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Wrap up to the "Free 850" story I've been telling

Help, Advice and DIY Tutorials on Volvo's extremely popular car line -- Volvo's 1990s "bread and butter" cars -- powered by the ubiquitous and durable Volvo inline 5-cylinder engine.

1992 - 1997 850, 850 R, 850 T5-R, 850 T5, 850 GLT
1997 - 2000 S70, S70 AWD
1997 - 2000 V70, V70 AWD
1997 - 2000 V70-XC
1997 - 2004 C70

Georgeandkira
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Georgeandkira

Wrap up to the "Free 850" story I've been telling

Post by Georgeandkira » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:20 am

This concerns a '96 850 wagon two very nice people in Connecticut had given me.
I've mentioned it in the V70 section of this board because that is where I frequent and a few people know me.
I decided it belongs here in the 850 section as well.
So, if you feel like your brain is trapped in a mobius take heart, you may have simply seen this before.

Hello again,
I hesitated to tell you the outcome but the satisfaction of closing out this story outweighs my shame.

On Tuesday, June 12, pouring 5 gallons of fresh fuel into the 850 started my day.
I installed the odd battery the owners had laying around. It had been on a trickle charger for days-as per my instruction-and the engine leapt to life. My gas was enough to extinguish the LOW FUEL light. I let the engine run throughout my "fun morning".

The borrowed "200 PSI" mini-compressor did a fine job raising all 4 tires to 45 psi. I spent the time vacuuming acorns and winding spider webs like cotton candy. I also rubbed silicone spray into the door weatherstrips. I'm so good.

For giggles I removed the 3 right hand screws on the cowl to see if there was an aftermarket frame holding an air filter onto the HVAC port. There was none but there was the expected pile of sticks which I also sucked up.

This is where a small $30 jack comes in handy. I removed the front wheels in turn and found hellacious rust. Banging the rotors and calipers produced piles of rust. Honestly, the rotors looked like the surface of the Moon. I drove the car up and down their long, gravel driveway and afterwards couldn't detect where the pads contacted the rotors. Oddly, the flexible hoses showed no cracks. I was amazed by that. Had they been replaced or had they been made that well? The same goes for the leak-free shocks and struts. No spring was broken.

Unfortunately, the long gravel driveway was no place to stab at the brakes repeatedly. I sure didn't want to rut up a drive shared by three households. Their neighborhood was not too heavy with traffic but I just didn't want to risk meeting the local police by taking the dust covered thing onto a public road.
Perhaps I should've doused the calipers with spray Aerokroil.

The "crank pulley motor mount" was completely torn, crushed and ineffective. The engine and frame banged predictably as I went from D to R. Both front fender liners were shifting about.

Touching most anything was accompanied by a staccato of falling acorns. The open garage I was in filled with the pleasing smell of roasted nuts as the morning progressed.

The shocker was revealed upon opening the oil filler cap as well as pulling the dipstick. The smoke huffed like a train of old. That, coupled with the extreme amount of black, oily mud all over every bit of the engine compartment tempered my mood.

Earlier in their mere 27,000 mile ownership of this car the radiator was replaced. The installer stacked pipe fittings which I hadn't seen before. The lower cooling line was leaking albeit manageably.

I was still so into this car I washed the windshield for real and vacuumed the front interior. The rear of the wagon was filled with an in-law's possessions so I let them be.

Then I estimated the costs and travel times involved. Going with good to OE parts the brakes landed at $220 per corner. Assuming a smooth installation and no brake line leaks the only fear I'd have is parking brake hardware condition (I forgot to try them) and remaining life in the brake booster and master cylinder.

The inoperative A/C would add a lot of expense.

At one point there was CV joint clicking. One of Connecticut's foreign parts sources sells only Volvo branded rebuilt axles-a good thing-and they're $540.

Remember to add adding a car to my insurance policy. It all makes the $21 fee for the temporary transport tag seem like a tip.

The cheerful chattering of some pulley or tensioner reminded me that both accessory belt hardware and timing belt hardware were urgent chores.

A man in Ridgefield, CT-a moderator on volvoforums.com- offered his 850 timing belt tensioner compression tool and a set of carpeted floor mats. Again the pendulum of desire to need gathers energy.

As mentioned above, the PCV system was understandably and expectedly deteriorated. There's no telling which or how badly the seals were punished... no telling how much oil the thing would leak, burn or ooze.

I gifted the couple the small shop vac I brought as it had been given to me by a friend clearing his garage.
Also, there were needs I saw which needed filling so I brought them a few energy efficient lamps and a 2-step ladder. Everything was well received.

With tears in my eyes I declined the car. However, it's in better shape than when I found it. It starts and is drivable. I mailed them a FOR SALE sign with "RUNS written in bold letters beneath the words "'96 850".
They can decide to add their phone number and/or price. I suggested $400. I later emailed them and mentioned donating it to the local vo-tech high school.

You don't know the "mixed hit" my ego took that evening after the 110 mile drive back home....to realize that not being 18 any more has such serious impact....to imagine a fun conclusion to a free car story then to realize spending over $2,000 and many hours on a car which'd sell for only $750 to $1,000 mightn't be so fun.

Had I needed a car myself, I would've gone for it. I can live with no A/C and a missing recirc button.

Thanks for reading. George (& Kira)

tryingbe
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Re: Wrap up to the "Free 850" story I've been telling

Post by tryingbe » Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:03 pm

Free car is often very expensive.
85 GLH, 367 whp
00 Insight, 72 mpg

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abscate
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Re: Wrap up to the "Free 850" story I've been telling

Post by abscate » Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:22 pm

I do wish I could score a $500 dolly to drag these home and piece them together on the cheap

Worst case is $200 quick parts and $400_500 scrap
Empty Nester
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FLXC90
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Re: Wrap up to the "Free 850" story I've been telling

Post by FLXC90 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:24 pm

Bonus Karma points, think how much you improved what they had. The Cosmos will thank you for what you have done!
Current Volvos:
1998 V70 T5, 112k sat 5 years, still in mechanical coma (finally at the top of the pile )
2004 XC90 T6 AWD: 186k, 60 on transaxle ( traded in )
1998 POS70 N/A: DD/training aid, 236k but really about 240k, I think...ABS module( passed on to son who sold it)

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Clemens
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Re: Wrap up to the "Free 850" story I've been telling

Post by Clemens » Sun Jun 17, 2018 3:03 pm

Great story, George, and smart to walk away. Cheap or free cars are so tempting, but can turn into an instant moneypit quickly.
Summer: 1996 855 R
Winter: 1994 855 T5M
Donor: 1995 854 10V

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abscate
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Re: Wrap up to the "Free 850" story I've been telling

Post by abscate » Sun Jun 17, 2018 7:41 pm

On top of the good you did for these guys, You honed your own skill set so that the next opp that pops you will be that much better at getting the gemstone.
Empty Nester
A Captain in a Sea of Estrogen
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