1994 960 sedan: experiences and opinions??

Discussion in 'Volvo 960' started by deanh, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. deanh

    deanh Guest

    I'm probably close to purchasing a 94 960 sedan. It test drove
    nicely...felt tight and plenty powerful. Taking it for a mechanical
    inspection later in the week. Relatively low miles (114K).

    This car will be used mostly for local trips less than 10 miles as give
    up chaufer duties to a newly licensed driver...it will also be used for
    the snow days and mulch hauling I'd rather avoid using a newer car on:)

    I'm a a Volvo novice (have been playing in various VW models for 20
    years) and considering this purchase based on the recommendations of
    multiple coworkers who are avid Volvo supporters.

    I'd be interested in the experiences or opinions of others related to
    960s of this vintage...

    deanh, Jun 9, 2004
    vietvet67 likes this.
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  2. deanh

    Rob Guenther Guest

    We've got a 1993 wagon, and it's served the family quite well... If you want
    to use it in winter, then get good snow tires on steel rims for it, it needs
    them - fairly powerful rear drive car.

    Some sources say 1994 has the updated engine, some say 1995... We have the
    older 201hp engine with more top end power, there was also a 181hp engine,
    which felt basically the same, due to more useable torque in the low-mid
    range (i've never driven one, but I would imagine in a straight line the
    201hp engine is the faster car... but who takes a Volvo... a stock Volvo...
    to the track anyways, it's a plenty fast car for the highway tho). Our 201hp
    engine doesn't have a torque deficiancy we can see, it tows our 2000lb
    trailer quite well.

    As far as reliability, we've never been stranded, or seen the check engine
    light... Just wear and tear/age items. New radiator was this year.... we
    need a new A/C evap unit, it's had a rear caliper replaced due to a leak,
    new brake pads only once (at 108K Kms), new oil pan (someone stripped our
    thread), new struts for the liftgate, 2 sets of front headlamps, completely
    new exhaust system, from the catalytic converter, back... Got larger pipes,
    I believe from a Turbo car, as well as a nicer exhaust tip.... That's about
    it... as far as I know.

    Right now, all it needs is a new radio, and the A/C to be fixed. Don't know
    how the radio died, most likely cold solder joints I can't trace down, or a
    blown tuner chip... A/C has an evaporator problem, that is apparantly not
    common on the 960's.
    Rob Guenther, Jun 10, 2004
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  3. deanh

    deanh Guest

    Thanks. I drove the car on a longer highway run tonight while relocating
    it for the mechanic's inspection. Excellent interstate runner....feels
    rock solid...
    deanh, Jun 11, 2004
  4. deanh

    Rob Guenther Guest

    Oh yah, incredible highway cars

    Even if there are a few things to take care of on it, it's still probably a
    good buy. Things fail on these cars, it seems mainly due to age, they aren't
    the cheapest cars to fix, but they're not bad. I find I get better value
    servicing this car then my Volkswagen - which was $31K (with tax) new in
    1999, whereas you have to remember the 960 was a $40K+ (w/o tax) car back in
    1993 (CND funds)... And the parts quality seems to be higher, for not much
    more, and sometimes less money for basically the same thing.

    Tho, the VW is a diesel and makes up for its high maintenance costs in fuel
    savings... The Volvo is quite a bit costlier at the pump... Around 12L per
    100kms in town, and ~9L (8.5 easy going -10, if you push it) per 100 kms on
    the highway. The car can do over 800kms range on the highway! - premium fuel
    is needed tho... But still, if you can't afford the fuel, you can't really
    afford the car.
    Rob Guenther, Jun 11, 2004
  5. deanh

    Randy G. Guest

    I have done some work on my '93 960 estate and can say that I really
    like the car. With new strut cartridges, rear shocks, ball joints, and
    the rear control arm front cone bushings I did all the work) it
    handles like a sports car. Comfortable and fun to drive. Be sure to
    verify when the timing belt was changed! This is an interference
    engine and losing a timing belt has the potential for destroying the
    motor. The '94 updated the timing belt (over the '93 which was updated
    after the '92).
    from Randy & Valerie
    __ __
    \ \ / /
    \ \/ /
    1993 960 Estate
    Randy G., Jun 11, 2004
  6. deanh

    oldp3rider Guest

    Thanks. I assume the timing belt is the same as the crankshaft belt:
    ther is a big sticker on the motor saying:
    "crankshaft belt service interval: 50,000 miles" (or something
    similar...the car isn't avaialable for me to look at the moment) ???
    oldp3rider, Jun 11, 2004
  7. deanh

    Michael Guest

    Timing belt is the critical item on this engine. About $350 to have
    replaced and about $4000 worth of damage if it fails...you do the math. My
    '97 960 id in the shop for about $2000 worth of work right now. Expensive
    to fix but a road car unequaled IMHO. Mine has just over 200K miles now. I
    used to drive BMWs (still have a 633 CSI w/ five speed manual for weekends)
    but the 960 drives well, is comfortable and is a tank in an accident.
    Michael, Jun 12, 2004
  8. deanh

    Rob Guenther Guest

    Yah, they call it a Cambelt or Camshaft belt.

    Rob Guenther, Jun 13, 2004
  9. deanh


    Nov 28, 2019
    Likes Received:
    You can go to the bank about the replacing the timing belt at 50,000 miles. I didn't take it serious one time and went only a couple hundred miles over. Driving down the road one day and motor shut off. Stupid me tried restarting the engine (big mistake) and ruined the heads. Ended up being @ a $2,500.00 head replacement job. CHANGE THE TIMING BELT AT OR BEFORE THE 50,000 MILE MARK!!!
    vietvet67, Nov 28, 2019
  10. deanh


    Nov 28, 2019
    Likes Received:
    I have a 1994 960 4 dr sedan, 2.9L engine with @ 214,500 miles. Purchase new in 1994 and have never regretted it. I let it sit for 2 or 3 years, which was a big mistake. The interior deteriorated badly (neglect on my part) and some hoses dried out and had to be replaced. However, when I went to start it and start using it again it fired right up! I'm in the process of re-doing the car now. Just had it painted & it looks like new. The car still drives as solid as the day I bought it! I need to replace the upholstery and have been replacing several small items that have just worn out or cracked/disintegrated which is to be expected. Parts are getting hard to find; having to search salvage yards seems to be the best route. If you have to go to a Volvo dealer get your wallet out - as always it's expensive but you do get original parts from Sweden normally. I've had some luck with ebay also. Good luck and enjoy the 960 - it's like a TANK!!!
    vietvet67, Jan 7, 2020
  11. deanh

    Tom McMillion

    Dec 30, 2017
    Likes Received:
    EDIT: First of all I feel stupid, I realize I just replied to a really old thread. But I'll leave it maybe someone else will read it in the future and it will help them.

    I have a 94 960 sedan purchased in late Dec 2017 so I've had it over 2 years now. I put about 35K miles per year on it combination of city/highway driving. I really like this car and plan to keep it long term. It had just over 150K miles when I bought it now it has about 223K miles

    What makes the purchase of a car of this vintage and this model at ANY price a good value, or not, is the availability (or lack) of its past maintenance history. If you don't know the maintenance history, you have to assume first of all you need to immediately replace the timing belt and water pump which are often done together like some other cars. Or if you're doing it yourself at least pull the timing belt cover and check the condition of the belt, and then change it. :) Also does the rear end sag at all and/or is it quite soft/spongy? It has Nivomat self leveling shocks on the rear which are very expensive to replace. I'm talking like $280 EACH. Mine were worn out when I bought the car, very soft in the back and sagging somewhat, you could tell the self leveling function wasn't working. I opted for a Nivomat conversion kit from IPD Volvo in Oregon which is like $430 for replacement springs to match normal replacement shocks BUT the shocks are adapted on one end to the mounts for the OEM Nivomat shocks. I saved at least $150 versus simply replacing the Nivomat shocks with new ones.

    I have had good service from my car but had to sink quite a bit of money into it at first, due to the engine needing a head gasket which I didn't any mixing of antifeeze and oil when I test drove it, but it had a pretty nasty miss. It turned out it needed a head gasket.

    The rear end has a factory auto locking differential which is awesome, works great for me in the snow. It means I don't have to own a Volvo XC which was my previous car and which was a lot more expensive to operate and keep up maintenance on than the 960 is.

    Let's see, if you've bought or do buy it, go over all the ground points and clean them up, these can cause quirky electrical issues if they become corroded. By the way I'm not trying to talk you out of buying the car. I love mine and I plan to keep it long term. I'm just trying to inform you of some expenses you might have right up front as soon as you buy the car, so you're not surprised. In spite of me getting my 960 for $1100, over the first six months with new tires, exhaust, head gasket, timing belt, it turned out I had almost $3000 in it. And it was worth every penny and I really like it! I don't look at it in terms of resale value and do I have more in it than it's worth. I look at as I don't have a car payment and this car runs great and I plan to keep it and drive it as long as it is still affordable to operate. I haven't put any money into it over the last year or so other than oil changes and normal wear items like front brakes.

    Parts are readily available that I've needed, except I had to really search for an AC clutch, not the compressor I could have bought a brand new complete compressor and actually for a decent price but I just needed the clutch. The AC clutch was tough to source, I had to do a lot of looking around, partly because none of the web sites were totally clear, like it wasn't certain that if you have a Sanden such and such compressor then this is the clutch for you. Some would indicate a certain AC clutch but when I dug in a little deeper to be certain, I found that it wasn't the right clutch. So I had to keep looking until for sure I found the right clutch. And even then my indy Volvo mechanic had to adapt it slightly to fit. That's been my only negative experience with spare parts. And in retrospect perhaps I should have spent more money and just bought the entire compressor. This was during the initial period when I was catching up on maintenance and repairs and had already spent quite a bit of money so I was trying to save.

    One more thing, the 94 should have (mine does) the 201 HP engine but that comes with the higher gear ratio (lower top number) rear end versus the 95-and-up 960 which has the lower HP engine but the lower gears in the rear axle. The higher gear ratio really affects performance. It has plenty of power and good acceleration if you get into it, but if this car had lower gears in the rear end or another gear in the tranny like a 5 speed automatic with 5th gear being the same as 4th in the current tranny, it would be absolutely awesome. It's low revving at all speeds including highway speed, I think mine turns about 2300 RPM at 70 MPH on the highway, as I recall that's what the tach reads.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2020
    Tom McMillion, Mar 13, 2020
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