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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, everyone! Like it says in the title, I don't currently own a Volvo, but I'm very strongly considering one for my next vehicle. I'm down to about three months left on the lease for a Chevy that I don't particularly like, and my 40th birthday is coming up in just a couple weeks, so I'm looking for something that I feel is more ME. I've been mostly considering the V60 and second-gen S60 in my search so far, but I've found myself looking at the XC70 and occasionally mid-90s wagons. So far I've only actually test-driven one, a 2013 S60 T5 AWD, and it's prompted me to seek out a Volvo forum or two to ask about the cars in this age range.

One of the very first things I noticed when I got in that particular vehicle was that the plastichrome trim around the gear selector was bubbling up and looked really ****ty. There were only 39k miles on the odometer, which is impressively low for a 2013, but this was already an issue. The other thing that was easy to spot was that the airflow knob (I have no idea what these are actually called, but it's the little wheel under the vent that shuts off airflow to that vent) was already knocked loose, and it honestly made me wonder how well this interior would hold up to 100k, 200k miles of wear and tear.

I plan on perusing the threads on here a lot over the next few weeks, but in general, what kinds of things do I need to look out for on the 2011-2015 or so S60 and V60? Are any of the powertrains (talking about the 4-, 5-, and 6-cylinder engines here, since they're all realistic options for me) dramatically less reliable than the others? What about the AWD drivetrain versus the FWD? I know about the options packages, but are any of the fancy doodads especially problematic over the years?

Thank you in advance for any advice y'all have to offer!
 

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Welcome aboard!

With respect to low mileage cars and especially ones that have more wear and tear than would be expected for the miles, it's good to have them thoroughly checked out by a mechanic to make sure it wasn't wrecked previously and sat in a yard waiting to be repaired. To me I've found the interiors of these cars to be pretty well put together and haven't seen a lot of issues with normal use.

Engines are a bit of a pandora's box because both the 5 cylinder throughout the model range and the early 4 cylinder cars were subject to various technical journals related to oil burning traced to poor ring design. The vast majority of these cars are probably fine - just a higher incidence rate which resulted in the technical journals. To me the most reliable would be a later 4 cylinder car (2016 on) or any 6 cylinder.

Not sure what part of the country you live in but the AWD systems seem to be pretty stout on these cars but if you never get winter weather I'd probably skip it in favor of the less complicated and lighter FWD arrangement. I don't think any of the features are especially problematic save for the odd bad rear camera or parking sensor from time to time.

Look for service records for any used car you're considering and be aware of upcoming major services according to the service schedule - some cars get traded right before they need a timing belt or accessory drive belt.

These cars are really good deals right now because they've been replaced by the newer SPA models so are a bit dated and SUVs are very popular. Good luck on your hunt and don't hesitate to throw us some links of cars you're considering and we'll give you our unvarnished opinions.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
@Wayne T5 This is great info, thanks for your reply! I live in the North Shore area of the Chicago suburbs (the village I live in is right on the shore of Lake Michigan, a half-hour from the Wisconsin state line), so winter weather is definitely an issue for a few months out of the year. That being said, though, I've had FWD vehicles since I moved up here, and even when I lived in southern Wisconsin, and I haven't really felt the burning need for AWD, so I'm not sure. Leaving FWD as an option for myself definitely increases the number of vehicles that are available in my search, and it doesn't hurt that for the V60, the 4-cylinder that comes with FWD gets drastically better fuel economy than the 5 that comes with the AWD system.
 

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Hi, everyone! Like it says in the title, I don't currently own a Volvo, but I'm very strongly considering one for my next vehicle. I'm down to about three months left on the lease for a Chevy that I don't particularly like, and my 40th birthday is coming up in just a couple weeks, so I'm looking for something that I feel is more ME. I've been mostly considering the V60 and second-gen S60 in my search so far, but I've found myself looking at the XC70 and occasionally mid-90s wagons. So far I've only actually test-driven one, a 2013 S60 T5 AWD, and it's prompted me to seek out a Volvo forum or two to ask about the cars in this age range.

One of the very first things I noticed when I got in that particular vehicle was that the plastichrome trim around the gear selector was bubbling up and looked really ****ty. There were only 39k miles on the odometer, which is impressively low for a 2013, but this was already an issue. The other thing that was easy to spot was that the airflow knob (I have no idea what these are actually called, but it's the little wheel under the vent that shuts off airflow to that vent) was already knocked loose, and it honestly made me wonder how well this interior would hold up to 100k, 200k miles of wear and tear.

I plan on perusing the threads on here a lot over the next few weeks, but in general, what kinds of things do I need to look out for on the 2011-2015 or so S60 and V60? Are any of the powertrains (talking about the 4-, 5-, and 6-cylinder engines here, since they're all realistic options for me) dramatically less reliable than the others? What about the AWD drivetrain versus the FWD? I know about the options packages, but are any of the fancy doodads especially problematic over the years?

Thank you in advance for any advice y'all have to offer!
Warning: FWD's from 2011-2016 may face consumption issues with piston rings (Drive-E). I would steer clear.

I believe the 2.5T Engines (AWD) are highly recommended.

Station wagons are fantastic for hauling your every day needs. I miss mine.

Lower mileage the better, but shoot more for a verifiable service history. All miles are not created equal. Remember, a car driven 75K highway has less wear and tear than a car driven 75K city. Also, a car with 100k and a proven maintenance history could have far less problems than a car with 75k and spotty record. Check any purchase against flood and salvage vehicles. Carfax / Autocheck may be a good resource (but not definitive). Do your own spot inspection (moldy or tell tale signs). Look for prior repairs or potential accident damage. And a good pre purchase inspection by a mechanic is highly suggested, too.
 

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I am a fan of the 5 cylinder motors. The big concern here for me is if the PCV went bad and someone kept driving it, they may have blown out some seals, and that means a motor rebuild. Both the 4 and 5 cylinder cars are timing belt motors, which is fine, but do make sure they've been tended to. If they've been replaced then there should be a timing belt sticker on the cover... an unscrupulous person could buy the sticker and put it on the car though, so hopefully for your sake they had a real shop do it and it can be verified (nothing wrong with doing it yourself on your car, but it's hard to verify as a buyer). The early T6 motors were coupled with troubled GM sourced transmissions if you go back far enough, I would avoid them. The newer 4 cylinder motors seem to be doing well after the early ring issues but they really are too new for the most part to know what long term issues might come IMO. As far as the interiors... I find them pretty robust.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Warning: FWD's from 2011-2016 may face consumption issues with piston rings (Drive-E). I would steer clear.
The big concern here for me is if the PCV went bad and someone kept driving it, they may have blown out some seals, and that means a motor rebuild.
See, this is the kind of stuff I was hoping to learn! I didn't know about this at all. Thank you both for your replies. Is there a way to know that the PCV valve is trouble waiting to happen, or any way to verify that someone has preemptively serviced it? Keep in mind, if it helps, that I'm shopping all over the country due to COVID-19 and the fact that even in my neck of the woods, where I feel like Volvos are maybe a bit more common than they are in most places, there isn't enough used inventory to be choosey. I'm not going to be willing to buy a car unless it's checked out by an independent mechanic, but is this even something a mechanic can check for?
 

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Warning: FWD's from 2011-2016 may face consumption issues with piston rings (Drive-E). I would steer clear.

I believe the 2.5T Engines (AWD) are highly recommended.

Station wagons are fantastic for hauling your every day needs. I miss mine.

Lower mileage the better, but shoot more for a verifiable service history. All miles are not created equal. Remember, a car driven 75K highway has less wear and tear than a car driven 75K city. Also, a car with 100k and a proven maintenance history could have far less problems than a car with 75k and spotty record. Check any purchase against flood and salvage vehicles. Carfax / Autocheck may be a good resource (but not definitive). Do your own spot inspection (moldy or tell tale signs). Look for prior repairs or potential accident damage. And a good pre purchase inspection by a mechanic is highly suggested, too.
Verifiable service history is a good one. If you search Carfax's service it will provide service history that was recorded for the VIN, and you can also usually find copy of the original window sticker in a PDF there as well. Keep in mind Carfax data is not the be all, end all, but it can help. Take the time to do a bunch of test drives or at least go and see the cars physically. In some states dealers are closed Sundays since the state DMV's don't process paperwork those days, so Sundays are good to go tire kick the lots without sales person pressure. I wouldn't hop any fences to do this, but usually perusing the more open front lots is accepted. Good luck!
 

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I've always been the type to like to understand how a system works as it makes the failure easier for me to understand. Volvo, being an environmentally concerned company, makes a better pcv system that traps oil rather than just sending it up through the intake system to burn off. There is a diaphragm that prevents all the intake vacuum from just sucking everything up at full force.. when that $12 diaphragm fails (around 100k, sometimes much longer) then your crankcase is exposed to the full intake vacuum. When this happens you will hear a whistling sound (you can find youtube videos that show this). The degradation is gradual but failure is instant. At this point you should have the diaphragm serviced. Driving with this high vacuum causes the engine oil seals to get sucked into the engine causing leaks that need to have the motor removed to fix. However, you can slow the seal failure by simply pulling up on the dip stick so its not sealed... allowing most of the vacuum pressure to be relieved by the atmospheric pressure allowed to enter the crank.

Or at least that's my understanding, I'm not an engineer or professional mechanic =-D

I picked up my 2006 T5 motor this fall and the PCV system has never been replaced. I bought a new one from Volvo for a reasonable price and will replace the entire housing. You can find aftermarket diaphragms for around $12 online if you want to save a buck and rebuild. Mine hasn't failed, but at it's age and miles (118) I figure it's good preventative maintenance so I won't have to think about it for many years.

As a buyer, I wouldn't be worried about this failing (other than having the knowledge it might and doing it ahead of time might save some grief). My concern would be that someone had the failure, fixed it, but didn't fix the seals. They got the estimate for a new motor and know the car runs just fine if you keep it topped off, and hoping you don't notice the oil leaks.

So I would look at the front of the motor under the air intake system. You should be able to see the oil filter cap buried in there... that's attached to the housing for the PCV system. If it looks brand new I would take extra care for looking at oil leaks. They could have replaced just the diaphragm, but that's not a common shop practice, so I think it's slightly less of a concern. Of course it could be they replaced it without additional issues, or as preventative too, so it doesn't mean it's a problem... just be a wear of the system, how it works, and how it fails. It's not a problem if taken care of correctly and promptly. I'd say it's not even a design issue, just the characteristic of its engineering.
 

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See, this is the kind of stuff I was hoping to learn! I didn't know about this at all. Thank you both for your replies. Is there a way to know that the PCV valve is trouble waiting to happen, or any way to verify that someone has preemptively serviced it? Keep in mind, if it helps, that I'm shopping all over the country due to COVID-19 and the fact that even in my neck of the woods, where I feel like Volvos are maybe a bit more common than they are in most places, there isn't enough used inventory to be choosey. I'm not going to be willing to buy a car unless it's checked out by an independent mechanic, but is this even something a mechanic can check for?
A pre purchase inspection by a competent mechanic SHOUL be able to catch any glaring issues (Accident repairs, mold from a flood, etc). However, I don't know if a pre purchase would include a mechanic using a borescope to check the engine or not.

For the 2011-2016 FWD Drive-E's the piston ring design was flawed. My car required a $5000 rebuild to replace the rings under CPO. Luckily, it was covered. It's hit or miss but not worth taking a chance. If you get a car outside of warranty, this bill could be yours. So best to get a late model 2016 onward where the rings were changed, if going for FWD Drive-E.
 

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Drive E didn't come out on any models until 2014 though, so lots of options that have the older motors on the early options.
 

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A pre purchase inspection by a competent mechanic SHOUL be able to catch any glaring issues (Accident repairs, mold from a flood, etc). However, I don't know if a pre purchase would include a mechanic using a borescope to check the engine or not.

For the 2011-2016 FWD Drive-E's the piston ring design was flawed. My car required a $5000 rebuild to replace the rings under CPO. Luckily, it was covered. It's hit or miss but not worth taking a chance. If you get a car outside of warranty, this bill could be yours. So best to get a late model 2016 onward where the rings were changed, if going for FWD Drive-E.
You're right. I should have clarified. Drive-E and also Earlier FWD Volvo's also had the bad piston rings too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OK, I'm hoping I can get some insight on a particular vehicle. Shifting gears a bit (heh) from the 4- and 5-cylinder models I was mostly considering, this one here is an R-Design (dealer's link is right here, although I can't see any more info there that's not on the Autolist link). The R-Design was always my #1 choice, but most of them are outside of my budget range. OK, so potential red flag #1: the (perhaps suspiciously low) price...

After perusing the CarFax, I contacted the servicing dealer about the engine/powertrain computer/module reprogramming in April 2020. They reported that there was an apparent transmission issue, one that the service department couldn't replicate, but they reprogrammed that anyway. That was the only thing I had concerns about from the CarFax report... anything else I missed that is worth looking into?

I called the selling dealer, and the lady there told me that a body panel may have been replaced with poorly matching paint. She said that she couldn't personally see it, but her co-worker reported that it was there. Major red flag there, right? Considering it's not on the CarFax report, does that mean that it was possibly done by a body shop that wouldn't report it to CarFax? I don't know how that process works, exactly. Only other things I've spotted so far are cosmetic issues: the grille logos, the chrome plating and scratches on/near the HVAC directional controls, graying plastic on the interior door panels, possibly some scratches on the lower hatch and rear bumper.

So what say you? Is this a good buy? I appreciate any insights that y'all have to offer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So I may have gotten a little overexcited, and right about the time I posted asking about this car I bought an inspection from a service called Lemon Squad. Overall, I was happy with the report, but I wondered if there are rules here about posting pictures from something like that... and then I decided to come here and do it anyway!

So first things first, I guess, here's the text from the report:
This Volvo ran and drove well with some other issues of note. On the exterior I noted the right side rocker is slightly misaligned at the rear wheel. There are minor misc scratches around the vehicle. Normal for mileage and most too small to see in photos. The paint shows some wear and tear that is consistent with age and mileage. There is some minor surface rust on several nuts/bolts under the hood. The underside shows areas of minor surface rust. See pictures. The right side mirror directional is inoperative. All other lights function as designed at the time of inspection. The door mirror housings have miscellaneous scratches. There are minor scuffs and scratches that would be consistent with the age and mileage of the vehicle.

The steering wheel shows some wear and tear that would be considered normal for the age and mileage. There is light wear to the seats. Normal for mileage. The inner door panels show wear consistent with age and mileage. The interior trim shows normal wear consistent with age and mileage. The climate control vent controls has some chrome peeling on the bottom controls. The shifter has some cracks in the clear coat. The window switches are showing minor cosmetic wear from use. The center console shows wear and tear that is consistent with the age of the vehicle. The dash is showing wear and tear consistent with the age of the vehicle. The carpet shows normal wear consistent with age and mileage. There are rubber all weather floor mats in the vehicle at the time of the inspection. There are no carpet mats in the vehicle. The headliner shows miscellaneous smudge marks from normal use.

The power steering fluid level is low, with no obvious external leaks. Both key fobs work. They have a button for operating the rear lift gate, but according to the dealership, this vehicle isn’t equipped with this feature.

I found no issues on the test drive. The engine had plenty of power and there were no misfires or excessive smoking. The transmission shifted as designed with no harsh engagement or slipping. The notes show a concern about the transmission, but on my seven mile test drive I had no reason to believe there is an issue, it performed well. There are no codes in the system. The steering was responsive and the suspension was firm and the vehicle handled well. There were no abnormal vibrations or odd noises. The brakes were firm with no pulsation felt. There were no leaks found to the underside of the vehicle. I hooked up my Scan Tool to the computer system and found no current or pending codes. All of the live data looked good with no issues reported.
I think it's pretty obvious that the major area of concern in that report is the right-side rocker panel... there are no accidents or damage on the vehicle's Carfax, but I think we've discussed here that that doesn't necessarily mean there hasn't been some. I know that part, but here's what it looks like anyway...



So now my big question is, is this rocker panel something to be super concerned about? The research that I've conducted on Volvo parts websites and such (including this thread here on this very forum, and I've gotten the opinions of a couple of local body shops) leads me to believe that it's purely cosmetic. It seems that the clips for that body panel are molded into the part itself for some reason, so replacing it might be less practical than adhering it back into place somehow, but it doesn't seem like something I need to worry about affecting the car years down the road.

I've gotta be honest: I'm not sure what y'all could say to talk me out of this one. Please try if you think it's somthing I should avoid, because I'm posting here in order to purposefully seek a way not to see only what I want to see, but I'm not seeing a clear downside to this car, despite what I think it was @Wayne T5 said in another thread about it. Especially if the dealer is willing to negotiate a bit more on the price.
 

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1. I've seen slight Rocker Misalignment on Newer Cars. Slight Bumper Misalignment too. I doubt it's accident related. Especially since nothing else on the report indicating the car has been damaged.

2. Enamel on Gear Shift Cracking is a well known issue. I had mine replaced under warranty for that issue.

What transmission issues "were suspected" that you don't believe were accurate?

FYI: That car is a 2015 and not a 2015.5. So it lacks the infotainment features found in the redesign.

3. At 68,360 miles Wiring Repaired. Electrical Issue???

4. Car is a CPO and still has 8 months of warranty. So if there are any mechanical issues (transmission) that aren't related to neglected services, you should be covered. As the CPO on this vehicle would be the original 7 yr / 100k from in service date. As the CPO was added in 2015.

In service date was 10/6/14 meaning CPO ends 10/14/21.
 
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