freya2I am Freya Svensson. I am the ultimate Volvo Target Market personified. I am a Swedish soccer-mom of 2, living in Pasadena, California, and a loyal Rusnak Volvo customer.

This blog is part of a campaign documenting and sharing my ride in dealing with Rusnak Volvo & Volvo North America, to get the faulty transmission Rusnak put in my Volvo replaced. In 2006 at 61,000 miles the transmission failed in my Volvo XC70. Luckily it was covered under Extended Warranty. However, having a new transmission did not alleviate the problems I experienced — my car was still slamming into gear, revving out of control when I tried to pass cars or accelerating after a stop light. I kept on bringing this up during my scheduled services at Rusnak (as a good customer) but the Extended Warranty company was “never able to duplicate the issue”. 3 years and 35,000 miles later my Extended Warranty expired, and all of a sudden Rusnak was able to duplicate issue, and recommended the transmission be replaced again. This time around I would have to foot the bill — a hefty $5,100.

My argument is that Volvo gave me a faulty transmission to begin with, and that they should replace it. Period. Everyone I have spoken with — the Service Manager at Rusnak Volvo, Volvo Customer Service, The Territorial Manager for Volvo, and finally, the kind people in the office of the President of Volvo North America — agrees that a transmission SHOULD last much longer than 3 yrs/35,000 miles, but unfortunately they are only willing to cover $1,300 of the cost, which leaves me the remaining $3,800.

Until they change their mind I intend to Facebook, Tweet and Blog about my experience.

Follow me on Facebook @Freya Svensson and Twitter @RusmackedVolvo.

26 Responses to “Freya’s Story”

  1. 1 Peter November 20, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Freya, I hear you! I had a Volvo, a Saab, and now a Toyota. All dealerships do the same thing, even Toyota. Under warranty? No we can’t reproduce it! As soon as its out of warranty, bam, you need a new $3000 widget. It happens everywhere and is a much bigger problem than you think. There needs to be a regulatory investigation into this sort of thing. It’s really a big scam!

    I would gather some written evidence that the car failed while under warranty. If you had a notebook, or evidence of the complaints to the dealer (they can print out that history for you). Then go find the Volvo Executive Customer Service line. Call them. Send them copies of what you have. This is how I’ve fought this in the past. You really have to fight like a crazy viking to get it done. Good Luck to you!’

    The other challenge is that you are a woman. Every service station sees blond hair and pretty eyes and sees dollar signs. Men who know nothing about cars have the same problem. I usually have to call BS on half the things the dealership tells me, as although I look young I do my own mechanical work.

  2. 2 ei November 20, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Hi there,
    I’m sorry to hear about your troubles about Volvo. I liked that brand a lot, until it was purchased by Ford. I still like the god old Volvos that are rolling around and I would not mind one of those again at all. Since Ford took over I’ve lost all faith in Volvo and I have switched to Japanese cars.
    Not so classy as these Fords diguised as Volvos but my Honda never had a single problem in over 100,000 miles and seven years of driving.
    At the end of the day it’s not really a problem with Volvo but with Ford. I mean Volvo was effectively killed when Ford bought it and it’s no secret that they were buildingnew “Volvos” on Ford platforms 😦

    • 3 Joel November 21, 2009 at 12:57 am

      You should check your information a little bit. It’s more like the other way around – Fords on Volvo platforms.

      Also I don’t think ‘platforms’ have been Volvo’s problem, as the fusion, euro focus, mondeo, mazda3, mazda6, new taurus, flex, edge and maybe more all share similar ‘platforms’. And those platforms are probably more Volvo-meets-Mazda than anything, although Ford was the big brother that brought it all together.

      Here is a good place to start:

  3. 4 Dan Perdue November 20, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Good for you, I wish you the best of luck. I work for a non-Volvo dealer here in Northern California and I agree that the manufacturer and service department should remedy this situation for you with no out of your pocket expense.

  4. 5 kirk November 20, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Hi Freya-
    There are a few easy things you can check on your car that might help with the coolant leak.

    Pull up the front floor mats and press down on the carpet under the dashboard. Do you feel moisture? When you turn on the heater does the air coming from the vents smell like coolant? If so, the problem could be the heater core or its connections.

    If you start the car with the coolant reservoir cap loosened, do you see bubbles in the reservoir? If so, the problem could be a damaged cylinder head or head gasket. This is very unlikely unless the car was over-heated by driving with too little coolant.

    I’m guessing your car has a turbo? Do you know if anyone has checked to see if coolant is leaking from it into the air going into the motor? This would cause the water the indy saw after pulling the spark plugs.

    Has anyone pressure tested the radiator? There is a small chance coolant is leaking into the transmission through the transmission fluid cooler (which is part of the radiator). If this were the problem it could cause both the missing coolant and the transmission issues.

    I hope this info can help you. Volvo’s are terrific cars, it’s a shame yours is giving you so much trouble.

    Good luck,

  5. 6 Joel November 21, 2009 at 1:09 am

    Hi Freya,

    As Kirk suggested it’s very possible you might have a problem in your radiator. The coolant in your car is pumped out to the radiator to be ‘cooled’ and also the transmission fluid is pumped out there to be cooled too. If there is a leak between the two sets of chambers then coolant will flow from one to the other and you end up with coolant in your transmission and/or transmission fluid in your coolant. Coolant in your transmission will ruin your transmission pretty fast. That’s maybe why your trans is dead too? maybe why the first one died as well.

    If this is the case, your dealership should have noticed coolant in the trans fluid when they took your old trans out. They should have suggested a replacement radiator at that time. I don’t know what the dealer price for a new rad is but they’re generally around $200-$300 in the aftermarket.

    Another good thing to check that your indie should have suggested is a compression test and also a leak-down test (they are different and both useful). These tests should be able to tell you if anything is wrong inside the engine. It won’t always tell you exactly what is wrong, but a bad compression/leak-down test is proof that something is not right, and it will even tell you approximately where it is in the engine (near which cylinder). It will probably cost ~$100 to have this test performed.

    Here are some links to educate yourself.

    Keep up your fight girl! You have some momentum now!

  6. 7 Dado November 21, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Fy fan vad skönt! Stå på dig! Allt för ofta rycker folk på axlarna och betalar det som egentligen skulle vara täck av garantin. Det är inte bara i Pasadena, CA det är så utan överallt. Jag är glad att du fick den publicitet som du fått så att dessa saker uppmärksammas!

    Ha det bäst och lycka till!

  7. 8 Ray Fougnier November 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I’m in the target market, and because of your situation, I won’t even bother looking at one. Thanks for the heads up.

    As far as Ford buying Volvo and Jag, it did more for Ford than the other way around. I worked there during the days when that all happened, and more influence came from that direction. When we would tell Jag what we wanted to do, they would reject it, and do what they wanted anyway. All of the latest small car from Ford, are based on Mazda and Volvo.

    Fun facts: The small Jag is a refined contour. The Aston Martin V12 is two Taurus V6’s put together. Not that any of it is bad, just that’s what it is.

  8. 9 vache November 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    hey great blog just a little typo, “”My argument is that Volvo gave be a faulty transmission to begin with, and that they should replace it.””
    should be “” Volvo gave me a””

    cheers and good luck

  9. 10 aron orton November 21, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Wow, I have always thought Volvo a good car. Just reading about the treatment you have received in these times has me upset. They have no idea the power of community and the internet. Im sorry that you have to endure this .

  10. 11 rusmackedvolvo November 22, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Kirk and Joel, These are great suggestions. I will mention them to the Volvo engineers, when they examine the car.

  11. 12 Martin November 23, 2009 at 1:44 am

    Hello, Freya!

    Cool thing you’re doing here! I wish you didn’t have to, but hopefully this won’t turn out to be all for naught.

    I’m having (I should say fore-seeing?) a similar sitaution with my 2007 Mini Cooper S, but am hoping it will just turn out to be my own pessimism. I’ve been having issues with the engine over the last 2 years. Started as a “fused” spark plug, then a dead turbocharger, a couple other turbo parts, and then a bad valve cover. Now, the turbo has “bought the farm” again. My decreased power light came on after I heard sounds like a cat screeching coming from under the hood. Drove the car to the Mini Dealer (closest to Austin, TX, where I live, is in San Antonio, TX – an hour and a half away). Told the service writer the turbo is dead. She called the next day and said it looked to them like they would have to replace the turbo. (Is there and echo in heare??) The warranty runs out at 50,000 miles. My Mini has 46,000 on the odometer, so the replacement is covered. But if I have to have it replaced again (that would be the third time) I’d have to pay for it. At that point, I would look into the Lemon Law, since supposedly after third occurance of the same problem, the Lemon Law kicks in. A friend of mine got a brand new Subaru under this law. She had transmission issues, too.

    This is my third Mini. The first was a 2002 base model. Second was a 2005 Cooper S (supercharged). The 2007 Cooper S is the first year they switched the superchargere to a turbo, so the design may have not had the bugs worked out. I’m now thinking if I get another Mini, I’ll go back to the regular, non-turbo and foresake the power for better gas mileage and no turbo issues. The loaner I have now is a standard engine with a 6-speed auto. It has plenty of power and I’m getting mid-30’s MPG in combined city/highway driving.

    It sounds like the ideas Kirk and Joel mention may be the culprits. You’d think the dealer would have checked those, though. Have you also looked into the Lemon Law? It is a federal law and I at least know someone who actualy benefitted from it.

    Good luck to you and I’ll set your blog as one of “My Favorites” so I can check back.


    • 13 rusmackedvolvo November 23, 2009 at 2:01 am

      Martin, Thanks for sharing your Mini Story. I have not looked into the Lemon Law yet, nor have I contacted the Better Business Bureau for dealer complaints. Both which could be viable options if needed. I am getting an eerie feeling there is something larger here than just randomly bad cars. Are the dealers pulling the wool over our eyes for profit margins? I think I may need to start pulling some facts on service records from Freya’s Army, to see if I can find any patterns…

  12. 14 Sarah Quinn November 23, 2009 at 3:24 am

    Love what you’re doing, and all the attention and momentum you seem to be building.

    Good luck!

    p.s. I’m writing from Sydney, Australia so your story has definitely gone gloabl.

  13. 15 P.Elder November 23, 2009 at 4:06 am

    aaron orton, believe it when we all say there are more problems with Volvo cars than Volvo ever wanted anyone to know and if you or anyone on here is considering getting one be prepared for a long battery of problems, and an even bigger headache when trying to get them to correct problems without a large amount of money coming out of YOUR pocket.

    I once took my Volvo in because it had a pretty bad oil leak. They had the car for two days, and still could not pin point the exact place of the leak and gave me an estimate of things they would do that should fix the problem. The estimate was nearly $3000. As I looked over the list my husband decide to check some things out for himself. He went over the engine on his own found a few problems, changed a few things and the leaked was fixed. The things that my husband fixed on the car, none of them were listed on the estimate so basically for nearly $3000 I would have still had an oil leak and would have had to go back for further repairs to which I am sure I would have been required to pay for.
    It just annoys me to think that the Volvo reputation seems so great and the truth is it seem they want to get you into a Volvo car and once you have it you are on your own. It’s one thing for the car to be expensive, but to have to sink a ton of money into repairs too is just wrong.

  14. 16 Cherie Garrison November 23, 2009 at 4:07 am

    I have a 2002 Volvo XC70 and have had a multitude of problems as well…my transmission does the same thing as your blog states, revvs while I’m driving, etc…they changed the transmission fluid, twice and I’m driving it till it doesn’t drive anymore…my parents had an 85 Volvo wagon and it lasted through them and 3 of us kids, over 200,000 miles, mine is 104,000 miles therefore not under warranty anymore and the service pricing is unbelievable…I would love to continue my relationship w/ Volvo and it’s cars but since mine is monopolized and unable to be repaired by any other mechanic it’s not probable at this time…

  15. 17 Thure November 23, 2009 at 4:18 am

    Hey Freya
    I have seen your videos etc. very cool. About the coolant leak, you should try and invoke the federally mandated emissions warranty. Which covers anything emissions related, in other words anything that will cause the car to exceed the normal emissions standards is covered. So if you have an internal leak and the car runs rough, it will no longer pass emissions and is covered by the federally mandated warranty. See your owners manual it should have this warranty mentioned/explained.

    Love Thure, from Denmark living in Mexico.

  16. 18 Charles November 23, 2009 at 6:59 am

    The volvo shop non dealer i work at, a customer had her transmission replaced that was out of warranty by the dealer she bought the car at for FREE! If ever again, you need to replace your transmission, Volvo requirse the dealer to do a chemical test on the oil condition of the transmission fluid for any signs of coolant since the transmission fluid is being cooled by the radiator. They will need to replace the radiator if they find any signs of coolant before replacing transmission. I can give you a small list that are common problems:
    1. transmission
    2. oil leaks
    3. ABS control module
    4. software downloads, what for?
    5. Front control arm bushings tear
    6. spring seats, shocks that knock over bumps
    7. the famous ETM electronc throttle unit, Volvo recommends cleaning first and then replacement under their warranty.
    8. burns old for some unlucky ones
    9. coolant leaks, radiator/heater hoses and soon heater cores
    10. Brake Booster hisses

    the XC90 T6 AWD transmission is made by GM, so even worse. I seen two so far that been replaced with less then 100k miles.

    The new Volvos are nice and quiet but every single part is stamped with FOMOCO ford motor company. or Fix or repair daily, soon to be. I just don’t get why they need to stamp their name on parts that is going on a VOLVO.

  17. 19 Noz November 23, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Hi Freya,

    Good for you….you give it to them.

    One thing’s for sure, after all this is said and done, drop Volvo like a rock. It’s not worth the time and effort is it? Life’s too short for this nonsense!

    I work in Pasadena…at JPL…so who knows…we may bump into each other!!

    Good luck to you.

  18. 20 RM November 23, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Have you thought about the bureau of automotive repair? Get them involved. They are the deciding body in matters as to if a shop continues to operate, or gets shut down. Fooling around with Volvo isn’t going to do much.

    File a complaint with them. I’m not sure how to do it, but they’re the people to speak with.

    Charles’ reply makes sense. Have the radiator checked out. It could be leaking coolant into the transmission, causing both of your problems.

  19. 23 Scott Beery August 20, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    I’m a SAHD in Bellevue WA. and my wife and I are considering a 2011 XC 70 for our family. We currently own a 2004 Honda Pilot with 90k without one problem since we bought it new. The Volvo sells safety and interesting ingenuity, ie built in booster seats but I’m scared now. Might have to go back to Lexus shopping all over again.

    Best to you and your family,
    Good Luck
    Power to the CONSUMER!
    Scott in Bellevue

  20. 24 angie November 12, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I have seen your videos and read about your Volvo experiences as I once again search the web for Volvo disasters. The first time was when my XC90 had the transmission replaced at around 52,000 miles (just past the 50,000 mile warranty cut-off but Volvo was convinced by my husband to pay for the cost). Now, at 107,000, almost exactly the same number of miles, the “new” or “refurbished” identical transmission is shot. This time it’s even worse. This morning, while trying to back out of the driveway, the engine was revving but we weren’t moving. After a few tries, I made it onto the street, and when I put it in Drive, I again wasn’t moving. I impatiently waited and tried a few times until I could get it to go back into the driveway and grab my husband’s car. Luckily, I wasn’t trying to get on a highway with my 2 boys in the car!

    In the past, we have spoken to Volvo North America after all the problems we had in the first 50,000 miles. (I especially enjoyed the ridiculous price of replacement keys, since both of mine broke and the dealer said it would be $750.00 to get 2 new keys. I used blue masking tape instead). We even offered to trade it in for a good, reasonable price. They offered a HUGE discount of $3,000 off the price of a new car. Way to stand by their products!

    We’re jumping on the Freya Svensson bandwagon and would love to talk to you. Maybe I’ll be a Roman soldier in honor of my heritage!!

    • 25 angie January 26, 2011 at 10:35 am

      Update…had the car towed to Carlsen Volvo in Palo Alto. Transmission diagnosed as faulty. The Service rep said she would have to call the regional factory rep; “Wyatt” responded that Volvo would pay for parts(~3500) and I pay for labor(~1500) We countered that they should pay all since the second generation transmission was known to also be defective. Wyatt refused to negotiate and actually took the deal off the table. Long conversation with the dealer service rep that we would take the original offer and split the cost. Wyatt again refused and stated that we must pay the whole amount. We were also called “Disloyal Volvo Customers” because we have our car serviced by a personal mechanic whom we’ve know for many years. Called Volvo Customer Service; they stood by Wyatt’s decision. I also submitted my complaint in writing and asked Bill Casey to call; no response. I ended up paying $4600 out of pocket (slightly less than it would have since Carlsen gave me a 10% discount).

      Read the blogs…many have been through the exact same process with Volvo.

  21. 26 Mark Hrutkay January 6, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Having had several Volvos in the 1990s, they were OK, but still had lots of little problems. Nothing great about any of them. I’m sure after FORD got them, then went down in quality. Thats why I have HONDAs. 2007 CIVIC 171,000 miles DOESN’T BURN OIL, runs great, doesn’t rattle, no transmission problems. Only maint on it other than 2 sets of brakes and oil changes was a single front wheel bearing at 91,000 miles (still has original on the left side)…

    You get what you pay for.

    Best wishes, now go see a lawyer.

    Mark H

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