Our Cars since 2001

In 2001 I purchased a Vauxhal Senator, which with a 3.0 six cylinder engine gave smooth fast performance, but crap fuel economy. I was lucky if I got 17 mpg, but as I didn't have to travel far to work wasn't really a problem. However at the end of August 2001 I was made redundant, and faced with having to look for work further afield I sold the car in September 2001 and purchased a nice little Rover 214 SEi.

This small hatchback had the Rover 1400 16v K series engine which gave around about 90 bhp, which in a small light weight car made for fun driving. The acceleration for such a small car was fantastic, and with the alloy wheels, colour co-ordinate bumpers the car looked sporty too.

The car served us well, and in the six years since I purchased it the only item I had to replace other than the normal tires and exhausts was a radiator and a £10 sensor. Up until the September 2006 MOT she passed the yearly test with flying colours, but in 2006 her age started to show and I had two advisory notes that would require about £150 to sort out. Not a lot of cash, but being un-employed at the time it was money that I didn't have and would take some saving.

Then things took a turn for the better, and in March of 2007 I secured employment in the town where I live. However, by this time we had noticed several issues with the car that needed fixing, one being a leak on the passenger side, that was either the sun roof, or water getting in to the roof lining from the drainage system. Also the car was due for its second cam belt change, especially as I drove the car hard at times, often red-lining in the first three gears. So I was looking at spending around £500 on a car that had a retail value of £550.

We therefore started searching for a replacement car, and given that the family is now growing up and we have a four month old German Shepherd puppy we needed to get something like an estate. I've always liked the look of the Volvo 850 estate, and having driven a T-5R some years ago suggested we look at getting one, however I thought that they would be well out of our price range. How wrong was I !!

So in July 2007 we part exchanged the Rover and purchased a new car..... a 1999 S reg Volvo V70 2.5




10/07/07 - The new car is ruddy fantastic !

It is a 1999 on an S Plate, 2.5l 10 valve 140 bhp engine, with just 106K miles on the clock, and with a full service history. It has lots of electric goodies such as climate control, air-con, heated seats (front and rear), computer, abs and loads of airbags making it a safe and cheap to insure car. In fact the insurance quotes I got worked out cheaper than the Rover 1.4 SEi . However, it the drive that counts and that is just fantastic too. Traveling along on the motorway at 70 mph, in 5th and its doing 2750 rpm and returning 38 - 40 mpg. Engage the cruise control and enjoy the ride.

There was one shock to the system, the car is due its 110K mile service in January 2008 and this is when the cam belt is due. I checked with the dealer who used to service the car and it has no record of it being done yet, and quoted me £650 for the job (OUCH !!). I will seek out a decent local independent Volvo garage and see how much they charge as a lot of guys on the Volvo Owners Club forum suggest the cost should be around £250.

The first modification I've done to the car is to upgrade the wheels. The previous owner (yes there was just one owner from new) obviously opted for all the internal options when he specified the level of equipment at the time of purchase as the wheels were simple steel wheels with plastic wheel trims. I really liked the look of the "columbus" alloys that were fitted to the 850 T5, and having seen a lot of V70's on Autotrader with alloys I started searching e-bay etc for a decent cheap set. I struck lucky and secured a set of 4 with tyres for less than £90, which was a bargain as others had gone for double that, and some auctions were for just the wheels. However upon collection it was obvious that I would need to replace the tyres as two were damaged and one other had worn tread. This wasn't a problem as I got them so cheap that putting new tryes on will still be in my budget. The wheels are in fairly good condition, with three just requiring the ingrained break dust removing, whilst one had a little corrosion on the rim. The plan is to rub the wheels down with fine "wet n dry" and the spray them with wheel silver and give them a couple of coats of clear lacquer. I'll keep you posted on how they turn out.

15/09/07 - More Expense !

Well the wheels turned out really well ( as can be seen from the photo on the right ) and are sitting in the shed waiting for the tyres to be fitted. I'm going to wait until the current tyres ware out and need changing before I shop around for some decent rubber at a decent price.

The car has cost me a further £230 over the past couple of weeks. £160 was spent on having the cam belt changed, and the remainder was the purchase of a second-hand genuine Volvo dog guard. The V70 was due to have the cam belt done as part of the 110K service, however I always make a point of having the belt changed on any new car as soon as I can so at least I know its done and there is less chance of the belt giving way and resulting in a damaged engine and dented wallet ! The dog guard was an excellent buy as it allows us to safely take Toyha (who even at 7 months old is becoming a large dog) in the car. This guard has gas struts that allow the guard to be housed in the stowed position or dropped down when needed.

Running cost don't appear to me much higher than the Rover, which you might find amusing. The reason is that in the Rover I was always driving the car hard and this probably returned a low mpg. The V70 doesn't need to be driven so hard and thus I tend to cruise more and enjoy the comfort the V70m offers. The trip computer has reported an average of 30 mpg over the past 300 miles. I was keeping a log on the PC, however the battery was disconnected when the cam belt was changed so this screwed up my record keeping ! - the one thing that does hurt though is the £70 it cost to fill up the tank, but then I can get almost 400 miles on that, which isn't bad for a 5 cylinder 2.5 ltr lump !


Well since the last entry the car sailed through her MOT last December, has been serviced (by myself I add) and now has the wheels fitted with low profile tyres and fitted to the car. I've had Kumo 205/50's fitted and must say that they stick to the road like glue, even in te wet. So total outlay for the wheels, paint and tyres came to £330 !


Since I purchased the V70 the aircon never worked properly. Having had a few re-charges (a perk of working for a catering equipment company) I called in a local expert. Graeme came out a couple of weeks ago and re-gassed and serviced the system. However it still wouldn't work properly, so I called in on him a week later and he did some testing. Seems the clutch gap was too large, which ment that the compressor would not re-engague when warm. He quoted me a fair price for dropping the compressor out and re-shimming the thing, which he thought would take a couple of hours tops. To be on the safe side I managed to find the same model of compressor on E-bay for £30 and thought that it might come in handy if we ended up needing some spare parts. Just as well I did as when Graeme turned up to do the job, it proved more difficult than first thought, and in the end we opted to simply swap out my old compressor for the one from E-bay.

At the end of a long day, the compressor had been swapped out, and the system re-gassed and some sealer added. I'm pleased to say that the AC continues to function correctly and when we travelled to Farnbrough, we did so in a nice cool car. The best bit is that Greame was true to his word and didn't inflate the price, even though he had been here all day.


Time for an update. In the past two years the 'ol girl is showing signs of her age. She's still got through the MOT each year, but in the past 18 months I've had to replace the steering rack and offside drive shaft. The complete driveshaft was really needed as it was juts the UJ that had failed, but due to difficulties in sourcing the correct part it was easier to fit a complete recon part. I have to have the handbreak shoes changed as that was the only advisory the car has received in 18 years, and 152,000 miles. I will also look at having the cambelt changed as whilst its within milage it's now 10 years since it was changed, and whilst it's done around 46,000 miles in ten years, the age of the belt is my concern.