December 9

How are Volvo’s for Repairs and Maintenance?

Auto Repair, Volvo


Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Mr. Bernie
Pawlik, he’s the owner of Pawlik Automotive, it’s been voted twelve times as the best Auto Service & Auto Repair place in Vancouver by his customers; pretty amazing strategy, pretty amazing results, pretty amazing mechanic, quite honestly and how are you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing really well, just want to add to that we just won our fifth Air Care Quality Care Award not that matter so much anymore since air care’s gone in a couple weeks but it’s nice having that recognition for quality repairs that we’ve done in the past, just something to add to our list,

Mark: Absolutely. Well as I think it’s just a recognition of the quality of service that you guys offer and are so passionate about.

Bernie: Absolutely and I will say that my name’s on the certificate, but it’s my team in the back that does most of the work these days so I have to give them the credit, I feel a little guilty my name’s on it but, anyways we’re all a team so it’s good.

Mark: Awesome. So we’re going to talk about Volvo’s. Volvo’s are you know, they’ve got this big Swedish rap, there’re the big strapping blond guy that says we’re durable, we’re super safe; do they really live up to those kind of claims?

Bernie: Yes, well I’ve worked on Volvo’s for many years in our shop. We work on lots of them, we’ve worked on them since the boxy cars in the past to the new sleek round look that Volvo has. Durability has always been a strong point with Volvo’s but you know like any other car you have to maintain it to make sure it stays durable so they don’t just last on their own. It’s a commitment of the owner as well as the build of the car. Interestingly enough that the vehicle with the most mileage record, most driven record is a Volvo and I was just looking at it this morning, the owner’s got over three million miles on this vehicle. I think it’s a 1965 p 1800 model which is kind of a cool sporty car. Three million miles, apparently drives 85 to a hundred miles a year, so this guy loves driving and obviously he loves the car and he takes care of it so it shows you what you can do if you take care of your car.
As far as safety, the Volvo has always had a reputation for safety, they’ve been an innovator in a lot of safety features, I think the 3 point seat belt, shoulder belt which we all take for granted was a Volvo innovation. That being said vehicle safety standards are really high these days so I don’t know if Volvo really has that edge that they used to but they certainly still build safe cars.

Mark: So how are they to work on?

Bernie: Volvo’s have always been a bit unique, in over the past decades, couple decades they’ve become even more complex. Up until the early nineteen nineties all Volvos were rear wheel drive, then they went to the 850 model and that was a front wheel drive and they basically switched over to front wheel drive and then followed with all-wheel drive which is easy to add onto a front wheel drive model. So they’ve gone with that configuration, so they’re way more complex to fix and a few more things tend to go wrong with them because of that. We made all the investments in equipment to fix them and there are some unique pieces of equipment that are needed. We made all the investment so we can service all the newest of Volvo’s.
The older rear wheel drive model Volvo’s were really reliable but they did require frequent service. Things like the timing belts only lasted you less than a hundred thousand kilometers, the drive belts would get noisy and creaky. They had some strange ways of mounting some of the accessories and the bushings would wear out. Also the 140 and 240 series Volvo’s had a real interesting brake design, really safe; what they did they had a four piston brake caliper instead of having one brake line to each caliper they actually split the caliper in half, the brake system was split so if you were to blow a brake line on one of these Volvos which didn’t happen very often but if you did you’d still have half of both your front brakes and one rear brake operating which is outstanding. Actually I owned a Volvo once where that happened and they almost brake as well with half the brake system as it did on the whole brake system so it was pretty awesome. Unfortunately it costs a lot more money to fix that than your average brake system but again there’s the safety aspect.
Volvo dropped the system when they introduced the 740 models; I guess they felt, they didn’t think it was necessary.

Mark: So you have a client with, or you owned a Volvo at one time and you have a client with a higher mileage Volvo, what’s that about?

Bernie: Yes, I did own a Volvo a long time ago, I had a 71 Volvo 144 which is your typical boxy, 4 door Volvo, nothing very exciting, they built those in the late 60’s into the mid 70’s. You know what really impressed me about the car at the time it had the most comfortable seats in it and it was really practical, there was a lot of room inside the car even though it wasn’t huge, used a 4 cylinder engine, ran pretty well, got you anywhere you wanted to go, was peppy but not like your typical American muscle car of the day but just set just a really good use of space, and comfortable. Innovative for sure and European thoughtfulness, unlike your American kind of indulgent car where they just concentrate more on putting a huge engine in and everything else just kind of flowed along.
Yes, seeing a high mileage Volvo, I’ve got one client drives a 2002 s60 model, nice car, all-wheel drive, turbo, nice, peppy, fast, takes really good care of it, the cars got 327,000 kilometers on it and it drives like a brand new car, just recently it developed a little creak in the front strut plates which we’ll undoubtedly fix at some point in the near future. But I mean super reliable, runs just like a brand new car, it really shows you what happens if you take a good car and take care of it, it’ll last a long, long time.

Mark: So as we’re learning and doing these, every car has its own idiosyncrasies so what sort of issues do you see on Volvo’s?

Bernie: Mostly there are not that many concerns. It’s mostly routine maintenance, oil change, and some brake repairs, as the cars age there are further service items needed, timing belts usually around 160,000 kilometers, there’s some oil leaks that develop in the engine, check engine light seems to come on, on these vehicles frequently on certain models, for a variety reasons that need to be fixed. Other than that the brakes which are a normal repair item.

Mark: Sure, any problem areas unlike the Land Rover that you dealt the death blow the last time?

Bernie: You know they’re definitely aren’t in the Land Rover category but some Volvo’s have their issues, transmissions are sort of the major problem ever since the 850 was introduced, a front wheel drive, there’s a lot of transmission problems, the older rear wheel drive vehicles like nothing they were pretty much bulletproof transmission wise but the front wheel drive models have a lot of problems, like the XC90 which by the way is an incredibly nice vehicle, sport utility vehicle, they have a lot of transmission problems and which can cost upward of 8 to 9,000 dollars to fix, so that’s a pretty hefty repair.

Mark: That’s expensive.

Bernie: It sure is. It could well be a reason to avoid an XC90 even though it’s a just an incredibly beautiful car to drive. At least if you buy one be prepared that you might be spending a lot of money on your transmission.

Mark: So any other problematic Volvo’s?

Bernie: We work on a lot of S40 and V40 models they’re the same thing, ones a station wagon and ones a sedan, these are the compact Volvo’s, they have a 4 cylinder turbo charger engine, nice efficient operation, but as they get older they seem to have quite a few problems, oil leaks, drivability issues, check engine lights, they’re nice cars but we kind of get the feeling that they’re not built quite as well as the more expensive larger model of Volvo.

Mark: Any other final thought on Volvo?

Bernie: You know overall I like them. They’ve evolved from the highest kind of slightly upscale utilitarian kind of vehicle into peppy, sporty, luxury cars that we see today. You know I say sporty but they’re still practical, most of the Volvo’s we work on are all 4 door models but they go nice, they feel nice to drive, it feels like you’re driving a sports car but it’s a practical family car. They’re quite reliable but it’s kind of typical of the European vehicle, a little bit more goes wrong with them than the Japanese so you’ll probably spend a bit more money on maintenance and repairs but overall they’re a great car.

Mark: Great, so we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. You can reach him at and his amazing team. Book your service, book your maintenance, that’s kind of the message of all these, look after your car and your car will look after you.

Bernie: Absolutely.

Mark: Give them a call at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark, we’ll talk again soon.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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