Category Archives: I bought another Volvo

Ten Years Gone, Like Dusk to Dawn

Earlier this year, in March, we marked ten years here at  Over that decade, I’ve owned at least 14 Volvos, and documented them here on the website.  Tons of things have changed in my life, but one small consistency has been the cars.

Usually in these anniversary posts (which themselves are usually several months late), I end up writing about my future car plans.

I’ve been shopping for 2004-07 Volvo V70R’s for several years.  I’ve test driven several of them, but I just can’t pull the trigger and actually buy one.  I always pay cash for cars, so there’s that – it’s a big outlay.  But they are also incredibly needy and very expensive to maintain, and none of them are ever in as nice of shape as they appear online.  People list a V70R at twice the blue book, and you go to look at it thinking it must be immaculate, and it turns out it actually still needs $4,000 of suspension and drivetrain work!

So, I’m building what I call my “almost R” – taking the solid platform of the 1996 Volvo 855 platinum edition that I already own and building that up.

I also bought this:


A 1997 Volvo 850, non-turbo, that’s been beat up, is making some scary engine noises, and has a funky-smelling interior.  Sounds terrible, but it was cheap and has a very nice 5-speed transmission.  Since it’s only seen non-turbo power, the transmission still shifts smoothly even with 180,000 miles on the clock.

This past weekend I pulled the transmission out of this car.  It wasn’t an easy task, but was doable with an engine support beam, floor jack, transmission jack, and a LOT of patience.  Over the coming weeks I’ll be putting it into the 1996 855 platinum, with a list of other goodies:

  • Volvo M56H manual transmission, shifter, etc.
  • Replacement of wear items, such as hydraulic clutch cylinders, hoses, seals, subframe bushings, etc.
  • Euro 850R clutch kit
  • Quaife Limited Slip Differential (inside the transmission)
  • Snabb Short Throw Shift Kit (on top of the transmission)
  • Snabb intake pipe
  • Snabb 960 throttle plate
  • big intercooler and piping kit
  • silicone hoses throughout
  • Non-turbo throttle body and intake manifold (from 1997)
  • Non-turbo camshafts (from 1997)
  • Gates blue timing belt
  • OEM valve guide seals


  • Platinum-painted OEM rear wagon spoiler with LED brake light
  • Volvo windshield banner vinyl (silver text on black background)
  • European side markers

So, onward with the car projects and the Volvo adventures.  Who knows what I’ll be driving in 10 years – maybe a Tesla – but for now, still racking up the miles on my Volvo wagons.

2006 V70 2.5T – Further Front Wheel Drive Adventures


So I ended up making another upgrade, biting the bullet and diving into a black 2006 V70 2.5T.  Volvo’s reliable 5-cylinder whiteblock, but in something a bit more modern.  I averaged 32 MPG on the way home from picking it up, and the ride is comfortable, quiet, and surefooted.  I shied away from the more powerful V70R model due to the reliability issues that come with that much power.  Beautiful wagons, but you have to pay to play, and for me, the value just wasn’t there.  A good V70 can sell for about half the cost of a comparable V70R, and that doesn’t count the higher insurance, worse fuel economy, more maintenance and more expensive maintenance.

You do occasionally see manual transmission T5 cars – “T5M” as they are called.  But the T5M is very rare, and only available from 2001-04.  The T5 and R cars, while more powerful than the 2.5T, also tended to be harder on the automatic transmissions.
The manual transmission 2.4 N/A cars are more common and get very good gas mileage, but the main issue with them is that most were base models with few options.  It is rare to find a manual transmission, 2.4 N/A car with leather and heated seats for example.
You can look up the options specific for each year (here, by changing the link to the appropriate year).  The available options, and how they were grouped, changed a lot from year to year.
I bought this particular 2006 V70 2.5T because of these reasons, which may provide some insight:
  • later years are better for these cars, especially the 5-speed automatic.
  • transmission fluid flushes were on the CarFax report and were done on schedule – extremely important.  transmission fluid was not new, but still red. I  flushed the fluid shortly after buying it for the 90k service (car has 89k).
  • car was from Southern California, rust free with one owner from 10k miles to now.  from 0 to 10k was a “corporate fleet” owner, likely a dealership.
  • car was black, and most of the colors that V70s came in are not appealing to me.  Silver, silver-green, silver-grey, silver-blue, silver-yellow, etc.  I was looking for white or black non-metallic ideally, or maybe blue or burgundy metallic.  V70R’s came in better colors (Passion Red, Sonic Blue, Magic Blue, and Flash Green for example) but sadly most of the ones for sale are usually black, gray or silver.  Boring!
  • car had most of the options I wanted (climate package, premium package, 17″ wheels, roof rails and cross bars.  missing: Dolby sound) and none that I didn’t want (nav, satellite radio).

So there is the V70 story so far…  I had the windows tinted a few weeks ago, put in a bluetooth radio adapter (so I can listen to some music from my phone), and have some maintenance work to catch up on (spark plugs, coil packs, vacuum lines) to sort out a very slightly rough idle.

I spent quite some time researching the P2 V70 cars and talking to mechanics about them.  Here are my notes from my search:

US engines:

  • 2.4 non-turbo (N/A) (01-07) (just “V70” badging)
  • 2.4 (01-03) or 2.5 (04-07) low-pressure turbo (“2.4T / 2.5T” badging, and the only option on all XC70s, 01-07).  The 2.5T was available in 03, but only on AWD models.
  • 2.3 (01-04) or 2.4 (05 only) high pressure turbo (“T5” badging)
  • 2.5 (04-07) even bigger turbo (“R” badging)

Mechanic notes:  All engines are solid, N/A easiest to work on and most reliable.  R least reliable due to high power and driver abuse.

US transmissions:

  • five speed manual M56 (01-04 on T5 models, 01-07 on 2.4 N/A models)
  • five speed geartronic (01-07, all models except 06-07 R, and only option on all XC70s, 01-07)
  • six speed geartronic was only available on the 2006 to 2007 V70R.  It never came on a non-R V70 or XC70.
  • six speed manual M66 was only available on the R cars.  It never came on a non-R V70 or XC70.

Mechanic notes: M56 very reliable.  6 speed GT (06-07 R models) very reliable.  M66 prone to hydraulic failures, clutch issues.  Look for popping out of gear during test drive – big warning sign.  5 speed GT terrible in early years as Volvo originally spec’d this transmission to never have the fluid changed.  Toyota used the same transmission in many of its cars and spec’d it at 30k.  Volvo later changed their recommendation to 30k as well, but not after many transmission failures on the early cars.  Early cars (01-03, maybe 04) also need transmission software updates from the dealer and “B4 servo cover” fixes that can be had from IPD.  Later year is better for this transmission. Pay attention to shifts, especially 2nd to 3rd.  Watch out for “flaring” where the car misses the shift and takes 5-10 seconds to go into gear – big warning sign.

US drivetrains:

  • AWD: all XC70s and all R’s
  • AWD: optional on 02-04 V70s — 2.4T in 02, 2.5T in 03 and 04 (had AWD badge on back)
  • FWD: all other V70 models

Mechanic notes: AWD systems prone to failure in numerous points.  Typically front and rear bevel/angle gears and/or sleeves.  Watch for any sign of leaks at front/rear diff when buying as evidence of internal failure.  Expect $2500 service to fix each end.  R cars prone to more failures to to high power/torque including axles and driveshaft issues.  “If you can, get a FWD model and snow tires instead”

US Model Year changes:

  • 2001: first year, variety of issues, esp. electronic throttle module – avoid.
  • 2003: updated AWD system
  • 2004: introduction of R model
  • 2005: “facelift” with new plastic headlights instead of glass, new bumpers on XC cars, new center console layout, etc.
  • 2006: updated AWD system, R cars get 6 speed auto
  • 2007: last year, probably best year.

Mechanic notes: never buy an 2001 (heard this from many, although 2001 manual transmission would be “OK” as majority of issues were transmission related), and avoid 2002-03 unless its a manual transmission.  2004-05 are good (but for an auto you want records of transmission service), and 2006-07 are ideal, especially for the XC and R models).

There is some other good information here as well.


Volvo 850 Turbo Platinum Edition


Maybe you saw this car for sale at this year’s IPD Garage Sale?  It’s a 1996 Volvo 850 Turbo Platinum Edition.  1500 Platinum Edition (also known as the TLA model) cars were built, with a special 3-layer pearlescent white paint (Paint Code 424 – Platinum Pearl Metallic) and were loaded with nearly all factory options.  Supposedly 1000 sedan models and 500 wagon models were made.  Presumably, the platinum edition refers to the “Platinum Anniversary” (70 years) of Volvo Cars, which was founded in 1926 (although the first car rolled off the line in 1927).

Click here to read the whole article.


Sold the 1978 Volvo 242 a few months ago…  Sad, but time to move on to more modern cars I guess.  The new owner seems very happy with the car.

Last Septemberish I bought a 1991 Volvo 244 as a spare vehicle. I really wasn’t planning on keeping it, so I never posted it here, but I managed to get around to posting a page about it.

There were a lot of IPD parts on the 1991 that are now on my 1993 Volvo 245, including 25mm anti-sway bars, upper and lower GT braces, upper Cherry Turbo strut brace, Virgo wheels with Bridgestone Potenzas, a set of Yakima racks, and a set of snow tires on Sirius wheels (pictures on the 1991 below, now in my garage awaiting next winter).  The 1991 got the front sway bar from the 1993 and the stock wheels with Michelin Hydro Edge tires.  The snow tires saved me several times this winter during some ice storms, like the one pictured below.

  • Approx 160k miles
  • CD player
  • Turbo front sway bar
  • KYB shocks and struts
  • Magnaflow exhaust
  • New brake pads and rotors

Turning Over the Inventory, Part 2

Well, two bits of news here.  First off, the 1978 242 made it through the five-hour journey to go pick up the 1993 245.  This, in and of itself, was pretty amazing considering what I’ve been through on that car.  I can say this for certain – having the extra engine power going over some of the mountain passes made a huge difference compared to other times I’ve driven my B21F-powered 240s on the same road. The car also made it all the way back (10 hours total, about 600 miles of driving) with no issues! It’s been a difficult experience to get this 30-year old 242 back to reliable daily-drive status, but I think I can say that we’re nearly there. It’s been quite an expensive journey.

Here is the car that I went to go get:


I drove the 1993 245 back home without a hitch, and there are pictures from today posted here, as well as a little info about the car.

The major issues with the car are that it’s going to need a valve shim adjustment soon (I own the tools, so no big deal here) and, much more horrifyingly, it’s going to need a new heater fan soon as well. The current fan is making the ‘shriek of death’ noise, which pretty much sounds like a wailing banshee swooping out of the shadows to devour your soul. Ok, maybe not that bad, but it’s still pretty loud.