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Volvo timing belt

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 occured.

I have been told the five and six cylinder Volvo engines all use a similiar 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 occurence I have spoken with two other six cylinder Volvo owners who have had similiar 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.


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.



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