COAL: #17 2005 Volvo S80 – Comfort at its Finest

My friend David was enjoying the 98 C70 that I had just sold him. I had my sights on something I almost bought instead of the C70. I had seen this 2005 S80 at a small car dealer in Tulsa, and was blown away by how clean it was, with as many miles as it had on it. I wrote it off simply because of the miles, and went with the C70 because it looked more fun.

When the honeymoon was over with the C70 I went back to revisit this car, and it was still for sale. I contacted the dealer and got a Carfax along with more pictures. I found out that the car had been involved in an accident not too long ago, but I really wanted to see it in person to see what type of damage was done. I did not figure it was too bad since most insurance companies would have written off the car with that many miles.

I made the journey to Tulsa to find the car was just as it looked in the pictures. According to the Carfax, it was involved in a front end collision with another car. I figured the driver rear-ended someone, and I could barely see a small paint run on the front bumper. I got under the car to find no structural damage, and everything under the hood seemed intact. I figure it was a small scuff and just a repainted bumper. I went ahead with the purchase and spent a little more than I wanted, but the car ran great, had no clogged PCV system, and no warning lights. The Carfax also showed that this was a one owner company car, which seems like it was high mileage for a company car, but I do not know the circumstances.

One the way home from Tulsa, I had heard a loud bang, but thought it might be the semi truck that just passed by me. It wasn’t until about a mile down the road I got a call from the person that was following me that my back tire was flat. I quickly pulled over to the side of the turnpike, and inspected the damage. It looked like a plug had come loose and all the air was let out of the tire. Knowing that I could not do anything on the side of the road, I started to put the spare tire on. That idea was soon shot down because the spare was flatter than the original tire. So I loaded up the spare in the car that was following me, and we started to find a gas station with air. Now, this is in the middle of Oklahoma on a turnpike that is not too crowed. If any of you have ever been on the Cherokee Turnpike you will know what I mean, there might be one or two exits, but that is it. We finally found a gas station with free air! I aired up the tire and went back for the car. By this time it was getting dark, and light was not the best. I somehow managed to change the tire in under 10 minutes and get it all tightened safely. I made it home that night around 10PM or so. I knew the next morning the car was going to get 4 brand new tires.

I drove this car for quite a while in my terms. I took it on several trips to Clinton, Tulsa, and back and forth to Bentonville. The car never left me stranded despite the high miles. This model S80 was the exact model that replaced my 1998 S90. I found this car though much more fun to drive. The seats were like sitting on a Lazy Boy recliner. The 2.5 liter turbo was peppy given the weight of the car. It was not going to win any races, but it was just what I needed. The 2.5 engine is a very reliable engine, and was an option in almost all of Volvo’s models during that time. Of course you could upgrade to a T6 engine which if you ask a true Volvo guy about a T6 you might get an ear full. They have been shunned by Volvo enthusiasts because of their pairing to a GM transmission that always fails. From my understanding the twin turbo T6 engine simply has too much torque for the transmission it was paired to, and they just wear out. Volvo actually did a recall on this transmission, and would warranty them up to 100,000 miles. Many of them needed 3-4 rebuilds before that 100k. Luckily I had a different setup all together and had no issues.

You could also get this 2.5 pairing in an AWD version, which mine did not have. Volvos are known for safety, not their AWD. If you are ever faced with a choice to get a FWD Volvo or AWD, do yourself and your wallet a favor and get a FWD. As most of you read in my XC90 V8’s COAL they are expensive to repair.

The only issue that I had with this car was one night I was driving home from Eureka Springs, the roads out there are extremely curvy. I was going around a curve, and did not see some debris in the road and hit it. I heard whatever I hit go under the car, and immediately the “low coolant” light came on the dash. I pulled over, and shut off the car. I got out to find that what I hit had nicked the very edge of the bottom of the radiator. There was a spout where the lower hose connects that is plastic, and it was taken out in the accident. Knowing there was nothing I could do in the dark, I called my girlfriend to come and get me, and I would come back tomorrow to pick it up with my trailer to get it repaired. I found a new radiator online cheap for $100, and had a shop in town put it in. What I didn’t know is that the shop that I took it to was changing ownership. All of the employees were leaving at the end of the week, and they were botching repairs left and right. When I picked up the car a few days later, they had not put a clamp around one of the breather hoses to the turbo. So when the turbo would spool, it shot off the fitting, and would die at idle. Not only that, but not long after I sold the car, I saw it in a repair shop that I started going to. I asked them what was wrong with it, and the shop that did the radiator replacement had mixed up the coolant lines with the transmission lines, so coolant was getting into the transmission ruining it. I felt really bad about this, so I contacted the new buyer and told them where I had gotten this fixed, and to try and go back to get the new transmission covered under their dime. I offered any help, and if they needed me to go with them I would. I never heard anything after that, but I still see the car on the road driven by the same person.

As you guessed, I sold the car not long after the radiator replacement. I had just gotten tired of it, and was looking to get something different. By then some things had changed in my life so I was going to get something different which I will talk about in my next COAL. Like I said, I still see the car around, but it is in very sad shape. The person I sold it to was buying it for his 26 year old daughter since she had gone through numerous cars over the years. The last time I saw the car, it had a dent in about every panel on the car. It was filthy, and was neglected badly. My heart sank when I saw it, because during my ownership I took good care of the car, and it was so clean. Nothing I can do about it now, I made my money on the car, and moved on. It is just not fair sometimes that cars end up the way they do.