a Used 7xx/9xx
Maintenance FAQ for 7xx/9xx/90 Cars
See the section entitled High-Mileage
Vehicle Preventive Maintenance for detailed info.
See the notes entitled Purchasing
Used Diesel for detailed info on diesels.
a Used 740: Check the following before buying: (1) cooling system pressure
test to check for cylinder head or block cracks, or other cooling system
leaks; (2) look inside valve cover for varnishing/condition of rockers/cam
etc (should give a fair indication of oil change interval); (3) a compression
test; (4) starting the car when cold and noting color of any exhaust smoke;
(5) examine the air filter; (6) Rear axle pinion seal for leaks; (7) A
check of the rear axle fluid for suspended metal particulate; (8) color
of brake fluid, dark meaning high moisture content and no recent change,
and likely repairs; (9) Listen for knocks, squeaks, groans from the front
end. All the bushings there could be up for replacement. (10) Check the
bottom of the front of the engine for leaks; flame trap may be plugged
resulting in blowby past the seals; (11) engine wiring harness for loss
of insulation, cracking, etc. (12) rust in the tailgate or center and side
storage bins in the trunk and the floors (13) Overdrive engagement in transmission
[Don Foster:] Inspect the aluminum pipe
in the A/C line under the metal clamp -- they corrode through, then you
have an expensive repair (if you want A/C). Also inspect the operation
of the air conditioning system.
a Used GLE with B234F. [Tip: Jason Kneier] the block is the same
as the B230 you are familiar with. Only the head head/manifolds are different.
It's good that the car appears to have been cared for, as these engines
are slightly less robust than the 8V versions.
The two concerns I have heard regarding
this engine are :
1) The head is an INTERFERENCE design.
Change the timing belt religiously, and make a point to pop that cover
off every now and then just to inspect it, because if it breaks you will
2) Keep an eye on the hydraulic lifters,
as they are inherently weaker than physical valve lifters.
One other thing - a lot of the 16V engines
got the ZF-22 4spd lockup tranny. This tranny is problematic, but is easily
replaced with an AW70L or 71L. With proper care, this will be a great
car! [Tip: Abe Crombie] The oil
pump bolt is a weak point. It would be a good idea to replace it if
it not noted as having been replaced at the same time as cam belt. The
bolt is not a high strength bolt and can be obtained at a parts store.
Loctite is a good idea when it is installed. The tensioner for balance
shaft belt can lose its plastic teeth and this throws off the cam belt.
Jason's correct mention of the valves hit pistons (interference) is a good
reason to not let either of the things I mentioned happen. The transmission
(in the '89 740 GLE) is not the ZF gearbox with the bad history but is
a different gear ratioed version of the AW71L called the AW72L. Its gear
ratios are revised to better suit the 16 valve engines lower torque production
at lower revs as compared to the 8 valve versions.
[Comment: Al Asamov] As this is an interference
engine(if a timing belt should break, valves can be damaged at least),
you will have to be scrupulous about getting the timing belt(s) changed
at intervals. If you love to drive, this car will please you. If you resent
paying for scheduled maintenance, something
else might suit you better.
a Used 760. [Query] What is your opinion of the reliability
of a used 760? [Response: Zippy] Not only would I not buy a
760 with a six cylinder engine I wouldn't even buy a 760. Go for
a 740 turbo, as new as you can get. Those are 25 year plus life span cars
and have HALF the problems of the 760s. Failing to find a 740 Turbo,
settle for a 940 Turbo. Skip any Volvo that has "60" in the name,
unless you like paying lots of money to repair things like vacuum motors
in the AC, costly power seat parts (older is definitely not better with
power seats) and other "refinements" over the 7/940s.
[Query:] I'm about to buy a 1990 760 sedan,
85K and all service records. Opinions? [Response: Eric D.]
The biggest concern on the 760s are the abundance of luxury equipment,
which gets pretty expensive if things start to break. Take some time and
go over all of the power amenities and luxury features in the car, especially
the power assists (seats, windows, sunroof, mirrors, antenna, etc.) and
find out if it's all working properly. Make sure the sunroof itself tilts
and slides properly, and doesn't leak. Also, make sure the automatic climate
control system and A/C are working well--air conditioning units in these
cars can have a reputation for spotty reliability and leaking hoses. At
85k miles, the Nivomat auto-levelling rear shocks should still be in good
shape and should last well over 100k miles, but be aware that they are
very expensive to replace, and cannot be substituted with standard shocks
on this model.
I'll assume that this is the V-6 model...
make sure that the previous owner changed the oil religiously and at proper
2,500-3,000 mile intervals--VERY critical to the health of the V-6.
It's a good sign that the car has service records. If everything on the
car checks out, you should have a pretty decent ride. Good luck!
a Used 780. See http://www.geocities.com/MotorCity/Garage/6570/tips.html
for great information on buying a used
a Used 940. Volvo improved the brakes in 1992, by reducing
front rotor diameter from 11.3 inches to 11 inches and increasing thickness
considerably. New calipers to accomodate the wider rotors. The change was
intended to reduce warpage of rotors. The 1990-on engines are all
very good and stronger than the 85-88 motors and stronger than the 88-89
motors. In 93 or 94 oil jets were added to cool the underside of the pistons.
I believe all 92 and later 740/940s were automatics, but the changeover
may have been 93.
[Editor's Notes:] Check some of the
940 anomalies before buying. These include puckering door panels
around the lock buttons which are very expensive ($800 parts) to replace
(especially model year 1995), the functioning of the transmission shift
lock switch and release button, and functioning of all body electrical
components including power seats, power sunroof, power mirrors, mirror
heaters, rear defrost. Check as well the performance of the air conditioning
system: repairs are expensive and these cars have suffered from leaking
See the notes on rust in front frame members
at 940 Rust Alert
a Used 960.
[Major Caution:] See the
section about sticking
exhaust manifolds, driveline
rear main seals, and other major problems. Reports from Brickboard
buyers are not encouraging about the reliability and cost to repair these
[Query:] What is the best 960 model
year to buy? [Response: Lars Lundblad] Regarding Volvo
960, the best year model to buy secondhand is 1996. Problems with
1991-2 Camshaft belt too thin, giving
vibrations and in some cases total breakdown See 960
Timing Belt Change
1996 960 is the best year/model to buy secondhand,
at least in my opinion. The Volvo 6 cylinder engine 3,0 liters (2,5
1995->) is extremely well built it runs and runs. It is the same engine
that is in S/V70 (850) only with one fewer cylinders. Before I bought my
960 1996, I looked around and in the southern part of Sweden I met a cabdriver
whose 960 1993 had run for 700,000 kilometers with no repairs, just the
standard "service". [Response 2: Ross Gunn] I have a '95 960
(Canadian market), and it has most of what is mentioned here as new in
'96 (2 front air bags, multi-link rear suspension with composite (flat)
rear spring. I'm not sure what changes in the electrical system and
engine control system Lars refers to, but mine has the Motronic 1.8 ignition
system. I also don't know what front suspension changes he
[Editor's Note: see Porous
960 B6304 Blocks for major block porosity problems, reportedly occurring
randomly in 92-95 960 cars.]
1994 Camshaft belt (wider) to get away
from problems. Helped much.
1995 New construction on the camshaft
belt now much wider, no problems reported since then.
1995 New look on the outside, nicer and
newer. A lot of things are specific to local markets. See your local
dealer to get a "printout" on what was standard equipment in what year/model
in your market.
1996 (in Europe) Totally new electric
system (Motronic 1.8 ignition system; no reports of failure), new engine
control system, SRS (airbag) in front seats, new front wheel suspension,
new rear axle design with a composite spring laying down instead of
the usual ones
refers to. As far as I am aware,
there are no significant changes after '95, so '95 or newer should be a
good choice. The S90 is the same as the 960 and will be discontinued
after this model year.
[Tips from Rob Bareiss] Make sure
the timing belt has been changed and is documented. Check the VIN# out
with a Volvo Service department, to see if the car has any "open service
campaigns". That would mean it was not brought in for a dealer recall item.
There could be a minor thing, but it's a good indicator of whether the
previous owner cared about the car, or not. Look under the car, particularly
for exhaust leaks at the rear flange or flex-joint of the catalytic converter
(next to transmission). If you see or hear leaks, this is an EXPENSIVE
fix on a 960. Volvo gets over $1100 USD for a new cat; non-Volvo replacements
are over $500. Also look for oil drips at the front end of the transmission-
a rear main oil seal is an EXPENSIVE repair. Drive the car- it should have
no shake at all in the wheel when braking. Front rotors can warp, and they're
over $100 each to replace. Make sure the Auto Climate Control does
everything right. Run the A/C fan on full, and accelerate hard. The
vents must not stop working. If they do, you've got expensive work ahead.
And finally, look to see that when you arrive, the back of the car is not
sagging. These cars have very expensive Nivomat self-leveling shocks in
the back- they're $250-$450 USD each! The car shouldn't sag more than 1
[Editor's Notes:] Check some of the
960 anomalies before buying. These include puckering door panels
around the lock buttons which are very expensive ($800 parts) to replace
(especially model year 1995), and functioning of all body electrical components
including power seats, power sunroof, power mirrors, mirror heaters, rear
defrost. Check as well the performance of the air conditioning system:
repairs are expensive and these cars have suffered from leaking condensers.
a Used Turbo. [Query:] What are the engine and model specs
on the turbo series? [Tip from Abe Crombie] I don't know what your
$$ limit is but the 93-95 940 T will have the engine with piston oil cooling
and the improved tolerances on lower end.
The 92 and later have the bigger brakes
up front and larger piston size for rear calipers.
The trans on turbo models is the same
except the balls used as check valves could deteriorate and cause harsh
shifts on 85-87 models.
The 88 and later have the larger diameter
mains with a full circle thrust bearing for crank.
The 90 and later have the smaller, fast
spool up time turbo but this hurts the absolute limit for boost as the
exhaust housing is more restrictive.
92 and later have bigger radiator and
intercooler with all electric cooling fans. The sips structures in
92 and later likely adds some body rigidity.
87 and up have hydraulic engine mounts
that are more costly and have a finite life span.
91-93 turbos have the auto locking diff,
it was part of cold weather package (heated seats=locking diff) on 94-95.
The auto locking diff is not the best for Hi-Perf track/gymkhana style
[Editor] Pay attention to the maintenance
given the turbo, including oil changes, turbo
a Used Diesel. Anyone contemplating buying a used 7xx/9xx with
a D24 or D24T diesel engine should see more detailed notes at Purchasing
Test Data for Volvo Cars. [Tips] See the following for
crash test data on various used Volvo cars by model year: http://www.crashtest.com
History. [Query] If you know the VIN for a car is there anyway
to get a history of the service and mileage of last service? [Response:
Beau Springer] Yes, but the "work" has to have been done [recorded] at
a Volvo Dealership/Service Center since the system used to record and track
the service is on a "closed" Volvo network. In addition to this, the person
doing the work history research must be willing to "de-code" the service
codes for you. I tried utilizing this service last Friday at my local
Volvo Dealership, so your mileage may vary depending on the level of cooperation
that you receive.
Not having that much time, I did an internet search and found Carfax (1-800-FIND-VIN).
They search through DMV and auction records and while they don't give a
complete ownership history of the car or any details on previous owners,
they can tell you if the car was ever totaled, salvaged, stolen, or in
my case, that the car actually had 183k instead of 63k.
Change. I'd check the maintenance book to see whether the speedometer/odometer
has been changed. I believe that quite a few of these had problems, and
were replaced. The manual should say what the mileage was on the unit that
was removed, if there was a replacement. Add this to the mileage
showing on the odometer in the car for total mileage. Maintenance and repair
records often state the mileage at which the car came into the shop, and
can substitute for the maintenance manual, if it's not available.
FAQ for 7xx/9xx/90 Cars
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