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volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse HalfDork
12/13/13 10:11 a.m.

Another topic I was perusing recently brought up the topic of the Saab 9-3 wagon as a potential utility vehicle. My knowledge of automobiles is somewhat limited after about 1974, but the wife and I have been contemplating replacing her B-O-F 2-door SUV (GMC Jimmy) with something a little more long-distance trip friendly and better for hauling stuff.

I have to admit, I am partial to the Volvo and Saab wagons- I just looked at a blue 9-3 wagon and though, "Wow, that's a pretty sharp looking car!", something I rarely say about modern appliances. V70's (Volvo) look quite good to me, too. But where I get scared is reliability. I have heard people say to avoid modern Volvos and Saabs like the plague, which frankly fits in with my own mentality of anything complicated must be inherently unreliable...or at least, less reliable than something simple. Her 4.3 V6 Jimmy has been about a reliable as gravity for 150,000 miles, despite being slightly thirsty, not terribly comfortable for long trips, and not very utilitarian with only 2 doors and a (now sticky) hatch.

So, help me learn. I've heard the Saab 9-3 with the 2.0 turbo is a nice setup. I'd prefer a stick, Wife prefers an auto...Obviously I can live with an auto but she's driven a stick before and she's not bad with one. Obviously, here in 'Murica autos are way easier to find. But again, reliability scares me with an automatic. Same goes for AWD- plus, like the auto, it comes with a fuel consumption penalty. I buy good tires. :-)

OK, forumites, lay it on me, slap me with your knowledge of all things Swedish and modern and wagonny! Most importantly- what's reliable, and what's not.

Hungary Bill
Hungary Bill Dork
12/13/13 10:18 a.m.

I had a very similar thread a while back. It's not "chock-full of info" but it's got some nice pointers in it: enjoy!

Other than that I have no experience... sorry. We are still looking at a Red 9-3 sport kombi in Portland but we wont be back until closer to Christmas to actually "see" it.

Good luck, and happy hunting! -Bill

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory Dork
12/13/13 10:20 a.m.

Would you mind if the replies included the AWD XC70 as well or should I start a new thread? Your questions are very similar to mine.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse HalfDork
12/13/13 10:26 a.m.
ebonyandivory wrote: Would you mind if the replies included the AWD XC70 as well or should I start a new thread? Your questions are very similar to mine.

Sure, why not? Just because I'm not interested in AWD doesn't mean someone doesn't have some good info on them. I am kindof curious about their reliability myself.

The Saab 9-2 popped onto my radar, but Subarus aren't really my thing, either. ;-)

mfennell
mfennell New Reader
12/13/13 10:48 a.m.

Oh yeah.

I've been researching 2001-2007 V70s. I plan to hop off the BMW train this spring and buy one. They seem durable (LOTS for sale with huge mileage) and are cheap. Surfing the various forums doesn't seem to reveal any massive problems with the FWD cars. The AWD cars eat up part of their drivetrain (bevel gear?).

As tempted as I am by something cool like the AWD V70R, I'm leaning towards a normally aspirated FWD 5-speed stick if I can find one. I really miss having a nice daily wagon that can fit a fully assembled bicycle, something I seem to require 2-3X/wk. My E34 wagon is a total E36 M3heap. I could convert the dead self leveling to standard springs/shocks but still have rusty doors, a trans that no longer locks up, rusting doors, etc. It's used up. 234k miles, much of it indifferently maintained.

The pencilled in plan is wheels ("Pegasus"), bilsteins, springs, and IPD sways. Slow but decent handling is fine with me. An aftermarket stereo to give me some Bluetooth, and I think I'll be happy.

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
12/13/13 10:56 a.m.

I had an 850.. the precursor to the Volvo 70 series (first gen 70s were 850s with different interiors, bumpers, and lights) and it was as reliable as gravity. Granted I only owned it 9 months, it did not have a single issue as a daily driver in that time period.

I would stay away from the Cross Countries unless you absolutely must have AWD. Keep it simple and they stay pretty reliable. and make sure you replace the timing belt on the I5

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 HalfDork
12/13/13 12:33 p.m.

I think I've probably commented in every 850, V/S70, etc. thread over the past few years. I know there's a few threads on these already.

You'll be hard pressed to find a V70 with AWD & a manual that's not an R, 99% sure you won't though the P2 cars aren't my specialty. P2 are the later V70s, started in '01 and ended '07-ish. Mad_machine is right the first S/V70 was basically still an 850 with slightly rounder edges. I drive an 850, and have quite a few S70 parts on it.

There's nothing inherently "unreliable" with any of them, most all issues can be blamed on poor/deferred maintenance from the previous owners.

The non-turbos will give you the least issues with regards to maintenance, and aren't terribly under powered for the chassis. The 2.4l n/a still makes about 170 Hp. Many describe it as having driving characteristics similar to a larger 4 cyl, which makes since since it's a 5 cyl. Fuel economy ain't the greatest, I keep my foot in mine (non-turbo auto) and have been getting around 22 combined. Other people claim much better, but they obviously don't have my commute and heavy right foot.

Timing belt is probably the biggest killer, the engines are interference, bent valves will usually send the older cars to the scrap yard. It's not a hard job for an average GRMer, but can be time consuming. Volvo doesn't recommend replacing the water pump with each timing belt, but I and many others do. Don't skimp on parts, do everything, idler, tensioner, water pump, etc. every 5 years to 100K miles, which ever comes first. If it's not documented by previous owner, work the added cost into the budget of the car.

PCV systems can be a chore, it's a little more complicated than what's on the Jimmy. Some of the lines/oil separator can clog over time, then crank case pressures build up and cause oil leaks as seals are blown. Easy way to check is pull the dipstick out a bit with car running & up to temp. A little smoke is acceptable, a visible plume probably means it needs a PCV refresh. The parts aren't that expensive, but it's labor intensive, the intake manifold must be removed to replace most of the components.

The P80 cars (850 & S/V70 before '01) have been known to have A/C evap core issues. Some of the cars came from the factory without a cabin filter, years and years of dirt, pine needles, pollen, etc. build up on the evaporator, eventually they'll leak and the A/C won't blow cold/stay charged. If the A/C doesn't work, and there's not a cabin filter in place, I probably wouldn't buy the car. The evap core requires removal of dang near the entire front interior of the car to replace it. Check for cabin filter on the P/S cowl between the hood and window. You'll need to remove a couple torx screws to get under the plastic cowl and check. At least on the P80 cars. If it's an older car and the A/C still works, I probably wouldn't sweat it, it's either been fixed, or was never exposed to the conditions blamed for the problem in the first place.

As for the Volvo AWD, the later P2 cars are the one to get. Haldex get's a bad wrap, but it's a significantly better system than Volvo's earlier attempts. The early versions' bevel gear transfer case is susceptible to mixed/differing tire size/wear issues, and oil starvation. It doesn't hold much oil in the first place, and most don't catch a leak early enough to do anything about it.

You may notice when looking at used early AWD cars, that they ain't AWD anymore. Some one has removed the rear drive shaft, and using the car as FWD.

Volvo makes the most comfortable seats of just about any car make I've sat in, so they've got that going for them too.

I think that covers the worst of it. Happy to answer any questions. I've wrenched on 850, S70, V70, S80 T6, XC90 as they all are/have been in the family.

  • Lee
bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 HalfDork
12/13/13 12:41 p.m.

I believe the best spot for general knowledge/repairs in the Volvo community is Matthew's Volvo Site. They're a great group of friendly and knowledgeable Volvo nerds without the rif-raf, and trolls found on so many of the enthusiast forums. They welcome newcomers, are happy to answer those "noob" questions without belittling you. Though it never hurts if you actually do search first before asking your question, chances are you'll find the answer.

http://www.matthewsvolvosite.com/ I made the homepage again, some of those header pics are mine.

There are other forums out there more focused on performance, but I generally can't stomach the nutswingers and group-think that happens in them.

  • Lee
tuna55
tuna55 PowerDork
12/13/13 12:43 p.m.

The Saab 9-3 sure was purty.

Did that help?

mfennell
mfennell New Reader
12/13/13 12:46 p.m.

Fantastic summary Lee. Thanks!

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse HalfDork
12/13/13 12:59 p.m.

Here's a wagon I was eyeing on eBay:

Convertibles sure are swell, but don't really replace an SUV very well.

I saw a V50 wagon on my lunchbreak today, thought it looked pretty sharp, too.

tuna55
tuna55 PowerDork
12/13/13 1:07 p.m.
volvoclearinghouse wrote: Here's a wagon I was eyeing on eBay: Convertibles sure are swell, but don't really replace an SUV very well. I saw a V50 wagon on my lunchbreak today, thought it looked pretty sharp, too.

Buy it, at the very worst you convert it to rwd and drop in a LS3.

Or, more likely, you hack it all apart, loosely lay an engine in the bay, run out of steam and then let it rot for a while.

hehehe

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse HalfDork
12/13/13 1:20 p.m.

Even better...here's one with a 5 speed stick!

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/ctd/4235680739.html

Red...Hmmm...

So, how's that pickup coming, tuna?

tuna55
tuna55 PowerDork
12/13/13 1:34 p.m.

In reply to volvoclearinghouse:

Read the build thread. The past few weeks have been rather devoid of progress.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse HalfDork
12/13/13 2:05 p.m.

I do read the BT. I was busting your balls, same as you were busting mine. :-P

As shallow as this sounds, I think I prefer the styling of the 9-3 to any of the Volvo wagons...plus from my limited research it looks like the Saabs are easier to find with a manual transmission. Like that red 9-3 I listed above. It does have the sat nav, though- something I don't really care for and have heard likes to break.

Mmadness
Mmadness Reader
12/13/13 2:21 p.m.

In July (7,500mi. ago) I bought a 2004 S60R GT(slush box) w/ 119,000mi. and a new/ rebuilt engine (the old one overheated). Sp far I have (or will in the near future) replace the Spring Seats Strut support plate (bearings) Bump stops and bellows Right CV axle Lower transmission stabilizer (torque) mount Control Arms (bushings) Exhaust (rusted)

Maintenance Items: Transmission fluid Halidex fluid Haldex Filter (Front) Angle Gear fluid (Rear) Differential Fluid Oil and filter Brake rotors and pads (courtesy of a track day)

If you change the angle gear (aka bevel gear) fluid regularly, you won't run into issues. The "lifetime" fluid seems to refer to the lifetime of the warranty; it only costs $4 to change and takes 15minutes tops.

Also the transmissions flow in a different direction from 2004 on.

If you must buy new parts, Lemfroder is the OE supplier and provides an identical part for half the price in some cases. After buying both and comparing them side by side, I went with Meyle over Lemfroder for the control arms.

If the spring seats must be replaced go with the XC90 spring seat.

The brakes held up even during an hour long session at Shenandoah but they died in the line of duty and must be replaced; I'm going with Hawk DCT-30s.

Powar
Powar SuperDork
12/13/13 2:26 p.m.
volvoclearinghouse wrote: Even better...here's one with a 5 speed stick! http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/ctd/4235680739.html Red...Hmmm... So, how's that pickup coming, tuna?

Jesus. I want that.

Mmadness
Mmadness Reader
12/13/13 2:29 p.m.
mfennell wrote: Oh yeah. The pencilled in plan is wheels ("Pegasus"), bilsteins, springs, and IPD sways. Slow but decent handling is fine with me. An aftermarket stereo to give me some Bluetooth, and I think I'll be happy.

I recommend camber bolts to; they made a big difference on mine and saved me in terms of tire wear. I went with the h&R TC-114 but I can't say for certain that it is worth it over the cheaper camber bolts.

I have also been considering the IPD polyurethane subframe bushing inserts.

If you remove the silence and resonator, these cars sound similair to a Lamborghini Gallardo; just look around YouTube.

Aspen
Aspen New Reader
12/13/13 2:31 p.m.

The Saab auto in the 9-3 Sportcombi has proven very reliable so it you must get an auto don't worry. I like Volvos too, they are bigger but thirstier, stodgy and heavy. The Saabs look better and are more fun to drive, but definitely less rear leg room. For both stay away from AWD.

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 HalfDork
12/13/13 2:49 p.m.

In reply to Mmadness:

Allegedly you don't have to go with the XC90 spring seats anymore if buying OEM. All the factory parts have been "upgraded" to XC90 type spring seats.

There's plenty of aftermarket E36 M3 out there still though. I went through a set of Scantech spring seats and strut bearings in less than 20K miles.

I used XC90 spring seats, and blue box Volvo strut bearings when I re-redid them.

Spot on with the Lemforder reference, significant savings to be had by buying them instead of Volvo.

  • Lee
volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse HalfDork
12/13/13 2:53 p.m.
Powar wrote:
volvoclearinghouse wrote: Even better...here's one with a 5 speed stick! http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/ctd/4235680739.html Red...Hmmm...

Jesus. I want that.

Tell me about it, and I don't even usually like red. And it's like an hour from my house. Must...resist...

Tim Baxter
Tim Baxter PowerDork
12/13/13 3:08 p.m.

Not wagon-relevant, but the wife's S40 has been completely trouble-free for 7 1/2 years and 80k miles now.

4g63t
4g63t HalfDork
12/13/13 3:23 p.m.

I'm surrounded by Volvo techs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Yay!!!!

failboat
failboat SuperDork
12/13/13 5:06 p.m.

I am not even in the market for another car and I want a volvo wagon now. Damn you GRM!!!

MINIzguy
MINIzguy New Reader
12/13/13 5:22 p.m.

I shouldn't be in the market for a new car but GRM has gotten me into daily Craigslist browsing.

My search cycle usually goes: cheap manual transmission beater Swedish cars in a manual American cars in a manual and then I shy back into what I'm familiar with and look at cheap BMW's in a manual.

I don't have much to add. I've test driven a Saab 93 Aero (V6 and 6 speed) and it drove very well. I've worked on a friend's 2004 93 Linear and the struts were super easy to R&R. She isn't the gentlest on her car either and it has never left her stranded. I'd say they're good cars!

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