The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

How to Buy a Used 200 Series

2019-01-11 - Rob Funnekotter

Disclaimer: Direct from ipd’s Tech Tip archive!  This tech tip contains information from previous publications.  Products mentioned may not be available or the information may not be accurate due to changes in supply, manufacturing, or part number association.  Please contact ipd Customer Support if you have further questions.

Have you ever made an uninformed car purchase, only to find out you picked up a third-degree lemon? I know I have. It's a hard and costly pill to swallow.

In today's tough economic times, a used Volvo may be the only answer. With the demise of the 240 series, many are choosing a second-hand 240 as an alternative. One should be extremely cautious when purchas/ing a used Volvo because many previous owners fall prey to the old "Drive It Like You Hate It" attitude. In turn, the next owner receives the brunt of that mentality in the form of structural damage from poor undercoating or hidden engine damage due to infrequent oil changes.

If you are considering the purchase of a used 240 please heed the following:

The Truth About Mileage

First of all, if you are of the opinion that high mileage doesn't matter because Volvos last forever, forget it. Regardless of what others may tell you, high mileage takes a serious toll on any engine. Preventative mainte-nance can, however, prolong the life of an engine considerably. If the car has been predominantly driven on the highway, and oil changes have been carried out at regular 3000 kilometer/2500 mile intervals, the wear factor decreases. For example, my last Volvo had 468,000 kilometers/280,000 miles when I sold it. The com-pression at the point of sale was 175 psi. per cylinder, only 10 psi less than when it was new. The original clutch lasted 426,000 kilometers/260,000 miles. This car had oil changes done regularly and was driven most-ly on the highway. Therefore, ask the owner how often the oil gets changed.

A good way to check for poor oil maintenance is to unscrew the oil filler cap on the valve cover and take a look inside. If there is a grunge build-up, chances are the oil wasn't changed regularly. Look at the bottom of the filler cap itself. If the oil appears chocolate milk-like in color, chances are that this car is a short-trip vehicle. This is due to the engine never reaching operating temperature, so any water in the engine doesn't get a chance to evaporate. That leaves the water free to circulate in the oil, giving it this color. An engine in this condition could cause future problems and empty pockets.

While you are under the hood, check for Volvo original replacement parts such as the oil filter and the in-line gas filter (the label should read Volvo or Bosch). If aftermarket parts have been used, check with your favorite Volvo mechanic about the effectiveness of that particular brand.

Also, check for oil or coolant leaks. An oil leak could indicate a problem with the positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) system. A blockage in the hoses or a dirty screen can cause back-pressure in the system, resulting in blown gaskets and or engine seals.

Lesson in History

Try to get a service history of the car to find out what has and hasn't been repaired since it was new. For example, if the car has over 200,000 kilometers/120,000 miles on it and the service records do not indicate a clutch replacement, you can count on replacing it shortly (up to a $600 bill for the unsuspecting new owner). Look for recent bills with high-ticket parts and/or labor such as transmission work or rear-end bushing replace-ment. The more work done, the less you have to shell out in the near future. Check for frequency of tune-ups. An engine that runs efficiently is subject to less wear. The timing belt should have been replaced a few times as well, depending of course on the age of the car.