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Front Wheel Drive Newlsetter March 2010

Page 1: A Great Deal or a Maintenance Nightmare

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Sale pricing valid from Saturday, April 03, 2010 through Friday, May 21, 2010


Here are the most popular on line resources for free classifieds where you can find a great selection of used Volvos for sale.
The V70 “MKII” was sold in the US from 20001 to 2007 and was available with front wheel drive and all wheel drive, non turbo and turbo gas powered engines ranging in power from 180 HP to 300 HP. The 2005 model got a major cosmetic facelift.
The Volvo S60 Sedan was sold in the US market from 2001 to 2009 and was available with front wheel drive and all wheel drive, non turbo and turbo gas powered engines ranging in power from 180 HP to 300 HP. The 2005 model got a major cosmetic facelift.
One of the most important things to look for when shopping for a used late model Volvo is proof of regular maintenance. A good solid service history is very valuable as it gives you an idea of how the owner took care of the car and may also help you identify any major expenses that the car might need in the near future. We also strongly recommend that you have a pre purchase inspection performed by an independent Volvo repair specialist. A pre purchase inspection usually only costs about $ 100 and could save you $1000’s.

There are some fantastic buys on used Volvos right now and if you do your research, you can get a great car for a great price. If you don’t do your research, you could end up upside down in a hurry! We recently purchased the 2 used Volvo V70’s above and thought it would make an interesting feature story to address the pros and cons of buying a used late model Volvo.

Take these two examples below that we recently bought here in the Portland area.

2004 V70R with an original sticker price of $38,740. We paid $11,500 for this one with 180,000 miles on it, 2004-2007 examples with average mileage are still bringing $14-$18K or more if they are in unusually good condition.

2001 V70 XC with an original sticker price of $34,900. We paid $6000 for this one in good condition with 135,000 miles on it, clean low mileage 2001-2007 examples with maintenance records are still demanding $8-$18K

First off, you may be wondering who in their right mind would buy a 2004 V70R with almost 200,000 miles on it. We do this once in awhile so we can get early insights into common part failures that might not show up until you get 100,000 or more miles on a car. Plus this car was especially interesting to us as it belonged to an ipd customer who upgraded it with our Stage II software and turbo back exhaust system back in 2007 when the car had 60,000 miles on it. The owner put 120,000 miles on it at our highest upgrade level (375 HP), so we wanted to take a closer look at it and see how it had been holding up.

I purchased the 2001 V70 XC as they are one of my favorite Volvos and I plan to do some upgrades to it that we will cover in a future newsletter. What really got me to start thinking about doing sort of a “buyers guide” feature was a website that a co-worker recently discovered at http://howardsvolvos.webs.com. The content at Howards site is focused on 2001-2007 V70 wagons, however the general information is very valuable to anyone considering any late model used Volvo. Obviously the web is full of valuable information like this, but it’s often mixed with biased opinion, errors or contempt for Volvo, which isn’t our style. Howard’s writing style and personality are strongly aligned with ours. I shot Howard an e-mail asking if he would be willing to allow us to share his work and he was more than happy to work with us.

We are sharing his articles with our readers over the next several newsletters, here’s the first installment from his website. Please note, we have made a few minor edits for our format, but the content is unchanged.Our Two Volvosby Howard Cheng

We have owned 2 P2 generation (2001-2007 S60/V70 XC70) Volvo wagons for a few years now. Our first one is a 2001 V70 T5 which was purchased at 46k miles. Currently (9/2009), it is up to 117k miles. Our other one is a 2001 XC70 also purchased used. It is now (9/2009) at 86k miles.

I have done much of the debugging and maintenance on these two vehicles. My site http://howardsvolvos.webs.com is to capture the common problems I’ve encountered and tips I found from various sources on the internet.Modern European Premium CarsA common question I see on the forums is people getting into used modern European premium cars for the first time asking about the maintenance cost. Here is some general background information to familiarize yourself with.

You may be amazed at “how much car” you can get for such a relatively low price when consider these used Euro premium brands such as Mercedes, BMW, and Volvo. The fact is they depreciate so fast for an obvious reason. Their maintenance cost can be very high. Be cautious before you buy into the logic “For the price of a used Honda Accord, you can drive a used premium European car”. This said, these Euro cars can be tremendous value if you are more knowledgeable about what you are buying and the lower cost repair options.

First, the repair costs. Premium European cars are on high end of the price segments. This means EVERYTHING about it will priced accordingly. This includes parts and labor. For example, hourly labor rates for your standard Japanese cars will be lower than the European premium equivalent. I’d say a good rule of thumb is everything is about 2X or higher compared to Honda or Toyota mass volume cars.

Next, premium segment cars have more standard equipment. This simply means more stuff can go wrong. Premium segment cars also have to provide more advanced technology to justify the higher new car purchase price to their customer segment. This means the latest in engine, drive train, braking, and suspension technologies compared to the lower end segment cars. Just looking at history, we can see fuel injection, ABS brakes, 5 & 6 speed automatic transmissions, fly by wire throttle all got introduced in these cars first. And when you are an early pioneer, you get to work out the bugs. One of the key reasons for the higher quality of mass market such as Hondas and Toyotas is their usage of highly matured technology. Maturity = cost less + high reliability. Perfect for the market they are after.

In general, I think European cars body style change every 7 years or so. But they will introduce new engines + drive trains in between, updating lots of other subcomponents and generally slightly update that beautiful exterior sheet metal once in this cycle. If you can afford the later ones, do that because they would have worked out more of the bugs. It seems to take at least the first 3-4 years of this 7 year cycle for them to work out the major bugs from what I have experienced with these Volvo P2s and the Mercedes e320 series.So you are entering this segment for the first time? What should you expect?

I think the answer isn’t the same for everyone. It depends on 2 things

  • What is your perspective. If you are expecting to maintain the same “low cost while generally neglect the car” nature of high quality low tech Japanese cars. You will probably be in for a shock. You definitely don’t want to “neglect” premium European cars! It will cost you. But the good news is you are already reading this which means you desire for knowledge and info and probably not a “neglector” by nature.
  • If you can do some DIY, then you can save bundles of money owning these cars. A lot of DIY procedures are within the reach of reasonably average wrench turners. This said, these cars are also highly computerized these days. Many components require dealers special computers to set them up properly. For example, installing a new rear view mirror or radio on this car requires the dealer computer to “marry” them to your car! On top of this, some DIYs require special tools. For example, a simple oil change on European cars frequently requires more than the average tools. On this car, you need a special filter cover wrench. Last, there are parts you can only purchase from the dealer and your local Volvo dealer will add HUGE mark ups if they are like the ones near me. There are Volvo parts vendors as well as Volvo dealer parts departments that operate online now which can save big chunks of money.

Major Changes 2001-20072002+ redesigned the ETM. See here (except for 2002 non turbo V70/S60)2003+ XC70 has the bigger (and some people say much more responsive) 2.5T engine.

2003+ XC70 has the Haldex AWD instead of the Viscous Coupling unit. See FWD or AWD. See here.

2005+ has slight exterior and interior updates. Exterior got some silvered surfaces and headlight lens became plastic (older glass ones crack when hit by rock). Interior got wood trim surfaces on the center console.

So if you are looking for an XC70, 2003+ would have most of the latest mechanical changes. 2005+ would have most of the latest surface changes.

2001 models are the first year and ones with most of the issues. Of course, they are also the lowest cost used car of this model which maybe the reason you are considering it. Later build date (mid year 2001) is better than early build date (early to mid 2000). Open the driver side rear door and look at the tag along the lower pillar for a tag. Build date is on there (under the word “Date”)Maintenance With Volvo SpecialistsIf you are used to taking your car to a Quick Change Lube and Oil chain store for maintenance, these cars are going to need more than this type of maintenance. European cars require lots of specialized knowledge to maintain them properly. What defines “good condition” or types of fluids are very different from your typical Japanese cars. Furthermore, there is information on how to maintain these cars that evolved from in the field experience. As you might imagine, this isn’t written down anywhere in a Chilton’s car repair manual (There isn’t one available for this car). So maintenance means Volvo dealer repair (most expensive), Volvo independent, or DIY with lots of research on Volvo forums.

Taking it to Quick Change Lube and Oil chain store would probably consititute “negelect” on European cars.

Service Interval Maintenance Charts

If you are new to these Volvos, here is a quick bullet list of issues specific to this car that you want to be aware of as failure to follow specifc instrucuitons could cause some damage.

  • Before disconnecting the battery, read this. Your climate control can get damaged if you don’t follow the precise sequence. This seems to occur frequently as I get emails from people fairly often.
  • Flush your automatic transmission fluid every 30k or 50k (not in Volvo’s maint schedule). This is the weak point on this car. Read this
  • Don’t put ATF in your power steering system as indicated in your owner’s manual. Pre 2005 owner’s manuals are wrong. It is a special fluid. Read this

Hopefully, these few quick items specific to this vehicle help you to avoid damaging your car. There are more other common problems I’ve encountered on my site, so take a look!Look for Part II in our next newsletter where we’ll take an in depth look at some of the main issues that are inherent with these models and what you can do about them.

Sale pricing valid from Saturday, April 03, 2010 through Friday, May 21, 2010

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