Debriefing from Volvo (Part 2)

I just got off the phone with Bill Casey at Volvo Cars North America, who updated me about the findings and recommendation that have transpired from the extensive investigation of my 2001 Volvo XC70:

1) Transmission – There is nothing wrong with my Transmission. (This took me by surprise.) The Field Engineer test drove the car for about an hour and determined that the transmission is, in fact, intact.
2) However, the Valve Body needs to be replaced. This is the cause of the car running uneven.
3) In addition, the Long Block needs to be replaced. This is a result of when the car overheated back in August 2008, resulting in the cylinder head having to be replaced. Apparently the Long Block was damaged as well, but it was not caught. There is no hairline crack in the cylinder head.
4) The Radiator needs to be replaced — it has an external leak. This is what is causing my coolant leak. The Engineer performed a glycol test and determined there was no leaking of coolant into the Transmission. (There is still no sign of external puddles under the car, so we don’t know where the coolant is going.)
5) Also, the Right Axle needs to be replaced. (A new find).
6) And finally the Angle Gear needs to be resealed. (Originally resealed in June 2005.)

The recommendation from Volvo is following:
1) Replace the Long Block – since this was part of an issue when the car was in warranty, Volvo will cover this cost ($7,337.82)
2) Replace the Valve Body – this is also tied to the 2008 incidence and Volvo will cover this as well ($1,247.62)
3) Replace the Radiator. Rusnak will pick up the cost of labor. I will have to pay for the part ($386.66)
4) Reseal the Angle Gear. Again, Rusnak will pick up the cost of labor. I will have to pay for the part ($250.97)
5) Replace the Front Right Axle. Again, Rusnak will pick up the cost of labor. I will have to pay for the part ($409.47)

So to sum it up:
– Volvo will cover repairs worth $8,585.44.
– Rusnak is covering labor (and giving Volvo a deal on the repairs performed “under warranty”).
– I will pay of parts adding up to $1,047.10.

This offer has been agreed to by all levels of Volvo Cars North America (Hi Doug Speck. Nice to hear from you, albeit indirectly!) and Rusnak (Mr. Yohan Haddad included). However, for this to go in effect, Volvo has asked me to sign a legal agreement where I agree to close down RusmackedVolvo and “all communication” regarding this case. Before that happens, I hope I can do a follow-up post with some clear next steps from Volvo Car of North America and Rusnak Auto Group on what systems or measures they plan on putting in place to ensure that the experience I had will not be happening again, to other customers. I’ll keep you updated on my decision on how to go forward.

34 Responses to “Debriefing from Volvo (Part 2)”

  1. 1 AltadenaXC70 December 15, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Wow. Way to go, sorry it has to come with a code of silence. How do you like Independent Volvo? I am thinking of switching as Rusnak seems to push for what feels like “Extra” work lately.

    • 2 rusmackedvolvo December 15, 2009 at 10:35 pm

      I love Vartkes at Independent Volvo on Walnut in Pasadena. They have proven to be utmost reliable and supportive during this whole debacle, and about half (!) the price of Rusnak. Their work is high quality and they are all about customer service. 🙂 They do however bring all warranty work back to Rusnak, so you’d still deal with them indirectly. I am sorry to hear Rusnak are pushing “extras” on you. What are you experiencing?

      • 3 Joan December 15, 2009 at 10:53 pm

        I agre with Freya. Vartkes at Independent is wonderful. I’ve been going there for about 6 years (since my warranty ran out and an Auto Club tow truck driver insisted on taking me there instead of Rusnak)

      • 4 Joel December 16, 2009 at 4:49 am

        Freya – could you please provide me the full details of this business so I can add this shop to the ‘reputable shops’ list at We’re always interested in good shops!

      • 5 Frank Geffes January 3, 2010 at 11:50 pm

        Vartkes is a good guy … I do feel for him though because Volvo quality has not been good. Volvo has suffered from being tossed around like a poker chip between the various corporate owners … as a result no real R&D …

        Look there is no fuel efficient Volvo model yet … in 2010!

        If I get another one it will be a 240 …


      • 6 Joel January 18, 2010 at 7:26 am

        @Frank Geffes

        “Look there is no fuel efficient Volvo model yet … in 2010!”

        what about the drive program (admittedly not available in NA):

        or the fully electric announcement from the Detroit Auto Show:

        or the hybrid plans (very smart outisde-the-box plans I might add):

        or all the diesel options in Europe (again not available in NA) or all the electric/CNG/hybrid research they have done for the last 15 years….

        just because you can’t buy one in the USA doesn’t mean it’s not being done.

        I do agree with you that Volvo has not had a fair shake with all the ownership upheaval – though I must also add that Ford has done a relatively good job taking care of them and allowing the research to happen and the business to progress.

        ” as a result no real R&D …”

        Again, what about DSTC (one of the first real dynamic ESC programs in the mainstream) or all the airbag tech, BLIS, City Safety or the new pedestrian counterpart, diesel engine research, dynamic chassis stuff, lane departure warning, etc etc etc etc… jeez they have been Ford’s R&D arm for 10 years!

  2. 7 JPM December 15, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Glad to hear they are helping you so much! I must say those prices on those parts are a little steep, but with all the work you are having done and only paying for some parts it should be well worth it. For future reference, especially if you choose to go to an Independent Volvo shop, use for your parts. Most are either Volvo parts or aftermarket, but IMO, the same as factory Volvo most of the time. An independent Volvo shop local to me showed me this site, this is where he buys a majority of the parts used for his customers cars.

    • 8 Joel December 16, 2009 at 4:50 am


      I was going to suggest the same thing!

      I deal with FCP all the time – they are great and have great prices!

      • 9 Joel December 16, 2009 at 5:13 am

        I wanted to suggest a few other things Freya:

        – insist on having the fluid in the bevel gear changed as per TSB #4430004. This TSB describes how to install a drain and change the fluid. Ensure they use brand new fluid when they’re done changing the seals. The TSB calls for Volvo part number P/N 1161513-5 to be used for the fluid, but the fluid spec is fully synthetic 75W-90 GL-5.

        – When they are changing the seals in your bevel gear insist that they replace the vent on the bevel gear housing. This is a common reason for why oil is being pushed past the seals (not enough venting = too much pressure). TSB #TNN46-08 explains how to do this and also lists the part #s involved. Filter, PN 30681138 and Brass Pipe, PN 8689527.

        – insist that the transmission fluid be changed out for brand new transmission fluid. DO NOT allow them to use a power transmission flush machine for the fluid exchange. Volvo’s service manual describes a method of changing the fluid by allowing the transmission’s internal pump to push a few liters out, then replace with new fluid, repeat until all the fluid is changed plus some more for good measure.

        In the forums at we hear from people all the time who have had their bevel gear fail due to old fluid and seal failures and plugged vents. We also hear from people with ruined transmissions due to cooked/burnt transmission oil. These lubricants do not last forever.

        Call Mike Rivera at to order your parts. They will hook you up – you’re paying way too much for those parts.

        I’m very happy to see this getting resolved. Thank you for your detailed debriefing!

        Congrats to both you and VCNA for successfully resolving this.

        Boo to rusnak.

      • 10 Joel December 18, 2009 at 11:03 am

        Whoa I just thought of something else I should have included the first time!

        While they have the engine and trans split apart you should have them replace the rear main seal and it’s counterpart on the transmission. These are pretty cheap parts, and it’s no extra work to do them once you’ve got the engine and trans apart anyway. It’s a very expensive repair to make if you have to make a special trip in there to do this. $3 for the seal, $1000 for the labour.

        here’s one for a 2005 (I forget which year your car is)

  3. 11 Jim December 15, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Can we have one more video before you go? 🙂

    Seriously, congratulations on getting this resolved. You showed us all a thing or two!

  4. 12 Tom December 15, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    I can not believe that much can be wrong with your car! Are cars with that much wrong returnable under the Lemon Law?

    Well congrats on getting their attention and a resolution. Their request that you take down the site is pretty ignorant of social media and the web. They should use this blog as an opportunity to showcase there willingness to do whats is right for their customers and their brand.

    • 13 rusmackedvolvo December 15, 2009 at 10:25 pm

      Hi Tom.
      Good question about the lemon law. I’ll look into that.
      In regards to spinning the media in Volvo’s favor, I’ve tried suggesting that. I believe Freya could be the ultimate Volvo spokes person, if she was given a chance. However, it doesn’t sound like they are that interested in having Freya’s voice around.

      • 14 Tom December 15, 2009 at 10:40 pm

        “The law requires that if the manufacturer or its representative in this state, such as an authorized dealer, is unable to service or repair a new motor vehicle to meet the terms of an express written warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the manufacturer is required promptly to replace the vehicle or return the purchase price to the lessee or buyer.”

        “The law applies for the entire period of your warranty. For example, if your vehicle is covered by a three-year warranty and you discover a defect after two years, the manufacturer will have to replace the vehicle or reimburse you as outlined above if the manufacturer or its representative is unable to conform the vehicle to the express warranty after a reasonable number of attempts to do so.”

  5. 15 ILikeMyS80V8 December 16, 2009 at 7:55 am

    It’s great they’re covering a fair amount of the problems. It is ridiculous they want to charge you for ANY of the repairs at this point. It is UNCONSCIONABLE that they want to silence you.

    I would walk this offer over to an attorney and have them run through their offer and see what your other options are.

    If the attorney tells you this offer in the hand is better than any other offer possibility he could arrange (ie chancey litigation, etc), then I would counter with Volvo and tell them that Volvo must provide at no cost the parts they want you to replace and perfrom the suggested additional service above.

    At a minimum you may get the parts at half off. An attorney’s opinion would also be valuable in case Volvo refuses to negotiate; it may be beneficial to have an attorney willing to file a lemon law suit in the wings since I can only imagine that a lawsuit they don’t want.

    At a minimum I’d want an attorney’s opinion on any “gag order” I agreed to. Rusnak may be just mean enough that they may fish for a reason to sue you after all’s said and done.

  6. 16 ih8rusnak2 December 16, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    they test drove your car for an hour…i dont know how many miles that translates to, but you should be reimbursed for the miles driven during the test period (since they are not miles you actual drove). Using the U.S. Treasury’s Internal Revenue Code reimbursement rate of $0.55 per every mile driven, if they drove enough miles maybe they can pay for the parts 😉

    just a thought…congrats! it was fun following this piece…

    btw, i agree with ILikeMyS80V8, i’d assert my first amendment rights…FREE SPEECH. sounds like greenmail to me…

  7. 17 WUZ December 16, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    It sounds like a $10K car repair to me!
    To keep the car running.

  8. 18 jackee December 16, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Don’t let them silence you! It’s your hard work to make yourself heard that led to them paying attention to you in the first place. Besides, you haven’t portrayed Volvo in a negative light, even when they didn’t treat you very well as a customer. You respectfully gave them the benefit of the doubt and the chance to do right by you. I see no reason why they should expect you to keep quiet.

  9. 19 Steve December 17, 2009 at 9:15 am

    The breakdown of what Volvo will cover and what you will be asked to cover seems reasonable to me. $1000 in parts for $8500 in repairs is a good deal IMHO, and essentially validates what you thought: that the transmission should not fail in 35K miles, and that the damage was originally suffered under warranty and should have been repaired at that time free of charge.

    For those arguing “First Amendment,” please remember that the First Amendment is applicable only to the government’s inability to suppress free speech. It has no bearing on a non-disclosure agreement or similar between two private parties; such agreements are often standard when settlements are reached. Please don’t obfuscate the issue by citing the First Amendment; it’s not relevant. Freya can negotiate with them if she’d like to keep us updated in some other way, but her free speech rights are not being impinged here.

    I would definitely follow Joel’s advice and asked those items be taken care of at this time as part of the repairs.

    To be perfectly honest, it seems to me that Volvo North America is doing right by you. (Rusnack is another story, however). They took your complaints seriously, sent out a factory tech to determine the cause of your issues, and have agreed to cover a substantial amount of the costs of the repairs. I certainly hope that if I encounter such a situation with my own Volvo that VCNA would do right by me in a similar way.

    Congratulations, Freya. You made your voice heard.

    • 20 ILikeMyS80V8 December 17, 2009 at 11:51 am

      You’re correct in the pedantic sense that it’s not a “First Ammendment” question in that the First Ammendment doesn’t cover agreements between private parties, and yes private parties do agree all the time to gag orders — “I agree not to tell anyone about the bad things you did to me and the millions of dollars you gave to me to stay out of court/jail and keep your reputation from being further destroyed.”

      That being said, there IS a freedom of speech issue here — nobody should have to agree to be silent about their poor treatment by a corporation to get restitution from them. All that does is allow them to hide it and keep doing it and assume that people like Freya are 1 in a 1,000,000 and they won’t run into her again.

      The more I think about it, the more I think their proposed settlement stinks. She should either get all repairs and parts free, or, even better, a 2010 Volvo of her choosing at dealer invoice with the trade in of her current car at the highest private party blue book value.

  10. 21 Steve December 17, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Also, from reading over at, you should make sure to have your transmission flushed every 30,000 miles from now onwards. This is apparently unique to 2001 XC70s and doesn’t apply to other years.

    • 22 Joel December 17, 2009 at 11:15 am

      au contraire, over at we repeatedly push trans fluid flushes on people (nicely of course 🙂 ) driving all manner of FWD Volvos, and we’ve all come to realize the problem with ‘lifetime’ fluid in modern transmissions.

      Although most people don’t realize it, trans fluid is accomplishing a mighty task. Three actually – it is lubricant, hydraulic fluid, and coolant, all in one. It is subjected to shear and pressure and temperature most fluids have nightmares about, and it is somehow expected to do all this without changes or proper filtering for hundreds of thousands of miles without any relief…

      No matter what kind of car you’re driving, get your trans fluid changed.

      I think the FWD Volvos are a bit hard on trans fluid in general, as a combination of the size and weight of the car and the power of the engines vs the cabability of the trans to cool itself… perhaps they need more frequent fluid attention than some other vehicles might, but I wouldn’t think they’re by any means ‘below average’.

  11. 24 John December 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Hi Guys,

    Why are we getting upset over a 10 year old car? Sorry, time to give it up if it has that much wrong with it. I can’t imagine sticking with a car like this. Who’s at fault here?

    • 25 Joel December 18, 2009 at 6:13 am

      It doesn’t matter how old the car is. The car was sold to her not only with a warranty but with an expectation that it would perform as it should. When it broke (as older cars can be expected to do) the warranty was not upheld satisfactorily. The incompetence and complacency and general slimey-ness of the dealer in question forced Freya to be stuck with a vehicle that didn’t work. That’s the issue.

      Besides that if you think modern cars should only last for 10 years… maybe you should take another look at the value you’re getting out of your cars! My 1998 still works like a dream for the most part. Many 10+ year old cars do.

      Perhaps the dealer felt this way though – “hey lady, it’s an old car – buy a new one”. I personally don’t think this acceptable. And evidently neither did VCNA.

  12. 26 AltadenaXC70 December 17, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Thank you,
    I am due for a service and will take my XC70 to Vartkes in January. I waited almost a 1/2 hour for anyone to even look at me last time I brought my car into Rusnak. That alone made me crazy. And then I asked them to stamp my service book which I left on the seat. When I got the car back it was still on the seat and not stamped, and when I tried to get my service manager’s attention I was flat out ignored. I had to find a another manager, and he seemed put out, to fill in the book. Sometimes the little things say a lot!

  13. 29 John December 18, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Good points Joel…will we ever really know what ahppened though? I’m sure there are more sides to this story

  14. 30 Brian December 19, 2009 at 3:23 am

    Freya, you made your voice heard by many, and there are many opinions on how (or if) to procede further. Let your “Viking” conscience be your guide. 🙂 It’s been an exciting ride so far!

  15. 31 Sam December 27, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    I hope everything else goes well, although it looks like the worst part of your fight is past you! I think a lot of consumers can learn from your experience and what you did to make your voice heard.

    If you do shut your website down, it would be great if you included your suggestions on how to get other Volvo owners to get their issues addressed as well.

  16. 33 ih8rusnak2 December 28, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    can we get a holiday jingle before you shut down? 😉

  17. 34 Frank Geffes January 3, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    I have a Volvo. I live in Pasadena … I drive an S80 … it will be gone hopefully in 4 week. Goodbye Volvo. The problems:

    1. Bad transmission
    2. Bad springs
    3. Bad ignition coil
    4. Broken drivers seatbelt
    5. Electrical faults
    6. Blown power steering hose (multiple times)
    7. Blown coolant hose
    8. Broken catalytic converter

    Did I mention that fuel efficiency is pure crap.

    This is madness! I am trading it in for a Ford Escape Hybrid …

    The European cars are behind the curve in this era … Hybrid is the *only* way to go. If you must buy a luxury car then get a Lexus … they have hybrids in those.


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