Ask The Best and Brightest: Keep Volvo XC70 or Head for Acadia?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

TTAC commentator cc-rider needs some help with his sister’s choice of whips:

Two-and-a-half years ago, my sister bought a 2003 Certified Pre-Owned Volvo XC 70 wagon for $22K, with 55,000 miles on the clock. She now owns the car, out of warranty, knocking on the big rollover (100k). The XC’s dash lights in the gauges and half the instruments don’t work. After charging her $275 for a useless computer reflash, the stealership says it’s the DIM module: a $1200 dash off repair. Oh, and the car needs new lower control arm bushings and sway bar end links. Roughly $2000 all in. Last month, sis spent about $2600 on all new tires, replacing the steering rack and fixing some other front end parts. She has two kids and a large dog, and likes to separate the three (i.e. three rows). She figures she can get $7k for the XC and put another $7k towards her next ride. She’s close to pulling the trigger on a new Acadia out of sheer anger with this Volvo. Should she get in touch with her inner Lang (bring the XC to a local Volvo mechanic and sort it out), buy a New GM appliance or look for a Professional Grade upgrade?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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4 of 47 comments
  • PartsUnknown PartsUnknown on Jul 16, 2009

    cc-rider, Swedish Motor Works in Concord. Great indy shop.

  • Dolorean23 Dolorean23 on Jul 16, 2009
    I’d get a Highlander or Pilot. You get three rows, like the Acadia, but with ironclad reliability, and without the killer depreciation of the GMC. Where do we get the idea that Hondas and Toyotas are somehow exempt from producing crap? The Highlander has had several recall problems as has had the Pilot. So far, I haven't heard too many problems with the Acadia, though I wouldn't go for one. Trade in that lovely Volvo for another. Normally dealerships give a loyalty bonus and may find you a great deal.
  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Jul 16, 2009

    1) Independent mechanic. Believe it or not many Volvo specialists are just as expensive as the dealer. Having owned several versions of this model I would have no problem taking it to an indy shop that has been around for a long time. 2) She should visit this site and find out what's in store for her so she can prepare. 3) Use the best fluids... period Newer Volvos are EXTREME cases when it comes to the use of special fluids and the value created by using top quality parts. You can't 'Autozone' and 'Wal-Mart' them. The XC70 in particular will typically need premium tires (the AWD system is very sensitive), a unique transmission fluid (the Camry and Altima share it), and runs far better on synthetic. The good news is that this model can run exceptionally well for the long haul. The bad news is that parts are simply not cheap. But compared to the OMG dealership prices, she should see her maintenance costs be far lower. Look at the Volvo schedule, change the tranny fluid every two years (and no, I am not kidding) and she should be more than fine. Keep the car. Keep up with maintenance.

  • Alfabert Alfabert on Jul 16, 2009

    It's an honor to follow Steven Lang. +1 on everything he says. The value received at a good independent shop at the same per hour rate will still be greater than at the stealership. The newer Volvos aren't like the old bricks, but that change had happened long before Ford. The old RWD bricks were solid, to be sure - my 1991 171K 744 was recently sold to friends, due to the can't-keep-a-fifth car-around-anymore syndrome, among other things. The beloved late 1993 160K 945 was totaled only after a seriously drunk driver plowed into it. But the FWD V70 and S80 are still pretty solid at around 120K each. In fact, at the same mileages they have had fewer repairs than experienced with the old RWD bricks. E.g., the Japanese A/C compressor failing at 98K on the 1991 744, the motor mounts at 90K, etc. ... (and all the troublesome parts on my Alfa Romeo 164 were all built by Bosch... go figure.) If the XC70 has a normally aspirated 5 cylinder Porsche-designed white block engine, and a Aisin-Warner Japanese transmission, it's probably good for at least another 100K miles. YMMV of course, but why would anyone expect to run any Euro car out of warranty for $900 a year in maintenance?