P2 Volvo V70 (and S60) buyer’s guide

By | May 8, 2016

The P2’s are the 2001-2007 V70 & XC70 wagons and S60 sedans. These are mostly identical save for the body style.

This guide is very basic, so I will probably forget/omit some details. My aim is basically to be able to point to this post when someone asks “what should I keep in mind when looking for one of these?” and they’ll have a good primer.

First, I recommend going with the facelifted cars. These are the 2005-2007 cars and they’re not much more expensive than the 2001-2004 cars.

Second, I recommend the turbo versions. They’re conservative, but give you torque for passing and maintaining speed uphill.

Third, unless you need it, skip the AWD. It has more parts requiring service.

All XC70’s have AWD and turbo! If you fear either, skip these cars.

Parts list:

  • Spark plugs: Bosch FR7DPP+ (half the cost of OEM, same plug – Caution: R and T5 models with HPT have a longer plug)
  • Transmission fluid: Toyota Type IV (the JWS3309 fluid specified by Volvo, $6.03/quart when I bought mine)
  • Power steering fluid: Pentosin CHF 202 (supersedes the CHF 11S)
  • Air filter:  Volvo 9454647  /  Mahle LX700
  • Oil filter: Volvo 1275810  /  Mann HU819x  /  Fram CH8905


Facelift changes:

Plastic headlights – which also eliminated the headlight wipers. These are generally crappy and fade quickly. The tail lights had (more) clear plastic lenses.

The only acceptable headlight replacement is the OEM replacement. The only currently acceptable retrofits are the 2001-2004 glass OEM headlights or the OEM ABLs (projector xenons), both of which will require a small harness adapter to plug in.

Bumpers – instead of the large black plastic, the new bumpers are more one-piece and body-colored.

Interior: Center console is slanted and more streamlined, with a cover over the cup holders. Seats are allegedly slightly redesigned. Various years got various upgrades like brushed nickel accents in the air vents, around the radio and shifter and on the stalks etc.

Electrical: The CANbus speed was increased and thus a lot of electronics are incompatible between them, such as power seats, instrument clusters etc.


If you want the older model years, AVOID the 2001-2002 years due to the often-faulty transmissions and ETMs (Electronic Throttle Module). The 2003-2004 cars had far lower failure rates.
The faults would start as harsh shifting between some gears and shift-flares – slow shifts where the engine revs up a bit between gears.  In some cases the B4 servo cover can be replaced. In some cases a transmission flush can fix or extend the life of the transmission.

The throttle modules can suddenly malfunction leading to a limp-home mode. Reports say this can happen anytime after 80K miles. XeMoDex makes a good replacement ETM.


Common issues:

  1. Timing belt!  ~$350 in parts. Around 100K (various intervals depending on model year) you need to replace the belt, idler pulley, tensioner and tensioner pulley.  If any of these break, your engine repair will likely exceed the value of the car!
    Some people argue that the water pump can be replaced every OTHER timing belt change if it’s not leaking or has shaft play. I feel safer replacing it while I’m in there.
  2. PCV / Oil separator system! ~$350 in parts. Check this around 75K-100K miles. This has a tendency to gum up, which can cause crankcase pressure which can lead to failing rear main seal and cam seal failure. Conventional oil and/or stop&go short trips seem to contribute to this due to not burning off all condensation out of the crank case and the resulting emulsion clogs the PCV drain.
    A simple test is the Rubber Glove Test. Hold a rubber glove to the dipstick tube or oil filler neck while the car idles. If it’s barely sucked in, you have no pressure/slight vacuum. This is good. If it inflates, you have pressure. This needs to be resolved.  You CAN drive the car around if you have to, by lifting the dipstick out a bit to vent the pressure.
  3. Transmission flush! ~$70 for the 13 quarts of 3309 oil. The Volvo forums recommend every 75K-100K miles. Volvo claims a “lifetime” oil in the transmission, but the lifetime is allegedly far shorter if you don’t replace the oil.
    You need the correct 3309 oil to avoid damage to the transmission. The cheapest source I found was the Toyota Type IV oil from the local Toyota Dealership. The easiest way is to mark a gallon jug at 2 quarts, then use a hose on the transmission-to-radiator line, start the engine to pump out 2 quarts. Stop the engine and pour 2 fresh quarts in the dipstick tube. Repeat this until the fluid comes out the same color as what you pour in. This took me 12-13 quarts.
  4. Front suspension refresh! ~$1200 in parts.
    Depending on climate and road conditions, these parts can go bad as early as 80K miles and as late as ~140K miles.
    For my $1200, I got the ProParts QuickStruts (complete, assembled strut replacements) which solves the issues with the strut bearings and spring seats, plus the struts themselves. Bilstein B4 OEM replacement struts, then OEM spring seats and bearing plates. I reused my original springs, so I retain the ride height I’m used to. New springs will make the car ride a little higher. If this is a problem, just buy the struts, bearings and seats and reuse your existing springs. I also got the inner and outer tie rod ends, instead of messing with pressing bushings in/out, I got the lower control arms with bushings already pressed in. Finally, I also got the new ball joints.

     The ProParts QuickStruts were absolute trash! I replaced the first set under warranty in 3000 miles, and the returned the second set after it failed in about 3000 miles with loud clunking when cold. FCP quit carrying them shortly after, so I suspect I was not the only one having problems with them.
  5. AWD system (if equipped): Angle gear / Angle gear tends to leak. If it goes dry, you’ve ruined it. It also holds very little fluid!. You also have a carrier bearing on the driveshaft that requires attention/replacement.
    2003-2005 cars got 2nd Generation Haldex AWD, 2006+ got 3rd Generation Haldex. These do not require all wheels to be equal size (or it would burn up the VC), like the pre-Haldex VC (viscous coupling) AWD of the -2001 cars. 

    The turbo intake hose can sometimes drip some crankcase oil (condensed vapors) down over the bevel gear. There’s also the turbo oil return line that can leak onto the bevel gear. If there is a leak, verify WHAT oil is actually leaking before assuming the worst.

  6. Brake booster failure: Not as common, but still seen frequently enough to warrant a mention. Hissing under the dash can be an indication. The pedal can sink a bit until the vacuum pump catches up. This can lead to erratic brakes.  Check the valve first, before replacing the booster itself. It’s a cheaper part to replace.

If these issues are already taken care of on a car you’re inspecting, and you can either verify it with receipts or by knowing what to look for, you’re in GREAT shape. The prices are what I paid for the parts. I did the labor myself.

Other common annoyances are;

Battery replacement. Follow the official procedure! The car needs to sit untouched for at least 15 minutes from when it was turned off. This is to allow the computers to “go to sleep” before disconnecting the battery and avoid setting codes (that the dealer will charge you to clear out). When RECONNECTING the battery, keep the ignition key in position II (ignition on)!
Gas filler hinge. You can replace it for $5 or just put a small sheet metal screw in it to hold the spring.
Oil filler seal. This gets old and leaks a bit and can look scary with oil on the valve cover and in the spark plug holes.
Transmission torque mount. This is easily replaced under the car and smooths out the clunks when you shift into gear.
Engine torque mount. Relatively easy replacement right on top of the engine. This also smooths out shifting into gear.
Sunroof or HomeLink not working. Sometimes electronics go nuts, especially if you had the battery disconnected. Use the remote to lock and unlock the car 3 times to fix this.
“Alarm Service Required”. The backup battery in the alarm siren goes bad and/or leaks over the circuitry. Volvo replaces the entire siren, but you can often just replace the battery in it.

For the more dedicated DIYer, the VIDA/DICE combo is invaluable.  VIDA is the Volvo software that talks to the car. DICE is the computer interface between VIDA on your laptop and the car’s ODBII port.
It is far more comprehensive in telling you what the issues are (instead of a cryptic code) and then give you full troubleshooting instructions.
You can also get full part numbers and exploded diagrams.


Now that most of the scary stuff is behind us, we can focus a little more on the cars themselves.
When you look at these cars, there are a few options that you might want more than others. Turbo? GearTronic (manual shift option), roof rails?

My car is a 2006 V70 turbo, so this is what you could order back then:

Base model – Power windows/mirrors, air bags, leather shift knob, cup holders, cruise control and all sorts of usual stuff.

2.5T – The turbo model added the chrome inlays on the bumpers, memory mirrors/driver’s seat, fog lights, GearTronic (manual mode transmission).

  • You could usually pick and choose from several options, but it appears that most people just picked a package of options and left it at that.Climate Package: Heated seats, headlight washers and rain sensors.
  • Premium Package: Power glass moon roof, Power passenger seat, real wood inlays, leather seats.
  • Premium Package (Base model): Power glass moon roof, ECC, power/memory driver’s seat, real wood inlays, leather.
  • Convenience Package: Roof rails, cargo net, power child locks, auto-dim mirror, sunglass holder, grocery bag holder (unless 3rd seat option), Homelink, rear 12v outlet, Park Assist. (2007 added rear booster seats and compass in the rear view mirror)
  • Run Flat Tire Package: Speed sensitive steering, DSTC (stability/traction control), TPMS, 17″ “Orestes” wheels with run-flats.

Various options:

  • IAQS – Interior air quality system – a sensor sense bad air and automatically switches to “recycle” or “MAX AC” mode.
  • DSTC – Dynamic Stability & Traction Control (vs. regular traction control).
  • 3rd seat – rear facing (eliminates cargo cover, subwoofer, grocery bag holder and full-size spare).
  • Subwoofer – Not with 3rd seat or full-size spare.
  • HU-850 radio – 6-CD in-dash with Doly surround and 11 speakers.
  • Satellite Radio – Sirius & iPod adapter.
  • Navigation – with remote, DVD map and the pop-up screen in the dash.


Browsing the ads, you can usually spot the GearTronic, heated seat buttons and wood inlays. They’d indicate 2.5T and/or convenience package. The tube over the engine indicates the turbo.  Roof rails can also indicate the convenience package.
Floor mats are a bonus.
Generally, the cargo cover means “no 3rd seat”, and if there’s no cover, you generally have a 3rd seat (wagons only, obviously).

8 thoughts on “P2 Volvo V70 (and S60) buyer’s guide

  1. J. Buecking

    A/C issues such as evaporator service. Also my P2 was disappointing due to the blind spots the A,B,and C pillars created. Hated ’em.

  2. Al

    I have a 02 v70xc and I have an solenoid problem..was told it’s going to cost

    1. The early P2 cars (2001-2002, supposedly fixed in 2003+) are known for transmission issues. If you’re going to keep the car, I’d look for a same year transmission that has already been rebuilt and just swap it in. It’s possible you might have to have the computer reset at the dealership after for it to learn after.
      If the cost exceeds what you’d buy a 2005-2007 S60/V70 for, then you might be better off looking for another car and either sell your entire car to a junk yard or part it out if you have the space.

      Fluid flushes and replacing the B4 servo cover *might* fix it, but if not, then you’ve just wasted money you could have used on a replacement trans or another car. Remember that these cars are very specific with what trans fluid you use!

  3. Craig Surgenor

    What DiCE unit did you opt for? I’m after a vida DiCE set up for my 04 p2 v70 2.5t and not sure what’s best to go for to give me the most options for clearing codes and diagnosing problems

    1. reverend Post author

      Mine’s just a clone without bluetooth from ebay. A friend bought it for about $80 and then sold it to me when he sold his Volvo. It’s the gray box with the OBD-II connector on one end and the USB connector on the other end. It’s a clone of the official Volvo one and looks identical.

      I can clear pending trouble codes with my UltraGuage, but DICE is the best option as it specifically talks to all modules in the car and can reset things like the SRS error if you forget to plug in your seat or gauge cluster before turning on the ignition.

      I think the latest version of VIDA is 2014D.

  4. dead_elvis

    Hi Rev –

    Am I correct in assuming when you talk about transmission issues, you’re referring to automatics? I’m looking at a well-kept, naturally aspirated ’02 V70 with the 5-speed. I’m also unsure as to whether or not the manual trans cars shared the ETM problems (or if the manuals even have an ETM).

    thanks for any feedback you can share

    1. reverend Post author

      Hi, and yes, the transmission issues are with the automatics. The manual trans is ok (barring any abuse, obviously).
      ETM is the electronic throttle module and they all have them. If yours has a problem with it, XeMoDex (https://xemodex.com/us/products-for-volvo) will get you squared away.

      If your ETM has a white sticker on it, it’s OEM and will/should/can-be-expected to fail. If it’s a yellow sticker, it’s been replaced. This doesn’t mean it won’t fail again as it was a poor design. My understanding, and I could be wrong, is that XeMoDex has a contactless design that should outlast the car.


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