May 1

2013 Volvo XC70 Amplifier Issue

Volvo

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Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Remarkable Speaking. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience. 24 times they've won best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, and we're talking cars. How you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing well. 

Mark: So today's victim is a little bit of a different thing, a Volvo XC70 from 2013 that had an amplifier issue. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, so the vehicle came to our shop, the client's concern was that one of the speakers was making some pretty hideous crackling noises. I believe that was the description. I didn't actually hear it myself, but making some pretty hideous noises and wasn't making the music listening experience pleasurable. So some repairs were needed. 

Mark: Okay, how do you go and test and diagnose for that? 

Bernie: So of course, listen to the client's concern. See where it's coming from. It was just one speaker that was making noise. And from there we did a quick computer scan. Nothing showed up. Now this is a very integrated system.

We'll look at pictures in a minute, but this is one of those vehicles that has a panel. You know, like a lot of modern vehicles, it has a panel where your audio is part of that. You push another button and your climate control operates, and it's all integrated with modules behind the dash and under the seats and in various places.

So we found no trouble codes, which we figured we probably wouldn't for something like this. Started looking at wiring, tracing, wiring out, and in the process of doing so, we found the audio amplifier, which is located underneath the passenger seat. Accessed the wiring and found the amplifiers was totally rusted out on the outside of the case. This vehicle had had some water leaks in the past. There was some moisture down on the floor of the vehicle, so we figured water damage to the amplifier was the cause of the noises or the stereo issues. 

Mark: Wow. So how did the water get into the vehicle? 

Bernie: So this client had had a concern about a year ago and basically tested for water leaks. Found that the sunroof drains were blocked and plugged, which is pretty common on many vehicles. We cleaned the sunroof drains made sure the water flowed well, left it at that. Fast forward a year and a bit later. There's some water on the floor again. We reinspected it. Did find the sunroof drains were once again plugged. Cleaned that out. But there were still water leaks that were happening from the windshield, was leaking. Had that repaired and that solved the water leaks.

Mark: So windshield seals leaking. Is that a fairly common problem? 

Bernie: Apparently on this vintage of Volvo, it is, and I say apparently because we have a windshield shop across the road from us, and we've actually had three Volvos in the last couple of months with water leaks and two outta three of 'em were coming from windshield seal leakage. But we were told by the people in the glass place, they said that these windshields, by the time they go to replace them, they can almost push them out from the bottom that the seals are so badly deteriorated. 

So, you know, most of these are glued in place, windshields, but for some reason, the seal on these deteriorates. So something to watch out for. If you have a Volvo in the 2010s kind of vintage, a little older, a little newer. There are issues with windshield sealing. So anyways, that fixed that issue, having that windshield seal fixed.

Mark: So I'm assuming that you had to replace the amplifier. 

Bernie: We did. So our first step pricing out a new one, a used one. Being an audio amplifier, it's not a really critical component. We figure, you know, there's gotta be lots of good used ones out there. It actually took a little while to find one because this thing has a fairly fancy option stereo. But we managed to find a used one. Got the amplifier, plugged it in, didn't work. 

Mark: And was the used part defective, what was going on? 

Bernie: No, it wasn't defective. So it turns out we did a little further research with our technical service that we deal with. Found out, oh no, you can't put a used one in, you have to put a brand new one in, and it has to be programmed to the vehicle, which I find absolutely insane. Insane amount of waste. I mean, we run into this issue on many cars, mostly European cars, where they have certain modules where you can't just plug it in. It's not plug and play. You have to actually program the module to the vehicle, why an audio amplifier would ever be like, that is beyond my imagination.

But you're, A forced to buy a brand new one, very expensive, and B you know, what happens to this car when they no longer decide to sell us amplifier? When I called the dealer, he said, yes, it's still available. And it started to make me think, well, what happens when they say it's not available? Are you gonna do without a stereo? 

Mark: Yeah, it's 10 years old already and a lot of stuff is not manufactured around that point. 

Bernie: Yeah. After 10 years, a lot of auto manufacturers don't make parts anymore for a particular item. So you know, 20 years from now it might still be available, but it's getting to be hit and miss.

So the other option we looked into, cuz I thought, well this is very expensive, could we get a aftermarket stereo put in. So I called one of our, I'll just put a plug in for Ralph's Radio in Vancouver, very good place to buy any audio equipment. They looked into it and said, Nope, we can't do anything with it.

So you're basically stuck on this car to deal with the exact stereo. And let's just get into some pictures right now while we're here. There's our car. This is actually, by the way, an ex Ontario vehicle, so, you know, things like rust are definitely more of an issue and corrosion. And that could actually have affected the windshield seal as well. 

2013 Volvo XC70 Amplifier Issue

Here is a good view of the amplifier. This is the amplifier taken out of the vehicle. Ouch. Yeah. Ouch. Yeah. Unfortunately, I just put it on a kind of a rough concrete background so it doesn't separate, but you can see from the top of the rust, it's been exposed to some pretty nasty elements.

2013 Volvo XC70 Amplifier Issue

Here again, is another, another view. If it was working it would be a surprise with that kinda corrosion and rust. 

2013 Volvo XC70 Amplifier Issue

So this is the dash. So the stereo system does have a DVD player, but the stereo system is basically, it's all integrated and you see radio, media, the climate control system all integrated into this panel. So there isn't a separate panel where you can put a stereo. Now, you know, truthfully, you probably could put an aftermarket radio in, but it would be something that wouldn't sit in the dash. It would have to be hacked into place, which would be ridiculous cuz it's a beautiful car and it would damage all the styling of the vehicle.

2013 Volvo XC70 Amplifier Issue

So it would be a, a very poor option really. The best thing would probably be a little portable Bose speaker in your iPhone, would be really the only other option for audio if you couldn't get the amplifier or chose not to spend the money. So that's basically our show for today.

Mark: And how did it all work once the new amp was installed and the windshield was repaired properly? 

Bernie: Yeah, it's all good. No water leaks. The stereo sound beautiful. Now, here's the interesting thing. We were told that the amplifier had to be programmed for the vehicle, but as it turned out, we installed it and it actually worked right out of the box, which was kind of interesting. I mean, we did order it by VIN number, so it might be that they programmed the VIN number or something into the amplifier before they shipped it. I don't know. 

There was actually a core charge on the part too, so I'm assuming that means it's been remanufactured, but I don't really know for sure. But yeah, we were told by not only our tech people that we deal with, but also by the Volvo dealer that we bought it from, that it would need to be programmed and it actually didn't. So that ended up saving the customer some money, which was nice. Because, you know, the programming is a few hundred dollars, so it was good savings there, but nonetheless, annoying and frustrating. And you know, we see this on cars with wasteful parts, and I'll be quiet now. 

Mark: How are 2013 Volvo XC seven s for reliability? 

Bernie: Yeah, they're pretty decent cars. I mean, they are complex. You know, things do tend to go wrong with them than your sort of average car. But you know, they're overall a good vehicle, good quality, safe, good to all-weather car.

Mark: So if you're looking for service in Vancouver, BC for your Volvo or any European vehicle, in fact, or any kind of vehicle pretty much you can see the folks at Pawlik Automotive. You can book online at pawlikautomotive.com, or you can call them (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead. They're always busy. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC Canada. Thanks so much for watching and listen. Thanks, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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