Are volvos expensive to maintain?

I need to buy a used car and I'm considering a late'80s/early'90s Volvo stationwagon, due to the abundant cargo space and a sale price that I
can afford. I have heard that volvos are expensive to fix and that has always adjusted my choices towards Japanese imports. American cars have never been (and will never be) considered until they get better. To what extent are the rumors true about volvos being expensive to fix? Is it just expensive if I do something such as accidentally hit something, or are exhaust, brake and other regular upkeep services costly too? Are the transmissions (automatic in particular) durable?
Another question not related to the message topic, but more to my interest in volvos - Is there a website that lists the specifications, standard features, and offered options of all the US volvos of the past 10-20 years?
Thanks for all useful answers.
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Generally no more expensive than a Japanese car, the only problem is if you aren't inclined to work on it yourself it can be tricky to find a good independent shop. Avoid dealers unless absolutely nessesary, they have no real interest in working on older cars and will only do their best to convince you to buy a new one. People taking their Volvo to dealers for service is likely much of the reason for the rumor that they're expensive to maintain. I have several older ones and they've been the cheapest to maintain cars I've ever owned, used parts are abundant, there's a few good online dealers that stock new stuff at discount prices, there were few significant changes throughout the years they were produced so most of the common faults are well documented. If you're the type who likes to work on your own car they're hard to beat, everything fits together in a logical fashion, there's lots of room to work in the engine compartment, no special tools required for any of the routine stuff, it's a shadetree mechanic's dream. Do some research, have the car checked out by a Volvo knowledgeable mechanic and keep up on the scheduled maintenance. A well maintained 200/700/900 series car will generally run until the interior and body crumble to dust.

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Seconded. After 10 or so 140/164/240 series cars, the least $ per mile or year of any of the several hundred cars I've had. Now refined to only Volvos [and old Mercedes, OT]. Google the rest, tons of stuff. Here's why you should buy an old brick: http://langis.richard.tripod.com/accident.html [Regulars will please excuse the repetition: this is far more important than maintenance costs.] Today I went for a blast in a Ferrari Testarossa, a stunning car, [way OT - http://classiccars.orcon.net.nz/1987ferraritestarossa.htm ] but I'd rather drive my 245 - http://classiccarfair.orcon.net.nz/volvo245.htm - around town. Some of the newer Volvos seem to be missing primary safety features. Cheers.
James Sweet wrote:

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I disagree on the cost issue. Parts are more costly, harder to get, and generally indy shops are also more expensive than Jap shops. If you want better costs, go Japanese. I've had a mere 4 volvos for about 500K miles in the last 15 years.

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The most expensive headlamp ever made was for a Subaru rust bucket.
I still have my '90 Subaru rust bucket. It is not worth anything on the used car market. We had to replace the tailgate. It had rusted so bad they couldn't fix it. The tailgate handle actually fell off. They patched and touched up the rest of the car. That lasted about one year. It is rusted all over again. We just use the Subaru in winter when the roads are icy or snow covered. The rest of the year my wife drives her 850.
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I have owned 11 Volvos and really don't know how expensive they are to repair since mine seldom need repairs. I faithfully get routine service at my Volvo dealer and don't have many problems. Just about all problems are covered by warranty.
I find that people who go to independant garages have more problems. It could be that they don't know what they are doing and cause problems.
For more details, visit my website.
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PCB:
I think Volvos can be expensive to maintain. But with the internet, it's possible to shop around for parts more than ever.
That said, wear items like brake pads, belts and hoses are no big expense. If you need electrical parts or major components, then yes, it is expensive. Like all foreign cars, part supplies dry up sooner. If the volvo you're looking at has been cared for and everything works, then you should be OK.
It helps if you can do some maintenance yourself. That saves a lot of $$$ over the years. I would look for rust on the RWD cars and verify ALL the electrical controls work. Do a CARFAX too.
Volvos can be rewarding cars to drive and pile on the miles. They have character and are somewhat unique on the road, depending on where you live. Swedes have a different way of doing things (IKEA) and that styles comes through on their cars too. Plus, the wagons are very roomy and useful, unlike a lot of Japanese cars, especially for tall people.
Good luck

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My family has a 1993 960. The most expensive thing that has been done is the steering rack, which was my mothers fault for it leaking at the pump (she turns the wheel when the car isn't in motion quite a bit). We have had to replace a leaking rear caliper, brake pads once, then all the fluids and such. The second biggest repair was a new oilpan, an oilchange shop didn't realize it was aluminum, and stripped the threading.
Our car has no rust whatsoever on it, and it is a Canadian car, and everything works great, minus the stereo, which is going south. The Volume knob really needs electronics cleaner sprayed in it, and the FM antenna seems to have a fault in the radio unit itself.
I would recommend a 960 or V90 to you. (no bias whatsoever ;-) my dad said it's a MUCH more pleasant car to own over the 240's and 740's (including a 16V) he ahs had, I have never driven the "lesser" models, but I think the 960 is fantastic).
If you get a 960 the ECC is weird.... It works well, but it gets confused at certain temperatures, if its REALLY hot, do it yourself, or you might get cool coming from the centre ducts, and super frozen ice air coming out the side vents... in temperate/pretty hot days its really good, in the winter is awesome. In any case, its not as bad as using sliders/dials to control temperature.

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From your original request description, I think you are looking for a 240 (cheapest, most reliable), a 740, or a 940 (more expensive). All 3 of these were considered pretty durable, and share the same engine and rear wheel drive transmission. Newer models, like the 850, S70, S90, S60, S80, etc., are probably nicer but more expensive cars and can not be more durable than the first 3 I mentioned.
All of these cars are comfortable, both in town and long hiway trips. The 240, 740, and 940 (non-turbo) do not have super-peppy engines - it was just not a priority for Volvo.
The transmissions, if the fluid is flushed and changed on schedule, will last till the car crumbles.
The best way to keep the cost of ownership down is to do the maintenance on schedule. If you are knowledgeable and a little handy, you can do most maintenance yourself. Be careful about who you choose to do the rest. Dealer service seems to have a bad reputation, mostly on the high cost side, but you must understand that not all dealers deserve the reputation caused by some. Likewise, some independent mechanics are very well trained, do quality work, and charge a reasonable price, while other independents are not so good. Take your time to check out the mechanic's ability. Also, <big><bold><emphasized>be sure to have a used car inspected by a mechanic who is very knowledgeable with the model you are looking at before buying. Ask for written report, which will help you to not only get price estimates for any necessary repairs, but also to help negotiate the best purchase price.</big></bold></emphasized> Do not buy a used car that has not been maintained.
The best way to drive up the cost of ownership is don't do the scheduled maintenance. This is such a simple philosophy, and is very much in line with the overall Volvo tradition.
G'luck.

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PCB,
Volvos are in the 'luxury' class of vehicle therefore they will be more expensive than (say) a Ford Taurus. A web site to visit is: http://www.swedishbricks.net/700900FAQ/BuyingUsed7xx1.html#Buying%20a%20Used%207xx/9xx .
This has excellent advice regarding what to look for in buying a used 700/900 series Volvo.
HTH,
Norm

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They are probably cheaper to run then an older Ford Taurus... those things eat parts like trannies, suspension, other stuff, and the bodies rot out.

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Having worked on Americans and Japs before, and working recently on Volvos, I find them expensive to mantain. Just my .02
PCB wrote:

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PCB wrote:

The Volvos of that era are a little pricey to maintain compared to Japanese cars, but they also seem to last a bit better. Our '88 240 has averaged about $75/month in repairs and preventative maintainance over the five years we've had it, but my '86 Civic Si seems determined to start catching up. The AW-71 automatic tramission is very sturdy if you give it fresh fluid every few years, and the basic engine longblock is also rugged. It's the little things like wiring and accessories that drive up the repair tags. The steering rack seems a little fragile compared with the rest of the running gear. If you can/want to work on a 240 yourself, it isn't expensive to maintain. Brakes and exhaust are no more expensive than for a Camry.
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