Here's a "what if" for you guys...tell me what you would have done in my place!
We've owned 4 Volvos at this point, and we do love them - this is not a rant. My wife loves them irrationally, I still like to think I retain some objectivity. I found this forum a few years ago and have put some of the simpler maintenance tips to good use, but I'm not mechanically inclined enough to do much myself.
Our first was a 98 s70 NA with 98k (suspect) on the odo. Paid $4k, put in another $2k (timing belt, exhaust, tires, strut seats, brakes, ABS module, ball joints, can't quite remember what else) and 30k miles over 2 years before a $4k estimate to make it pass inspection ended our relationship. It got us through a couple of rough years and didn't owe us anything.
Second one is a 2004 XC70 bought with 104k and now has 130k. We bought it 1 year after acquiring the s70 because we had become Volvo People. Over the past 2 years it's spent a lot of time in the shop (brakes, end links, radiator fan, rear wheel bearings, AC service, alternator, engine mounts, half axle (1), and this past July a water pump, cam seals, and timing belt). Still looking great and running great until just before Christmas, more on that in a bit.
Third was a 2002 v70 bought from the independent mechanic who was taking care of our 98 s70 with 99k. We ran it for a year with what we've come to expect as normal repairs (rear brake spindle, tires, something deep in the breather system which cost $550 to fix, some front suspension parts, some impending AC work, and a $500 deductible on an at-fault accident when my son got a little distracted and rear ended a Prius).
So, here's the sitch just before Christmas. On a lunchtime trip to the local deli the XC stops dead in its tracks and eventually I find out that an improperly torqued cam nut caused the valve train and the pistons to do that thing that I've been worried about since the day I first logged onto this forum.
The water pump had been done at Pep Boys (they promised me they could do it right) and the manager couldn't figure out what was wrong with it when I had it towed back to his shop. After a few days we agreed to let the Volvo dealer diagnose and abide by his assessment. The volvo dealer inspected it and quoted us about $3k to replace the cylinder head (with a used one) and rebuild the rest, and Pep Boys had an insurance policy that would cover this, so that's what we did. After the first attempt to fix it the dealer found that the splines on the crank shaft had broken, and it needed a new engine. A used one with 90K miles on it was located, the insurance claim increased to about $5k, and they want back to work.
In the interim, during the weeks the XC was at the Volvo dealer waiting for parts/repair from a flu-ravaged staff, I looked back and figured out just what the 2 cars were costing us to keep on the road. It turns out that 2 ten year old Volvos, no matter how much you like them, require a lot of repairs, and for me that meant a lot of trips to the repair shop which was expensive and inconvenient. If we had one newer, warranted car then life would be much better even if the expense was the same. So I pitched a lease on a new '13 s60, and my wife gave me the thumbs up. I get a new car and finally get to forget the first names of the mechanics around here. She gets to keep driving a 10 year old wagon that she (irrationally) loves.
So here, finally, is the key question: which car to trade in on the new one? The trade in value of the two cars is about the same, but at the time we had to decide the 03 XC70 was in the dealer's repair bay with it's valve train spread around on 2 benches. The v70 is older, has fewer miles, and hasn't had nearly the repair problems of the XC70...yet.
What would you do?
Here's what we decided to do....(if you didn't peek at my sig and already find out)
We traded in the 02 v70 on the new s60. Our rationalization was that once repaired with a new engine, new seals, gaskets, hoses, etc. the XC70 would have a lot of miles left in it, and the v70 was likely to need all of the things that we had done on the XC70 in its next couple of years.
I've been enjoying the s60 for 2 weeks, and we just got the XC70 back last Friday. There are a few issues still but that is to be expected after the magnitude of the job, I guess. I expect the dealer will happily address them when I take it back for a follow-up.