Used 1994 850 wagon - good idea? Bad idea?

Discussion in 'Volvo 850' started by DST, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. DST

    DST Guest

    I am looking at possibly buying a used 1994 850 wagon, 120K miles. Automatic, turbo, leather, 15" alloy wheels - all original.
    It has received correct maintenance and repair from the original owner whom I know very well.
    Basically perfect mechanical condition, and as it sits, the car needs tires, brakes, and an alignment (according to the honest owner).

    The price to me would be very low, but I'm concerned about costs and reliability down the road.
    Of course, any thing could be a time bomb - transmission, turbo, etc.
    And I get it that some level of expense will be required to keep this car going into old age.
    But if anyone has thoughts on what I'm looking at with this car, I would appreciate the info.
    Just as an example, something like the valve guides needing replacement (which I understand Volvo now requires replacement via a re-built head versus the individual guides replacement) seems like it would start to approach the book value of the car.
    I'm willing to accept a certain amount of yearly maintenance/repair cost, but I don't really want to dump $3-5K every year into a car with no book value.

    Can anyone help me get a realistic picture of what I would be looking at with this car?

    I've always like this car since it's introduction, and I can do a lot of work (such as brakes) myself.

    Regards - Dave
    DST, Sep 17, 2008
  2. DST

    Leftie Guest

    There was a problem with the lifters not getting enough oil - mainly
    in the '93 model, but also some '94s. Same thing with early transmission
    failure. If it's got new lifters and the transmission has had regular
    fluid changes, it might be ok. If it clatters noticeably, that's $1k+ to
    Leftie, Sep 17, 2008
  3. DST

    Roadie Guest

    It's a given that any used car will require ongoing maintenance as
    well as repairs of worn and broken parts. What you need to find out
    is whether the car was given regular maintenance up to this point and
    whether the previous owner deferred any major work. If you don't have
    the skills to do a through appraisal I would suggest that you engage
    an experienced Volvo mechanic to give a pre-purchase inspection.

    What you are buying is transportation - period. Don't think of this
    as an investment with a book value to be returned at some future
    point. From a financial perspective the purchase price is nothing more
    than prepaid transportation costs.
    Roadie, Sep 19, 2008
  4. This is the second year of the 850. The '93 and '94 have a automatic
    transmission issue that normally hits between 80,000 and 125,000 miles.
    It requires a rebuilt transmission which is very expensive since it also
    includes the FWD stuff. Mine cost $4,000 to replace. Otherwise this is
    a fairly solid model. The leather seats and turbo are sources of
    problems also. The turbo will eventually wear out and need replacing.
    Leather seats on old cars tend to look bad but will continue to give
    good service.
    Stephen Henning, Sep 20, 2008
  5. DST

    DST Guest

    Thanks, Stephen!
    That's the sort of information that might be very helpful.
    The owner did have a tranny repair early on, some sort of valve as he remembers, nothing major, and fixed under warranty.
    People have been kind and generous to me with their info, and so far I've read about the possibility of repairs for this car in these areas:

    - valve guides (expensive repair)
    - valve lifters (around $1K)
    - A/T rebuild (as much as $4K)
    - Turbo

    The turbo is a consumable, as I reckon, so it doesn't scare me.
    But putting a trans that expensive into this car scares me off - that's about the value of the car, and I don't see that it makes sense as just transportation.
    We're getting closer to seeing what he wants to do with the car, so if I can maintain interest then my next step is to take it to a reputable mechanic and get his take.

    My priorities in a car are reliability, comfort, and economy.
    I greatly appreciate your help!

    DST, Sep 22, 2008
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