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Volvo Rot

Experiencing Volvo Rot?

My Volvo Does Not Rot, Sir!

Volvo Rot is a term I just invented to describe a Volvo that is taken off the road not due to severe damage received in an accident, or catastrophic engine failure, but because a component or subsystem breaks and the owner decides to abandon it for financial reasons.

Example: Volvo 850 w/ Failed Air Conditioning

The 850’s air conditioning system is under- (or over-?) engineered, and breaks in perhaps 50 out of 100 cars after about 10 years*. At the dealer the evaporator replacement required to fix this condition, no pun intended, is commonly US$1200! In a system of perfect information an owner would be an Matthews Volvo Forum member and know that they have alternatives, actually many alternatives, but in the real world, MVS members are a minority, sadly.

The Car Death Math Formula

A 1996 850 is worth perhaps $2000 to a private seller, give or take, so it doesn’t take one of those 6th grade math wizards you see on the evening news to see that for this 850, Volvo Rot has already set in. When a repair approaches or surpasses 50% of a car’s value to a private seller, that repair will very likely not be performed.

The Brief Second Life Begins

The owner then dumps the car for $1000-1500 on a trade at a dealer, and the 850 begins its brief second life in the world of dying cars at either (at best) a cut-rate used car dealer who sells it without a fixed AC, at a parts yards or “boneyard”, or (at worst) at a scrap metal crusher.

The Salvage Title Example

Another example would be the salvage title case. Again, this is pretty much a death certificate for a Volvo whatever its running condition. It’s not always a Volvo Rot death certificate, but often. Many times a salvage title is issued because a car is not worth the risk of insuring it, and it then gets Volvo Rot not because of an owner financial decision but because of an insurance company’s financial decision. In many US states, a salvage title means you can’t get auto insurance for the car, which has a way of keeping it from being driven. 😉

Either way, the point is the same: a potentially sound* and useful Volvo is taken off the roads.

* Blog Post Notes

1. I don’t have any hard numbers, I’m just going with my gut feeling. If you have numbers on AC failure rates, please contact me and I’ll be happy to amend this blog post.
2. Volvo Rot of course isn’t limited to Volvos and is 100% applicable to all makes.
3. For the term Volvo Rot, I chose the catchy over the accurate. To be more accurate, we could go with “Volvo Death Caused By Component Failure Syndrome” but who will remember that?
4. In my last sentence, “potentially sound” means exactly that: we must look on a case-by-case basis as to whether the salvage title or insurance company “totalling” is justified. Insurance companies don’t give a squirt of piss (sorry) for you or your Volvo. They want to settle and move on.

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