Advice on buying an older Volvo

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Crap Master, Jun 27, 2003.

  1. Crap Master

    Crap Master Guest

    I'm looking to buy an older Volvo, and can't spend very much. I've
    always been totally in love with the 740/760 - it's totally an
    aesthetic thing - I don't really know very much about cars. I guess
    my biggest concern is about mileage. I know that I have to buy
    something with a lot of miles, and I have no idea how much is too
    much. I was thinking that 200K might be pushing it, but now that I've
    read up on them a little bit, it seems not uncommon for them to last
    to 300. I even read a review of one with 445K - un-f-ing-believable!

    Until now, I've pretty much always had Japanese cars. I just can't
    bring myself to buy another one because it seems like they're so
    expensive. Ten years ago, you could buy a ten year old Japanese car
    with 100K for $1000. Today, that very same car is 20 years old with
    200K and still costs $1000. Those old Accords and Tercels are great,
    but my impression has been that they're really hitting the end of the
    line at 200K.

    So anyway, what's a reasonable life span for a 740 and/or 760? Today
    I saw a 1989 760 for $1000 with 309K - that seems like a little much
    to me - and I've seen them cheaper on ebay.

    I don't know if this matters, but I'll be using the car to deliver
    newspapers, which unfortunately really kicks a car's ass. The last
    time I got brake pads on my tercel, they lasted 7 months, and a new
    set of tires lasted only a little bit longer (admittedly the cheapest
    new - not retread - tires money can buy...)

    Oh...I talk to much....thanks for any help!
    Crap Master, Jun 27, 2003
    1. Advertisements

  2. Crap Master

    Wilson Lamb Guest

    It's interesting that they have maintained a strong reputation among many
    people, even though they are often a world of trouble.

    If you are not a hobbiest with a good shop and plenty of money, stay away!
    Even routine stuff is very expensive. The very fact that you mentioned
    money at alll indicates to me that you are in for disappointment. The only
    thing that that might work is a VERY old 240 or some such, manual shift,
    carb model. This is something that you can work on, but even so it's still
    a money hog for parts.

    I have an old corolla with 170K that runs like new. A buddy has an older
    one with 270K. How about a Nissan or Mazda pickup...simple and easy to work
    on and you can carry more papers!

    OR an old Voyager. Even with a $1500 tranny, they are cheap. My 1990 has
    203K and burns NO oil. It did have the tranny at 175K.

    The Volvo stories are interesting, and probably mostly true, but I'd bet the
    owners have paid plenty for routine and serious maintenance.

    My son's 240 SW has had two crankshaft position sensors, a whole new rear
    end ($700), and it's under 150K. My mother had a 940 of 960 sedan, which
    ate an engine AND tranny before 125K. And she is in her 70's and hardly
    leaves the city!

    I'd love a Jag V-12, and could afford it, but fun is just not worth the
    headaches. Buy something cheap and simple, run it until there is a killer
    repair, and then start again. Sell all the papers you can and invest most
    of the money. You'll then have a happier life and can take care of yourself
    when the time comes.

    More than you wanted to know, but I've been there!

    Wilson Lamb, Jun 27, 2003
    1. Advertisements

  3. You can still get 100,000 mile medallions.
    Timothy J. Lee, Jun 27, 2003
  4. Crap Master

    Larry Combs Guest

    They don't even hand out mileage medalions anymore

    Just got my 100,000 mile medallion today!!! '92 960 Wagon

    Larry Combs
    The Gar Hole Brewery
    LA (Lower Arkansas)
    Larry Combs, Jun 27, 2003
  5. The best predictor of reliability of a used car is the book value. If a
    used car has a low book value it is because they are having trouble
    selling them. If a used car has a high book value, it is because they
    know its reputation is such that they can get that kind of money for
    that mode.

    Having said that, the price of a particular car is not a guarantee of
    quality. Individual cars can be lemons. Even Volvos. I love Volvos
    and have had good luck, but I have several friends who dumped relatively
    new Volvos because they had problems (especially electrical problems)
    that Volvo dealers were spending much time and money trying to fix.

    "Your mileage may vary."

    Pardon my spam deterrent; send email to
    Cheers, Steve Henning in Reading, PA, USA
    Owned '67,'68,'71,'74,'79,'81,'87,'93,'95 & '02 Volvos.
    The '67,'74,'79,'87,'95 and '02 through European Delivery.
    Stephen M. Henning, Jun 27, 2003
  6. Crap Master

    Dave Shannon Guest

    I've gotta agree, the highest mileage I've seen in the last 3 years of pick
    a part crawling is 603XXX on a honda civic, wouldn't have noticed it except
    it was the closest car with all its windows during a shower.
    Dave Shannon
    (Spring Valley CA)
    1988 240 DL 18X,XXX
    1985 240 Ti 20X,XXX
    1984 245 DL 20X,XXX
    1984 245T 19X,XXX
    '01 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 10K
    Dave Shannon, Jun 28, 2003
  7. But note that heavy fleet use tends to depress used car values.
    Also, perceived quality and reliability based on name plate may
    have an impact. Compare the Chevrolet Prizm to the Toyota Corolla
    (only cosmetically different, built in the same factory), for example.
    Timothy J. Lee, Jun 28, 2003
  8. Crap Master

    James Sweet Guest

    Those old Toyota trucks really are excellent, the drivetrain is probably
    comparable to Volvo, the interior does feel a bit cheaper though and the
    safety isn't there but they're good trucks.
    James Sweet, Jun 28, 2003
  9. Crap Master

    James Sweet Guest

    There's something wrong there, we've got 7 older Volvos in the family,
    nearly all with over 200k on them and they hardly ever need anything at all.
    Most of the money I spend on mine goes to making them nicer, not fixing
    things that break. My broke friend got a 740 GLE about a year ago and the
    only thing that's happened to it so far is the spring on one of the door
    hinges broke, new hinge was $5 from a junkyard. If you avoid the dealerships
    and shop around for parts they're no more expensive than most other cars,
    and they're much easier to work on too.
    James Sweet, Jun 28, 2003
  10. Really? Heh. The local dealers don't carry them.
    Joseph Oberlander, Jun 28, 2003
  11. Crap Master

    Bill Stehlin Guest

    Pretty much agree w/ James. Not surprising that a kid could trash a
    rear end or an older driver could burn up an engine and transmission
    -- just keep driving it after pegging the temp indicator or breaking a
    timing belt.
    Our five 240s have over one million miles. Semi-retired '87 w/
    300K has a rebuilt trans (at 150K) due to 100+ degree summer
    conditions and operator error. It survived many teen mishaps and
    should pass upcoming state inspection. Another has a replacement
    engine because a former owner ignored temp gage and kept driving.
    Once had to replace a steering rack (on a formerly owned '78) but I'll
    take responsibility there. Have had to replace a couple air mass
    meters ($$) and rebuilt an AC system w/ some new parts ($$$). Blower
    motors sometimes makes noise ('87 has been screaming for 6 years but
    still functions), and rear seals will leak, but nothing terrible. The
    240 engines are built to such tolerances that can run on a quart or
    two of oil w/o damage (just don't do it intentionally). Good
    shocks/struts last 60K easily. Paint looks good forever if half
    maintained. Have never replaced an alternator. Have 220K miles on an
    original clutch.
    True cost of a car is average cost to operate (including
    depreciation) over a longer period of time and cost of a 240 is very
    low, especially considering safety factor. Buying used can be tricky
    since "bargains" often have a lot of deferred maintenance (which is OK
    if you know what you are getting into). Unless you really know what
    you're doing, probably much, much cheaper in the long run to pay at
    high end of book value for one that has been properly serviced and
    cared for than going for the "dime in the urinal."
    Bill Stehlin, Jun 28, 2003
  12. Crap Master

    Wilson Lamb Guest

    I appreciate these good experiences, but I don't understand them. Of course
    we are talking statistics, so we have to remember that there is a wide range
    of performance.

    My 240 ate clutch cables, at $80 each, when I was making $9K/yr. That was
    Volvo replacement, but not well made. My mothers car was a used creampuff
    from a friend, Volvo maintained. Wouldn't get out of its own way, ate
    engine, ate tranny, went to a friends boneyard to feed his driver.

    The son's s/w was a dealer pampered creampuff, but developed screaming rear
    end anyway. Replacement required a cat fight to collect on warranty sold by
    dealer and cost nearly $1K. This one is driven by his timid wife. Anyway,
    the auto tranny doesn't deliver enough torque to damage anything!

    My advice to the poster had as much to do with potential repair liability as
    with actual performance. It doesn't sound like he is a gearhead who can do
    a lot for himself, so junkyard crawling is probably not in his cards. Our
    mechanic, who is good, won't let a Volvo in the door and the Volvo
    mechanics, even non-dealer, are usually snotty and expensive. When
    CrapMaster has a load of papers to get out, he'll be behind the 8Ball with
    only these people to lean on and they'll probably fry him.

    OK, that's my two cents worth. Cheap, common, simple, seems to be the
    formula I like, especially when money is better spent on beer than on cars.
    I even liked my Taurus!

    Good luck,
    Wilson Lamb, Jun 28, 2003
  13. You can go to and sign up for the high mileage
    club. Eventually, they will send you one if you report enough mileage.
    Timothy J. Lee, Jun 28, 2003
  14. one of the few Japanese cars i have heard good things about were
    the trucks...i agree...i was commenting on (that "i don't hear of too
    many > 200k mile Japanese's cars around" ) a sedan more comparable to
    the volvo line of autos, not volvo trucks or suv's...although i would
    like to spend some time driving their trucks.......go scoop me up some

    anyway, sure there were a few good Japanese's cars & trucks...but believe
    me...turn some wrenches on both, (for say, at least 25 hours) and you
    can see the difference in engineering, materials, and fasteners....
    ~^ beancounter ~^, Jun 28, 2003
  15. What the local dealer should carry is the application you send in to get
    the medallion. You can also get the medallions on line.

    Pardon my spam deterrent; send email to
    Cheers, Steve Henning in Reading, PA, USA
    Owned '67,'68,'71,'74,'79,'81,'87,'93,'95 & '02 Volvos.
    The '67,'74,'79,'87,'95 and '02 through European Delivery.
    Stephen M. Henning, Jun 28, 2003
  16. actually Toyota dealers may do a better job of keeping them on the road
    than Chevy dealers. There may be a real difference when they reach the
    used car market.

    One example of this is that a car that has one problem is more likely to
    have other unrelated problems than a car that didn't have a problem.
    The reason is the act of servicing a car reduces its reliability.
    Apparently colateral damage is the reason. Obviously the techniques of
    the mechanic are an important factor. A mechanic that doesn't
    specialize on a particular model will be more likely to cause colateral
    Stephen M. Henning, Jun 28, 2003
  17. Clutch cables are really consumables, IMO, kind of like distributor
    caps and such - every so often they need replacement. This is part of
    the huge price savings on a manual transmission - roughly $300-350 for
    a clutch job and maybe $100 a year in maintainence vs nothing until it
    breaks and then "OMG - $1400???".

    If you were only making 9K a year - consider yourself lucky. My sister's
    Buick LeSabre eats at least $1000 a year in maintainence. A computer module?
    $200 here. Engine mounts. A/C. Radiators. Alternators. Tires - batteries
    and such not included.

    Ate tranny and low HP - well, they are not 850 turbos, afterall, though
    stick does help.
    So - gosh - easy to get a new rear diff. I spent $650 on new brakes
    for my beater Buick last spring. If $1K is all it needs every few years,
    you're not talking about major money.

    FYI - Payments on a Focus run about $250 a month. In four months of
    payments, you've paid for a year's repair on that old Volvo or a
    new clutch and tires, or that rear diff or... The Older vehicle is
    fine for the rest of the year and you still have 8 more payments on
    that new one($2000).

    If you want cheap and simple, that 2K or more a year you save(closer to
    3.5K on a S40) buys a lot of repairs. In fact, you could buy an old
    vehicle every year for $3K for ten years and come out ahead after you
    factor in registration fees(high on a new car - mine is $52 a year!),
    taxes, and interest on the loan.

    I've had four cars in the last ten years:
    1975 164E
    1988 Dodge Colt(ecch, but free)
    1987 Buick LeSabre(pampered father's car)
    1990 Volvo 240

    The 164E was the most frugal to keep running, followed by the 240.
    The Buick is the backup car(wife is learning to finally drive, too),
    but it does cost about $500-1000 a year in repairs. Grrr.

    That 164E - put $2000 into it in three years I owned it, including
    a new transmission, gas, oil changes, tires, and everything else,
    including registration and such. Just ran and ran and ran.

    The 240 needed a new Cat converter and O2 sensor. Put new tires
    on it and well - $19.95 for an oil change in the last four months.
    Joseph Oberlander, Jun 28, 2003
  18. So does it look odd to have 100K, 200K and 300K, or is it more proper
    to just display the highest one? My 240 has 230K on it, so it's just
    getting "broke in".
    Joseph Oberlander, Jun 28, 2003
  19. Crap Master

    PM Guest

    I'm sorry Wilson,m I thought you were making some valid points...... until
    you said you liked a Taurus!
    PM, Jun 29, 2003
  20. Crap Master

    jj Guest

    That volvo had a full engine rebuild at 680K :)

    WIth regular oil changes and plenty of good long runs any engine can do big
    jj, Jun 29, 2003
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.