. It sounds like the car passed muster with a mechanic when you did proper diligence of checking it out. You just got bit by the down side of really old cars, good bargains but the potential of expensive repairs.

The engine was probably overheated long before you bought the car and this likely caused the problem.
The part about the piston being widened and rings reset is confusing since I do not know if this means an oversize piston is in there, he cylinder bore is way beyond specs, etc. or what. Either way points to abusive driving.

It is not reasonable to expect anyone to reimburse you for repairs. The seller likely knows nothing about this car and it’s a distinct possibility that whoever donated this car had some problems and knew it.

Okiedokes. I was thinking that since I bought this from a company rather than an individual it would be more reasonable to ask for a share of the cost of the repair, but that seems less likely that I thought. (I know if I sold this car I would try to help the buyer out. Which probably explains why I am always broke.)

Thanks folks