First, congratulations on purchasing your car! 2001-2009 5 cylinder P2 chassis Volvos (5 cyl s80, V70, XC70, S60, 5 cyl XC90) It is likely 100k+ miles now. As with all European cars at around 100k miles. There is a bit of work to address various weak points on the car. This car is no exception. So here is a quick list to check the health of the new to you Volvo.
First, read up on a quick few odd things on this car that you aren't likely familiar with from other cars. Know these few things to prevent major damage to this car. Read here
PCV system on this car clogs earlier than many other cars. It will be likely clogged between 50-100k miles. When clogged, the engine will have positive pressure inside that will push oil out of seals and seams resulting list of chain reaction repairs. The PCV system is a complex design and not a simple valve change. See here for more details.
Another weak point on a used P2 Volvo is the transmission. Mainly is it because Volvo (and most European car makers) try to market life time no transmission service required. This is a huge mistake and the main reason so many transmissions have problems at past 100k miles. First thing to make sure is it has new ATF within last 30k miles. Also check the lower transmission torque mount bushing. it is likely broken. See here and here.
Timing belt and mechanical tensioner and rollers
These are interference engines and timing belt is due at 105k miles. The failure points are actually the rollers that seize when their grease leaks out and causing the belt to break. Definitely get this done if you are at or past this mileage. Read here.
Check Angle Gear (AG) Fluid level
Angle gear is what turns the transmission's output (parallel to the front wheel drive shafts) 90 degrees to send the power to the back wheels. Fairly common leaks here and the oil capacity is small. AG gear will be destroyed if all the oll leaks out. Read here.
This Volvo like most European cars requires a bit of suspension work at around 100k miles. The front end generally requires lower control arm bushings, spring seat, struts, sway bar end links and maybe inner tie rods. Quite expensive unless already done or DIY.
2001s (and I think 2002 non turbos) have a throttle body sensor that wears out between 60-150k miles depending on driving pattern. Failed sensor can leave you stranded. Read here.
Ok, this list ought to get you down the road with good initial health check and preventive maintenance. There are other things to note and check but this is probably the main starting point to address the weak points on the engine, transmission and electronics. Again, congrats on the new to you car and many happy miles. If you take care of this car, it will take care of you. And vice versa :)
I have done all the maintenance on our 2 Volvos as well as the maintenance on our 2011 Toyota Prius, 2007 Toyota Corolla, and father in laws 1999 and then 2003 Toyota Tacomas. Here is what I can say about the DIY repair differences
European cars is definitely not designed for service. They build the car in "layers" starting in the middle and add layers and layers of components on like a shell. The problem is when you need to service something in the inner layers, you end up having to "peel" the outer layers off and generally require more disassembly and reinstallation efforts.
4 cylinder toyotas and hondas on the other hand is definitely much simpler and "designed for service". They seem to route everything that requires service into a nice accessible location. When I pulled the rear rotors on the Corolla that rusted onto the hub, Toyota conveniently put a threaded hole there to "pop" the rotor loose from the rust. The transmission fluid lines runs in a nice open location for a full flush.
However, Japanese transversely mounted V6 engines is a different story. The rear cylinder banks are typically hard to access. Hybrids are also challenging because there is a lot of components buried inside. There is both a gasoline motor and everything necessary for an electric motor. But they generally place the high service items in easily accessible locations.
Anyhow, European cars are definitely more finicky and therefore people say they have "personality". But I've definitely come to appreciate the "design for service" of these Toyotas and Hondas.
With the rising gas prices, I thought I write about my mileage experience.
I run 87 octane on both cars. Can't tell much difference with premium gas in terms of power or mileage. I live in hilly Seattle suburb and neither engine ever pings. I guess all that engine electronic timing control is doing its job :)
On highway, both car gets near 30mpg. In mix city+hilly suburb driving, the T5 gets about 22+ and the V70XC gets 19+ for wife (she has shorter and more stop+go trips) and 20 for my work commute.
Had to fix the propeller shaft on the V70XC and while I had it out, it was only a FWD car. It gained about 1+ mpg just turning it into a FWD car.
I once read on a older 5 series BMW forum... "If your wife doesn't divorce you on the grounds of repair cost between 80-120k miles"...
I think this is pretty much a fair expression for all European cars around 100k miles. The suspensions and some bushings all need replaced to get back that nice ride feel. It is also likely that you will be replacing the front rotors (2nd time around 100k miles) and rear rotors (first time around 100k miles) and timing belt. Ball joints on the tie-rods are likely worn as well resulting in steering play. Add to this some fluid replacements (steering rack, transmission, angle gear+rear differential on AWD cars). You are easily looking at $3000-$4000 at the dealer service department. Of course, prices drop quickly if you can DIY.
Aside from brake pads, oil changes that most people are familiar with. There are other parts that wears down and need changing in these periods
I commonly hear 2 reasons for wanting AWD
I can't disagree with these 2 logic really. If you need it, well, you need it :) Just keep in mind the following
More stuff to go wrong for AWD. For this car there are 4 additional major components
These units have seals and joints that can leak and fluids that require changing. So make sure you really want AWD.
The angle gear has a common leak problem. If the fluids all leak out, this gear will probably be toast pretty quickly. See here.
The mechanical component that decides how much power going to rear wheels have 2 designs. One is called a Viscous Coupler (2001-2002 AWD systems) while the 2003+ has a Haldex unit. Without going into these 2 units in detail. Viscous Coupler seems to have had more problems historically. I haven't heard much about VC problems on these 2001-2002 V/XC70s. But they seem to have had problems in 2000 and older cars. I hear VC units are prone to failure if tires are not rotated on schedule (resulting in different wear and therefore tire sizes).
The other reason for choosing FWD is gas mileage. Turning more gears = lower gas mileage. People that have turned off the AWD (remove the propeller shaft or disable Haldex on the 03+ AWD systems) say 1-2mpg. When I took out my prop shaft... definitely more power!
Volvo 240s was a great car. It lasted forever with some basic care. Naturally, Volvos built a reputation for longevity based on this history. I was told by a Volvo mechanic that the 240's engine was a basic farm tractor engine design! No wonder it was bullet proof. But you do sacrifice efficiency for something that operates at such a wide operating condition.
Are these new Volvos as good? I think the answer is yes and no. Yes they will last. No they will only last if you don't neglect it (which probably cost more money than maintaining the older models for longevity). These cars are simply a lot more complicated than these old models. 240 owners are likely going to be disappointed that the newer cars didn't retain the "runs for forever and nothing major ever breaks" quality of their 240.
This is the weakest point of this car and quite expensive if needing replacement. From reading these forums, while newer cars seems to fare better after received some updated mechanical design + improved transmission software. I still read about problems occuring. But also keep in mind, newer cars have less wear and tear in general which will also factor into people's experiences.
I still think it is kind of random luck on what problems you might get on this item. Read Transmission Issues for more info.
What can you look out for when you test drive? I'd say 4 things.
Test drive for 30min. Pay the owner some gas money if you have to. This is really important to check out the transmission. Here is the reason. These transmission include internal hydraulic systems that shift the gears. If the hydraulic system have leaks due to worn components, there will be poor shifts. Hot ATF is thinner than cold ATF and more likely to stress the worn components for leaks.
To heat up the ATF, the transmission must be turning. It is independent from the engine temperature. As an example, using my diagnostic tool, I was able to see it took me 20+ min to reach 85C from room a already warmed up ATF at 60C. Once you have driven around in awhile, drive in city roads where there is a lot of start and stop traffic to put the shifting machinery into motion. Cruising on highway or country roads will make you feel great experiencing this fine European cruiser but do nothing to test the transmission.
2002+ redesigned the ETM. See here (except for 2002 none turbo V70/S60)
2003+ XC70 has the bigger (and some people say much more responsive) 2.5T engine. Variable intake valve timings are added to this engine.
2003+ XC70 has the Haldex AWD instead of the Viscous Coupling unit. See FWD or AWD
2005+ has slight exterior and interior updates. Exterior got some silvered surfaces and headlight lens became plastic (older glass ones crack when hit by rock). Interior got wood trim surfaces on the center console.
So if you are looking for an XC70, 2003+ would have most of the latest mechanical changes. 2005+ would have most of the latest surface changes.
2001 models are the first year and ones with most of the issues. Of course, they are also the lowest cost used car of this model which maybe the reason you are considering it.
If you are use to take your car to Jiffylube, this car is going to need more than this type of maintenance. European cars have lots of specialists knowledge. What defines "good condition" or types of fluids are very different from your typical Japanese cars. Furthermore, there are information on how to maintain these cars that evolved from in the field experience. As you might imagine, this isn't written down anywhere in a Chilton's car repair manual (There isn't one available for this car). So maintenance means Volvo dealer repair (most expensive), Volvo independent, or DIY with lots of research on Volvo forums.
Taking it to jiffylube would probably consititute "negelect" on European cars.