Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Kevin asks: My name is Kevin and my mom told me about you and that she syndicates your column and that you helped out my parents when they bought their Volvo back in 2003. I inherited a 1999 Ford Ranger 5-speed from my uncle and it needed basically a new front end and got it fixed and drove it daily since I had just gotten my license. It’s rear wheel drive so here in Chicago it’s not the best or safest car, and I spun out a couple of times so my parents decided to let me get a Volvo, which I did. It was a 2005 Volvo XC90 and ended up having to replace the VVT hubs which was a bit expensive. A few weeks ago it was making a bad noise and long story short I found out that the engine was toast so I sold it for cheap on Craigslist. I have the truck still but I needs a brake line and a few other small things. I came across a Volvo that my parents had sold to Carmax a few years ago and it’s for sale and I would like to buy it back. I had my Volvo mechanic look at it and it needs $1,800 in work for some front axle work and a timing belt. It’s a 2009 Volvo S60 2.5T with 125k on it and it’s been a dealer’s employees car for about 2 or 3 years now. it’s the base model but it’s still a Volvo. The Volvo my parents bought it 2003 saved my dad’s life a few times so I think it’s worth the money but was wondering if you have any thoughts? Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.
My reply: Well, a known used car is already a step in the right direction. The chief risk with any used car being that it’s unknown – in terms of its history (especially as regards maintenance and how it was treated generally). You already know something about this Volvo’s history, so that’s big.
You didn’t mention the asking/selling price of the car, so it’s harder to comment on the $1,800 repairs relative to the cost of the car. Hopefully, the asking/selling price reflects that this work needs to be done. Put another way, you should compare the asking/selling price of this particular car – plus the $1,800 you’re looking to spend on repairs – and compare that with the prices of same-year Volvo S60s, in otherwise similar condition. Bear in mind that the timing belt replacement may be part of routine maintenance for this car (check the service schedule in the owner’s manual) and so any S60 you look at with similar mileage will either need to have this done or has already had this done. If a car has not had it done, assume it will need to be done – and adjust the price accordingly. And if the car has had it done, expect that its price will be (legitimately) higher than one that has not had it done.
In general, Volvos are good cars – and the mileage of the one you’re looking at is relatively low for the year. Assuming it is in good shape mechanically and the price is fair, I’d say jump on it.
PS: Say hi to your mom for me!
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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