Belts
Problem with Front Seatbelt PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

On my passenger front seat, my seatbelt receiver will not allow for me to lock my seatbelt in properly, to where it secures me in. The same thing happens in the front middle seat belt receiver. The driver’s side works just fine. This happened about a year ago, but I inserted the lock in the receiver rapidly several times, and it fixed itself, but it is happening again. Have you ever heard of this problem?

Thanks,

Gary


Dear Gary,

I have heard of this problem and now it is time for me to tell you that you are messing with your own safety if you do not run down and get this seat belt problem fixed quickly. You seem to be a devoted seat belt user so realize that this is now a safety issue. You do not want to keep getting tickets for “not clicking” nor do you want to fly out of your window or windshield and end up on your least favorite freeway after a fender bender by not being strapped in properly!

Thanks for the question.
BT

 
Drive Belt Replacement Cost in Volvo S-70 Sedan PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

I'm a 77-year old fossil who enjoys reading your column in the ‘Houston Chronicle’.

I drive a 1998 Volvo S-70 Sedan, which has served us well and is coming up to the 60K mark. At the time of the 1998 purchase, we did opt for the "light turbo" feature, which has proven handy in a couple of "passing another car quickly" situations. We have no burning desire to buy another car and I should emphasize we also use this vehicle to make an annual 3200 mile round-trip trek to visit our daughter and grandsons in Minnesota each summer. I don't wish to be "penny wise and pound foolish" but I'd sure appreciate your slant on Volvo's "programmed" replacement of the drive belt at the 60,000 mile mark. I completely understand how failure of this belt (and the inherent valve timing) could/would cause the engine to self-destruct if the belt (and/or its components) became "unglued".

I've been told by the Volvo service folks that either the belt itself could fail or one of the "routing" pulleys/bearings could fail with the same inevitable result; the engine would self-destruct. This seems to me to be almost a built-in "time bomb" (i.e. inherent design flaw?) or a clever income-generating gimmick. There's also an inference that the pulleys/bearings might be more prone to failure than the belt itself. I'm not sure exactly what to believe.

Do you have any words of wisdom concerning this upcoming significant and costly (around $800, Volvo tells me) "preventive maintenance" item? Yes, I realize this is not a "normal" fan belt, but the $800 price tag seems a bit much; even for a Volvo. Of course the 'easiest' (safest?) thing to do would be to not "question the system", pay the $800, and be glad I avoided the possible engine self-destruction.

So, that's about it. Any experience or suggestions you might have concerning this $800 "replace the fan belt at 60K" issue would be appreciated.

H.A. Olson


Dear H. A,

I love your comment when you say that the Turbo has proven handy in “passing another car quickly”. You lead-foot person you!

My words of wisdom would be to tell you to take the replacement of this belt, which is actually more than just a fan belt…very seriously. This belt is designed to keep your engine “in time” and you might want to double check because some of these “belts” are designed to be replaced between 70 to 90 on the mileage clock, instead of 60k.

It is unfortunate that these cars are designed to have parts that only last a certain period of time in order for the manufacturers to make money on the parts; but that is life and we have to deal with it. In order to prevent that time bomb from going off and stranding you on the highway between Houston and Minnesota, get the job done which should really only cost you around $600.00 to do, instead of the $800.00 that you have been quoted.

Thanks for reading my weekly column in the ‘Houston Chronicle’ Automotive Section... my favorite newspaper!
BT

 
Drive Belt Replacement in 98 Volvo S-70 Sedan PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

I'm a 77-year old fossil who enjoys reading your column in the ‘Houston Chronicle’.

My wife (named Barbara; and I tell everyone: don't even think "Babs") and I drive a '98 Volvo S-70 Sedan which has served us well and is coming up to the 60K mark. At the time of the 1998 purchase, we did opt for the "light turbo" feature, which has proven handy in a couple of "passing another car quickly" situations. We have no burning desire to buy another car and I should emphasize we also use this vehicle to make an annual 3200 mile round-trip trek to visit our daughter and grandsons in Minnesota each summer. I don't wish to be "penny wise and pound foolish", but I'd surely appreciate your slant on Volvo's "programmed" replacement of the drive belt at the 60,000 mile mark. I completely understand how failure of this belt (and the inherent valve timing) could/would cause the engine to self-destruct if the belt (and/or its components) became "unglued".

I've been told by the Volvo service folks that either the belt itself could fail or one of the "routing" pulleys/bearings could fail with the same inevitable result; the engine would self-destruct. This seems to me to be almost a built-in "time bomb" (i.e. inherent design flaw?) or a clever income-generating gimmick. There's also an inference that the pulleys/bearings might be more prone to failure than the belt, itself. I'm not sure exactly what to believe.

Do you have any "words of wisdom" concerning this upcoming significant and costly (around $800, as Volvo tells me) "preventive maintenance" item? Yes, I realize this is not a "normal" fan belt, but the $800 price tag seems a bit much; even for a Volvo. Of course the 'easiest' (safest?) thing to do would be to not "question the system", pay the $800, and be glad I avoided the possible engine self-destruction.

So, that's about it. Any experience or suggestions you might have concerning this $800 "replace the fan belt at 60K" issue would be appreciated.

H.A.


Dear H. A., 

I love your comment when you say that the Turbo has proven handy in “passing another car quickly”. You lead-foot person you!

My words of wisdom would be to tell you to take the replacement of this belt, which is actually more than just a fan belt… very seriously. This belt is designed to keep your engine “in time” and you might want to double check because some of these “belts” are designed to be replaced between 70 to 90 on the mileage clock, instead of 60k.

It is unfortunate that these cars are designed to have parts that only last a certain period of time in order for the manufacturers to make money on the parts, but that is life and we have to deal with it. In order to prevent that time bomb from going off and stranding you on the highway between Houston and Minnesota, get the job done which should really only cost you around $600.00 to do instead of the $800.00 that you have been quoted.

Thanks for reading my weekly column in the Sunday Edition of the ‘Houston Chronicle Automotive Section’... my favorite newspaper!
BT

 
Volvo S-80, T6 Belts PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

I read H.A’s questions and comments on the Volvo timing belt replacement with great interest. I am one of the (now ex-) owners who experienced the premature and costly failure of the timing belt tensioner, not the belt itself. This was on my S-80, T6 engine, and of course happened on the freeway at 60 mph. The result was a totally ruined engine which I found was cheaper ($4500) to replace than to repair due to the cost of the valves and the 26 flat-rate-hours labor I was quoted to R&R the head on this car, not to mention any unseen additional problems which may have occurred.

I have been told the five- and six-cylinder Volvo engines all use a similar or same design for the tensioner. Mine was dry and had dirty, rusty surfaces where the bearings ran. I got no help or interest from Volvo Customer Service, and since this occurrence, I have spoken with two other six-cylinder Volvo owners who have had similar experiences.

I am wondering if there are enough of us out there who have had the premature failure of the timing belt and/or tensioner to force Volvo into a recall or a class action lawsuit to correct this problem. Your advice is right-on, as were H.A’s observations, but please pass the word along to inspect the belt and the tensioner before the recommended replacement period, and always replace both parts at the same time, and this can happen to makes other than Volvo that use this design.

Ande


Dear Ande,

I do understand how frustrating these premature mechanical failures can be and the costly disasters that they create. The manufacturers seem to be so competitive with each other you think that they would bend over backwards more than they do to make customers happy. The internet is more than loaded up with forums and blogs from seemingly angry customers, so maybe these internet writings will finally get some attention from the manufacturers. I do agree that there should be more factory recalls to fix these problems that seem to linger and never go away like a bad hair day.

I also agree with your new selection in vehicles regarding the Saturn Aura, but who’s to say that you are not going to buy one in the future and then be disappointed with it because of some unexpected premature mechanical problem. You obviously were pretty happy with the Volvo brand if you owned and drove them for 45 years.

I am a huge Jeep nut, but I have definitely owned a few in the past that were not as up to par as they should have been, but I still buy and drive Jeeps, making them my first vehicle of choice! Occasionally, we do come across lemons or duds in products that we buy and not just in vehicles, but think of how many weed eaters, coffee makers, and vacuum cleaners that we have bought that do not perform as well as others that we have purchased in the past. Wouldn’t be great if it were a problem-free world.

Thanks for writing in and I will pass your advice along regarding the timing belt tensioner in addition to the belt itself.
BT

 
Locking Seatbelts for Safety PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

On my passenger front seat, my seatbelt receiver will not allow for me to lock my seatbelt in properly to where it secures me in. The same thing happens in the front middle seatbelt receiver. The driver’s side works just fine. This happened about a year ago, but I inserted the lock in the receiver rapidly, several times, and it fixed itself; however, it is happening again. Have you ever heard of this problem?

Thanks!

Gary


Dear Gary

I have heard of this problem and now it is time for me to tell you that you are messing with your own safety if you do not run down and get this seatbelt problem fixed quickly. You seem to be a devoted seatbelt user, so realize that this is now a safety issue. You do not want to keep getting tickets for “not clicking” nor do you want to fly out of your window or windshield and end up on your least favorite freeway after a fender bender by not being strapped in properly!

Thanks for the question.
BT

 
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