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Volvo 850 and T5/T5R (1992 - 1997)

Last updated 11 December 2018


Buying Guide


  • The first sporty, modern Volvo. Changed Volvo's image completely, especially when estates were entered for 1994 Touring Car Championship.
  • 15' 3" (4660mm) long x 5' 10" (1760mm) wide. 1436kg - 1455kg.
  • T5s are seriously quick. T5 saloons or estates replaced Senators on many police fleets.
  • TDIs not far off T5 performance and give 35 mpg economy. Rock-solid build quality. Good, predictable, safe handling. More fun to drive than any previous Volvo. Changed the image of the company.
  • Engine range began with 2.0 litre 10 valve at 126bhp, 2.0-litre 20 valve at 143bhp; 2.4 10-valve at 140bhp; 2.4 20-valve at 170bhp; 2.5 TDI at 140bhp; 2.3 AWD turbo at 195bhp; 2.3 T5 at 225bhp; 2.3 T5R at 250bhp. Bi-fuel (LPG) 144bhp 2.4 10-valve engines also available.
  • Volvos generally had slightly below average warranty repair costs in 2003 Warranty Direct Reliability index (index 90.54 v/s lowest 31.93). Link:-


  • Estates are only commodious if you load them to the roof.
  • Hard ride and sharper steering came as a shock to old-school, traditional Volvo 240/940 owners.
  • Front tyre wear of TDI, T5 and T5R can be severe: manuals 6000-8000 miles; autos 12,000-14,000 miles.
  • Serious reliability problems reported by ADAC (the German breakdown organisation) in its 2001 report.


  • Kerb-damaged front suspension and front driveshafts.
  • Front tyre wear.
  • Retrimmed, clocked ex-police cars.
  • TDI timing belt drives water pump and, if water pump fails, so does belt.
  • Complaints of failed heater matrixes and early front wheel bearing failure.
  • Can be problems with electronics of Bosch fuel injection pump on diesel.
  • Make sure aircon blows freezing cold. Spate of aircon evaporator failures at two to four years old. £1000 job to put right. Problem with a/c pump clutch with either fails to engage or can seize altogether, throwing off the drive belt which might then become entangled in the timing belt. Volvo did a kit with varying thickness clutch plates to repair this, which cost £170, but the job is difficult and knuckle-scraping. More on the bulletin board at
  • Door check straps are prone to failure.
  • T5s running high boost can bend engine rods.
  • Rear main oil seals can be a weak spot - if it is leaking, the gearbox has to come off to replace the seal.
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