RE: Volvo 850 T5 and R: PH Used Buyers Guide

RE: Volvo 850 T5 and R: PH Used Buyers Guide

Wednesday 13th December 2017

Volvo 850 T5 and R: PH Used Buyers Guide

From Shed saloons to five-figure fancies, there's plenty of room for everyone in the 850 market



The Volvo 850 T5 and its derivatives are fast gaining reputations as modern classics you can use every day. Still rugged and fun, many have clocked up more than 200,000 miles, which is hardly surprising given Volvo designed the car with a lifespan of half a million miles in mind.


Little wonder, then, that this Swede soon found favour with police forces across the UK, and also made its mark in the British Touring Car Championship. Offered as a saloon or estate, the T5 could be had with five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions. With the manual, 0-60mph came up in 7.3 seconds and top speed was 150mph.

Helping the T5 to these hot hatch-beating figures was a 2,319cc five-cylinder engine with a single turbocharger. For the original T5, this created 225hp, but the T5-R that arrived in 1994 offered 240hp. However, the T5-R was short-lived and only 200 were delivered to UK customers.


Still, that wasn't a big issue when the 850R pitched up in 1995 with 250hp, 30mm lower suspension, upgraded interior trim and equipment and just enough subtle attitude to make it hugely desirable. The 850R was the only model to come with a limited-slip differential as standard, which moderated the car's propensity to spin the front wheels.

Today, the T5 and R models are gaining in popularity. There are still plenty of scruffy T5s from as little as £500 with an MOT, but decent cars cost from £2,000 for a sorted original T5 saloon. The estate adds £500 to that and the T5-R commands a £1,000 premium for its rarity. Good 850Rs can be had from £5,000, but low mileage, immaculate cars are now routinely breaking the £10,000 barrier. Many of these are imports from Japan and Australia where rust is much less of an issue, but check the specification matches what you want as there were detail differences.

Inspired? Buy a Volvo 850 here



Bodywork and interior

T5s have cloth, half leather or full leather interiors depending on trim level. The T5-R comes with leather side bolsters and suede inserts and electric memory front seats.

Check the air conditioning is working. If the condenser is worn, it's about £100 to replace, but the evaporator requires a full dash removal and will set you back £500.

The CD autochanger is in the boot.

Check the ignition light comes on when the key is turned and goes off when the engine fires.

Lambda warning light commonly comes on for a number of faults. A diagnostic check is needed to ascertain what work is needed. The OBD II port is under the coin holder in the centre console.

Make sure the ABS.TRACS light goes out when engine is started. If it stays on, it usually means the ABS ECU needs repairing or replacing.

Volvo issued a recall for heated seats on 1996 models due to a potential danger of the fabric catching fire. Check this has been carried out.

Rear exhaust hangers corrode, but are easy to fix.

Rear bumper mounts rust, so check the bumper sits level with the body.

Front door check straps fail.


Engine and transmission

Look over the service history carefully to make sure the engine has had regular oil changes. Service intervals are 10,000 miles but many owners change the oil more frequently to prolong turbo life.

When checking the oil level dipstick, don't be surprised to find a milky emulsion. This is a typical T5 trait and doesn't mean the head gasket has failed. However, if there's a milky residue on the oil filler cap, it's likely to be a head gasket failure or damage to the radiator or oil cooler.

Con rods are the engine's biggest weak spot and can bend with no warning. The usual culprit is a failed Boost Control Solenoid or incorrectly adjusted Boost Controller.

The PCV (pressure control valve) is a big topic of conversation in T5 circles. Look for oil leaks at the rear of where the engine and transmission mate together as the main oil seal can blow as a result of a faulty PCV. A simple check is to remove the oil filler cap and place a rubber glove over it. If the engine tries to suck the glove in, the PCV is fine, but if it starts to blow the glove up then the PCV is worn out.

Clutches last well, but some models have a dual mass clutch that's harder and more expensive to come by.

Automatics are durable but check the fluid has been changed routinely. If the fluid smells burnt, find another car to buy.

Cambelt changes are needed every 70,000 miles or six years. They're cheap and easy to do, so there's no excuse for skipping this.

The engine top mount can fail through age but is easy to replace. Many owners upgrade to a poly bush for better rigidity without any added vibration.


Suspension and steering

Check any car that claims to be an R is sitting on the correct 30mm lower suspension.

Look for splits in the steering rack's rubber gaiters.

Power steering pumps can fail and only reconditioned items are now available.

Nivomats suspension provides self-levelling at the back. Not all estates have this, but make sure it keeps the rear end square to the floor if it is fitted.


Wheels, tyres and brakes

All T5 and T5-R models came with 280mm front discs as standard. Later Rs upgraded to 302mm front rotors and this is a desirable upgrade on earlier cars. The swap requires larger carriers and longer hoses.

Many cars will have non-original alloy wheels.

Tyres can have a hard time and last as little as 8,000 miles, but with some considerate driving that can easily be doubled.


SPECIFICATION - VOLVO 850 T5/R

Engine: 2,319cc 5-cyl turbo
Transmission: 5-speed manual/4-speed auto
Power (hp): 225/240/250@/5,200/5,600/5,400rpm (T5/T5-R/R)
Torque (lb ft): 221/300/258@2,000/2,000/2,400rpm (T5/T5-R/R)
MPG: 31.9/33.6/33.2 (T5/T5-R/R)
CO2: N/A/231/261g/km (T5/T5-R/R)
Price new: £23,995/£28,000/£26,995 (T5/T5-R/R)
Price now: £500 upwards

Author
Discussion

castag

Original Poster:

7 posts

125 months

Wednesday 13th December 2017
quotequote all
Running a v70r phase 1 manual same running gear as 850r lsd included great car, I rate them highly

Gandahar

5,757 posts

62 months

Wednesday 13th December 2017
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That simple 5 spoke titanium wheel design on the early ones is so nice too, modern day wheel designers take note.


SidewaysSi

4,659 posts

168 months

Wednesday 13th December 2017
quotequote all
Looks great but personally I don't want a fast car like this. Much prefer a little wheeled slow version for a tenth of the price TBH.

Sharps

6 posts

71 months

Wednesday 13th December 2017
quotequote all
Cheap, fast, reliable. Pick 3.



Got a V70 2.3 T5 not all that different, few more electronics but younger car. A lot of the buying advice will be the same. Goes well with nearly 300bhp not exactly optimum in today's snow mind you...

Edited by Sharps on Wednesday 13th December 20:41

J4CKO

25,304 posts

134 months

Wednesday 13th December 2017
quotequote all
My abiding memory of ours, a 1994 silver T5 estate manual was on one side it was the perfect family car, that had a bit of acceleration when required, but the engine seemed largely unconcerned with what the rest of the car was doing, traction was a real issue.

A deeply brilliant package as a car, but as a performance car, like most Swedish stuff (Saabs and Volvos anyway) it was Fools Gold, sure it would pull like a beast but otherwise it quickly fell apart in terms of cornering, braking and fun, Saabs are the same, impressive engines with abundant torque but cant transfer it to the road, they make more sense in the Light Pressure or diesel incarnations to me, or driven at no more than seven tenths.

Dont get me wrong, love them and one of the best cars I have owned, ditto the Saabs I have had but dont buy one thinking it will be a rewarding drivers car, they reward in many ways but flinging them down country roads isnt one.
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BlimeyCharlie

765 posts

76 months

Wednesday 13th December 2017
quotequote all
As an owner of a 965 (911 turbo) and M3 and M5, without wanting to sound like I know what I'm on about, as in self-appointed expert, the 850 T5 I had was a nice car. Really good in every department. It replaced a 330 Sport Touring which felt a bit sterile.

T5 had a great engine, the sound was nice. I had this and an E46 M3 and this was perfect really. Went away to the Lake District in it, no worries (literally) along the narrow roads. Loved the space and quality.

Not really sure why I sold it, but replaced with a Saab 9-5 estate (Aero HOT) and that was faster but not as characterful, probably the 4 cylinder engine.

I'd have a T5 again any day, but they are rare in any shape. Not keen on Auto's thanks.

If you drive a T5 like an idiot, you'll find things lacking. But learn how it works and enjoy it properly.

Sermon over.

BricktopST205

431 posts

68 months

Wednesday 13th December 2017
quotequote all
Its Swedish Brother the 9-5 Aero seems a much better preposition. A simple noobtune remap takes them up to 275BHP and 420NM. Which even today is reasonably quick compared to 90% of cars on the road.

mariscalcus

43 posts

79 months

Wednesday 13th December 2017
quotequote all
I bought an 850 T5 AWD Estate fully-loaded new from the local dealer in 1996. I chose it over a bright red 850R which he was trying to off-load at the same price. Sold it 10 years later for £1,000 with 70k miles and bought a new V70 AWD which I still have. I do find it hard to believe that they are rising in value.

Excellent cars. Fast, comfortable, reliable and will carry anything. But, as someone else noted not ideal on twisty B roads. However for long-distance touring nothing beats them.


mariscalcus

43 posts

79 months

Wednesday 13th December 2017
quotequote all
I bought an 850 T5 AWD Estate fully-loaded new from the local dealer in 1996. I chose it over a bright red 850R which he was trying to off-load at the same price. Sold it 10 years later for £1,000 with 70k miles and bought a new V70 AWD which I still have. I do find it hard to believe that they are rising in value.

Excellent cars. Fast, comfortable, reliable and will carry anything. But, as someone else noted not ideal on twisty B roads. However for long-distance touring nothing beats them.


Sharps

6 posts

71 months

Wednesday 13th December 2017
quotequote all
Has no one mentioned the turning circle yet?

Davie

2,376 posts

149 months

Wednesday 13th December 2017
quotequote all
Turning circle wasn't that bad, it's the phase 2 cars on the bigger wheels that are utterly appalling. As an aside, there was never an 850 AWD T5... only T5 powered AWD cars were the V70R in about 1998 to 2000.

I've had seven T5 powered Volvos, as in the proper T5 engine... the 2.3 turbo... and all have been utterly fabulous things and next to bugger all has ever gone wrong with them.

Kinda regret selling all of them and not just because the prices have taken a crazy hike for the R's of late.

Hindsight...

klunkT5

393 posts

52 months

Wednesday 13th December 2017
quotequote all
Also oil leak from the back of the engine will be the turbo return pipe oil seal, 20 min job and use a genuine volvo seal. A non functioning PCV system can take out the cam seals as well as the rear main seal. Odometer drive cogs strip and dont get fixed for ages so mileage can be quite a bit higher. Heater matrixes leak with old age, Easy to do, Dash stays in place as you pull it out the passenger footwell. As for rust, Structurally they don't seem to, Common weak spots are front wings, Normally adjacent to where the support bracket bolts on and in bad cases behind the mudflaps and the tailgates can rot below the rear screen seal.

Edited by klunkT5 on Wednesday 13th December 23:27

grumpy52

3,582 posts

100 months

Wednesday 13th December 2017
quotequote all
So far I've had a 850 , S70 t5 and 2 C70 T5s .
A few cheap mods really makes them better to live with .
Strut brace , decent filters , upgraded pads or if you can big discs and always good tyres .A proper ECU upgrade even gives better mpg on runs .
They will never be brilliant down the twisty back roads but are effective on A road cross country runs .
They are roomy ,comfortable and many have great sound systems on them .
The downsides are the standard brakes are only adequate if the performance is used , the front tyres don't last much beyond 10,000miles .
If they haven't been serviced well they will bite you in the wallet. Oil changes and crankcase ventilation is important or major seal failures are really on the cards .

Olivera

3,052 posts

173 months

Thursday 14th December 2017
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Had a V70R phase 1, thought it was dire and everything fell apart to boot.

dmsims

2,274 posts

201 months

Thursday 14th December 2017
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Phase II V70 2.5T AWD here - 182K, never missed a beat


IceBoy

2,278 posts

155 months

Thursday 14th December 2017
quotequote all
Brilliant cars...with amazing engines.

I ran:

850 T5 manual
V70 T5 p1 auto
C70 T5 auto - last yr of production with the R engine

Always, always amazed me with its mid range grunt.

Still miss those cars....and back in the last 90's very early 00...nothing but v8's or something exotica was going to get passed.

Iceboy

Ps remapped....absolute animals lol

Andy20vt

421 posts

120 months

Thursday 14th December 2017
quotequote all
Had a 850 T5 many years ago, a rare manual, and although it sounded lovely, it never felt as quick as a car with mid 200's hp should have, it used to wheelspin like mad, and it drank fuel like it was going out of fashion. So I should have hated it?

But I bl**dy loved the thing. It was built like a breeze block and had so much character that it made up for all it's shortcomings. Occasionally see a slightly newer V70 R AWD on the road near me and if I could get my hands on one of those in good condition then I'd be sorely tempted. Not many around though.

Amazing how when the 850 came out it was a big car. Now though if you see one parked next to a modern day hatchback, it looks tiny.

Davie

2,376 posts

149 months

Thursday 14th December 2017
quotequote all
Andy20vt said:
Amazing how when the 850 came out it was a big car. Now though if you see one parked next to a modern day hatchback, it looks tiny.
Agreed!

I still have a P1 V70 T5 (same shell as the 850) and side by side, a mate's Insignia dwarfs it...



nealevo

11 posts

88 months

Thursday 14th December 2017
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Owned 22 years and counting and still going strong.

MUN 802

39 posts

16 months

Thursday 14th December 2017
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selling my 1999 v70 t5 ex police
Anyone interested shoot me a message.