History of the Volvo 5 Cylinder: Part 2

The 5 cylinder engine is a symbol of Volvo's past, but car makers started their iterations of this historically significant engine as early as the 1930s.

history of the volvo 5 cylinder engine part 2

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The inline 5 (I5) cylinder engine has come to be a symbol of Volvo’s recent past. But did you know that manufacturers started whipping up first iterations of this quirky engine as early as the 1930s?

While in the US we gave up on the 5 cylinder, the story’s a bit different in Europe, where it flourished. Over the last 90 years, the I5’s been used in everything from WW2 military vehicles, sedans, and sports cars, to our modern SUVs and trucks.

Let’s look at the early history of this iconic engine and exactly how – and when – Volvo joined the party.

The Earliest 5 Cylinders: Ford and Lancia

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Lancia 3Ro – the first production 5-cylinder engine

The earliest known 5-cylinder comes from Henry Ford himself (p.64). Ford was famous for near-constant experimenting when he was leader of the Ford Motor Company and many of his ideas, including the 5-cylinder, never left the design table. He experimented with V10s, X-8s (yes, an 8-cylinder engine shaped like an X, with 2 cylinders on each end), opposed cylinder engines, and of course, the 5 cylinder.

The larger designs were meant to compete with the new 6-cylinder engines from competing companies like Chevy, but that wasn’t the vision for the 5 cylinder.

Ford developed the I5 in the late 1930s and early 1940s and, like Volvo some 50 years later, Ford saw the 5 cylinder as an option for a smaller economy car. Indeed, the engine they produced clocked in at just under 2.5 liters and produced a meager 50 to 60 HP.

In the end, Ford simply couldn’t shave enough cost off manufacturing to make a smaller economy car an affordable option and the 5-cylinder was scrapped.

The first production 5 cylinder, on the other hand, came from Italian manufacturer Lancia.

The first production 5 cylinder, on the other hand, came from Italian manufacturer Lancia. In the late 1930s, Italy (and the rest of Europe) were embroiled in WW2 and Lancia was manufacturing a line of transport trucks for the Italian Army.

The manufacturer equipped the first model, known as the Ro, with a petite 2 cylinder diesel engine. After a few years, they tacked on an additional cylinder (lovingly known as the Ro-Ro), until finally bringing it up to the 5 cylinder (the 3Ro) – the first production 5 cylinder (though it was diesel).

Mercedes Steps Up to the Plate

The first true step towards a 5 cylinder passenger vehicle came 35 years after Lancia’s 3Ro.

In 1974, Mercedes introduced their new 3 liter 5-cylinder diesel (known as the OM617), which first saw action with the 240D and now-famous 300D. While not sporty by any means – accelerating from 0 to 60 in 17 seconds – the OM617 is downright reliable, with many 300Ds clocking in over 500,000 miles. Some enthusiasts have even claimed the OM617 as the most reliable engine ever – period!

However, before the 300D became so famous in the 1980s, Mercedes wasn’t alone with a production 5 cylinder.

The First Gas-Powered 5 Cylinder

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1976 Audi 100

We’re all likely aware of Audi’s connection to the 5-cylinder and motorsports, most notably as a rally car in the early ’80s, but also through successes in hill climbing Pikes Peak and other US-based racing.

In 1976, Audi introduced the first gas-powered production 5 cylinder for the Audi 100. With the larger engine, the car was considered a step up from Audi’s previous models, though with the 2.1 liter engine producing 136HP it wasn’t up to racing-status quite yet.

Like Volvo, Audi will always be permanently connected to the 5 cylinder, thanks to their huge showing in motorsports

Fast forward to 1980 and Audi has introduced the Quattro, featuring a turbocharged 5 cylinder engine and permanent 4-wheel drive. Clocking in at 200HP, Audi soon entered the Quattro in rally races. Throughout the early ’80s, Like Volvo, Audi will always be permanently connected to the 5 cylinder, thanks to their huge showing in motorsports, especially Group B rallying in the early 1980s. Throughout the 80s, Audi continually updated the Quattro and eventually took home 23 world championships.

Volvo Joins the Party

Volvo 5 Cylinder Engine
Volvo added a turbo to the 5 cylinder for the 1995 850 T5-R

While Volvo only introduced its first 5 cylinder, the Volvo 850, in 1991 – much later than Audi – the actual development of the 5 cylinder started way back in 1978, just two years after their rival introduced the 5 cylinder Audi 100.

In the late ’70s, Volvo wanted to jumpstart their move towards a more modern automobile. They created a new special project dubbed the Galaxy Project, as they were – in their own words – ‘aiming for the stars’ by creating something completely new. Indeed, the project encompassed new ideas everywhere: new body styles, new materials, new safety components and, of course, new engines. It was a long-term investment, with an economic, future-forward car as the ultimate goal.

Over the next 10 years or so, Volvo poured huge amounts of money into Project Galaxy and it eventually ended up becoming the most expensive project Volvo had ever taken on at the time. However, their push into the future eventually birthed two new cars, the Volvo 480 and the 850, the latter of which would go on to define Volvo for a decade or more.

Project Galaxy eventually ended up becoming the most expensive project Volvo had ever taken on at the time. However, their push into the future eventually birthed two new cars, the Volvo 480 and the 850, the latter of which would go on to define Volvo for a decade or more.

The 480 was built in Volvo’s Dutch manufacturing plant from 1986 to 1995. It was the first front-wheel drive vehicle Volvo had ever produced – one of the major goals of Project Galaxy – but the differences didn’t stop there. The 3-door hatchback was a stark right turn to Volvo’s traditional vehicles, with the FWD, low ground clearance, and sleek design (pop up headlights!) aimed at a younger audience. The 480 also enjoyed design elements that we’d later see in the Volvo C30 – most notably the full-glass back hatch.

Unlike the 480, Volvo built the 850 in Sweden. Introduced in 1991, a full 13 years after Project Galaxy first started, the 850 sported many of the ideas Volvo envisioned for the project. First off, the drivetrain was completely front-wheel drive with the engine transversely mounted in the engine bay, a major change for Volvo, but necessary to keep up with other manufacturers that had already switched over.

To keep everything as light as possible, the entire engine block was composed of aluminum, as opposed to heavier cast iron. The 850 also included Volvo’s new SIPS (Side Impact Protection System).

And of course, the 850 also included Volvo’s very first 5 cylinder engine. Why did they choose a 5-cylinder instead of a 4 or even 6?

First off, we can only imagine that, with Audi seeing huge successes with their own I5, Volvo – as well as other manufacturers – were already somewhat open to the idea of a new 5 cylinder engine.

From the very beginning, one of Project Galaxy’s goals was the Modular Engine – an engine design that could easily be converted to a 4, 5, or 6 cylinder with little extra design and production changes, allowing Volvo to produce a variety of engines for less time and money.

During the early years of Project Galaxy, the development group initially developed their transverse engine as a 4 cylinder, with 5 and 6 cylinder models as secondary options. When it came time to test the engines though, Volvo’s engineers loved the 5 cylinder’s performance so much they decided to focus in on this oddball engine, with the 4 and 6 cylinders eventually falling to the wayside.

Keep in mind that the Volvo 850 wasn’t actually the first to feature their modular engine. That honor goes to the Volvo 960 and its I4 engine [In dispute. See this.]. However, the 850 was the first to feature the 5 cylinder version. The modular engine eventually became a mainstay of Volvo automobiles, with the manufacturer using the design all the way up to 2016 in the Volvo XC60, XC70, S60, and V60.

The 850 and Beyond

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Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Volvo continually added the I5 to a host of vehicles, including the Volvo C30.

After the 850 proved such a huge success, thanks to their raucous showing in motorsports and the public’s fascination with the boxy underdog, Volvo kept introducing the 5 cylinder in more and more models, with the engine becoming increasingly intertwined with Volvo’s image over the next decade.

Below is a list of each vehicle that Volvo added the 5 cylinder engine to, along with the year they added the 5 cylinder as an option.


After the 850 in 1991, Volvo introduced 3 more models featuring the 5 cylinder engine:

  • S70/V70– Volvo introduced the S70/V70 in 1996 (’98 in the US) to replace the 850. In essence a facelifted 850, the S70 exclusively featured the 5 cylinder engine, both gas and diesel variants, naturally-aspirated and turbo, from a low of 2 liters in size to 2.5 liters.
  • C70 – In 1998, Volvo also introduced the convertible C70 to US markets, also featuring Volvo’s 5 cylinder modular engine along with a turbocharger to add some extra boost. Volvo continued to produce the C70, with the 5 cylinder engine, all the way up to 2013.
  • S80 – Volvo introduced the S80 with both a 5 and 6 cylinder engine in 1998, with 4 cylinder and 8 cylinder options in later years.


Over the next decade, the 5 cylinder became increasingly prevalent, with Volvo throwing the inline 5 in pretty much every car they manufactured:

  • S40 (2nd gen) – With the 2nd generation of the S40 in 2004, Volvo added on a 5 cylinder option to go with the standard inline 4.
  • S60 – Volvo’s replacement for the S70, Volvo only offered the S60 with the inline 5 (either NA or turbo) when first introduced in 2000. For the 2nd generation S60 in 2010, they also offered a turbo and/or supercharged 4 and 6 cylinder options.
  • XC90 – Volvo’s first foray into SUVs back in 2002 also featured a turbo inline 5 as well as an inline 6 and V8. In 2014, Volvo introduced the 2nd generation XC90 that only came with 4 cylinders.
  • C30 – From 2006 to 2013, Volvo manufactured the C30 hatchback, featuring either an I4 or I5 engine.


As engine technology continued to rapidly progress, manufacturers were able to coax major power out of smaller engines, with little effect on efficiency. The popularity of 5 cylinders began to wane and even Volvo moved on to smaller, more efficient inline 4s. Since 2010, Volvo has introduced the 5 cylinder briefly to a couple models, but nothing long-lasting:

  • XC60 – Introduced in 2008, Volvo’s 2nd dip into SUVs also briefly featured a gas-powered turbocharged inline 5 from 2015 to 2016, though Volvo replaced the entire lineup with their new 4 cylinder in 2017.
  • V40 – No, not the ‘90s wagon. Volvo introduced this hatchback in European markets in 2012, though it isn’t available in the US (yet). While the V40 was equipped with a 5 cylinder engine for a short time, the 2017 V40 only comes equipped with a 4 cylinder.

The Future Is Small

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Volvo’s 2017 XC40 features an ultra-powerful engine, but it’s not the I5.

The inline 5’s pleasing sound and better NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness) generally leads to a more pleasant experience than an I4 engine. Audi continues to use a turbocharged 5 cylinder engine in the 2018 Audi TT, but we can’t say the same for Volvo. The last two cars they’ve introduced, 2016’s S90 sedan and 2017’s XC40 SUV, wowed critics but both only feature a 4 cylinder engine.

In fact, as far back as 2009 Volvo announced they were ditching all engines bigger than 4 cylinders, including the I5 that they – and we – are so fond of. When Ford sold Volvo to Chinese automaker Geely the following year, Volvo took the time to rethink their designs and customer needs and decided that both they, and their customers, would benefit from smaller, more efficient turbocharged engines, like the current widespread trend in the automotive world. The 5 cylinder was toast.

Volvo took the time to rethink their designs and customer needs and decided that both they, and their customers, would better benefit from smaller, more efficient turbocharged engines. The 5 cylinder was toast.

If you’re now pouring out lamentations for Volvo’s 5 cylinder, consider this: the 2017 XC90’s dainty (albeit twin-charged) 4 cylinder engine produces a whopping 316 HP and 295 ft-lbs of torque. That’s a lot more power and better fuel consumption than the V70R.

When Volvo first introduced the 5 cylinder engine way back in 1991, it filled an important niche. It was a midway point, providing greater power than a 4 cylinder, but greater efficiency than an I6 or V8. However, times change. Volvo is moving into the future, and the 5 cylinder engine simply isn’t a part of that future.

Image Credits: Courtesy Volvo Press Materials – 1, 4, 6, Public Domain via Wikimedia – 2, CC via Flickr 3, 5

History of the Volvo 5 Cylinder

More than any other auto maker, Volvo’s name has become almost synonymous with the 5 cylinder engine over the last 30 years. Here's its history.

Volvo's 5-cylinder: Where Did I Come From
Volvo’s 5-cylinder: Where Did I Come From

Volvo’s history is intrinsically intertwined with the 5-cylinder engine. More than any other auto maker (besides maybe Audi), Volvo’s name has become almost synonymous with this rather idiosyncratic engine over the last 30 years. At the time, it was a perfect compromise between the 6-cylinder’s power and the 4-cylinders size and efficiency.

Of course, time soldiers on and today we’ve got 4-cylinder engines that put out 6-cylinder power with great efficiency, leaving the 5-cylinder to the history books.

In 2012, Volvo announced they would cease producing the 5-cylinder, opting instead for the smaller 4.

Let’s look back at the history of Volvo’s 5-cylinder engine, where it came from, and delve a little more into why this peculiar engine flourished for so long.

Volvo 850, 5 Cyl. 2.3 L
Volvo 850, 5 Cyl. 2.3 L

Where Did the 5-Cylinder Engine Come From?

5-cylinder engines have been around a long time. Henry Ford first tinkered with them back in the late 1930s. Fast forward to 1974 and Mercedes has put a 5-cylinder diesel in their 300D. Jump forward 2 years (1976) and Audi has introduced the first gas-powered inline 5 in the Audio 100, the beginnings of a relationship that lasts to today (though with some bumps and gaps along the way). In fact, along with Volvo, the 5-cylinder is forever linked with Audi.

Since Audi’s initial success with the 5-cylinder, seemingly ever manufacturer has introduced their own version at some point: Volvo in 1991, Volkswagen across many of their offerings, Acura, Fiat, Lancia, GM (including even the Hummer H3 when it was first introduced), and others.

Brief History of Volvo’s Inline 5

Volvo’s love affair with the inline 5-cylinder began in 1991 with the introduction of the 850. The offering was part of the Volvo Modular Engine, a family of inline-4, inline-5, and inline-6 engines that used aluminum blocks and heads, as well as aluminum pistons and double overhead cams.

What’s a Modular Engine? Basically, the above 3 engines share many identical parts and components, making the manufacturing process easier and more cost-effective

Volvo began researching and developing the Modular Engine project in the late 1970s, with their first offering coming in 1990 with the new 960 that featured Volvo’s first Modular Engine, an inline 6-cylinder.

In 1991, they released the 850, the first of many vehicles sporting the inline 5-cylinder Modular Engine. The 850 sported the 5-cylinder until its demise in 1997.

Benefits of the Volvo 5-Cylinder

The 5-cylinder is unique and dwindling in popularity, but it does have some legitimate perks:

  • Space. The 5-cylinder fits much better in the compact transverse engine compartments of modern cars than an inline-6, but provides more power than an inline-4.
  • Smooth Power Delivery. Because of the overlapping piston timing inherent within inline 5-cylinder engines, they produce a smoother power delivery than similar inline 4 engines, in which the pistons’ movement does not overlap. Because of this, 5-cylinders enjoy less noise and shaking in the engine. If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at this wonderful Engineering Explained video on YouTube on 5-cylinders:

  • Cost. Costs less to build than inline 6-cylinder engines.

What’s Going On with the 5-Cylinder Today?

As more and more automakers turn towards turbos and tweaking to make inline-4s more powerful and efficient, the inline 5 is become more and more redundant.

Volvo stopped producing 5-cylinders in 2014, with the last 5-cylinder going into the 2014 S60, and is testament to the sea change described above: they no longer make any engines larger than 4-cylinders, though they quite like the turbos.

Even up until just 5 to 10 years ago, 5-cylinders were used by the likes of Volkswagen, Audi, Land Rover, Ford (with Volvo’s engine), and Chevy. Today, you’re hard-pressed to find any, although Audi has announced a new 5-cylinder for 2017 that produces almost 400 bhp.

Will Volvo Ever Reintroduce the 5-Cylinder?

In two words. Probably not. Like we said, the 5-cylinder is a thing of the past. During its heyday, it was the perfect meeting point between 4- and 6-cylinder engines: almost as efficient as 4-cylinders, almost as powerful as 6-cylinders.

With today’s modern engine technology, we can squeeze more performance out of inline 4s and many auto manufacturers are even jumping onto 3-cylinder engines coupled with turbos to pack even more power. Just like the other manufacturers, Volvo is moving forward to an era of smaller-but-powerful engines.

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Image credit: Creative Commons Flickr

Volvo Price List for 1997 Cars – 850 and 960

Here's the contents of a fantastic old Volvo Web page... price list for 850 and 960, with options prices!

1997 Volvo Models

Here’s the contents of a fantastic old Volvo Web page. — Matt

ROCKLEIGH, NJ–Volvo is optimistic about sales volumes for the last half of 1996. And no wonder. By the end of
June 850 sales were up 16% over the first half of 1995, 960 sales were up 33%. Both series will continue to be on sale
for model year 1997.

Volvo’s 1997 flagship, the 850 R, is an enthusiast’s dream: a high performance road machine with the kind of safety
engineering that is synonymous with the Volvo brand name. The model was first introduced in 1995 as the 850 T-5R.

New for 1997 is an engine package in the 850 GLT series that increases horsepower from 168 to 190. More importantly,
torque has increased to 191 lb.ft. at 1,800 rpm versus its 1996 torque rating of 162 lb.ft. at 4,700 rpm. This
improvement delivers six-cylinder performance in a five-cylinder package.

The 960 series retains its superb road handling and grand touring luxury for 1997. Its whisper-quiet silky-smooth engine
performance, expertly crafted interior, and Volvo’s famous seating design deliver uncompromising driving comfort.

Pricing for 1997 reflects the new 850 GLT engine package and modest fluctuations in world currency. MSRP for the
850 models, sales weighted and reflecting content changes is up 3.1%. The MSRP for the 960 models is up 1.0%.
Overall Volvo’s MSRP pricing for 1997 has increased 2.5%.

Volvo 850 Series — 1997 Model Year Price List

Sales Version Badge Suggested Retail Price
854 O 850 $26,710
854 A 850 $27,685
854 GTO 850 $28,040
854 GTA 850 $29,015
854 GTOS 850 $29,240
854 GTAS 850 $30,215
854 GLT GLT $31,835
854 T5 T5 $34,500
854 R R $38,685
855 O 850 $28,010
855 A 850 $28,985
855 GTO 850 $29,340
855 GTA 850 $30,315
855 GTOS 850 $30,540
855 GTAS 850 $31,515
855 GLT GLT $33,135
855 T5 T5 $35,800
855 R R $40,135

Destination Charge: $495


  1. 850 O/A/Gto/Gta/Gtos/Gtas Models Have Plush Upholstery As Standard.
  2. 850 Glt And T5 Models Have Velour As Standard.
  3. 850 Glt Replaces My 96 Gtas (New Engine).
  4. Gtos/Gtas Model Content Equals Gto/Gta With Addition Of Sunroof.
  5. 850 T5 Has Dual Power Seats With Memory And In-Dash Cd-Player As Standard Features.

Continue reading “Volvo Price List for 1997 Cars – 850 and 960”

RWD Volvos Have PNP Switch Flashing Arrows Too

MVS member Bob had the common flashing arrow light on the dash of his 1995 960. Flashing arrows usually mean it's the PNP switch.

PNP Switch Flashing Arrow

MVS member Bob had the common flashing arrow light on the dash of his 1995 960.

While looking at the wiring harness connector (8 sockets) that plugged into the PNP switch connector (8 pins), I noticed one wire looked “funny” – and for good reason. It was no longer connected to the crimped on socket connector. I began tugging at these wires that went from the main wiring harness to the connector and several of them were not even connected any longer!

I cut the remaining wires from the connector and examined the connector. It’s a plastic box that has “ears” that fold down over the socket connector that is encased in a short plastic tube within the box. What was astonishing was that most of the sockets themselves had DISSOLVED. This left the wire to be just held against the inserted plug from the PNP connector. As it was driven the wires vibrated away and toward the connector sometimes making contact and sometimes not.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to find replacement sockets at an equipment salvage store, a real good hand crimping tool (Crimper, Ratcheted, AWG 20-18, 16-14, 12-10, ..non-insulated, open barrel terminals $35 – Amazon), clear plastic water tubing (5/16″ OD x 3/16″ ID). I have literally rebuilt the connector block. Car starts and runs great even though this has been a 2 year process with it sitting a lot.

Warning Red Arrow on Dash Flashing-Volvo 960

accessories.volvocars.com Is Amazing

Here's a fantastic trove of Volvo accessories information that takes the form of PDFs, including diagrams on how to install them.

Here’s a fantastic trove of Volvo information that takes the form of PDF (downloadable) files, a Winter Wheel Configurator, and many other things… including diagrams on how to install the thousands of Volvo accessories listed in these documents. It’s shockingly good.

Astoundingly, it covers everything from the 1982 Volvo 700-series to every 2016 model Volvo sells. Take a peek at various models and years as examples:

According to the Wayback Machine, it dates to late 2014, for what it’s worth. This collection is really so wide and deep it’s difficult to wrap your head around, and it’s not a simple thing to explain in writing. Parts, accessories, services, diagrams… it’s gigantic. It’s best experienced by finding your Volvo model(s) and poking around. There’s more stuff for newer Volvos, naturally.


Continue reading “accessories.volvocars.com Is Amazing”

1993 940 Turbo Wagon For Sale, 33k Miles, $6850, Denver

93 Volvo 940 turbo Wagon, only 33,000 miles, 2 owner, local car with all records at local dealership, Gold with Tan Leather,Sunroof, Heated seats, great tires

1993 940 Turbo Wagon, 33k Miles


  • condition: like new
  • cylinders: 4 cylinders
  • drive: rwd
  • fuel: gas
  • odometer: 32850
  • title status: clean
  • transmission: automatic

93 Volvo 940 turbo Wagon, only 33,000 miles, 2 owner, local car with all records at local dealership, Gold with Tan Leather,Sunroof, Heated seats, great tires, Just serviced. Cloth and weathertech mats, amazing Condition $6,850.00.

The usual disclaimer: I don’t know the seller, don’t know the car, don’t know anything beyond what the ad says, and don’t have any interest in this sale. This post is intended to potentially provide a match between an MVS member and his future Volvo, or generate discussion because of the car’s rarity, beauty, or low price. MVS posts ads of cars that I personally would go to see with intent to buy.

V90 Fitting Rear Mudflaps

MVS Volvo Forums member Martin Calva details his attempts to find the right Volvo part number, and install rear mudflaps on his V90.

V90 Rear Mudflaps

MVS Volvo Forums member Martin Calva details his attempts to find the right Volvo part number, and install rear mudflaps on his V90.

Evidently there are at least two different rear mudflap kits. The number that you have found 9134332 seems to be for older cars.

  • Volvo 740 restricted on: model years
  • Volvo 760 restricted on: model years
  • Volvo 940 5-Doors
  • Volvo 960 5-Doors restricted on: model years

My kit is 9134612 and is specified for S90 and V90. It seems that it will also fit all older 900’s too.

When I found that it did not fit, my first reaction was that I had been given the wrong kit. But all the information I have seems to say that I have the right kit for my car. When the local garage owner told me he remembered that a modification was needed to fit mudflaps to a V90 that seemed to confirm it.

My kit was provided by a Volvo oem dealer who was given my car’s VIN. When told there was a problem, the dealer double-checked and came back confirming that my kit is correct for my car.

1998 V90 How to fit rear mudflaps ?

Should I buy a 1996 Volvo 960?

MVS Volvo Forum member Gladys asks if 1996 is a good vintage for the Volvo 960 model. Ethan responds with good tips on this year of 960, what to look for, what to expect when buying a used Volvo

Volvo 960 1990-1996

Volvo 960

MVS Volvo Forum member Gladys asks if 1996 is a good vintage for the Volvo 960 model. Ethan responds with good tips on this year of 960, what to look for, what to expect when buying a used Volvo:

– 1996 was a fine year for the 960. The car went virtually unchanged from 96-98.

– Specific issues: disintegrating wiring harness for the ignition coils is the most serious problem IMHO. This and broken timing belts are what is taking these cars off the road.

-For a non-mechanic to own an 18 year old car, the car needs to have a value beyond resale. A 960 could be such a car if it were well maintained. For example: I bought my 96 960 for $1200 and spent $1300 fixing it up. I have $2500 into a $2000 car. However, I can’t find a nicer, safer, or more reliable car for $2500, so it is a good value to me.

-Service and maintenance parts are readily available. Interior and trim parts are being phased out.

Volvo 960 Buying Advice:

It requires using Premium Gasoline, and here’s Fuel Economy of 1996 Volvo 960

120K miles needs to be defined in terms of city vs hwy percent, and if oil/filter was changed ontime. Was it driven by the little old lady from Pasadena, who made mostly short trips to grocery store, etc?

I have no idea if Volvo dealerships can make an assessment, for under $200.00; but there are periodic maintenance schedules that should be followed, and they are listed in owner’s manual. Anytime I purchase an used vehicle, I assume it will cost $1k to $2k in parts to make it highway road worthy. Since its my labor, then means about $2k to $4k at dealership.

I said roadworthy… not a daily beater.

Hence, existing owner should have repair bills/etc to look over. Needless to say, the seller’s character is most important, but you must also ask questions.

“Newly licensed daughter,” maybe she needs a daily beater to learn on.

If lots of miles defines usage, get a more fuel efficient vehicle; just local and school type miles, fine.

PS: Maintenance is not cheap… all vehicles need repairs with time.

Another Volvo 960 Buying Opinion

Depends on your goals. If you want a very safe and somewhat luxurious car and are willing to put more money into maintenance, and gas mileage is secondary, an older Volvo is a good choice. If low overall cost and reliability are most important, i would suggest looking for a 15-20 year old Honda or Toyota, specifically a Civic or Corolla with as low miles as possible and good maintenance record. I bought Civics and Corollas for my daughters thru their college days, and had almost no problems with them. I still have a 91 Camry that runs great and has cost nothing over routine maintenance. I love my 98 V70, but it is not cheap to keep running.

1996 960 Should I buy?

S90 Intermittent Hesitation At Low Rpms

S90 vacuum line

MVS Forums member bloodrootfc asks, then answers, a question about diagnosing intermittent hesitation on his Volvo S90 sedan:

After getting fed up with “try this” from 4 mechanics, I started doing my own diagnostics with a Torque app and scan tool, and calling the shots. My mechanic works faster than I do, and he does a good job so I tell him how to spend his time, rather than do the repair myself.

What I have discovered from monitoring the intake manifold vacuum with my scan tool is that I have a high vacuum at idle (24-25 mm Hg as opposed to a healthy 22 mm). WOT test confirms this is not a compression issue, quite the opposite actually. The vacuum drifts up and down 1 mm with the rpms at idle, which is indicative of the ecu trying to reconcile an improper fuel/air ratio. The only other explanation is:


Well, is it? Find out on the next episode of As The Volvo Forum Turns! right now! Just click the Read More link below :-).

1998 S90 hesitates at low RPM

OBD-I LED Code Reader & DIY Instructions

Volvo Forum Contributor and all-around DIY uberguru Ben850 fabricated an OBD-I code reader. OBD-I cars are typically model year 1988 to 1995, and have a more crude way to display codes… by displaying a series of light flashes (like Morse code) rather than storing and outputting codes in a more “human readable” fashion that OBD-II does.

OBD-I cars’ diagnostic boxes that display the flashes are small and black, and found in front of the shock tower on the driver’s side (LHD markets).

OBD-I LED Flash Code Reader
Ben’s DIY OBD-I code reader.

I made this a couple weeks ago to read the ECC codes from the OBD II port on my ’96 Turbo Wagon.

It is documented in my ongoing thread (at this point) to determine my intermittent ECC failure, but I thought it could be mentioned in the tool section.

I was going to do a simple momentary switch, LED and three lead wires. Not needing it until the next day I was bored and decided to repurpose a garbage item.

How to make an OBD I LED Code Reader.

Tune Up & Engine Bay Basics

New to DIY’ing? Start here. These are wonderful iPD overview videos for the novice DIY’er. The video’s host goes over where parts are in the engine bay, what they do, and why they’re important.

Tune Up Talk 2001+ models


Tune Up 850/70 series models


Tune Up Basics for Volvo 200, 700, and 900
with 4 cylinder engines from 1976-1995


240, 700-series SRS Diagnostic Codes

The 960 and 940 after 1992 had SRS diagnostic capability using the On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) unit in the engine compartment. The 1987 to 1992 7 series, the 1990 to 1991 2 series and the 1992 940 also had a diagnostic capability. Click through to the Volvo Forum post to get the downloadable PDF.

Have a Volvo 940 or 960? Jump to the Volvo 940 and 960 SRS diagnostics. Same thing as this, but for those models.

Continue reading “240, 700-series SRS Diagnostic Codes”