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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So you want to buy a used XC90 with No Warranty? – Prologue and Areas of Concern

Seems like not a week goes by without someone coming on the forum and asking about a used XC90 purchase. I thought to get some general observations and comments on the board so a single thread is in place for future use. Especially for the older cars (pre-2009) that seem to be popping up as folks move on (new model and/or too much $$ coming up for repairs in their current vehicle). Folks, feel free to add or delete from this thread as the intent is not to have to write the same thing week after week after week…

First, my personal comment to any prospective "used" XC90 owner (as an owner of two of them)-

If you’re reading this, you’re likely seriously considering buying a pre-owned reasonably heavy, transverse mounted engine, 4 wheel independent suspension, McPherson strut, software module for pretty much everything foreign vehicle with plenty of miles on the clock and maybe an unknown service record. It’s not a Ford or GM, and OE parts for this car can be expensive. You’ll have reasonable luck buying non-OE replacement parts, but quality can (and will) vary so cheapest is not always best. If you have an idea that you’ll buy a 10 year old vehicle super cheap and run it for another 5 years without putting any money into it, then a used XC90 is maybe not for you. There’s a reason they’re selling cheap, right? And depending on miles, there may often be a major service due that prompted the seller to sell. So if that’s the case, you inherit a future “need” right off the bat.

If you’re willing to at least make an effort to keep things working and have some money (and time) available to do it, then read on. Just please be realistic when looking, you WILL be needing to spend some money on your XC90 over time. That is a fact.

At a high level, nothing beats a car with service records. Nothing. This is absolutely the best indicator that attention has been paid to the car. Unless you know the person you’re buying the car from, always make an effort to get any and all service records before you buy (in addition to a CarFax). This will give you an idea as to the history of the car you’re considering, providing enough information to allow a risk analysis of work that has been done versus work that needs done. If you cannot get records directly from the seller, and if the car is local and has been serviced at a dealer, go there with the VIN and ask for a printout of the service jobs. Service representatives are busy, you may have to wait as what you’re asking for is not going to make any money (at least not today). But this exercise can prove invaluable, so if possible do it. If you can't get a printout, ask the rep to walk through the significant work and write it down for reference.

What follows next is my opinion only (coming from me, it’s probably more pragmatic than most), and sure there are many exceptions to these “rules”. But if you do some searching over time (as I have), overall accepted guidance leans towards this (will probably get added to over time as others give their feedback):

Cars to probably avoid (higher risk failure):

*T6 engine (2003-2006) unless it has a rebuilt and professionally “hardened” 4T65EV/GT transmission (see http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?216294-The-250-T6-transmission-rebuild , http://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?130656-S80-transmission-rebuild as examples). Easier to simply pass on these but if (IF) you can find a car which has had transmission properly re-worked, (by http://www.tripleedgeperformance.com/Volvo-Transmissions.html for instance, other shops may also be familiar with the Volvo variant of the GM transmission might be able to do the same), it is a powertrain to consider.

*V8 Engine (2005-2006, check SN not year, serial number below 6833), unless verified via documentation that the CB shaft re-work has been completed (CB valley drain weep hole, new bearings). Engine serial number is on passenger side, middle of the front of the block, bar code label with the SN at bottom. Now there are plenty exceptions to this “rule” (eg. you know that your 2005-2006 V8 never got washed and sat for a prolonged period of time (or times) so the bearing could get good and oxidized). Be aware of the concern and make a good judgment call if this is an early V8, clearly understand the inherent possibility of engine failure unless you know the person selling the vehicle and can get a full history. See http://forums.swedespeed.com/showth...mbers-V8-counter-balance-shaft-failure-thread for reference.

Cars to consider avoiding (potential risk):

*TF-80SC transmission (2005-2007 V8 and 3.2, check SN not year, serial number below 06J). This pertains to the issue of valve body bores which prematurely wear out. Not a mandatory “pass” on the car but if you buy one, be aware that a costly repair may be in your future (unless you replace the VB yourself which can be done for around $800 or so). Serial number is on the top rear of transmission, aluminum plate and sticker, visible when putting your head close to the brake reservoir and looking straight down. See http://forums.swedespeed.com/showth...ssion-Valve-Body-Issue-amp-Serial-Number-Info for reference.

*Early 3.2 engines (may not be fully accurate). I don’t personally have experience with this engine but I have seen numerous threads over the years about oil consumption issues with the 3.2. Not all, some, and I have yet to see a definitive list for years and models. But this is real. There is a TNN http://www.pennantmotors.com/personal/s80/TJ24643-2013-05-15.pdf which describes the general issue. As others have stated in the past, this is NOT a consistent issue across the 3.2 engin line-up but it can indeed be an issue. Something to consider. Can also see http://forums.swedespeed.com/showth...s-to-quot-consume-quot-more-oil-than-expected for reference.

Other observations on this subject are absolutely welcome, even to counter my “assumptions”.

** This post is part of a two-part post, can see http://forums.swedespeed.com/showth...-No-Warranty-–-Questions-to-Ask-before-buying next**
 

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Thanks, very helpful. I'm currently on the market for a 2007-2009. And most in my price range are 2007s so many of the items you have listed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Intended to be a personal opinion only, and it's important to note that there are lots of "exceptions" to what I suggested, successfully driving around today.

As is in the spirit of the forum, any and all additions, subtractions or just plain observations to this thread are most welcome. Quite a bit of what I wrote is here on Swedspeed in one form or another.
 

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Great write up with lots of important consolidated information. I would add and underscore again as was stated by ggleavitt, that when buying a used volvo or any high end used European car, that looking for an example with maintenance records which extend beyond the dealer service term is probably the most important criteria you can apply. I would add that don't expect a dealer to defacto print out the service records though as there are privacy issues and the service records have the PO information, it may take some back and forth they will give you recall information however. a full carfax is a great alternative. Let's face it, as he said, people sell cars for a reason, try and discern seller motivation out of the gate not so much for pricing leverage but for long term viability - that's not to say everyone is running a scam, but unless you're buying a documented high dollar restoration a seller is likely motivated for some reason- by unsustainable cost to own or there is something very wrong with the car or they're merely selling a great car and trying to buy a new one and want more than the 3k the dealer is offering for their 9k car. Find out as much as you can as to why the car is up for sale.

Back to records.. Even if you aren't mechanical, records can save you a lot of time and money with an independent or even when looking at the common issues here in the forum. I point to the particular period after the warranty expires as it's the most costly manufacturers know how long things last and taking in a car to the dealer during warranty coverage then waking to the reality of what work really costs, lends cars to be sold, or exposed to maintenance that puts them in the high risk category later. As an example on the V8 an alternator can easily outlive the warranty, but the work even at an independent to replace it would be well over 1100.00. Finally for the most part you're buying the owner more so than the car, are they someone you'd have over for dinner? From my experience if not , then no deal.

On the flip side there are lots of cars that have been well maintained by the owner after warranty and don't have records even though now you can add work into carfax, which is what I do, but the owner should be able to show you receipts for parts and know what they're talking about but if you're buying an xc90 V8 and it's been maintained by the owner and at pep boys and the owners other car is on blocks, the price may be right at the moment but not in the long run. If you know when too walk away you'll find the right car at the right price.

Lastly if you're looking at spending 7,8, or 9k or more on a used XC90, get a PPI inspection done at the dealer not involved in the sale or having serviced it in the past, if the seller won't agree, walk away. The dealer will scan codes and depending on the level of inspection find things you may not- remember they are thinking that you'll bring it to them to fix everything they find. Lastly if you have a friend that has some mechanical experience have them come along for the test ride, at a high level a well maintained XC90 should not make strange noises shift smoothly not stumble when acc;erateing hard and not creak or pop when you turn in a tight circle and there should be no warning lights on of any kind a mechanically inclined friend may see or hear something you don't as they're not caught up in the excitement of the purchase
 

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Great Posts.

In your opinion which XC90 has the best track record on service and performance? What is the year of the BEST made XC90?

Thanks
 

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Great Posts.

In your opinion which XC90 has the best track record on service and performance? What is the year of the BEST made XC90?

Thanks
I would say an 08-10, V8, though there were a scant few '11 MY. Best made year is hard to pin down without a lot of data, normally the closer to the end of a model run the more any issues have been worked out, I think they are actually still producing gen 1 xc90's in china as the "classic" the base P2 platform changed little over the course of NA 11 years aside from the engine/transmission/driveline options that are listed, minor updates to non sheet metal body parts & interior and some package /trim offerings that said If I were to be in the market for an XC90 I'd look for an 09 R design V8 with the dual exhaust -all show but none the less nice, the active xenons, rear air, 7 pass in black with the saddle chestnut leather interior and of course detailed service records.
 
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