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The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

Top 10 Most Common Problems with 1993-2000 850, C70, S70 and V70 Models

2009-08-27 - ipd staff

We’ve put together a list of some of the most common problems you might run into if you own or are considering one of these models. We want to convey that these are good cars and that none of the problems we’ve listed are major issues or flaws.  Just the little annoying things that can drive you nuts trying to resolve if you don’t know the cause and where to begin fixing it.

Upper Engine Mount Failure

Beginning with the 1993 850 Volvo began using an upper engine mount  (also called the upper engine stabilizer) that helped to control engine movement especially during acceleration.  The mount has been a continual sore spot among owners of these models as the mount often fails in as little as 10,000 miles, resulting in an alarming knock when accelerating or shifting gears.  Volvo has superceded  the part to new improved designs (several times) that last a bit longer, but the problem still persists even in models as new as 2008. One tricky aspect of it is that’s it’s difficult to tell if the bushing has failed. Generally the lower contact area where the center rubber bushing attaches to the outer housing will shear and break free from the outer housing, but at first glance it will appear intact. Take a closer look and have someone grab the oil filler cap and rock the engine back and forth and look for signs of separation.  We offer standard replacements as well as HD polyurethane upgraded versions.

Anti Sway Bar End Link Failure

All 1993-2000 850, S70, C70 and V70 models ( as well as most 2001 2008 S60, S80, V70 and XC 90 models) use anti sway bar end links with ball joint connections.  These have proven to be short lived in the Volvo application and routinely wear out and begin knocking and clunking in as little as 10,000 miles of use.  If left unattended, the links can break, disconnecting the anti sway bar from the chassis, resulting in very poor handling response and random clunks and knocks.  Ipd developed a heavy duty version of the endlink and they have quickly become one of our best selling upgrades for these models.  They come with a 2 year warranty and are an easy to install replacement / upgrade.

Front Strut Mount Failure

All 1993-2000 850, S70, C70 and V70 models ( as well as most 2001 2008 S60, S80, V70 and XC 90 models) use a rubber encased upper spring seat / strut mount that suffers from premature failure. Symptoms of a strut mount that has failed or is on the way out are creaking / groaning sounds during low speed turning.  You can also visually inspect the mounts from the engine compartment and looks for signs of the rubber pulling away from the center sleeve or  for sings of cracking. If left unattended, the noise can turn into clunking or worse if it fails completely, the strut shaft can break through the mount and damage / dent the hood of the car. Ipd developed a heavy duty version of the strut mount using a stronger more durable rubber that comes with a 2 year warranty and is considered a must do upgrade any time you have the front struts apart. 

Fuel Door Hinge Failure

All 1993-2000 850, S70, C70 and V70 models (as well as most 2001 2008 S60, S80, V70 and XC 90 models) use a plastic gas cap door hinge that commonly fails at around 60,000 miles or so. Not the end of the world, but it does leave your gas door hanging from the side of your Volvo, which doesn’t look too cool and is not good for the paint job!   We located a source for an upgrade version that uses a stronger plastic material and it costs less than the original Volvo replacement.  Easily installed in a few minutes by most “do-it-yourselfers” using the included instructions and common hand tools.

Automatic Transmission Shift Interlock Failure

The shift interlock is an electronic override that prevents the driver from being able to shift the car from “PARK” into “DRIVE” unless the driver is applying the brakes.  When this part fails (and it does on a regular basis) the car can no longer be driven unless the driver happens to know that there is an emergency override button that can be pressed to allow the shifter to be moved.  Fortunately, the shift interlock micro-switch is fairly easy to replace.

ABS Control Module Failure

Many 1993-2000 850, S70, C70 and V70 models can have issues with the ABS control module that can cause the ABS warning lamp to illuminate. The most common cause is related to an internal failure of the module that causes it to erroneously report an error for a faulty right rear wheel sensor.  You replace the sensor and fins that you still have the problem!  We now offer rebuilt ABS Control Modules that are a  fraction of the price you’d pay at the dealer and we include instructions on how to replace the module as well.

Tailgate Interior Panel Failure

All 1993-97 850 wagon and all 1998-2000 V70 models have a problem of the interior tailgate panel breaking away from the tail gate, leaving the panel hanging loose from the gate and interfering with the function of the tail gate lock / latch.  To replace the panel from your dealer will cost well over $200, our $18.95 kit and about 30 minutes of your time  will have you back in business with a long lasting repair that is stronger than the original part.

Oil Filler Cap Seal Failure

All 1993-2000 850, S70, C70 and V70 models (as well as most 2001 2008 S60, S80, V70 and XC 90 models) use a large rubber washer under the oil filler cap to provide a leak proof seal, which it does well until it ages and becomes rock hard.  Once it has hardened, it no longer seals properly and begins to leak oil that drains back into the top of the cam cover and eventually finds it’s way into the spark plug cavities as well as all over the rest of your engine.   It’s not uncommon to find that one or two of the spark plug cavities have become full of oil and are shorting out under high load conditions due to the oil contamination. Prevent this by replacing the 80 cent oil cap seal at every other oil change.

Odometer / Tripmeter Failure 

On all 1993-1997 850 models a small plastic gear drives the odometer & trip meter functions. These gears are prone to cracking as they age resulting in intermittent or complete loss of odometer/ trip meter function.  Since Volvo does not sell the gear or even the speedometer as a separate part, the repair can easily cost over $1000 at your dealer.  Use our updated gear kit and included DVD install guide and do it yourself for under $50 and 1-2 hours of your time!

Crankcase Ventilation System Failure (PCV/Flame trap)

All 1993-2000 850, S70, C70 and V70 models (as well as most 2001 2007 S60, S80, V70 and XC 90 models) use a complicated crankcase vent system to prevent the build u of pressure inside the engine. Since the mid 70’s Volvo owners have had problems with this system clogging up with oil deposits. Once the system plugs up, crankcase pressure builds high enough to cause oil to be forced past engine seals resulting in oil leaks around the engine.  Another problem with this system is the many small vacuum lines used become brittle and crack, rendering the system inoperable as well as causing idle and drivability issues.  Since the lines are buried under the intake manifold, it’s difficult to diagnose. To keep the system operating properly it’s a good idea to visually inspect the lines every other oil change and completely replace all the associated components every  80-100,000 miles.  We’ve put together handy kits that make it easy to order the correct parts.

Community Comments

Thursday, August 27, 2009 10:31 AM - "MA"
These tips are great! I've already dealt with half the conditions you reported on my 98 S70. It's good to know the symptoms so I can get the right parts from ipd. I have a nuisance engine oil leak that seems to be coming from the dipstick tube. Is there a joint or seal at the bottom of the dipstick tube that needs repair?
Friday, August 28, 2009 8:38 PM - "GH"
I love that you have located a fuel door hinge that is a direct factory replacement. My fuel door hinge broke and I was able to use the ipd hinge for a perfect fit! The stronger material chosen did not allow me to easily punch the plastic pins free from their molded position and expand the collet feature behind the sheet metal. I was able to drill out the broken pins and secure the hinge with stainless steel sheet metal screws for a nice touch and improved appearance.
Sunday, August 30, 2009 10:22 AM - "BD"
I can't believe the Mass Airflow sensor isn't on this list! I've had 3 Volvos in this group and all have had this unit go, and its an easy DIY repair.
Monday, August 31, 2009 10:40 AM - "FD"
this has been the most informative volvo site I have visited to date. Some problems my mechenic has been struggling with were all explained. 1993 850 owner
Monday, August 31, 2009 11:25 AM - "KR"
MAF sensors are common failures on non-turbo models. This is due to the thermostat in the air filter housing failing and causing hot air to flow through the MAF all the time. This cooks the MAF. Turbo models do not have the thermostat.
Monday, August 31, 2009 10:03 PM - "IT"
I just had to replace the PCV/Flame trap. And it appears that my engine mount has gone bad. Another common failure are the vacuum line elbows. ipd has such a great kit for that. And I think my MAF is bad as well. 1998 Volvo S70 GLT -ipd HD TCV -ipd sparkplug wires -ipd black mesh grille -ipd Timing/Serpentine belt replace kit -ipd Distributor cap & rotor replace kit -FCP Groton PCV replace kit Member of VolvoForums and Volvolution
Wednesday, September 2, 2009 5:03 PM - "KF"
I bought a 1996 volvo 850 glt and realize that the horn doesn't work. I checked the horn fuse and it still doesn't blow. What can be the problem?
Thursday, September 3, 2009 4:02 PM - "BR"
The 850's horn contacts are a major issue as well. IPDs kit is perfect and easy to install. Dealer wanted 300-400 dollars to replace entire steering wheel.
Friday, September 4, 2009 6:49 PM - "CH"
I have a 99 V70 and have had an engine vibration with a rumble like sound when in gear only while stopped. Engine is fine when moving and the vibration/noise goes away. I have replaced both upper and lower as well as the passenger side engine mounts. What else could cause this symptom? Possibly the notorious throttle body issue
Monday, September 7, 2009 5:17 AM - "JL"
I have A 95 850 turbo. My problem is that the warning bell and lower interior light comes on when hitting bumps or turning to extreme right. I have removed warning bell from fuse block but light still comes on. Ant ideas on how or what to fix?
Thursday, September 10, 2009 6:22 PM - "J"
Haha! I think I have 4 of those going on, lol. In the process of saving up for the PCV kit, and trying to find time/confidence to rip my dash apart and switch out the odometer gear. Engine mount is on that list soon, too. I have a ridiculous jingling noise that may or may not be from the sway bar end links...Hope that's what it is, so I know what to fix!
Sunday, September 20, 2009 11:09 PM - "J"
I have an 96 850r and the dash makes quite a bit of noise and seems to shake as I drive down any road. Any ideas on how to fix this problem?
Monday, September 21, 2009 8:14 PM - "IA"
Don't forget the evap. Fun fun fun.
Thursday, September 24, 2009 7:08 PM - "G"
I tried tightening the bolts to hold the dash but after three times of that nonsense,....The dash fix for me was two 10" long by 3/8" bolts right through the inside back of dash and through the firewall cut to size and secured with Nylock nuts. Lucky it didnt hit the wiring harness. A piece of sheet metal will protect the wiring harness as you drill. IMPORTANT This is a two person job. Now, lots of bumps and not a peep.
Sunday, September 27, 2009 9:37 PM - "G"
Your site is great ! I have a '99 V70/XC Automatic. The car starts up all the time fine but if I run into a store and come out and then restart the car it starts and dies with or without putting my foot on the gas pedal,if I wait a few minutes it then starts ??? Can't really count on the car ! Also have charging light coming on then from 1-10 miles it goes off-guess it is the alternator-for the home mechanic it seems impossible to get it out-how do you remove the power steering pump -there is no room for a wrench !! Thanks
Tuesday, September 29, 2009 1:37 PM - "S"
WOW...I had most of these issues with my 1996 850 Turbo, which I love!You're right on the money. Keep up the good work!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 3:47 PM - "O"
You forgot all the rear ends, drive shaft & transmission problems the XC70 series that have been reported
Sunday, October 4, 2009 8:32 AM - "DM"
All of your stuff is great and I have had some of the problems with my 1996 850r, but there are a few things that you left out. The motor that operates the gas door on mine stopped opening, but there is a loop just inside the trunk where you get to the bulbs for the right tail lights that will open it. Also there should be a fix for the rear brakes that always squeal after 6000 miles.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009 1:25 PM - "CL"
Great List! I've had at least 3 of these on my 2000 v70. Still haven't found the transmission dipstick....
Friday, October 16, 2009 8:04 AM - "BR"
Fantasatic site!!! I have a few questions ragarding my 1996 Volvo 850 wagon. Last winter, on cold mornings, I would have to crank the heck out of the car to get it started. When I finnaly would get it started, it would let out a puff of black smoke (unburnt fuel). In March, the catalytic converter burnt out, just before the cat' went I was experiencing heavy misfiring on four out of five cylinders. My mechanic told me that the engine was junk, that the motor was building pressure because the rings were worn out. After I replaced the cat' the car would run fine, but randomly chatter and shake (like it was running on two or three cylinders) so bad that I sometimes could not better 20 MPH. The car would also leak about a quart and a half of oil a day. Long story short, I currently trying to repair the car. The oil cap seal was stretched, and I found out that oil got into the distributor cap, and internally "cooked" the distributor. Also, the PCV / Flame trap assembly is so chocked with carbon deposits, that there is no opening in the tube at all!!! The tube is competely sealed shut with carbon. Befor all of this, the car ran mint, never missed a beat. The car has 150,000 miles on it (nothing for a Volvo motor). I am thinking that the motor is fine. Because of the oil leaks, I am wondering if I should replace the oil pan / sump gaskets (to be safe) or if the oil leak will go away after the new PCV / flame trap is installed ? I don't want to replace the gaskets if they are ok, but I also don't want to have to take the motor back out again if the gaskets are bad.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009 5:04 PM - "PM"
Other than normal wear and tear repairs to my '96 850R wagon: tailgate panel, tailgate gas shocks, ABS module, motor mounts, a/c evaporator. Repairs to my '96 850 sedan: transmission gate forks. Translation: new 5-speed :-( I've also replaced the trunk/hatch gas shocks and odometer gears on both cars (at almost identical 90K mileage), and the cloth in both cars' headliners are gone.
Thursday, October 22, 2009 7:36 PM - "CI"
I have a 98 V70R. I have used IPD for the following repairs: shift knob, tail gate, wheel camber, drivers door switches, brake light switch, hoses, spark plugs, propeller shaft, strut insulators, turbo control valve, ignition coil, MAP sensor, timing belt, vaccum hoses, coolant tank, coolant hoses, thermostat, drivers half shaft, plus an ECU upgrade, strut tower bar, any probably ten things I'm forgeting. I think I qualify to be a certified mechanic on the 850 series. Currently the car stops running for no identifiable reason so I will be replacing the camshaft position sensor and ignition module. After that its off to the junk yard, or weapons practice.
Saturday, October 24, 2009 7:24 AM - "AG"
I have a 95 850 GLT with 189k miles (computer stored 205,000) since the odometer broke. Fixed the odometer, trans/engine mount, new resistor for blower motor since my speeds 1-3 didn't work, sway bar links replaced, struts replaced, fixed my tailgate with that kit, and cleaned and replaced parts of the PCV system because oil was getting by the main seal and it stopped after cleaning out the system. This site is the best and I always come here first even after being to all the other more common "performance" sites which only have a few select things of interest and are usually out of stock or not made anymore. Thanks IPD!
Monday, October 26, 2009 12:12 PM - "RS"
I have a 2003 S60 AWD its a great running and driving car but when the car goes through a decent amount of water or slush I get a loud squeal while the car is moving once the road drys up the squeal goes away. Great site alot of good info. Thanks
Saturday, November 14, 2009 9:25 AM - "AI"
Awsome cite. I just have one thing to add. i have a 99 v70. after taking it in for a regulat "check-up" i learned that the electronic throttle body was about to go. after doing reserch i learned that this was a common problem in these models and was almost subject to recall. i didn't know if you all knew about this so i hope this sheads some light for people who had the same problem as i. keep up the great work guys. thanks
Thursday, March 25, 2010 1:57 PM - "TB"
Nice site for Volvo owners, got a CEL for the PCV and soon im gona fixit.S70,GLT - 244.000 miles
Tuesday, July 13, 2010 6:29 AM - "RB"
My son has a 1996 850. The drivers door suddenly won't open. I'm about ready to take it to a body shop to have it dismantled from the inside to figure out the problem. Any ideas. Thanks
Wednesday, October 6, 2010 2:32 PM - "T"
At Rick B. The problem with your passenger door is that their is a small plastic piece attached to your door lock assembly that breaks very easily. When you remove the door panel and remove the lock assembly you'll notice this 1in piece has broken when moving it from lock to unlock position. You can fabricate a piece out of plastic, sheet metal, etc. or try a junk yard. Chances are you'll have to buy the whole assembly if you don't attempt the fix yourself.
Thursday, October 21, 2010 10:24 PM - "J"
i got a 1997 850 volvo turns over but won't start no fire and the dash lights gages stoped working
Wednesday, November 10, 2010 7:54 AM - "J"
I have a 1993 850GLT which I have owned since new. When starting the car in the morning the car won't go over 15mph and hesitates,stutters etc. After about 10 minutes it starts to go 35 to 40mph. After about 20 minutes worrying about a collision it will gradually statr o increase the speed to where it will go 70 on the highway but still sputtering now and then. This happens every day. I took it to the best Volvo mechanic where I have been going for years. There are no codes coming up ad they recently cleaned the throttle plate, put in new spark plugs and tested a new sensor. Nothing seems to work to fix the problem any ideas?
Saturday, December 11, 2010 5:15 PM - "J"
I think that is absolutely wonderful these aftermarket parts available. It just proves Volvo engineering is sub-par. I have spent over $4k in repairs on my 850. That is a lot of take-home pay and is too much for modern transportation. I have to admit I will NEVER buy another Volvo. I will be moving more towards Japanese manufacturers.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011 7:35 PM - "H"
I agree with Jeff - not thinking of buying another volvo and will also be looking at Japanese manufacturers. NYE the transmission just completely died. I am looking at $4k at the shop, or $2 if I use a transmission from a junk yard (750) and auto labor (1000) - but that is a giant gamble. And I was researching most common junking reasons for the v70. I have 2001 year.
Monday, March 28, 2011 3:40 PM - "L"
1999 - S80, 2.4L: I have replaced the external PVC flame-trap without reduction in excessive crankcase pressure. Could the problem be clogged pipes inside the oil pan
Sunday, April 10, 2011 5:43 PM - "R"
I just got my volvol wagon 97 850 T 5 and my radiator has a leak on the plastic right site a have stop. Leakbut i dont know if i should put it in the veicle
Sunday, July 17, 2011 12:10 AM - "MR"
I have worked in Volvo dealers for the passed 18 years and experienced a lot of customers with 850, C,S,V70 with 10valve and 20 valve engines engine light on. Fault codes say MAF,boost pressure sensor,baro sensor and long term fuel trim faults. 90 of the time the fault is a dirt or loose earth point under the right head lamp. I remove the lamp, move the front panel to access the earth terminal, grind away the paint and replace the bolt. Also found it improved startying and performance.
Thursday, February 21, 2019 4:24 AM - "SS"
You may want to include to you list of things; heat sensitive door lock failure and PNP issues. These are constant problems for my 1999 S70. My passenger door never locked. One day it suddenly lock and now I can get it unlocked. I have to remove the inside door panel to get it unlock in order to replace the locking mechanism. Not an easy task. If you have door locking issues, I recommend you replace them while it's easy, before a door get permanently stuck closed. Also I have PNP issues where my car gets stuck in "W" drive. I have to turn my key on almost all the way without starting it and run my shifter from park to low really fast at least 20 times to clean the contacts. So far, it's just been annoying. Thanks for all the other info. Good stuff

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