"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify." - Henry David Thoreau

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why Volvos are still boxy but not so good

You may remember about two weeks before Christmas my blackberry died and so did our Volvo and I promised that I would return to rant about it. First, I did get a new Blackberry Bold which, I hate to admit, I really like and being without a phone from December 23rd to the 27th wasn't so bad. But the car, that is another story.

About three weeks ago I drove downtown (I use the term downtown to mean I drove out and down the hill to the one block of shops) for my Pilates class. I left the car for about an hour while I crunched and squeezed and stretched my core then I set off to run my errands. I put the key in the ignition and I turned it. It went as far as turning the radio and lights on but that was it. I took it out and tried again. I got out of the car, locked it, opened it and tried again. Nothing, it wouldn't budge past the initial turn. I locked and unlocked the steering wheel. Still nothing. I called my Other Half to see if this had ever happened to him. It hadn't and no it wasn't anything I had done to the car as far as I knew.

Then I called the Volvo roadside assistance number, the guy I spoke to was very nice but after he had figured out that our warranty was no longer valid his only suggestion was that I have it towed to my nearest Volvo dealership at my expense. Now, some of you may know the geography of where I live from past posts, our little town is on the lower half of the Bruce Peninsula between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron and about two and a half hours north of Toronto. We are in a major snow belt region as the lake effect snow squalls come off both Lake Huron and the Bay, it is a skiers paradise but not so great for when you can't move your Volvo XCountry Wagon. The nearest dealership is two hours south of us and that my friends is a very expensive tow. So I called CAA and asked them to take the car to our local garage where, by the way, we had been having all the regular service done with Volvo's blessing. I decided to walk home while I was waiting for the tow truck to get another set of keys to see if that might be the problem, it wasn't.

Now if you have a newish car it most likely came with one of these huge electronic keys. (Word of warning - never drop one of these babies in the snow right before a big storm. You won't find it until the snow melts and they cost about $200 to replace.)

But the key wasn't the problem, our friends at the local place took apart the entire steering column and ordered a new part from Sweden (yes, it actually had to come from the land of the Swedish Chef, even though Volvo is owned by Ford, I think) Then they told us that even if they got the part installed we still might not be able to start the car and it would still have to be taken to a dealership to have the key reprogrammed. You see it is like dealing with Apple or Microsoft, you own the hardware (the car) but not the software that is now required to make it go and Volvo wouldn't release the info to our very reputable service centre. No, no we would still have to take it down to the dealership. Does Volvo care that we haven't been able to drive the car in over three weeks? Of course not. Do they care that the car is only two and half years old? Of course not. Will we get rid of this car as soon as it is drivable? Yes. Am I thoroughly disappointed in the one car company that I thought still built cars to last? Yes. Am I currently composing a scathing letter to said car company? You bet your Swedish meatballs I am.

In the meantime, this is what I have been driving. Cute and fun but not so great in the snow.


  1. Yikes! I hate car problems--but car problems when it is snowy? No. Go get 'em in your letter!

  2. I knew a guy who bought a Volvo and said "Never again". They must not be very good!

  3. Well - it may not be good in the snow, but I love the license plate! :) So sorry to hear about your car troubles, that REALLY stinks :(

  4. Yes Jen, it's the little car that could. Actually my Dad & brother did an Everest climb in 1988, Dad wrote a book called "The Right Mountain" about it and now he has three different versions of "Everest" license plates on his cars.


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