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School me on older Volvos

DRTDEVL

Mothfukle
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
78
Messages
762
Loc
Austin... TX? Nope. Minnesota!
Looking for a decent looking and comfortable AWD winter beater for the other half, now that she's back in the workforce and deemed essential. Her commute is a whopping 0.9 miles, and her way home involves 2 additional miles if she picks up our kid from day care.

She likes the XC90s of the early to mid 2000s, so I have been searching those out. What are the common problems found, and how expensive are the parts to repair?

I also have run across a lot of V70 XC AWD Wagons of the same era for about half the price. Are those comparable? She prefers the SUV, of course, but I think the wagon looks tits in comparison. Same deal; common failures?

I might be checking out a 2001 XC90 today with 220,000 miles on it. What do I need to look for? It says it has some minor issues in the ad, so I already know its going to have problems. There is a V70 I want to check out as well with only 147k on it... but same thing. I know little about Volvos, other than they are generally some of the safest vehicles on the road, and my grandma's late-80's Volvo wagon was a tank.
 
I've heard multiple Volvo owners say thins to the tune of "the AWD system is only good at breaking in expensive ways" but I have no idea how true that is.
 
I do not know what year they went to the "ford" fuse box with ECU attached but I would stay far far far away from that.

The one I dealt with was 2008 so newer than what you are talking about.

I believe the 08 had 18 different ecus in it (not an exaggeration)

At some point they got way to technological.
 
Dad had an old school XC90. He used that for property maintenance. Ladders, bags of concrete, all his tools, etc. He used that for a decade at least. Five cylinder turbo. Ran great. The rear end broke, so he just yanked the rear shaft. Got a few more years out of it. He must have had that thing for 15 years.

I had a 2001 S80. At 80k miles, the car locked itself up. It acted like it was stolen. The sunroof got stuck open too because of it. There's a security box buried inside the fender. It has a backup watch-style battery in it that is prone to exploding and shorting the board. I yanked it out, and sure enough that's what happened. Replaced the box, car still didn't start. Still acted in security mode. Dicked with the ignition in the steering column for a bit, nothing. Total lockdown. I was told the only way to get it unlocked was to have it towed to a Volvo dealer and reflash the computer for ~$2500. called a flatbed, they gave me $250 for it, and off to the crusher.
 
For the same price I'd get a similar year Mercedes that is more reliable, has better all-wheel drive sytem (full time 4 wheel drive, open diff t-case, no clutch slip transfer bullshit, individual wheel traction control), and has the same fancy yuppie appeal that will fit in the doctors parking lot. The V8 and 5 speed auto found in the E500 car or ML430/ML500 suv is pretty bulletproof and makes good power.
 
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For the same price I'd get a similar year Mercedes that is more reliable, has better all-wheel drive sytem (full time 4 wheel drive, open diff t-case, no clutch slip transfer bullshit, individual wheel traction control), and has the same fancy yuppie appeal that will fit in the doctors parking lot. The V8 and 5 speed auto found in the E500 car or ML430/ML500 suv is pretty bulletproof and makes good power.

Um, there's only 1 ML430 and 0 ML500s listed within 100 miles of me right now, and that is listed at a dealer for three times the price of the XC90 I am going to look at today.

I would love to keep it MB, as I have a MB Xentry computer with a C5 passthrough clone, so I could do everything dealer-level, but they just aren't that readily available in Southern Minnesota.

Its funny that you bring up the yuppie appeal at a doctor's office, as she currently is an administrator for the local veterinary clinic and is actively seeking a position at the local Mayo Clinic facility.
 
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the only thing worse than a jaguar is volvo in my humble opinion
 
I work on them daily. I would not recommend an xc90. Definitely stay the hell away from the Yamaha v8 models. Xc70 is decent, but a lot of them do have a non functioning AWD at this point. During test drive, try to do a burnout. It should spin for a serving, and then catch. Or if you have the ability to get the ass end in the air, try to spin the drive shaft by hand (not the rear tires, the actual shaft) when it's in park. If it spins, the bevel gear box is shot. Also, don't expect any malfunction lights to tell you the AWD is dead. Pcv failure is common, but easy, on most any engine in that era Volvo. Keep up on timing belt service. Don't run cheap Chinese parts.
 
hello.

do not buy an xc90
especialy do not buy one with a v8.

everything fox said above is correct.
audi parts fit in the active coupler and cost less than the volvo parts.
If you service it, it's not a problem. Check the angle gear oil when doing an oil change, it's right there, all you have to do is pop the plug. Cheange the filter and fluid in the active coupler on the diff when you buy it and it won't fail. They die from plugged filters that force the electronics to overdrive the little mechanism in there to get it to lock up.

The t5 drivetrain is solid, if shoping for a p2 wagon, buy later than 06. Major can bus shit happened in 05. 04-05 models have CEM issues, i know because I had to repair mine.
You'll also get a 6 speed, that is more robust than the aw55.

the software is available and you can buy the DICE adapter from china for like $80.
I have a virtualbox image with VIDA setup if you have a place for me to upload a 40gb file to.

Have owned a P2 wagon for like 6 years now. It's been very minimal upkeep. it's been running a custom tune for like 4 years.
I think it's water pump is weeping now at 120K miles, and it's about time for another timing belt, so there's that.
 
that one has the Ford Fuse Box in it.

The one I have experience with ran perfect but one day wouldn't accept the key anymore.

Towed it to Volvo who had it for days, charged me $500+ in diagnostic fees to tell me they had no idea what was wrong.

Had it towed back to my house where I had to source another fusebox (there are like 10 different part numbers I had to find a matching one)

Sent that one and the old one to some guy in CA who could clone them and got it running again.

Fuck that fucking car. Just send me the $1,500 and I will come and punch you in the dick, it will be better for you in the long term.
 
Well, I hopped on the Harley and headed out this morning to check it out before most of these warnings were posted... I drove it, it rode great, looked OK (college girl "body work"), the AWD seemed to function (minimal spin before launching hard on a gravel road), and was overall a decent performing machine. I nitpicked the crap out of it for things like the intermittent flash of a warning and chime that the driver's door was open (probably a stupid adjustment or door switch), there was a brake light out, the front power lock actuators weren't working right, a slight clunk from the right front (ball joint or strut), and of course the passenger airbag warning, along with the power steering leak (appears to be a line and not the rack). I was about to walk when he asked me to put a number on it. I told him I didn't want to insult him... he insisted. I threw out $500. He countered with "make it $750, and its yours."

So I am headed back tonight with the old lady to pick up $750 gamble for a fully-loaded luxury SUV. Worst case scenario, it craps out after less than one season. Best case, I fix the nitpicky over time and we get good service from it.
 
Well, I hopped on the Harley and headed out this morning to check it out before most of these warnings were posted... I drove it, it rode great, looked OK (college girl "body work"), the AWD seemed to function (minimal spin before launching hard on a gravel road), and was overall a decent performing machine. I nitpicked the crap out of it for things like the intermittent flash of a warning and chime that the driver's door was open (probably a stupid adjustment or door switch), there was a brake light out, the front power lock actuators weren't working right, a slight clunk from the right front (ball joint or strut), and of course the passenger airbag warning, along with the power steering leak (appears to be a line and not the rack). I was about to walk when he asked me to put a number on it. I told him I didn't want to insult him... he insisted. I threw out $500. He countered with "make it $750, and its yours."

So I am headed back tonight with the old lady to pick up $750 gamble for a fully-loaded luxury SUV. Worst case scenario, it craps out after less than one season. Best case, I fix the nitpicky over time and we get good service from it.

Check strut tops, control arms, and balljoints. All super common. If you can spin the strut top in the engine bay, it's failed. And I've seen struts go through the hood before when they great real bad. Door switches are internal to the latch. Likely have wiring issue in the door jambs. Oh, and the exhaust hanger below the rear diff is likely rusted off.... They sell slick clamp on replacements. Good luck.
 
Check strut tops, control arms, and balljoints. All super common. If you can spin the strut top in the engine bay, it's failed. And I've seen struts go through the hood before when they great real bad. Door switches are internal to the latch. Likely have wiring issue in the door jambs. Oh, and the exhaust hanger below the rear diff is likely rusted off.... They sell slick clamp on replacements. Good luck.

I was looking at the strut tops when I was there, but I didn't want to clue him in on anything being cheap or easy. A pre-loaded strut/coil/mount assembly is only $105 each side. A front end kit (ball joints, control arms, tie rod ends) is $119. That's just over $300 to rebuild the entire front end, so I wasn't too concerned with that stuff.

Wiring in the door jamb was my second suspect for the door ajar warning. I'll have to peel open the harness there to see if something looks to need work.

Hopefully I didn't bite off more than I can chew here. I emailed iCarsoftUSA to see if I could just order TF card for my MBII to make it work with the Volvo/Saab software set, or if I needed to order the entire V2.0 system (about $150). That will get me a long way toward this thing working right, as it can talk to the sub-modules like SRS.
 
PITA as in Cadillac Northstar 32V PITA? Or general PITA?

Basically, anything and everything is easier to just remove the engine..... Front covers leak all the time, and did I mention? There's no fawking room....

Edit: the starter isn't TERRIBLE to replace. But the cables seem to fail commonly.
 
My add- Erie vo-vo is your friend. They are a volvo specific recycler, and the best manufacturer specific recycler I've found. And for non-consumable parts l'll choose used oe stuff over cheap aftermarket junk on a volvo any day. My car and customer cars.
 
Why no Subaru ?? Subaru = love = dogs

The Volvos also tend to grenade their transfer cases. Subarus have had some head gasket issues on some models, but buy one with the correct gasket upgrade and they'll run nearly forever. I've currently got a couple Subarus and love both of them.
 
My folks have 3 XC90s, a pair of '05s (one is for their vacation property) the other is a '13, I think. The '05s are turbo I5s, the '13 is a NA I6. All AWD, all well over 100K miles, one of the '05s is pushing 250K miles. They bought the '13 used to replace the higher mileage '05, but knew it wasn't worth the effort to try and sell it, so it's been part of the "farm fleet" for 3 or 4 years now, and still going strong.

Yeah, the AWD can be problematic, but it's not hard to fix, usually the coupler between the trans and the angle gear (transfer case) strips. A competent shade tree mechanic can fix, Youtube & FCP Euro are your friends.

Whiteblocks will run forever, change the oil, and don't forget the timing belt every ~100K miles/5 years.

As others have stated, avoid the V8 and the T6, you'll be fine.
 
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