Howard's Volvo Maintenance

Where To Take It For Repairs

From everything I've read and experienced on this car. My personal preferences are

  • Volvo Independent is the best place
  • Dealer service is next best
  • None Volvo shops... BE REAL CAREFUL... It could bite you
  • Franchise stores... STAY AWAY FROM THESE FOR THIS CAR 

Here are the reasons

Volvo indies cost less than the dealer (my local dealer inflate the parts price really high and charge highest hourly rate) and actually typically will do more service items. Dealer seems to be stuck with following "by the book" to Volvo's original maintenance guidelines. But any one experienced with these cars knows there are issues beyond Volvo's initial guidelines. For example, almost every Volvo indy knows to change the ATF at 30k intervals for the longevity of this car's transmission. Dealers seem to skip these since the "guideline" don't call for it.

But some repairs require an expensive custom computer to program the car's computers. Not sure how many indys have this computer so you may have to go to the dealer for these. There are lots of electronics communications in this car. You'd be surprised how many things require computer programming/reprogramming (For example, rear view mirror replacement)

As for none Volvo shops including your favorite mechanic. This car requires lots of specific knowledge learned from seeing many of these vehicles. In fact, more European cars have lots of quirky knowledge learned from experience. I've read in these forums the following type of horror stories

  • Forgot to put the o-ring during changing oil filter (even an oil change is not like most American and Japanese cars) resulting in most of the oil draining out.
  • Transmission fluids changes using wrong fluids (This car require a specific fluid)
  • Take off the wrong bolt on the transmission to fill fluid, this broke the transmission and isn't a totally rare occurrence.
  • Replacing with wrong transmission as there are many versions of this basic design.
  • Replacing with wrong angle gear on the AWDs. I think many version+gear ratio exist on this part.
  • Put wrong fluids in your power steering (Volvo switched fluids around 2001)
  • Put wrong fluids in your AWD's angle gear

I regularly read about major damages from repairs done by people that don't specialize in the maintenance of this car. So if you can't "Do research on this car and do It yourself", then find a reputable indy and go there. Here is a list of dealer + indy reviews

http://volvospeed.com/vs_forum/index.php/forum/33-dealerships-vendors-and-independent-reviews/ 

google "yourcity volvo repair" will also findy you independents. Lots of reviews should be available and they are usually dead feedback on service quality. 

Here are some of the "Horror Stories"

http://www.volvoxc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15297

http://www.volvoxc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15380

Repair Costs

There seems to be a huge variation in repair costs depending on where you go. Generally, dealers are the most expensive followed by independents. But there are large variations here as well.

Ask for details on the costs such as parts price, repair time and hourly rate. Dealers near where I live mark up part prices astronomically and this is usually the reason for very high repair quotes. It pays to search for a shop that charges parts prices without huge mark up and a reasonable labor rate.

Pacific North West

I live in Pacific Northwest and have taken my car to a couple of places with excellent satisfaction.

OMNI Alignment and Brakes

Pat has owned this shop for like 30 years and the key techs have been there for like 20. They definitely know what they are doing when it comes to alignment and suspensions. Prices are really fair. They charge you like $80 for 4 wheel alignment and just $35 for the labor of checking if the alignment isn't off.

This place isn't your big tire shops where they are try to sell you tires and do some standard procedures. OMNI gets a lot of cars from body shops that needs to have the frames checked. This kind of work requires a bit of detective work and really requires experience.

I spoke a long time with the owner Pat while my car was getting checked and they know a lot of these European suspensions even though they are not a Volvo specialist. They are definitely suspension specialists :) 

T Scandia Motors in Portland OR

These guys are just awesome. I took my car in there early on in my ownership of the T5. Their service was lower cost than the dealer and did more maintenance items. They are pros at Volvos and Saabs. You are in luck in you live near these guys.

F.A.M.E Automotive

If you live just east of Seattle (commonly called the Eastside), this is a great place. Really knowledgeable on Volvos, Mercedes, and BMW. Brad the owner is really enthusiastic about cars and backs up his work. If you like cars, he loves talking about them :) You can see some really good reviews on them

http://seattle.citysearch.com/profile/10759396/redmond_wa/fame_automotive.html 

Sandberg Volvo Seattle

I found them with the most reasonable prices on service in the Seattle area. Barrier Volvo have outrageous prices on parts and service. They seem to have the best prices around on new cars as well compared to Barrier.

Larry's Volvo

http://seattle.citysearch.com/profile/10786063/seattle_wa/larry_s_volvo_repair_service.html 

I haven't been here but their reviews are just superb. Looks like very reasonable priced and knows all about Volvos.

Larson's Volvo Repair

I haven't been here but reviews indicate an honest and helpful service. 

Daisy Wagon

I haven't been here but have contacted them to get service quotes. These guys know their Volvos and the reviews are excellent. But prices seems closer to dealer service department.

Green Car Company

http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-green-car-company-bellevue 

These guys used to be Volvo Finders and have a history of selling used Volvos and servicing them. I had a very bad experience there and seems that others found the same on the reviews. Here is what they did to my car. They pressed a control arm bushing in backwards and then accused me to trying to cheat them out of some money. On another guys car, they took out the wrong bolt to fill the transmission causing internal damage and won't admit it. Avoid this place like the plague.