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Customer Feature - Betsy's Story

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - James Steadman

"...2 years ago i made an adventurous decision and moved to Fairbanks Alaska from Oregon..."
"I had taken a wrong turn and was heading to ~500 miles of gravel roads."
"I start to see the sun rise over the mountain range in front of me I decided to take out my camera and take a picture of the sun rising over the mountain tops."
"Energized and feeling alive I started on my way determined to reach my goal of reaching Fairbanks..."

I bought my first Volvo on the recommendation of my brother, a former Volvo mechanic. She was a 1988 740 naturally aspirated. The body was straight and got me from A to B just fine, especially for a car with 225,000 miles on it when I purchased it and I put on another 20K before I had to sell her due to financial reasons. During the time I owned the 740 one time I was unfortunate enough to be driving on the I-5 217 interchange heading to Beaverton during a summer rainstorm and ended up hitting the wall at 65 MPH. Well in any other car I would have totaled the vehicle. The 740 series are tanks though; it kept on driving with minimal body damage. Well the inevitable happened and I started having issues with the car and couldn’t maintain it any longer so sold it to a friend.

Well 2 accidents later, 2 totaled cars, a couple visits to the ER and a permanently injured shoulder later i decided i needed another Volvo. After a month or two of searching i found my current S70 from a small lot in Newberg. It was just what i was looking for and in my price range. So in 2005 i bought Betsy, she is a beautiful green 1998 Volvo S70 GLT with 2 previous owners and 140K miles on her i stole her for just over $3500 and a promise not to sell her we were out the door and driving home. Since that day i have put 70K miles on her only thing i have had to replace besides scheduled maintenance was the water pump at about 160K.

Well 2 years ago i made an adventurous decision and moved to Fairbanks Alaska from Oregon after landing a cush job. In preparation for my drive I had my ATF fluid changed, replaced my brake pads and rotors, an oil change and a radiator flush and an inspection for any other issues I was ready to go (I had just done a full tune up a couple months prior).

Well on the drive up I left June 16th 2011 at 7am i took I-5 to Canada, went north east and stopped in Prince George about 10 or 11pm that night. I slept 8 hours and hit the road running. That was my only confirmed reservation the entire trip, i had planned on taking the Alcan Highway and continue to head north to Alaska. Well my GPS had other plans, 2 hours out from Prince George I found out my mistake and realized what happened. I had taken a wrong turn and was heading to ~500 miles of gravel roads. Well 9 or 10 hours later I make it into the Yukon Territory. I tried to find a place to stop for the night and sleep and had run out of luck. So I did what any other semi rational person would do, I cracked another Rockstar and kept driving. Well this far north and being just a few days away from the summer solstice the sun didn’t set until around 2 or 3AM. When I noticed it getting dark I pulled over and tried to sleep for an hour. In a fully packed car in which I couldn’t even recline my seat back this proved to be a difficult task. So as I start to see the sun rise over the mountain range in front of me I decided to take out my camera and take a picture of the sun rising over the mountain tops. To date it is one of my favorite photos I have ever taken. I take a couple of shots and hoped in the car and kept going. Around 7am I arrived in Whitehorse about 600 miles from my destination, so I stopped and checked the local hotels to see if there was a room available. Unfortunately there was a conference in town and all the rooms were booked. So I stocked up on energy drinks and kept on driving until about 12. I had been awake since 7am the day before and again tried to nap, I got 30 minutes in the time and was refreshed. Energized and feeling alive I started on my way determined to reach my goal of reaching Fairbanks before 5pm. Well after several more hours and reaching 115mph at least once I arrived in Fairbanks ahead of schedule at 3:30 pm. Roughly 2500 miles and 56 hours from leaving Portland I had made it to my destination, alive intact and VERY tired. Even though I was exhausted, Betsy my loveable S70 was ready to keep on driving. I found a hotel and slept for almost 12 hours, I woke up and went and met my new boss. After that drive all that was needed was a well-deserved oil change

For those of you that aren’t aware Fairbanks see’s about 114 days of subzero cold and 65" of snow. We were rated the second worst weather city by the weather channel just recently. I said great bring it on; this is what Volvo’s were made for. My first year here we saw weeks of -40 to -55*F without proper preparation good luck getting a car to start in those extremes.

During the next few months I met my current wife and began to plan for winter. I make several calls to get a block heater for my s70, even after contacting Volvo everything came up dry and no shop in town would touch my Volvo. After hours of searching I thought I finally found one so I ordered it and when it arrived I took it to a shop in Anchorage ~350 miles away that was a Volvo specialist. Long story short I get there and was sent the incorrect block heater for Betsy. The shop had a good relationship with the local dealer in town, so I called them up and explained what had happened. They did not have the part in their inventory system nor could the order it as they had previously told me when I contacted them some months back. But this time they told me they had a part left over from someone like me who ordered the wrong part. They said it was mine if I wanted it and it fit, so I took the 10 minute walk thinking I had wasted a trip and that no way this was the right part. Sure enough it was exactly the part I needed and an hour later we were heading back to the hotel for dinner and sleep.

Since I have lived here I have not had any parts fail besides a frozen battery (which was original to the car mind you)  and a very brittle front bumper tapping a snow bank at -30 one morning pulling in to an unfamiliar parking spot. I have only gotten stuck once and it was my own fault for being foolish, and then I was even able to push it out myself with my wife behind the wheel no worse for wear.

Recently I have performed another tune up on Betsy and had her inspected to get ready for my trip back to Oregon here in the next few months, now if only I could find job before getting down there. She now has 210K miles on her and runs like new, I plan on keeping this car until it can no longer run. It has been the best car I have ever owned and would highly recommend anyone looking for a used car to consider the 70 series. My daughter is 9 months old and I sincerely hope to give this car to her when she turns 16, with all new interior (my long term project), a new coat of paint and still running like a champ. Sure it is a long ways away but I do plan on hitting the million mile club with her and firmly believe with little more than standard preventative maintenance that will not be a problem in the slightest.

We love featuring some of the great Volvo stories that come across our desk. We plan on doing this on a regular basis so if you have a project car, helpful tech tip or other cool Volvo related story, share it with us and we’ll likely feature you in a future customer spotlight.

Email me at bryan@ipdusa.com to submit your story.

Community Comments

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - ROBERT BOZICH

I had the same car. 1999 S70 with 310,000 miles on it. I gave it to my dad when he sold his 2009 Honda. He likes the S70 better.

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