We bought our first Volvo in 1974. Our second one was purchased in 1983. We went through the nineties without a Volvo. Then in 2001 we got Volvo Cross Country AWD. It was one of the first in town. It was a great vehicle. My wife fell in love with her Volvo wagon, that is at least until our dealer started "fixing it."
Today's modern cars can last a long time if properly maintained. We've always believed in having our cars serviced at dealers even though it is more expensive. This year we gave a friend our 1991 Toyota Previa which had nearly 185,000 miles on it. The oil was never changed except by a Toyota dealer. We never really had a problem with the Toyota. I expect it will easily hit 250,000 miles.
We expected no less from our Volvo, unfortunately we didn't get it. Yet I'm not certain it was the car's problem. We had the car for five years and slightly over 50,000 miles. For the first 47,800 miles the car had zero problems and performed exceptionally well.
At just over 47,800 miles I noticed a stutter in the engine at highway speeds. We took it to our dealer. It took them nearly three days to figure out the problem. It turned out we needed a new throttle body. It ended up costing us $992 since we were a year out of the four year warranty.
When I got home, it only took seconds of Internet searching to find that Volvo throttle body problems are well known and actually part of a class action law suit. Immediately I started wondering why our Volvo dealer had taken three days to figure out what turned out to be a well known problem.
This comes from the "Auto Prophet" and was posted two months before we took our Volvo in for repair.
Now, there is news that Volvo is having problems with its electronic throttle bodies in 1999-2001 models. Since the throttle is computer controlled, if the ETM fails, you are not going to drive any further, as there is no mechanical backup. Customers are stalling, and are having to replace the throttle bodies well before 100,000 miles.
Of course this is only the beginning of the story. Shortly after the repair we noticed a few drops of oil of the garage floor. We assumed it was some spilled oil from the repairs.
Since my wife drives very little, her car stays parked a lot. We made one day trip to Charlotte in the car which was about 400 miles. Other than that trip the car was driven 1,448 miles after the throttle body repair in three months. There still was an occasional drip of oil so we finally decided to take it to the dealer on September 28. In a phone call with the service advisor, we were told that they had found five oil leaks and that the mechanic thought we should consider trading the car. At this time the car had 50,588 miles on it. We were flabbergasted, and it got even worse when we were told it was going to cost us $2,600 for the repairs.
Then the service advisor told they were going to talk to Volvo see what they could do. They eventually came back and said Volvo was going to pay half. Despite many misgivings, we went ahead with the repairs.
My wife finally got her car back on Oct 7. I dropped her off at the dealership and headed off to do some errands. I was just walking into Circuit City when my wife called me and told me that she had driven less than a mile to the first stoplight, and the car started pulsating when she stopped at the light. I told her to take it back to the dealership. It was late Friday afternoon so they gave her a loaner and promised to have it fixed early the next week.
We got a call that the car was fixed late on Monday, October 10. We picked the car up and drove it immediately home and parked it. It wasn't driven until Wednesday night when we went to a late dinner at a neighbor's house which is less than two miles away. When we started to pull back into the garage, we noticed a puddle of oil on the floor.
If you look closely, you can see some of the original oil drips just to the right of my wife's foot. Obviously the oil spill that greeted us after our late dinner was much greater than our original drips.
We cleaned up the puddle, and put down newspaper. There was an equally large puddle the next morning.
We took the car back to the Volvo dealer on Thursday, October 13 and got another loaner. We got a call that day. Apparently the mechanic already had a full day and wouldn't be able to get to it until the next day. The next day we got a call that they were going to put their best mechanic on it, and he wouldn't be able to get to it until Monday. Of course I immediately deduced that if they were putting their best mechanic on it, we likely had been a victim of their worst mechanic.
We picked the car up on Monday October 17, took it home and there was no oil leak the next day.
Of course there was no charge for the last repair. Given we had already paid them $1,442 on top of the throttle body repair, I doubt I would have paid more if they had tried to bill me.
Of course while this was all going on, I was called for a dealer customer satisfaction survey. I gave them an earful. I also gave our service advisor my thoughts on the subject, especially after the second trip when the first mechanic accused us "having a gasket installed" not by them. The Volvo never even had its oil changed anywhere but that dealer. If there were any strange gaskets put in the car, the same Volvo dealer did it. Of course when challenged, the mechanic admitted he was wrong or in other words he was lying and probably trying to cover up his own ineptitude.
On top of all this, the dealer told us that were was no warranty on the repairs. They said if something more happened in the "next little while" they would take care of it. There was a weird explanation as to why no warranty was the case. Supposedly it was because Volvo had paid part of the repairs. Of course it didn't make it sense. However, it didn't really matter to me. I had already made up my mind.
On Wednesday, after no oil leaks for two days, I traded my wife's Volvo. I had completely lost all confidence in the dealer. No one ever apologized to us for what they had done to our car. I'm convinced a clueless mechanic screwed up our car, and we ended up paying for their mistakes. Of course the original throttle problem appears to have been Volvo's contribution to our disaster.
We live in a world of cars loaded with technology. Unfortunately there must be some mechanics out there who not only don't understand the technology, they can't even do the basics. No car springs five oil leaks at one time. I should have hit the roof when they even suggested this. Yet I continued to trust the dealer. I'll never do that again.
Will I ever buy another Volvo? I seriously doubt it. I don't care how much they talk about their high mileage club on their web site. If the dealer who messed up our car is any indication of their dealers, then buying a Volvo is like buying a time bomb. As soon as it needs real service, you'll need a new car.
Unfortunately I think the day of taking your Volvo in and having a few bolts tightened with the result of the car feeling almost like new are long gone. I guess I'll have to amend the favorable rating that I gave the purchase of Volvo by Ford in my post, "Maytag's funeral."
We drive a Volvo. Ours was purchased in 2000 just after Ford purchased Volvo, the company. We have owned other Volvos and found no difference in the quality and safety of this one. Friends who have recently purchased don't seem to have had any different experience than what we've had with our current Volvo, so I think we can reasonably conclude that the Volvo acquisition by Ford was a win for both companies.
In just a couple of months, I've certainly have changed my opinion of Volvo. Of course, I would never buy a car or have one serviced at the dealership where we had our problems.