2000 Volvo S60 T5

Holy bat crapman - is this a 'modern' I see.? Yes young spotted Dick - indeed it is - well, by Marina standards anyway. I had always admired the look of the S60 as being the first Volvo to not resemble a brick. When I spotted this one up a friend's driveway I just had to ask about it.

Wolf in sheep's clothing..

My friend had been following it on Trademe until it sold, but in fact it didn't, and the owner contacted him as he had it on his 'watchlist'. My friend said he would take a look at it, and when doing so, asked why the winner had not bought it. The Agents had tendered a rather bad report saying it needed $3000 spent on the rear suspension. My friend - being a good mechanic - bought it for a suitably deflated price, then did all the work for a mere $365.00 himself. Seems the "Agents" are the people who give these cars a bad rap by charging extortionist prices for parts and labour. My friend was also rather impressed with how easy the car was to work on, and proceeded to replace the cambelt and do several other maintenance items simply because they were easy.

The most common view..

As he was preparing to sell it, I decided to do a little research about the various models. There were numerous variations of engine size and options available for the budding S60 owner in the early 2000's, but one version sounded most attractive. The T5 offered 5 cylinder smoothness in 2.3 litre turbocharged form, with 247bhp on tap. I took another drive past my friend's house to check out the badges on the Volvo. Sure enough it was a T5, and it was sporting the correct 17" alloy wheels and low profile rubber. I decided that I really should have it.

Seriously wicked.

I should state here that my friend is a connoisseur of cars. His most favourable impression of the Volvo was the luxury of the leather seats, and the awesome sound system. These were hardly criticisms of a car he had bought without really wanting it, and seemed like features that I might be wise to sample. We did the deal, and I drove off in my most modern ever - with computers for Africa. Horrors.!

The flight deck.

He was absolutely correct. The seats are simply the best. However - the gadgets were also a big hook. I bought a $5 sim card for the onboard phone, and found that Red could text the Volvo. The message showed up on the dashboard with an accompanying beep beep from the driver's headrest. Too cool.!

It transpired - during our first night-time test drive, that this thing was as mad as a box of frogs when you floored it. Volvo have prided themselves on their mastery of low pressure turbo systems for some years, but this is one of their high pressure jobs - so it suffers from turbo lag at low revs, but explores the limits of gravity once it is spinning at appropriate revs. That is to say - it goes like a mad thing when you give it full noise. I am of course a little reticent in using such power too frequently, as I feel sure it can only end in tears. It is early days in our ownership of such technical complexity, so we will explore our way into it cautiously. I have plumbed in an mp3 player, and we are finding that there are times when sheer luxury has a place. We are also finding that it has a price...

That was all in 2011, a year during which our city was written off by a series of violent earthquakes. We moved our living arrangements and the Volvo filled the role as our touring car, as I already had a work hack and her indoors had an urban mover from within our fleet of cars, many of which were now subjected to a salty atmosphere due to our new location close to a beach with a daily onshore prevailing wind. Good thing Volvo bodies are galvanised.

The S60 got treated to new front shocks and mounts, and a new O2 sensor which was fingered as being responsible for occasional engine fault lights that indicated the emission control system as being the cause. When fitting the new sensor I discovered that the old one was also relatively new. Someone had already followed this course of action. No surprise then that it made no difference. As smarter devices began to be used to diagnose faults it seemed that there might be an air leak somewhere in the inlet tract that was causing the problem, but this could be anywhere from the inlet manifold to the turbo controls. I changed the MAF sensor and that improved the performance, but not the occasional fault light. Disconnecting the battery used to be my cure for this, but now I have clever devices it is much easier, and I am hoping to track down the real cause.

There has been an issue of recent times with the auto transmission, which manifests as a delay in selecting a gear after slowing for a low speed corner. Accelerating out of the corner then results in no drive and an increase in engine revs, so if one does not quickly release the accelerator there will be a pronounced thump as the hydraulic pressure is suddenly applied through the auto box. I figure this could eventually cause it harm if I am not constantly alert to the possibility. I have tried flushing the auto with the correct expensive fluid, but that has not helped, nor did the lauded B4 servo update, and nor did the 'learned' behaviour data dump and subsequent relearning procedure.

Despite all of these, the car is still a reliable and usable luxury car, with some serious turbo grunt on demand. We mostly use it for out of town trips, and at touring speeds there are no issues whatever. The handling is impressive and brakes are astounding. Creature comforts are still enough to make one feel spoiled, so we shall enjoy it for the meantime while I continue to explore the reasons for its flaws.

Status at 2 May 2020.