My wife is thinking about replacing her trusty 2005 Civic with a wagon of some sort. I already own a Saab 9-2x Aero and thought it’d be comic if we had two competing not-100%-Swedish wagons in the driveway and got her a V50 T5.
I’ve owned one Volvo before, an 88 744 Turbo, and while it was occasionally charming to drive I was happy to get rid of it at the end. I didn’t find the experience to be worth the maintenance effort and cost. I also helped a friend tune an 854 T5 up to ~400 BHP and raced it with him a few times. I appreciate Volvos but would not consider myself a fan or loyalist of the brand – I am not looking at V50 the car because it is a Volvo.
I am looking at the V50 because I want something safe, comfortable/quasi-luxurious (the Saab’s interior isn’t terribly nice or quiet), and reasonably fun to drive. Its primary purpose would be very short trips around town (my wife doesn’t drive much) and longer road trips up and down the interstate. Its secondary purpose would be hauling our future kid and all the accoutrements that entails, and possibly a dog.
I haven’t driven one yet because none have shown up for sale in my area over the past few months, so I thought I’d possibly save some time by asking the board a few questions:
1) How nice is the interior, actually? To me it looks nice in photos but I’ve spotted some gripes about interior quality here.
2) How does it handle and drive? I’ve seen complaints about this as well.
3) AT vs MT? I prefer MT but my wife might insist on an AT. Is the AT super problematic?
4) What about all the other issues with the car? I hear of random needs to reflash tranny and ECU, various front end problems, engine problems, etc. Is there a comprehensive list somewhere?
5) I’m a shadetree mechanic; can I do most of the work on the car myself? How expensive are parts?
6) What problems have you had with your car? In your opinion, is the car worth all the reliability issues I see mentioned on the internet? If so, why?
I guess I should summarize that my primary concern is how much of a headache this car will be. As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t find my 744 to be worth it. I’ve owned German cars before and don’t mind doing preventive maintenance or otherwise fixing things if the car makes up for it in performance and/or comfort. I’m just not sure about the value/lifestyle proposition of V50 ownership, so I’m hoping you guys can fill me in.
#4: A) Electric gremlins: I’ve hit unlocking gremlins where the car refused to respond to my remote, then cured itself after I “broke into” the car using the blade key.B) Sunroof drains: the sunroof uses a system of drains at each corner or an open gutter. Any clogs of separated tubes can result in flooding. Easy DIY maintenance.
#5) While the engine layout is, um, “compact,” mechanical work is straightforward and VERY rewarding compared to paying 6X the parts cost at a dealer. (e.g. spark plugs are $60 per set, or $280 to have a dealer replace them.) Parts costs are “up there,” but they are for all cars. Browse tascaparts.com for a preview. I just priced a timing belt, and it was abut the same as I paid for a Chevy Aveo timing belt kit.
You will want to get a volvo vida 2014d multi-language diagnostic system. It costs about what a single dealer visit costs and gives you an encyclopedia of parts, troubleshooting, and repair procedures for all Volvos. You will still need to go to a dealer for software updating.